Mobile will disrupt your industry: 3 ways to protect your business
By Tim Peter
How important is mobile for marketing your business in 2015? If you've read any of my past posts, you should know the answer is "extremely important."
According to the Economist, when asked if they'd give up mobile internet for a week, EU consumers said they'd rather skip fast food, newspapers, chocolate, alcohol, and books. Even coffee only got support from just over half the respondents. Heck, 14% would rather skip sex for a week than give up their mobile internet access. (Of course, you could argue that mobile internet access provides a handy replacement for newspapers and books—I'll leave the "replacement for sex" jokes to the more sophomoric among you).
Growth in mobile access is accelerating at a staggering pace. Bruce Sterling notes that, by year's end, something like 60%-65% of the world's population will have a smartphone. That means some 4 to 4.5 billion people worldwide can access all the world's information where, when, and how they want.
Mobile is huge—and getting, um… huge-r.
Bad grammar aside, it's worth taking a moment to note exactly how mobile will disrupt your industry, as well as three ways to protect yourself.
While you're no doubt aware of the showrooming phenomenon, where consumers check prices on their phones while cruising local shops and big-box retailers' aisles—which, to be fair, may provide greater benefits than threats—mobile enables disruption across a whole array of industries.
Take, for instance, the intersection of hospitality and restaurants. To pick one example, online travel reservations company Priceline not only sells reservations through its signature brand and its subsidiary Booking.com, it provides hotel management and reservations technology directly to a number of individual hotels, and also owns OpenTable, the restaurant reservations service. Using mobile data about which guests have arrived at their hotel, Priceline could in theory provide restaurants a mobile marketing platform to market to guests staying in local hotels and then arrange their dinner reservation or, perhaps in the future, delivery of the order. Cool, right?
But what happens to those hotels offering room service or an on-site restaurant of their own? Imagine hotel marketing managers having to spend money to market to guests already staying in their hotel simply to remain competitive. That's far from an ideal scenario. It's also one facing many industries moving forward. Anyone carrying and using a mobile phone creates a stream of data about their likes and their locations that many innovators plan to leverage for delivering improved products and services.
Google gets it. The search giant is now sending messages to webmasters whose sites aren't mobile-friendly alerting them to the problem—which Search Engine Land predicts is a likely precursor to removing those sites from mobile search results altogether.
Now, what should you do?
First, make sure your site works on mobile. Providing customers a modern, mobile-friendly site will ensure you won't fall out of Google's results even if they make a massive move there—to say nothing of helping your customers accomplish their goals on mobile.
Second, start building out or beefing up your customer database. Google, Apple, Facebook, and countless others represent gatekeepers between your customers and your business. If they're not already charging you for the "right" to talk with your own customers, they undoubtedly will. Use your customer data to ensure you remain in contact with those customers and continue to do so in the future.
Finally, begin planning how to make your brand's mobile experience essential to your customers daily life. If your mobile site or app is a "only once-in-a-while" experience for your customers, you risk some more vital service taking your place altogether. Mobile browsing, shopping, and buying go hand-in-hand. Work to ensure you're your customers first choice when they reach for their phone.
Mobile isn't going away. If anything, its growth will only accelerate over the next handful of years. We're well past the point where you can take a "wait and see" approach. If you plan to be in business for more than a couple of years, it's time to focus first, last, and always on how your customers use mobile—and how, when they reach for their mobile, you can ensure they're really reaching for you.
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