Is dumb software stopping you engaging with smartphones?

Do your business software solutions allow you to engage appropriately with smartphones? Many small business owners will tell you that ‘smartphones don’t play a role in my business’, but stop mid-sentence to take a phone order, booking, reservation, quote or provide customer support from a smartphone.


Without knowing, your business is already dependent on Smartphones.

According to figures published by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in 2014, around 25% of Australians no longer have a fixed phone service. That means more than 4.4 million Australians are now mobile only, with that figure increasing every month.  In fact, 59% of Australians now own a smartphone.

Have you experienced your business from a smartphone perspective?

If we accept that the majority of your customers are using their smartphones to engage with your business, then it's important to see your business from this perspective. Take the time to use your smartphone (assuming you’re like most Australians and have one in reach right now) and ask Siri, OK Google or Cortana the following:  “I’m looking for (insert your product, service, and suburb here),” and see what the result is. If you come up in the results, follow the links to see what your customers experience. Most of the time, you will be unpleasantly surprised with the experience. Try the same exercise again with your business name and your competitors and see what happen. 

Get the mobile marketing basics right.

In a previous article, I discussed four basic steps to an effective mobile marketing strategy. Suffice to say, as I’ve said countless times before, the number one thing your business needs – even before native apps for iOS and Android – is a decent mobile or responsive website.

Why it’s so important to get this right is because you are marketing to the very device your customers will use to order your product and – increasingly (with Apple Pay and other payment platforms) – pay for it.

A sobering thought from Google

On April 21, Google changed their search ranking algorithms to favor mobile friendly websites. Those in the know are aware that Google is just responding to the reality of a world increasingly driven by smartphones. They know that more and more of your customers demand information from websites that work on their smartphones. The reality is if your website doesn’t fit into that category, they will simply find a website that does.

Start small and work your way up

By this time, you are probably rethinking your customer engagement strategy, however, before you start figuring out how you’re going to build a new mobile friendly website or app, make the following change: Turn your phone number into a link. Just as you can link to a web address, you can also make a link to the phone number. Instead of making a link to, say, “yourbusiness.com.au,” you’d make the link to “tel:0987654321” (use your phone number).

This is a simple exercise; however it can instantly make it easier for someone using a smartphone to contact you. Creating a link to your phone number on your mobile website is a simple thing to do, and yet many businesses don’t do it. Not creating this link means customers are required to jump between the web browser, the home screen and the phone app on their smartphone in order to make a call. For many, this will be too many steps.

Google mobile-friendly testing tool

Google provides you with a simple tool to evaluate for yourself how mobile friendly your website is. Simply click on the following link:

www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly

If you think smartphones are only for calls, you’re missing the point

Yes, customers are using their smartphones to call you, however, they are often doing a lot of other research activity before they make the call. Google research has indicated that smartphones are (more often than not) the start point of the customer journey. Because your customer’s smartphones are always in reach, they often use their smartphones to start their research. This research often moves to tables and even laptop and desktop computers, however if your customers are on the move, the entire journey is completed on their smartphone.

How are your customers using their smartphones?

According to Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), 77% of adults transfer funds using their mobile phones while 46% use them to pay bills.  The same research indicates Australians aged 25 to 34 are 33% more likely than the average Australian to use mobile commerce. It’s only those over 65 who are less likely to use their smartphone in this capacity.

What can every Australian SME business take away from this article?

We now live in an era of ‘mobile-first multi-device internet.’ If you want to remain competitive and access more customers, you need to think ‘smartphone’ as your first customer point of engagement.

Consider how your website works in a mobile environment. If you have an online shopping facility, check how it works on a smartphone. The same goes for your business software. Is it more convenient for your customers if you supply them with a ‘self service’ capacity via your business software (e.g. Greentree4 Sales)? Think of what you can do to improve your online profile so that you come up first on smartphone searches. Also, check how well your business performs on both voice and typed searches.

What comes next?

Once you have undertaken this activity, you are then in a position to evaluate what your priorities need to be with a smartphone-engagement strategy.  Your research can form the basis of a brief to web developers, app developers or business software providers.

How much business am I missing out on?

The average Australian looks at their smartphone more than 1500 times per week. If only 5% of that activity is focused on discovering providers of goods and services, then the business potential of a smartphone strategy becomes clearer.

Your job is to ensure those potential customers are looking at your business.