A new year means a new chance to look at your mobile strategies. What worked for you last year? What should you do going forward? Last year, the mobile community made some huge gains. Those improvements will allow you to make some big leaps of your own in 2017.
To start off, you need to make sure you have a mobile strategy in 2017. If you don’t, you are not alone. In fact, this year might be your last chance to get ahead of your competition from a mobile technology angle. After this year, over half of all small businesses are going to have an app available for download.
Whether you need a new mobile strategy or are in the idea-gathering stage of forming the type of marketing approach, taking advantage of these seven mobile trends will be to your advantage. In fact, it will be to your customer’s benefit too.
Mobile Trend #1: A Consumer-Facing Mobile App Is a Must
As mentioned above, once mobile apps have been implemented by more than 50% of small businesses, your chance of getting more exposure from the novelty is over. In fact, that window is getting smaller already. Most major brick-and-mortar stores have apps—this includes restaurants, grocery chains, and gas stations.
Mobile technology is still growing at a rapid pace. If you choose not to learn how to create an app, then you run the risk of losing loyal customers to other brands. Your competition will take advantage of any relevant enhanced customer engagement features that your business does not.
As you move forward, keep in mind that even to the smallest business, an app is now accessible. An app made with one of the best app makers available today will make your customers just as happy. And apps manufactured from these new and innovative development approaches will often allow you to produce an app much faster with much more input and control.
Mobile Trend #2: Take Advantage of Your Locations with LBS
Location Based Services (LBS) allow you to give your customers access to targeted discounts and promotions based on their location. Want to advertise a special at one store but not another? Want to try cross-promoting with another local business? LBS or geofencing lets you do both of those things and more. It even works in real-time, so you can set up deals that are only live during a time of day or on the spur of the moment.
Mobile Trend #3: Augmented Reality for Utility Issues
Consumers don’t see augmented reality as far-future stuff anymore. It’s becoming relatively commonplace. 2017 is a year in which we will see AR move beyond games and into the utility arena. It can be used as an overlay to provide information to maintenance workers or consumers trying to work out an issue. It can even be used in a teaching capacity. The potential to help your customers with Augmented Reality is just starting to be explored.
The thing to keep in mind here is that though taking a step into the AR space will put you ahead of your competition, it is also a serious investment compared to most of the other opportunities on this list. Make sure it’s what your customer base needs before you go this route. Too often, AR features are underdeveloped and labeled “gimmicky.”
Mobile Trend #4: Android Instant Apps Will Remove Barriers
Another thing that we’ll be seeing a lot of in 2017 is the capacity for apps to be loaded instantly. No downloads or wait times. Google is at the forefront of this minor revolution, so Android devices will probably get the first taste.
The instantaneous factor can serve to increase security and lower the resistance some users might have to trying a new app. This can also open the door to larger, more comprehensive apps as file size may become less of an obstacle. If Instant Apps are a sign of anything, it’s that technology is becoming more fluid—and that ties into our next item.
Mobile Trend #5: Apps Integrated with the “Internet of Things” Are Increasing
The Internet of Things (IoT) consists of everything from household appliances like air conditioners and microwaves to toys and the entire gamut of Internet-enabled household devices. Some everyday objects are now capable of connecting to the internet. This number is growing by leaps and bounds year after year. Developing a new product with an app, or enabling your current goods to connect to an app, can do much to enhance your mobile presence and marketing efforts.
Mobile Trend #6: Mobile (and Data) Security Is of Dire Importance
As it stands, one of the greatest barriers to mobile success is security concerns. When you have a mobile app, it may collect and make use of the data its users put into it. That data needs to remain secure—even larger companies are struggling with that these days.
As a small business, you might not think your data is at as much risk—and in part that thinking isn’t wrong. However, keeping your customers and their personal data safe should be something you invest in no matter what type of mobile presence you have.
Mobile Trend #7: Apps Continue to Expand Beyond Smartphones
Smart homes, smart watches, smart cars—it’s more than just phones getting the app-enabled treatment. Many of the devices connected to the internet of things can be modified, whether that was their developer’s original intention or not. Often this may lead to newer, better products. Taking note of what your competition’s customers are doing might be just as important as seeing what your own customers are doing.
Mobile technology is a space that’s getting bigger all the time. There are an unlimited number of ways for you and your company to take part. Sticking with these trends (and starting with an app) will help you start your mobile journey off right this year.