The Growth in Mobile Usage: Implications for Starting and Growing Your Business
Mobile internet use has skyrocketed in the last five years. Google says that desktop searching was left by the wayside as mobile search took over.
If you’ve kept up with the series on Steve Blank’s Customer Development Model, you know how important it is for you to be where your customers are. Depending on your industry, there is a good chance that your customers are already relying on their mobile phones.
The enormous growth in mobile usages has important implications for every business. Whether you are just starting your business or are in the growth phase, it is important to consider what kind of mobile mindset you will adopt.
In this article you will learn about 1) the growth of the mobile market, 2) why your business needs to go mobile, 3) some tips on going mobile, and 4) some insights on the next big phase called Internet of Things.
THE GROWTH OF THE MOBILE MARKET & MOBILE USAGE
The number of hours that people spend online today continues to grow every year. These hours have shifted from desktop computers to mobile phones to a range of other devices. In fact, the amount of time spent on the mobile web increased 575% in around 3 years.
It is not just the amount of time that people spend online that matters. People now have more devices to choose from when they want to go online. As the adoption of mobile devices grows, the amount of time that people spend on them has grown with it. In fact, the amount of time spent on mobile internet has now overtaken the amount of time spent online on a desktop.
Like Benedikt Evans says: Mobile is eating the world shows the importance of going mobile for businesses.
These trends do not happen in a vacuum. Mobile internet did not shift from the development BBM to free Netflix streaming overnight. A series of events had to take place in order for mobile internet to be feasible at this level.
First, mobile devices needed to be more accessible. American carriers took care of that by leasing these phones alongside service contracts. This had benefits for everyone because consumers no longer had to shell out hundreds of dollars up front and carriers could make a bundle by locking those consumers into contracts.
Second, the availability of mobile internet had to improve. Even the youngest adopters can remember a time when mobile internet was good for chatting and email but still couldn’t beat wifi. Carriers knew that the cost of selling more data would be investment in better data services including better technology and more towers.
Third, mobile devices and data had to be useful in a way that was not currently available on the PC. Thus, the mobile app was born. Today, mobile apps are changing the game completely and users are abandoning their mobile browsers for apps. Google reported that its Android market received 50 billion app downloads in 2013 alone. Some reports suggest that this will grow to 268 billion downloads by 2017.
Apps are not just a new trend. Nearly 80% of mobile hours are spent using apps and total app usage grew 76% in 2014 alone. This is because apps offer a unique value proposition that merges convenience and sleek design. For many customers, this value proposition is worth enough to drag even the most dedicated PC user onto their phone or tablet.
Samsung prepared an in-depth market analysis of the US market for mobile phones which is helpful to understand the key trends.
WHY YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS TO GO MOBILE
The numbers are clear. Your customers are using their phones and their tablets to live their lives. Mobile technology allows them to live differently than before and these customers do not just love it. They rely on it.
This level of dependence means that you need to go mobile. Your customers are already there and unless scientists develop a methadone-like treatment for iPhone dependence, consumers are going to continue.
However, you cannot approach mobile internet the same way you would approach adopting a new advertising channel. Mobile devices are so addictive because they are more than a device. The device is an extension of your customer. This is an incredibly personal thing. Therefore, you cannot throw together an advertising plan and call it good. You need to create an experience and that experience must be personal.
Creating a personal mobile experience with your customer will allow you to help connect your brand with your audience. In turn, this will drive brand loyalty. Both of these things will help your drive sales for you company. The potential sales value of a solid mobile experience is not only sustainable but has huge potential for constant growth.
Here are a few things that you can incorporate into your mobile marketing plan:
Engage with customers. Engaging with customers on their mobile devices is easy because of the sheer amount of personal data they freely hand over. You can use your app or mobile site to create a new experience that is specifically tailored to unique customers.
Promote new services. You can create app notifications to supplement your email marketing campaign to promote higher visibility of your new services. You can also trial new services to the most dedicated of your early adopters. This group serves as a built in focus group who can help you perfect new products. It also has the added benefit of building buzz around new services or products.
Increase your sales. Increasing your sales using mobile marketing features is a relatively simple formula. All you need to do is make it easy to buy. The easier it is for customers to find your offerings and push the purchase button, the higher your sales will be.
Generate leads. The contact form on mobile sites feels more casual than the contact form on a desktop. A mobile lead should be simple give and collect.
Customer service. Using mobile marketing for customer service frees up other customer service teams. It is not heavily utilized right now; but, it is coming. Using it this way can put you in the unique position of already being where your customers are heading.
Enhance the customer experience. Using your mobile app to add little extras to your customers’ experience keeps them coming back for more. You can do this by offering exclusive experiences available only for certain customers. The more exclusive the experience feels, the more they will crave it.
FOCUSING YOUR EFFORTS
Learning about how the mobile market has grown is one thing. However, this transition to the mobile world is already in full swing. What really matters right now is how it is predicted to grow in the future
According to a recent white paper produced by Cisco, total global mobile traffic will increase tenfold between now and 2019. Mobile connection speeds will increase twofold by 2019. Almost 75% of the mobile data traffic in 2019 will be video.
This figures are important for you to consider when you’re moving your brand to the mobile phone. Just as prior developments paved the way for today’s use of mobile internet, future innovation will change the face of the mobile world as you know it today.
The possibility of lightning fast connection speeds opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for the kinds of experiences you can create for phones and tablets. To take advantage of these changes, you need to have a model that is forward thinking by design. Looking for places where you can continuously integrate new trends into your app is a good place to start.
Another important change coming in mobile internet is its global growth. At the moment, the North American and European markets are fairly saturated. Between now and 2019, it is the Middle East and Africa that will continue to see the largest mobile data usage growth. Mobile data is also predicted to overtake the availability of in-home internet connections. This transition is partly because of the availability of inexpensive smart phones. However, both government and foreign investment in telecoms have also propelled these cellular data forward.
As this huge portion of the world starts to go online, you will find that you can now reach more people. Virtually no one will be off limits. The biggest effects of this movement are already being experienced by luxury retailers. The growing amount of Middle Eastern and Asian wealth has become a priority for retailers, like MyTheresa, on the web. Now that mobile internet is becoming accessible and reliable, retailers are starting to adjust their mobile habits to accommodate these important customers in emerging markets.
Ultimately, all of these predictions mean that the mobile universe is marching forward at a brisk pace and you must be able to keep up with it. As more people get online and speeds become faster, you will soon have a lot of new opportunities to use the mobile market in ways that you could not have imagined 5 years ago.
MINDFUL OF THE MOBILE MINDSETS
To keep up with the sweeping growth of mobile internet use, many businesses have adopted a “mobile first” mindset. This means that these businesses focus on mobile customers first and foremost. Unfortunately, a desperate attempt to be relevant on the mobile web can often lead to businesses committing a few mistakes.
The biggest mistake that you can make when you commit to a mobile mindset is to neglect the desktop web strategy completely. Doing this can result in the alienation of customers, including valuable ones. Although people are spending more time on mobile internet, you will still have many customers who use their phones for browsing and their computers for purchasing.
Follow these rules to make the best use of the mobile web:
- Make sure that you have a mobile friendly site regardless of your primary customer base.
- Don’t assume that everyone does everything on their mobile device.
- Don’t focus solely on being mobile-friendly. Instead, you should adopt a mindset that is embraces the multi-device user. This includes smartphones, tablets and computers in one big ecosystem.
These rules are important for a healthy mobile balance. Why? Because even though mobile device use is growing quickly, these devices are not pushing computers out of the picture. Rather than taking up more of the pie, mobile internet is increasing the size of the market altogether. It is important to remember that mobile usage is growing but time spent on desktop browsers is growing, too.
PREPARING YOURSELF FOR THE INTERNET OF THINGS
For most people, the world of mobile internet revolves around a smart phone and a tablet. However, this is not the beginning and the end of the mobile world. Recently, this little mobile world has expanded into a mobile internet galaxy. This galaxy is referred to as the Internet of Things.
If you’re an early adopter, you might have experienced a brief foray into the Internet of Things. The highest profile examples of the Things include the Apple Watch and the Samsung Galaxy Gear. However, this is only a drop in the ocean for these kinds of devices.
The Internet of Things is not a trendy watch or accessory. It is the next generation in mobile technology. However, this generation is not that far away.
Rather than work as a standalone object, the devices that make up the Internet of Things are designed to flow seamlessly between working and living. These things will allow people to connect anything their most important lifestyle products to the internet and then reap the benefits of connectivity.
By 2020, there will be 26 billion internet enabled devices. Some of the current examples of products already floating about the Internet of Things include:
- Coffee makers
- Cell phones
- Household appliances
An overview of the IoT market including some really interesting product categories can be found here.
The Internet of Things is bigger than most of us realize right now. Even the people who are knee-deep in building it do not have a clear picture of its full potential. Thus, the Internet of Things is not just going to affect the way products are sold. It will affect the way cities are built. It will change the way hospitals are run. It will change the way people live their lives and it will certainly change the way that you run your business.
This will ultimately end up meaning huge, unprecedented changes for everyone. However, you can begin to position yourself to be ready for them now.
First, it is imperative to realize that you will have greater access to more personal data than ever before. This kind of data goes beyond contact details or even sensitive information. You could have the option of finding out when an individual customer makes a pot of coffee, what settings they use and how many pots they make every day. This sounds like raw data at first glance but it is highly personal. It is a window into the life of an individual customer.
Second, you need to understand that the way you collect data is changing. You will see an even bigger transition towards gathering data that is provided directly by the customer themselves. This data won’t always come from online profiles. It will come to you in real time directly from the customers’ living room. It has the potential to be truly big data that is provided by the customer, yet circumvents their control at the same time.
Both of these things open up a world of possibilities for you in terms of personalization and marketing. However, these possibilities will only be available to those who can collect this information in a safe and secure way.
Data security remains one of the primary issues in the Internet of Things. Having all of this personal information online and floating about makes users vulnerable. It is likely that some will try to exploit these vulnerabilities. Thus, easing into the Internet of Things in a secure way will be important for everyone.
You can get involved by focusing on scaled, secured projects. Well-designed products will win customer trust. Ultimately, this will not only help you boost sales and engagement but it will make you an active contributor in reaching for the potential of the Internet of Things.
The mobile internet is now one of the biggest game changers in the way business is done since the internet itself. Thus, going mobile is no longer a luxury but a command. If you approach your mobile web strategy with your eyes wide open and looking toward the future, you can reach customers in a way that you never dreamed possible.