Social Media Bootcamp: 5 Tips for Growing Business on Mobile Platforms

As sales of mobile devices continue to skyrocket, it's essential than ever that companies adopt a customer-centric mobile strategy. OpinionLab offers five tips that will help companies improve the mobile experience and attract new customers.

As sales of mobile devices continue to skyrocket and with Gartner forecasting that mobile revenues will exceed one trillion dollars by 2014, it is essential that companies adopt a customer-centric mobile strategy in order to grow their business.

OpinionLab, known for its voice-of-customer (VOC) listening technologies and recent entrant into the social media monitoring field, offers five tips to help companies improve their mobile experience and attract new customers.

“As more consumers rely on their mobile devices and mobile apps for everything from online shopping to booking vacations, banking, and paying bills, businesses need to create a seamless mobile experience and listen to what their customers are saying about them,” said Rand Nickerson, CEO of OpinionLab. “While the volume of mobile transactions is growing at an unprecedented pace, most businesses are not adequately measuring and listening to their customers on mobile channels and collecting the intelligence that’s valuable to product development, customer service, user-experience optimization and brand loyalty.”

1. Begin with user experience

Good user experience is a top consideration for mobile success. Too often, companies try to mimic traditional website functionality in their mobile properties. To ensure optimal mobile usability, focus on both customer and business needs, which can vary significantly from those of the traditional web. Things as simple as button sizes (are they big enough?) and ensuring there is no side-to-side scrolling are often overlooked in first efforts and can overshadow even the greatest functionality. Begin by listening to your customers: find out how they want to engage with your company via a mobile device and how they’re currently using the mobile channel to accomplish their goals. Be sure to develop mobile platforms appropriate to customer needs, and make sure your feature set takes the unique challenges of mobile experience into consideration.

2. Don’t assume you need an app

For some businesses, you absolutely do; for others, it’s not worth the investment, and you’ll do better to invest in your mobile web presence. Weigh the pros and cons: Mobile websites have mass-market appeal and can be accessed by all types of mobile devices. But while mobile apps reach fewer people than mobile websites, many niche businesses prefer this marketing channel, as it provides consumers with a unique, focused experience exclusive to smartphones.

3. Don’t assume that mobile always means mobile

Make sure you provide a prominent link to your full website for anyone who wants access to it. The current crop of smartphones can easily surf most full websites, and the simple truth is that many mobile sites just don’t provide access to the same features found on the full website – features that many visitors want or need to use while on the go. While it’s convenient to check your bank-account balance via a mobile site, it might be critical to pay a bill using the bill-payment section of a full site that was never ported to mobile.

4. Leverage already existing, free mobile technologies to connect with mobile audiences

Regardless of whether your company resources are best invested in a mobile app, plenty of already existing technologies can help you connect with mobile audiences without a huge investment in technology development. The popularity of location-based services like Foursquare and Facebook Places has changed the way brands can market to mobile customers by allowing brick-and-mortar businesses to easily identify and reward loyal patrons with various specials and discounts. DialogCentral (of which OpinionLab is the parent company) is another example of a free mobile technology that encourages engagement: using this tool, consumers can send direct feedback to businesses while on the go, and businesses can receive real-time customer comments at no charge.

5. Adopt an effective mobile measurement framework

Most businesses today are ill equipped to effectively measure their mobile efforts. First, take a step back and carefully consider what can and should be measured. In mobile environments, familiar metrics no longer apply, so look for measures that will address all channels of your modern brand, such as customer engagement. Then, define the parameters necessary to apply such measures to the unique characteristics of your business. Consider an opt-in, open-text feedback system as part of your measurement program to ensure that you’re basing decisions on customer needs rather than corporate assumptions.