According to the latest Small Business Success Index sponsored by Network Solutions and the University of Maryland ( released March 2011), most small business owners are aware of various mobile marketing activities, the best known including: sending text messages to customers about a promo (73 percent) and listing the company on a location-based website (68 percent). Most owners are aware of other applications, including creating their own mobile website, placing ads on mobile websites, and creating their own apps for their business. While awareness of mobile marketing activities is high, usage is low. See this episode on the MSN’s Business on the main where my colleague Navin Ganeshan joined in the discussion on Small Business Mobile technology.
My friend Ramon Ray always evangelizes that small business should not use “technology for technology sake”. A small business owner may have the dilemma of what is the business losing by not going mobile or what can be gained by going mobile. What are the most important reasons for Small Business to be mobile?
Primary uses of a mobile device by a Small Business
a) Receive calls from customers at any time – a cell phone.
b) Check email – Blackberry or similar device with a email plan
c) Use the Internet, website and social networks – Smartphone with a data plan.
d) Update your website or your social networks – Smartphone with a data plan and app(s) that allow you to update your website and social networks.
How small business customers use mobile:
a) Search for a business or product on their mobile device :
- To be in front of these searching customers you should have a mobile website so your mobile site can be found on search engines.
- The mobile version should also load on all mobile phones.
- Appear in search rankings and location based social networks like FourSquare, Facebook Places, Google Hotspot, Gowalla. Location based ad services and mobile ad services.
- Subscribe to receive text messages with offers.
- If you are on the go and visit customers and need to take payments you can now use your phone to get payments from credit cards.
- One method is to use an app on a Iphone or android. Some of these apps come with a scanner attachment that you can actually swipe the credit cards.
- Network Solutions ( The company I work for ) has nsMobilePay and others offering this service are Square , Intuit etc
d) QR Codes :
- These are codes that you can create that when scanned by a phone takes you to a url, gives you other information like product information or contact information. Having QR codes in your marketing materials like brochures, cards, menus etc may help customers easily access our information from their phone.
- Read my article on SmartBrief Restaurants on this topic specially for restaurant owners.
e) NFC – Near Field Communication:
- This is a emerging technology that allows a mobile phone to communicate with another device in close proximity and exchange information. This technology in future when enough devices have the capability may help phones to be used for easy payment and purchases.
Since I work for a leader in small business tools Network Solutions we are helping small businesses solve their mobile dilemma. I wanted to make sure you checked out our page for mobile tools and applications http://www.networksolutions.com/mobile-services/index.jsp that may help your business go mobile. The Network Solutions website is also mobile http://m.networksolutions.com to take care of customers who want to reach Network Solutions on their mobile phones.
What apps or devices are you finding the most useful for your business? What is your strategy for going mobile? If you have seen some excellent use of mobile technology by a small business please share your thoughts in comments here.
Editor’s Note : Shashi Bellamkonda is Director of Social Media, AKA “Social Media Swami,” at Network Solutions. Visit Shashi Bellamkonda’s blog. Shashi is a regular contributor to the Washington Business Journal, SmallBizTrends.com, TechCocktail and other tech blogs. The views in this article are the author’s and not necessarily reflect the views of Network Solutions or its clients.