Heaven help small business owners. Often strapped for resources, and confused about how to boost business via the Internet, they often feel two steps behind and a dollar short.
But for small, local businesses, going mobile-friendly is a must. Recent surveys indicate that consumers are relying on their smart phones for not only researching products and services, but buying them — and often rapidly. According to a study by Telmetrics, 46 percent of consumers use their mobile devices as their only research tool.
Look at it this way. If you’re an Iowan who adores a pair of shoes that will take a week to ship from California, location and speed are not of the essence. But if you’re looking for a plumber because the water heater died, a roofer because a storm blew away half of your house, or a pedicure because you just got invited on a cruise — well, you want something local and you want it now.
To make the point with a riveting statistic: according to Google and Ipsos, 70 percent of mobile searchers call a business directly from their search results.
Too many small businesses are still deciding if they “need a website.” For local companies that want to survive the coming mobile-first search methodology, here are four ways to make a mark in the mobile marketplace.
1. Go local. There are tons of free local directories on which your business can be listed. You need the exposure, and you need to be on all of the freebie sites. The first thing a customer will seek is someone nearby. The second thing? Your phone number (followed by info on hours and other particulars). Can they find you via mobile — and easily and quickly? If not, you have work to do.
2. Design for quick response. Once you understand how mobile users operate, you can provide quick links and “click here to call” prompts that make it easier for a prospective customer to get in touch with you.
3. Revamp your website. Mobile search is slated to trump desktop search in a matter of months … maybe minutes, at the rate we’re moving. Make sure your online presence and website materials are designed for mobile viewing compatibility (yes, shell out the bucks to hire an expert, if you must) and make sure you are getting the best mobile exposure.
4. Keep abreast of changes. Everything you do to update your website, design for mobile, and analyze how your customers find you (and how they would like to find you) is money in the bank. Get those mobile platforms rolling now. Smartphone users are a speedy bunch. Go toe-to-toe with them to reap the inevitable rewards.