Four Mobile Trends to Keep an Eye On
In a world where the full significance of Internet marketing is still fighting for recognition, it’s hard to believe that another sea change is building on the horizon. But the key to dominating a market is to get in front of the benefits before the rest of the world does. And in this way, mobile marketing and customer outreach could present some of the biggest opportunities of the century. While all of the following trends are still somewhat nascent, they easily warrant increased attention from online and offline businesses alike.
The notion of eCommerce—that is, customers going online to buy products using their credit cards—had doubters when it first hit the scene, too. Mobile commerce—the handheld equivalent of eCommerce—is likewise getting a slow start in the U.S. for many of the same reasons. Fears of security and the lack of trusted vendors have many users falling back on Amazon, eBay and other online retailers that feel more at home on a laptop or desktop. But as trusted payment methods—such as Google Checkout and Paypal—pick up more users, more users will feel more inclined to make purchases from their smartphones. The App Store and iTunes have already proved that users feel comfortable spending money from their phones to a certain extent. And in Asia, some mobile phone users are even using their handheld devices to pay for offline purchases, much in the same way you’d checkout using a contact-less RFID chip on your credit card (such as Mastercard’s PayPass and Visa’s payWave). Soon, it may make just as much sense to offer pay-by-smartphone options as it does to offer pay online options now.
In-App Mobile Advertising
Apple launched iAds to much fanfare and Google had already jumped in the game with AdMob. The message: mobile advertising is here to stay, and could very well be the next big thing. It may take a few years for mobile advertising to gain critical mass, but as smartphone users spend more and more time staring at the tiny screens in the palms of their hands, the value of getting your name and sales pitch in front of their eyes will increase.
Brick-and-mortar stores once had the advantage of marketing to somewhat captive audiences. Now, potential buyers with the sneaking suspicion that a particular brand was garbage or could be had at a nearby store for cheaper can look up a review and compare prices from the store next door and online retailers while standing in the middle of the aisle. This additional layer of customer scrutiny may cut back on impulse buys—but it could also pose a vast opportunity for mobile savvy marketers. Apps like Zavers, Yowza, mobiOpons and Cellfire are already partnering with businesses in order to reach this subset of users who always run their purchases by their mobile device before striding up to the cash register.
When dissatisfied, few customers have the gumption to take it up with the manager or fill out your comment card. But they are becoming increasingly willing to vent on user-drive review sites, such as Yelp!, Foursquare, Urbanspoon and Google Maps. Being aware of what customers like and dislike about your business can help you respond to or correct the issues more quickly.
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