Posts Tagged ‘Mobile Strategy’
Do All Small Businesses Need a Mobile Strategy? (The New York Times)
At the Mobile Premier Awards — an international competition for mobile start-ups held last month at the Mobile World Congress — the message was clear: Web sites are old school, and mobile is a growing requirement for every industry and business.
Investors and entrepreneurs who judged and won at the M.P.A. competition were eager to offer tips and predictions to help all business owners — not just those with technology companies — prepare a mobile strategy. Here are some of their suggestions:
First, every company should try to become “visible” to mobile devices. “The idea is that if a consumer is looking for you on the run,” said Chetan Sharma, a mobile consultant who judged at the M.P.A. competition, “your info must be available in any format where they are looking to consume that information — or else you miss an opportunity.”
While smartphones can access most Web sites, the content in most sites isn’t coded to be read or found by people using devices on the go, with small screens and mobile browsers, search engines and operating systems. Smartphones, for example, can’t read Flash content, which many dance clubs and restaurants favor to create aesthetically pleasing sites.
Mr. Sharma recommends checking business directories, map and review sites and apps already popular with mobile users to see if your company is listed. If not, you can list basic details like your location, contact information and a short description free on many sites and apps. You should check Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Nokia’s Ovi Prime Place, Microsoft’s Bing Local Listings, Yelp and Foursquare.
You might also optimize your company’s existing Web content, suggested David Harper, chief executive of Percent Mobile, a New York-based mobile analytics company that won a Gold Award for Early Stage Innovation. If you maintain a blog on WordPress, for example, you can use the free WordPress Mobile Pack to convert the blog to a format that is fast-loading and readable on a smaller screen.
Other free and affordable things you can do include building a list of mobile phone numbers for customers who are willing to receive text-message alerts or text-message coupons; creating a mobile microsite coded in XHTML, CSS or other languages easily read by new mobile Web browsers and devices; or building a branded app and mobile ads to promote it using the services of companies like AdMob, GetJar, Mofuse, Mippin and MediaLets.
All entrepreneurs should be able to develop or use more powerful mobile apps to their advantage soon, said Rich Wong, a partner and venture investor with Accel Partners in Palo Alto who invested in AdMob (and GetJar) early on. That’s because, Mr. Wong said, new mobile devices, from their hardware features to their more open operating systems, are serving as “a richer substrata on which to build apps.”
He predicts geo-location services and “augmented reality” will begin to figure more prominently for traditional businesses. Augmented reality uses a phone’s camera, GPS and compass capabilities to create a street-view image that is layered with real-time information and hyperlinks. (It’s reminiscent of a scene included at 0:25 in the trailer for the movie “Fight Club.”)
At the M.P.A. event, a company called Layar presented an augmented reality mobile browser that impressed Mr. Wong. For example, he said, “With an augmented reality browser like Layar, you can hold up your phone, scan the neighborhood around you somewhere in Asia, and get back information on stores in the immediate area, including prices with a currency conversion back to U.S. dollars, or listings and discounts for a film that’s about to screen in a nearby cinema.”
Despite all of the new technology, a basic function of the mobile phone is still making phone calls. But even that’s changing. Adaffix, an Austrian company that won a Best in Female Entrepreneurship Mobile Premier Award, is offering voice calls that use search listings and social media data as a supplement.
That means a mobile user with an Adaffix app running can call a taxi service and get no answer but know that, upon hanging up, three alternative listings will be presented. The taxi services can offer coupons to try to scoop up the business. It’s a high-tech way to advertise that could serve traditional Main Street businesses well, said Adaffix founder and chief executive Claudia Poepperl.
Most important, understand that mobile and Web audiences are very different, said Mr. Harper of Percent Mobile. Someone at a home computer who checks out your restaurant’s Web site may be interested in videos of your chef or a PDF menu. Someone accessing your site by mobile is more likely to need to get directions instantly or to see if you have an open table. If you know, Mr. Harper said, “how the majority of your users are accessing your brand on mobile — are they using iPhone or BlackBerry or something else? — and what content they mostly need, you can be sure that they have a positive experience.”
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