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.
Research shows that shoppers are mobile–this article featured on eMarketer explains how consumers are turning to mobile to do product research before purchasing items in-store.
While consumer usage of smartphone and tablet devices for shopping purposes is on the rise, the devices’ place in the purchase path is varied. According to several pieces of research by Google, ForeSee Results and Nielsen, shoppers may start in the mobile channel for product research but then purchase in-store. They also may use mobile for product research on the go, then later purchase online on a PC or tablet.
Nielsen’s Q3–Q4 2011 “US Digital Consumer Report” indicates that 29% of smartphone owners use their phone for shopping-related activities. The top mobile shopping activities include in-store price comparisons (38%), browsing products through the mobile web or apps (38%), and reading online product reviews (32%).
A 2011 post-holiday shopping study by Google and Ipsos OTX also depicts consumers using their smartphones at many different points in the purchase path. For instance, 46% of smartphone users who used their mobile device for holiday shopping said they researched an item on their smartphone then went to a store to make their purchase. And 37% said they researched an item on their smartphone then made their purchase online on a computer. Holiday shopping data indicates that no matter the purchase channel, mobile devices are likely to play a role in a mobile user’s purchase process.
The Google study also shows that 41% of smartphone users researched with their mobile device and went on to actually purchase on the smartphone. That data point is higher than in some other mobile commerce studies. For example, a study released in January 2012 by customer experience management firm ForeSee indicates that during the 2011 holiday season only 15% of online shoppers used their phones to make purchases. The phone was most commonly used as a research and price comparison tool. However, Google/Ipsos OTX studied only smartphone owners while ForeSee looked at online shoppers as a whole, a group that includes many feature phone owners as well.
Whether a consumer makes a purchase via mobile or elsewhere, Google’s industry director for retail, Todd Pollak, told eMarketer that retailers need to improve the way they connect the mobile experience with the in-store or web-based shopping experience.
“You would think retailers would be hugely invested in ensuring you’d have an optimized experience on the mobile device, as well as trying to understand how people use it,” he said. “But consumers are way ahead of retailers in terms of their investment in mobile and how that plays into the purchase process.”
Although the path to purchase may appear unclear as consumers conduct the shopping process across multiple channels, Pollak encouraged mobile marketers to think about factors such as a consumer’s distance from a store and the days and times when mobile usage spikes. For example, tablet usage peaks during after-work hours and smartphone usage spikes during weekend days. Connecting and strategizing based on those statistics will help mobile marketers provide more targeted and personalized campaigns akin to the marketing experiences consumers are accustomed to on the web.
The increase in smartphone and tablet penetration in the U.S. is dramatically changing consumer buying habits. This infographic shows how tablets and online shopping trends are affecting commerce in the U.S.
The increasing number of tablet owners in the U.S. is changing the way people shop from in-store to online — 20% of all mobile ecommerce sales now come from tablets and 60% of tablet owners have purchased goods using a tablet.
Tablet users spend an average of one hour and 35 minutes on their devices and typically spend 10-20% more on purchases than shoppers without tablets. By 2016, mobile commerce is expected to increase to $31 billion in the U.S. – a tremendous jump from only $3 billion in 2010.
Since tapping away on a tablet in the comfort of your home helps beat long lines and crowded department stores, it’s no surprise that tablet owners are willing to spend more time and money shopping online.
Check out the infographic below to see how tablets are directly affecting ecommerce in the U.S., a trend that is expected to continue for the next five years.
Do you shop online more from a tablet than other devices?