You have undoubtedly heard about the dramatic growth of mobile sites and mobile apps, but you may not have a plan for mobile yet.  Most likely, some of you need to be brought up to speed on mobile.

Smartphones are everywhere these days and the numbers are growing fast.  Nielsen predicts that Smartphones will account for more than half of the US mobile phone market by the end of 2011.

What is a Smartphone?

A smartphone is a handheld device offering advanced capabilities with functionality much like a PC.  Some examples of popular Smartphones are…

Mobile Phones

HTC Hero | iPhone | Palm Pre | Blackberry

Still in the works is the all new Windows Phone 7, which is getting some interesting reviews.  Plus, there are a ton of other versions of Blackberries and Android phones.  These phones are going to become more plentiful, sophisticated and popular.

Mobile Experience, the New Wild West

So, what does this mean for marketers and business owners?  It means that if you are not marketing on mobiles yet, you should be.  Think of mobile as the new world wide web.

When the web was first gaining ground as a viable marketing tool, many businesses were shortsighted and dismissed it.  They said “I don’t need a web site, that’s not where my clients are”.  Well, that changed very quickly and now everyone must have some sort of web presence to survive.

Mobile is fast becoming just as necessary.  Stats show that smartphone users are checking their email, social media outlets and general web inquiries more and more on their handhelds.  If they look for you what will they find?

Some web sites will render fine on a smartphone.  However, if your audience is looking for you on mobile devices, you may want to consider a mobile version of your web site.  Generally, these are set up so they are easier to navigate on a smaller screen.  Here are some mobile sites we’ve set up recently…

MBrace Mobile Campaign

MBrace Mobile Campaign

As you can see, the navigation is simplified, allowing the user quick and easy access to your information.  If you are a member based organization or a company that offers a lot of resource information online, you will want to make sure this same information can be accessed by smartphone users.

Is There a Mobile App for Your Clients?

Mobile sites are just one example of using mobile to market your organization.  Marketing with mobile is really about the experience.  Smartphones promote activity and interactivity.  Nothing does this better than an “App”.

We’ve seen the iPhone ads that tell us that, for every circumstance, “there’s an app for that”.  And you may have seen some of these apps and even used some of them.  Some are for fun while some actually serve a worthwhile purpose.

So, what exactly is an “App”?  App is short for application.  It is a standalone piece of software that runs on your smartphone, with a specific function or set of functions.  In other words, it is a tool contained within your smartphone that you can easily access and use for its intended purpose.

There are literally millions of apps.  For business, the focus should be on solving a problem, gathering or manipulating data, or guiding the user through a process.  Here are some examples…

  • Solving a problem – businesses might offer these apps to their clients as a useful tool.  They are a way to enter some sort of problem and be offered a solution – for example, you tell the app what sort of pest has invaded your house and the app tells you some ways to deal with that pest.
  • Gathering or manipulating data – these types of apps would be used to find out calculations or gather specific information about a topic.  For example, a sales person in the field may enter data  provided by their customer into the app and the app then generates a quote or product spec for that customer to review.
  • Guiding the user through a process – these can be situational or location-based apps (or both).  These apps could be used by an organization to enhance the user’s experience in a certain situation.  For example, if you are a frequent shopper at IKEA, well, IKEA could offer an in-store app that helps you navigate the store to find sales, specific items, etc.

Marketing on smartphones needs to be targeted and streamlined.  The screen sizes are small, the distractions are much greater than on a PC, and the competition is fierce.  You need to do your research, survey your target audience, and make sure that your efforts are well thought out.

Of course it is always a good idea to consult with a professional.  We work with our clients to formulate a plan, do feasibility studies and develop an effective mobile marketing strategy.  If you have any questions about mobile, please contact us and let us know.

Jon-Mikel Bailey - Before co-founding Wood Street in 2002, Jon worked in sales, marketing and business development for technology and marketing firms. A popular speaker, he gives seminars on marketing, internet marketing, branding and web design to chambers of commerce, trade associations and colleges. He has a BFA in Photography from Frostburg State University and still shoots photos for Wood Street clients.