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Are You Riding the Mobile Wave?
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It’s something every surfer knows: the feeling that comes with riding a big wave. Sometimes, when running a small business, you manage to achieve that same feeling. You catch a surge in demand and ride it with skill, style, even artistry. It can be exhilarating.

One of the biggest waves to reach the business world lately is the mobile revolution. The statistics are staggering: There are 1.5 billion mobile users worldwide (up more than 50% from a year ago), and smartphones account for 15% of all Internet traffic (also up 50% in a year). In 2013 alone, mobile phone and tablet sales are expected to be six times greater than PC sales.

Some of you may have taken measures to catch this wave. Perhaps you made your website more mobile-friendly or launched a text messaging program. Small steps may not be sufficient, though. Both mobile technology and its uses are evolving quickly, Deloitte notes. As one example, Deloitte reports that 80% of smartphone users now multitask on their devices while watching TV.

Are you staying abreast of changes in the mobile landscape and their potential impact on your business? Here are five important areas I suggest considering:

Focus on tablets

As tablet use grows, you need to think about what it means for your company’s website. You may have created a version that works well on smartphones. Can you count on it looking good on a tablet-size monitor? These days, you need three versions of your site: for desktops, mobile phones and tablets. For tablets, some changes you may want to make include avoiding excessive scrolling, making links and images bigger and filling the screen so there’s little dead space.

Advertise on mobile devices

As the mobile migration continues, your advertising may need to follow suit. The most common forms of mobile marketing include mobile banners, Short Message Service (SMS) or text messaging, and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) marketing, which involves sending content such as photos and videos. A messaging service can help you refine and distribute your ads for maximum effect.

Offer a mobile app

It seems like consumers are using mobile apps for just about everything. Alert small businesses are responding by providing apps that make doing business with them easier. A dry cleaner might offer an app that eases order tracking, for example, or a limo service might provide one that lets customers see a car approaching on an online map. You may be able to find an off-the-shelf app for your type of business. If one isn’t available, consider hiring an app development service to make one for you.

Permit mobile payment

Have you watched people pass their smartphones over a scanner at the checkout counter? They just used a mobile wallet to transfer funds from their bank or credit card account to the store’s account. If you run any type of brick-and-mortar business, you should consider adding this kind of payment, too. You might also want to permit mobile payment, in which you use a smartphone with a small attachment to accept credit and debit cards. This is especially useful for companies offering goods and services outside their place of business, such as craft fair vendors and car towing services.

BYOD? Consider MDM

Do you allow your employees to use their personal devices for work? The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is growing. If you’re in this situation, consider engaging a mobile device management (MDM) service to keep an eye on your staff’s use of these devices, provide the software and support they need and help make sure your company doesn’t suffer a security breach because of a lost device or cyber crime.

Have you done anything to reach mobile consumers? This is one wave you don’t want to miss.

Tom HughesVP of Small Business Product Management, AT&T
Tom leads a team responsible for developing bundled solutions for small/medium businesses, driving IP conversion, & managing AT&T’s Fiber to the Building Program. He has a BS degree in Engineering Mgmt. from Missouri University of Science & Technology and an MBA from St. Louis University.
att.com/smallbusiness | @ATTSmallBiz | Facebook | More from Tom

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