Riding the mobile wave

Unless you have taken a sabbatical for the last one year or been living under a rock you couldn’t have missed the latest buzz around mobile devices and its potential for being a popular channel for sales and marketing. I wouldn’t want to overwhelm you with data (lots of it on the net) but here is a summary of what it says and what you need to know.
a) Smart phone penetration is exploding all around the world and the data looks even better in emerging and developing markets.
b) Very soon mobile web traffic is slated to overtake PC web traffic.
c) Current trends show that Ads on mobile have more response rate and ROI than traditional direct media.
d) Internet Browser usage is now trending higher on mobile devices.
e) Many emerging markets are clearly skipping the steps in the connectivity story to move directly into mobile.
So the question I get from a lot of small business owners is what can I do to ride this wave and how can I get early into the game.  I have outlined below some simple things that you need to be thinking about as a small biz.
–   Your Website needs to be mobile friendly.
This is first and basic step that every small biz needs to take ASAP. There are 2 options here, one is to get a separate site with a .mobi domain for your mobile ready site, and the second is to have a site that detects a user coming in from a mobile browser. In the second option once it detects a mobile browser it automatically switches to the mobile friendly version of your site.  I prefer the second scenario as many users may use traditional Google search on their phones to find your site and may not necessarily remember your .mobi site. Some solutions even allow user to switch seamlessly between the mobile and PC versions depending on the user’s preference. The key is to give the users a choice of both versions, with the mobile one being the default viewing option. Also make sure that your mobile site is compatible with all the popular platforms – iphone, android, windows 7, meego etc.
–   Allow users to transact on their mobile devices.
If your business is conducive to selling online then I highly recommend opening it up on mobile web as well. There are quite a few solutions out there that incorporate a payment gateway and a shopping facility.  Making a mobile application can also be a good option here instead of getting consumers to transact on a site. Talk to your web consultant and hosting provider for more details on this.
–   Make mobile ads a part of your marketing mix.
As highlighted before mobile ads are more effective than traditional digital media ads. Though the media is in its infancy stage it will surely grow in size over the years.  Some current ad providers are Google adsense, admob (acquired by Google) and now iAD by apple.
–   Participate in location based advertising, apps and social media
Location-based advertising uses location-tracking technology in mobile networks to target consumers with location-specific advertising on their mobile devices.  So if you are a small biz owner that is providing services or products to consumers you can use the power of location based advertising to help consumers find you. Make sure you are on the database of all popular location based apps that are popular in your region or city. Enterprising business owners can tap on the potential of location based social media services like foursquare which allow consumers to review their services and products. Biz traffic can be generated by rewarding loyalty and frequency of the user using mobile device to interact with them.