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5 Tips For SMBs To Seize The Mobile Web Opportunity

With consumers flocking to mobile devices in droves, businesses need to meet customers where they are. These 5 tips will help your business navigate the mobile Web.

With consumers flocking to mobile devices in droves, businesses need to meet customers where they are. These 5 tips will help your business navigate the mobile Web.Mobile. Mobile. Mobile. From iPhones to Android, iPads to apps, everyone is talking about the bright future for mobile. In fact, Eric Schmidt, the Google CEO, reached beyond predictions of a bright future for mobile to declare that mobile is in fact the future during his keynote address to the Mobile World Congress last month.

"The confluence of these three factors (computing, connectivity, and the cloud) means your phone is your alter ego, an extension of everything we do," Schmidt said. "Here, right now, we understand the new rule is 'mobile first' in everything."

The statistics underpinning Schmidt's mobile first agenda are myriad. Within three years, smart phone sales are projected to outpace PCs. Within five years, more consumers will access the Internet using a mobile device than with a PC. The ascendant mobile trajectory and consumer migration that these stats and luminaries predict can't be ignored and business small and large are alternately scrambling to seize the day or scratching their heads about how to get into the game.

With the economy still sputtering along and businesses reluctant to shoulder new spending, investing heavily for this consumer shift to mobile is daunting. Yet even business owners taking a machete to costs can get into the mobile game if they do it strategically and focus on ROI. To that end, the CEO of Geodelic, Rahul Sonnand, offers SMBs some advice for navigating the mobile Web. His company provides a location-based mobile publishing network that businesses can use to build their own branded mobile applications and experiences for iPhone and Android phone users.

Here's Sonnand's top five tips:

  1. Timing. For most companies, timing is one of the key issues. Do you have dollars to invest and learn what works and what doesn't, or do you want to sit back and observe before spending? Are people already using mobile devices to access your content? Simple modifications to your website should give you visibility into the mobile device traffic and its trends.
  2. Dedicated experience vs. promotion and distribution. Are you trying to create a destination and control the ad inventory? Or are you trying to promote and extend your brand? If the former, you're likely to be looking to create your own experience. If the latter, you may be better off with partnership deals for your content.
  3. Applications vs. websites/pages. Do you need an app, or will web pages suffice? Apps are much more cost intensive to build and maintain, but they offer incredible richness of experience. While the iPhone has large marketshare now, other platforms are gaining noteworthy traction. For maximum reach you would need to develop applications on multiple platforms, which is expensive. Web pages will work on a large range of devices, and can easily by syndicated into various channels of distribution. You can also seamlessly redirect mobile traffic from your existing website when the user is on a mobile device.
  4. Discovery. Can you get enough traffic to justify the investment? How are users going to find your app or your site? With 50,000+ applications in the iPhone store, and thousands coming up on other stores, how will users find your app? If you have a lot of traffic on your website, it may be easy to promote it. Are there natural partners that might help promote your application or content? Do you have budget to purchase advertising on mobile devices, which can result in high conversion to your app?
  5. Locational elements. Does your business have a location that customers come to, or location-specific information? The new generation of smartphones is really good at understanding where those locations are. Do you have key informational or promotional messages for customers when they are at your business? If so, you want to ensure that they are connecting with your mobile experience, when on your site.

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