Last year, we wrote a detailed article about making sure your website is mobile ready. But the truth is that’s just one step you need to take in order to effectively ride the mobile wave (a wave that won’t be crashing any time soon).
Here are seven strategies to consider.
1. Accept mobile payments. The good news is that the barrier to entry for small businesses is essentially nil, thanks to products that offer flexible pricing and customization based on your particular company’s needs. Check out this post where we interviewed small business owners about why they started accepting mobile payments, how it’s made their lives—and their customers’ lives—easier, and the products they use.
2. Offer scheduling online. If yours is a business where you need to make appointments with customers, then make it ultra-easy for people to book them on the fly. Many scheduling products exist that are geared towards the small business user. Some products that we’ve heard good things about include Schedulicty, Mediyak (designed for healthcare practitioners), and GenBook. (This is not an endorsement for any of these products, however. Make sure you do your homework!)
Online scheduling isn’t just convenient for your patients; it also frees up your time (think how much time you—or someone in your office—spends on the phone calling people back, dealing with cancellations, and confirming appointments). Most online scheduling products seamlessly create and send email/text reminders to clients about their appointments so this will free up phone time.
3. Consider mobile advertising. Since more and more people are married to their smart phones, sending them text messages can be a great way to interact with them. Of course, there’s a fine line between spamming and providing something of value, so you’ll want to make sure you follow best practices and that your offer is worthwhile.
In addition to text messaging, investigate other advertising opportunities that focus solely on mobile users. For example, Facebook has an ad option that allows your ads to appear on people’s mobile devices as they’re browsing their newsfeeds. These sorts of options are going to become increasingly common.
And what about QR codes? Yes, the debate over QR codes often gets heated, and their demise has been reported several times over the years. But we’ve been wondering if they might be making a comeback in 2014. It’s something to consider, anyway.
4. Develop an app. Sounds complicated and costly, and it certainly can be, but there are also cost effective options available, like Mobile by Conduit.
5. Arm your sales force with tablets and phones. Not only does it make your reps’ lives easier, it sends the message that your company is current. It’s a subtle message, but a powerful one. Read more about real businesses that have ditched their desktops and laptops in favor of tablets.
6. Include mobile options for customer service. Can your customers tweet, text, or Facebook you with their issues and questions? Be careful how you answer this. If you embrace social media as a way of communicating with customers, you need to go “all in” and make sure your reps are poised to accept the challenge. But it can be a powerful way to respond to customers, and it makes it easy for customers to reach you. See our post titled “Should small businesses offer customer service via social media?” for more insight.
7. Get creative in your communications. Here are some examples:
- Restaurants: provide customers a place to add their cell phone numbers at the bottom of the checks—and let them know they’ll receive a sweet deal via text if they do so. The next day, send a text thanking them for the visit and linking them to a coupon for a free appetizer or dessert on their next visit.
- Hair Salons: Send a text to clients the day after their visit asking how they like their new cut (manicure, pedicure, you get the idea).
- In general: Text customers a greeting on their birthday. It could be something as simple as “Wishing you a happy birthday from all your friends at Awesome Company.”
How is your business riding the mobile wave? Share in the comments.