Marc Andreessen, the co-founder of Netscape and venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz loves to make bold predictions. In 2011, he declared that “software was eating the world” and putting a lot of traditional businesses such as travel agencies and newspapers out of business. In 2012, he boldly predicted the rise of business services such as cloud computing. In 2013, Andreessen is predicting that cheap ($50) smartphones would connect the world and change ecommerce forever. Andreessen’s premise is that smartphone prices at $50 will be able to connect another three billion consumers to the internet and usher in a new wave of ecommerce. The life blood of mobile ecommerce is mobile apps. Mobile apps are what make smartphones smart. So if you are a small business owner, smartphones should be a critical part of your overall marketing strategy.
1. Cheap Smartphones
As mentioned above, the price of smartphones are coming down very quickly. As the price of smartphones decline, more people throughout the world will have smartphones. In order to connect with these smartphone users, you will need a mobile app. Your mobile app will be your calling card and gateway to these small businesses.
2. Mobile Notification Services
Mobile notification services let you contact your consumers via their smartphone based on specific criteria such as the time of the day, day of the week, a benchmark achieved, location, etc. The world is becoming busier and more hectic every day. Consumers are having a difficult time keeping track of their schedules. Mobile notification apps will give you as the small business owner the ability to direct consumers towards your small business on a regular basis. Mobile notification technology is improving every day and you now have the ability to push coupons to your consumers when they are close to your business and remind them of sales and special events.
3. QR Codes
QR Codes are digital design patterns that can be read by a mobile phone. When a smartphone reads these QR Code patterned, the smartphone is redirected to websites, coupon offers, videos or mobile apps. QR Codes are great marketing tools for small businesses because they let small businesses market to consumers using their traditional print marketing materials. For example, suppose you are a restaurant owner and have just created a flyer for a new dinner special. You can put a QR Code on the flyer so smartphone users can scan the QR Code and be directed to a video showing the chef cooking the dinner special. QR Codes are very powerful marketing tools.
Mobile apps will empower customers to make reservations using their smartphones. This will enable small business owners to better serve their customers and connect with them in a more direct and powerful way. Reservations for mobile apps can be made for dinner, movies, spas, plays, nightclubs, etc. The ability for consumers to make mobiles reservations is a powerful tool for small businesses.
5. Mobile Coupons
Mobile apps allow small business owners to serve mobile coupons to its customers based on time of day, day of the week, a benchmark achieved within the mobile app or based on the customer’s location. Serving mobile coupons to potential customers can attract a significant amount of new business for small businesses.
6. Maps and Directions
If you are a small business, one of the most important questions you must always ask is can your customers easily find you? A mobile app can solve this problem by providing the consumer with directions and maps to your business. Small business owners can even link their address to popular mapping services such as Google Maps or Apple Maps within their mobile app.
7. Contest and Rewards Programs
Small business owners can use mobile apps to launch contests designed to promote their small businesses and to attract new paying customers. These contests and games can be administered within the mobile app. Small business owners can also use mobile apps to offer rewards to their loyal customers. This is a very powerful tool for small business owners. Loyal customers can earn reward points when they visit the small business, make new purchases and complete surveys and reviews of the small business. This is an excellent way to engage and connect with existing customers and this is a great way to build future customer loyalty.
8. Small Business Events
Small business owners can use mobile apps to promote and manage their promotional events. They can use push notifications within their mobile apps to let their customers know about their events. They can also setup event reminders and directions to their events within their mobile app. Promoting and managing events within mobile apps is an excellent tool for small business owners.
9. Social Media Management
A significant amount of social media users use their social media assets on their smartphones. Mobile apps can help customers socially connect with small businesses within the small business’ mobile app. Small business owners can ask users to share their small business content with Facebook and Twitter connections, refer new customers to the small business and to post comments and reviews about the small business within Facebook posts and twitter feeds.
10. Mobile Customer Service
Mobile customer service will be the standard for customer service in the future. Mobile customer service includes mobile phone calls, text messages, mobile chat and mobile support content. Small businesses that embrace mobile customer service will be able to better connect with their customers and communicate with them the way they want to be communicated with. Many large corporations are quickly moving toward mobile customer service and it is imperative that small business embrace mobile customer service now.
The Bottom Line
Small business owners need mobile apps now more than ever before. More and more consumers will have access to smartphones in the future which will almost make having a mobile app a necessity for small business owners. It is imperative that small business owners embrace technology and service its customers in this new and ever changing technology paradigm. Small business owners that embrace mobile technology will reap the benefits in the way of new and happier customers.