I’ve been a business owner my whole life. I owned one of the first web development firms in San Luis Obispo. I started what later became the second largest virtual tour company in the country. I sold that to what is now the second largest newspaper group in the country, and got a chance to try my hand at the newspaper business.
I grew an IT company from 15 employees to 40 in less than 2 years. And I’ve provided consulting to countless business owners over the years. Bottom line: I’ve seen a lot. People often ask me what key factors I look at when considering my involvement in a business, so here they are:
1) Risk vs. reward
What do I get for my sweat equity? Can I turn a little money – and a lot of hard work – into more money?
2) What’s the income potential?
Can this make me the kind of returns I want?
3) Recurring income
Do I have to fight for income each month, or do I build up recurring income the longer I work at it?
4) Am I excited to be a part of it?
I love technology, I love helping business owners. I want an excuse to NEED the new iPhone.
5) Freedom with my time
Do I have to open my doors each day at the same time? Can I take a vacation without the business falling apart?
Smartphones now account for almost half of all wireless devices in use by mobile users and with that, the adoption of mobile marketing programs continues to gain strength. Even so, there are important challenges holding businesses back from executing the programs, including a lack of resources and a well thought out strategy, according to a new survey from StrongMail.
The most popular forms of mobile marketing are mobile websites (70%), mobile applications (55%) and QR codes (49%), the survey found.
The top obstacle is a lack of strategy cited by 37% of the businesses, followed by a lack of resources and staff at 22%, and “not appropriate for our business” at 19%.
Mobile marketing budgets remain a small fraction of overall interactive budgets, with 54% of businesses allocating 5% or less to mobile programs. Nearly a quarter of businesses reported less than 1% allocated to mobile. A lack of funding was cited by 12% of respondents as the obstacle in executing mobile programs. On the positive side, 55% report increased budgets over the past year.
“I don’t think that the market is really fundamentally sure what they want to do with mobile marketing and that’s been the case with mobile for a long time,” Kara Trivunovic, vice president of agency services at StrongMail, said. “The proliferation of smart phones and devices has forced marketers to look at it from the standpoint of rendering an engagement. The flip side is, what do you want to do with that as a marketing or communication channel and that’s where marketers are getting stuck. They are not sure how consumers will feel about it and what’s the measurement of success.”
Even so, 59% of respondents believe that a mobile program could help them increase sales, 52% said it could improve customer service while nearly 50% of respondents reported that a strong mobile program would increase brand awareness. Forty-five percent said the programs could help acquire new customers.
While marketers are integrating mobile into various components of their campaigns, this survey focused on the state of integrating mobile into email programs.
Some 43% of businesses have achieved some level of integration between their email marketing and mobile marketing programs, but with mobile landing pages (32%), mobile number capture at email sign-up (25%) and mobile optimized templates (22%) being the top areas of focus.
Only 27% are running cross-channel, lifecycle marketing programs that include mobile messaging. Similarly, only 29% have used mobile response data to optimize offers in email or other channels.
Methodology: The global survey was conducted in April 2012 with more than 800 business leaders.
In March 2012, marketing agency Cargo and Inc. Magazine found the majority (52%) of US small-business owners felt companies did not market to them effectively. Along similar lines, 45% said companies made little effort to understand their business and 43% said B2B marketers did not understand their individual needs as small-business owners.
Part of the problem may be that the small-business audience is widely diverse. It comprises business and service owners in industries across consulting, retail, food service, agriculture, technology and more. And even at the industry level, small-business owners’ needs are highly individualized and easily reprioritized as owners juggle their marketing, operations, sales and financial responsibilities.
“When you look at the core needs and challenges that [small] business owners are facing, they’re time-starved, and they’re not the type of people sitting in a building behind a computer all day,” said American Express OPEN’s Scott Roen, vice president of digital marketing and innovation, in an April 2012 interview with eMarketer. “They’re out front, working with their customers and employees, so they’re inherently mobile in nature.”
Small-business owners’ proclivity for mobile devices such as laptops and smartphones could prove valuable for B2B marketers looking to connect with this audience. Inc. Magazine and Cargo found the vast majority (91%) of US small-business owners placed importance on wireless communications and smartphones for their business—a likely indicator of their vital daily use. Tablets were also important to 64% of respondents.
The importance of these devices for US small-business owners coincides with SMBs’ adoption of smartphones and tablets. In April 2012, Spiceworks, an online SMB IT solution provider and professional community, found that 96% of SMB IT professionals worldwide said their company purchased smartphones for their employees. Sixty-six percent said the same of tablets.
Marketers looking to reach small-business owners on these mobile devices might consider starting with first adapting their mobile web presence for Apple OS-based devices: The vast majority of tablets purchased for employees were iPads (79%), followed by Android devices (39%). In addition, 64% said they bought the iPhone/iOS for employees, followed in popularity by Android smartphones (56%) and BlackBerrys (41%).
As a foreign correspondent in London 10 years ago, my job was to unearth innovative new startups for my business magazine’s readers. I traveled across the Continent, from Helsinki to Milan, meeting entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and big company researchers to write about the next big thing.
In the summer of 2002, I attended a launch party for a startup demonstrating their nascent service at a swanky Haymarket bar. Upon walking in, there were printed instructions to visit one of the tables playing music and then navigate through a maze of confusing WAP mobile phone menus. What resulted was my phone magically telling me the name of the song playing in the room. The event was Shazam’s coming out party. It took almost 10 years for the music recognition app to truly gain widespread recognition but, for me, it was the first time I saw firsthand what was only possible with a mobile phone.
Ten years later, publishers are still plotting the best ways to engage readers on mobile devices.
The stakes are high. As technology continuously improves, the percent of content consumed from mobile devices increases. On average, 20% of sites’ content is now being consumed in mobile browsers. But, evolving technology platforms and consumption patterns makes it far more difficult to succeed on mobile than it is on desktop.
And the challenge of building a great mobile experience isn’t solved by simply ensuring the content displays in the right way in the right environment. The bigger challenge is to figure out how best to match the content and mission of that publisher with the unique properties associated with varied operating systems, devices, browser and app environments.
Different technology translates into different consumption patterns. For example, users are consuming content in very different ways in apps than they are on the mobile Web. Gaming and social apps account for 80% of all app activity. By comparison, those activities account for just 40 percent of time spent on the desktop. Mobile Web consumption more closely mirrors what people do at a desktop with news, utilities, entertainment and topic-specific content accounting for the bulk of activity. Most publishers are responding to the rapidly evolving technology landscape with a wait-and-see approach.
A brave few are experimenting early, and with promising results.
Food52 has tailored its approach to the screen size. Its iPhone app is focused on its Hotline, a forum for user questions and answers. To take advantage of the bigger screen and encourage users to take their iPads into the kitchen, Food52′s Holiday app included a variety of entertaining tips, such as step-by-step instructional videos on how to prepare a dry-brined turkey or Tuscan onion confit.
The logical first step for publishers into mobile publishing is to create a mobile-optimized site. SAY makes that easier with technology used by Remodelista that automatically resizes the page based on the screen size the content is being accessed from.
Still others are pushing the envelope even further. Kinfolk Magazine’s luminous iPad app complements its quarterly books about small gatherings by encouraging readers to experience the content in a way unique to a tablet device. Whether swiping down for a peek at an intimate dinner by a freezing lake or rearranging the layout and size of photos of a salty dinner of buttered clams and beer in Maritime Canada, readers have never been able to personalize content like this before.
Think of it like that natural instinct to open the refrigerator and grab a snack when you’re bored, but instead it’s the natural instinct to grab your phone and start doing something on it.
According to eMarketer, Americans armed with smartphones represent a different class of consumers: ones that stand apart from other Americans in the way they shop, communicate, consume media.
This class is referred to as the ‘smartphone class’ and there are about 100 million members.
How are the members of this class distinguishable?
They are always connected, excited by access to real-time information, pass time by watching videos or playing games on their phones, scan mobile barcodes, shop with mobile coupons, make mobile purchases, and more.
You know when you’re sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office and you grab a magazine to read to kill the time? Well, the consumers in the smartphone class grab their phones instead—maybe to check their Twitter, surf the Web, play Angry Birds or upload a photo on Instagram.
Whatever it may be, their spare time consists of them engaging in some kind of mobile activity. They are constantly “snacking” on small portions of content on their mobile device throughout the day, keeping them more connected than ever before.
The path to purchase has been completely repaved by these snackers, giving marketers a tremendous opportunity to target them. Also, smartphone penetration and mobile gaming and video consumption are constantly growing, which means so are these opportunities.
I’m definitely a member of this smartphone class, and I’ll admit to being a snacker as well.
Are you part of this class of consumers?
If you’re over the age of 20, you’ve likely used a credit card, counted change and maybe even written a check. But is all that about to change?
Mobile payment hasn’t become the de facto method of financial transactions just yet, but it is projected to overtake those archaic checkbooks and bank notes you’ve been lugging around.
Three types of mobile payments dominate the marketplace today: m-commerce (uses a mobile browser and online wallets), m-payments (uses mobile apps), and m-wallets (replaces your entire wallet). Furthermore, consumers can access several forms of transaction on their mobile devices, including scannable barcodes, mobile coupons and self-checkout.
But are consumers ready to wholeheartedly adopt the latest in mobile payment technology? Adults who are unbanked, for instance, may face a barrier to mobile transactions — there are currently 17 million unbanked adults in the U.S. But many smartphone users welcome the convenience of mobile payments (87% in the UK), while others worry about the privacy factor (79% in Asia). Still, 49% of consumers in the U.S. found shopping on a smartphone awkward.
Then again, many people found paper checks awkward and credit cards confusing the first time around.
Where do you fall in the mobile payment debate? What kinds of transactions do you handle on your smartphone? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
The world could be a dramatically different place by 2020. In only eight short years, cash and credit may be gone from our daily experience. In their place? Mobile payment platforms that will simplify and expedite how we pay for goods and services.
“As adoption of advanced mobile devices such as smartphones has exploded in recent years,” a new Pew study reads, “consumers have grown increasingly comfortable using their phones to transfer money, purchase goods, and engage in other types of financial transactions.”
Recent Pew Internet surveys find that one in ten Americans have used their cell phone to make a charitable contribution by text message, that more than one-third of smartphone owners have used their phones to do online banking services like paying bills or checking a balance, and that 46% of apps users have purchased an app using a mobile device.
Incredibly, some sixty-five percent of the technology experts surveyed by Pew believe that mobile wallets will be fully trusted and adopted by consumers to such a degree that they will replace cash and credit by the close of the decade.
Since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, the production and mainstream usage of smartphones has exploded. The device opened a world of innovation in mobile technology, which was soon followed by a similar boom from apps.
Today, we rely on apps to do just about everything, from keeping us organized to pure entertainment. Millions of downloads later, the app economy is as strong as ever.
App development has created 466,000 jobs across all available platforms, according to a survey performed by TechNet. This includes local baristas, since many developers rely on coffee shops to get work done.
Our friends at Frugal Dad have created this infographic about the economy and how it’s been affected by smartphones and apps.