Social media, blogging and search engine optimization (SEO) have led to substantial shifts in the way companies market themselves. There is even a new term, “inbound marketing” to represent this new marketing paradigm. Predicated on the idea that by creating helpful, relevant content and engaging customers in online conversation, a company can draw customers to them rather than beating them over the head with a non-stop barrage of advertising – much of it completely unwanted.
Well, the next shift is coming. And it’s not really a shock. I’m reasonably sure that we’ve all seen this coming ever since iPhone and Android devices took off in sales, but it really sunk in with the debut of the iPad. Companies need to start thinking about their marketing presence and strategies on mobile technology.
A recent report by the University of Dayton School of Business Administration and TricComB2B underscore this point: 59% of B2B decision-makers and influencers used a smartphone to gather information about possible purchases. We’re creating the content, but now we need to consider the ramifications of where that content is being consumed. According to the IDC, 2011 saw smartphone sales surpass sales of personal computers. Those figures don’t include the sales of tablets. The most shocking number that I’ve heard recently was by 2015, the number of smart devices will be more than double than the number of people on the planet. That level of portability and connectivity to the Internet has implications for the approach businesses take in marketing.
What are the impacts for marketing your business?
- Websites need to be optimized for mobile. As smart device technology and network speeds improve, this may become less of an issue, but for now, consider that a website loads considerably slower on a smart device than it does on a laptop or PC. It will also look and function considerably different. Think non-functioning graphics, form elements that do not work properly – it can get ugly in a hurry. What’s worse is that your customers won’t care. They want the same experience that they have on their computer at home or work. Companies with websites that are not optimized for mobile connections are set to see declines in the number of users viewing their content.
- Different devices offer different experiences. An iPhone or Android phone is going to give users a much different experience than an iPad due to the differences in processing power as well as viewable real estate. Tablet applications should be much richer experiences…this is what users have come to expect. Consider that a smartphone application may give users the ability to scan a product for information using either the barcode or a QR code. An iPad application should take this one step further, and allow users to view all of your product offerings in an interactive fashion.
- The “Where” factor. GPS allows for businesses to take advantage of their customer’s mobility with location based marketing. Typically, this has been the domain of B2C companies where the advantages are obvious: Services like Foursquare, Gowalla and Yelp serve to drive traffic into your local business location. But even B2B companies can use these services to reward clients at events, such as check-ins at the company booth or conference presentations to receive prizes. When you think about the number of conferences and social networking events related to a given industry in the span of a month, these represent several opportunities for customers to engage with your company. Combined with the check-ins for rewards, these solid opportunities to build relationships with customers and leads.
Business owners and executives need to move beyond “do I really need social media and what’s the value or ROI?” We’re now on to the next shift in marketing. It’s being driven by technology and customers and, more importantly, it’s out of your hands. If you want to be where your customers are, you must have a social media presence. Period. And now, you need to be thinking about mobile and local.