the future of B2C marketing is on mobile devices

Small Business Marketing: The Future’s Mobile

Gee RanasinhaBusiness, Communications, Social Media, Technology

It’s always a dangerous game to play fortune-teller and predict what the future may hold for any particular industry. However, in the case of marketing I think it’s a fair bet to say that mobile devices – phones, tablets, even In-Car Entertainment (ICE) systems and even watches – are going to feature more prominently in marketing scenarios over the next few years.

There is plenty of information on the web about the growing importance of mobile. Perhaps the most in-depth (and certainly most quoted) annual summary of mobile marketing’s inevitable dominance in the B2C space comes from Mary Meeker, previously at Morgan Stanley and now a Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Mary’s Internet Trends reports, published around May every year, are staple fodder for every marketing professional.

Mobile Is Everywhere

Hopefully this is pretty obvious: mobile devices are ubiquitous. There are around 2 billion smartphones around the world, and more than 50% of all online content is initially consumed on some kind of mobile device. While many studies show new device sales slowing in developed countries, the sales curve is still steep for newer markets such as China, India, Brazil and some African countries.

Compared to PCs and laptops, mobile devices present a lower cost-to-entry (e.g. through carrier subsidies). The latest breed of smartphones offer platforms for new technical innovations such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, voice search and rich-media messaging.

Just looking at adoption costs in terms of both devices and infrastructure, it’s clear that the next billion new internet users are going to be entering it primarily from a mobile device. Just take a look at the growth in popularity of mobile messaging (both text/SMS based as well as via platforms such as Snapchat, WeChat, and WhatsApp). Then there are key utility applications in the form of banking, and mobile payment systems such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet. Initiatives such as Google’s mobile-first SEO indexing, AMP web pages and location-based content are pushing for a mobile-centric web, far away from the text-based internet PC users have grown up with.

The SMB Mobile Marketing Opportunity

It’s easy for the average small business owner to panic, and feel left out of all of this. After all, building multi-platform AI experiences or a custom Amazon Alexa skill is clearly out of scope for the average small business.

So where should you start?

  • A Mobile-Friendly Website. Your customers’ web experience needs to be consistent and optimized across whatever viewing device they’re using. Less than 30% of small businesses have mobile-friendly websites. Not only will this be a problem for SEO, moving forward. It’s going to prevent you from efficiently targeting mobile prospects. If there’s one marketing initiative you’re planning to implement in the coming months, make sure your website is optimized for mobile.
  • Segmentation and Measurement. In order to attract mobile-centric users, you need to know where they are, how they’re coming to you, and how efficient your mobile-first lead generation activities are. The only way to do that is to implement some kind of measurement analysis tool, such as Google Analtyics. Less than 10% of small businesses have any kind of analytics implemented on their site. Considering that Google Analytics is free, there’s really no excuse.
  • Integrate Your Marketing. Stop thinking of ‘mobile’ marketing being somehow different and separated from every other marketing tactic you’re deploying. Mobile is not a marketing channel. All channels – digital, traditional, social, etc – are a single customer acquisition ecosystem where the focus should be on people rather than tech platforms.

Start Small By All Means – But Start

A subset of the continued advances in mobile technology will eventually filter down to changing or evolving customer behavior. The challenge for marketers – large and small – is to adapt and adopt the most appropriate and (above all) relevant customer acquisition initiatives.

Just because mobile is ubiquitous doesn’t mean you need to be. What’s important is to think like your target audience. Be where your customers expect you to be – and don’t turn up where you’re not welcome.