As you may have noticed from all the furor over the new iPhone today, people love smartphones. And why shouldn’t they? You literally have the internet in your pocket. It’s about the next best thing to being omniscient.
Smartphones today are like the internet was in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. There’s a snowballing effect of consumer and corporate adoption. The more people can do on their smartphones, the more they’ll expect every business to operate there, so more businesses will go mobile to meet expectations, and so on and so forth in a positive feedback loop until mobile is everywhere.
Build your mobile website
The good news is that, if you have a website, you’re already halfway there! Mobile is still the internet, after all, and if you have a good online presence already, chances are you’ll just have to tweak your website a bit to take the first and most important step in becoming mobile-friendly. (If you don’t have a website, then get one as soon as possible, and make sure it’s mobile-friendly from the start.)
Some websites are pretty easy to navigate on a smartphone. The text layout is clear and the menus aren’t too complex. Some are horrible. If you have a fancy flash intro, most mobile phones won’t even be able to display it. Either way, though, you can probably make some changes to make the website better for smaller screens. You’ll have to decide whether you want to make the main website mobile-friendly, or make a separate website just for mobile devices.
Just like for your regular website, you can (and should, unless you really know what you’re doing) hire professionals to help you design your mobile website and make the right calls. Once the mobile website is done and offers all the functionality of your full website, you can relax and know that your business has gotten in the mobile game.
Mobilize your service
Depending on the type of business you run, you might be able to do more with your mobile presence than just provide the information from your website. Can you think of ways to digitize your product or service?
Here are a few examples of fully and partially digitized products and services:
- Smartphone tickets for airlines, movies, and concerts
- Snapshots for check deposits, medical diagnoses, and repair estimates
- Mobile appointment apps for deliveries and service calls
- Movies, books, and games
- Updates and trading apps for investments
Smartphones can detect someone’s position and read very subtle vibrations. They can display and record audio and video. They’re connected to the entire internet. If you can make a smartphone do something useful for your business – and don’t be afraid to think outside the box, like using a vibration signature to confirm a payment – go for it.
Increase your connection with customers
So maybe your business is very brick-and-mortar. Maybe you make pizza. Maybe you repair cars. Maybe you negotiate home sales. Maybe you run a fleet of delivery trucks. You can still take a step further into the mobile internet and offer some extra value to your customers.
For example, people love checking the progress on something they’re waiting for. Pizza in the oven? Show the completion bar filling. Dents smoothed out of the car? Send a picture. Buyers ready with a counter-offer? Text it to the sellers. Attach GPS devices to your delivery trucks and let customers track them on a map application.
Just make sure that people have the option to set their preferred update frequency; you don’t want to become a pest. Most people, however, will love knowing just what’s happening with the products and services they’ve bought from you. And you’ll be relevant to everyone who went crazy for the iPhone 5 today.
By Sharon Campbell