AKRON—This year, Tire Business is celebrating its 30th anniversary, with our anniversary issue coming out on Sept. 16. (Did you know that we are doing an anniversary blog series?). Reading up on the tire industry throughout the past 30 years, I realized it is an industry that is constantly changing. I decided it was a good time to speak about "the Move to Mobile," which is a huge change in marketing and consumer relationships that is happening right now.
Learning about consumer behavior is at least half the battle when it comes to how to market to them. This next blog is part one of a two-part series about this transition because it is becoming a significant way consumers are accessing information. I am breaking this up into two sections because I want your brains to marinate in the why for two weeks so that you are ready for the how.
Do you think the cell phone boom is not important? Just think about your everyday experiences. Everywhere I go, I feel like I am dodging smartphone users everywhere. They are the people with their heads down as they walk; only glancing up every four or five steps, if that.
As a business person, I would want to get in that phone. I would want my business to be popping up on their screen. These consumers probably fast-forward through commercials on the TV with DVR and listen to their own playlists on iPhones, iPods, etc. instead of listening to the radio. How do you reach them? Just think about it. These are the same people who are on their phones the entire time they are waiting for their tire and automotive repair services to get done.
As a female in her late-20s, this is what I do. I am never one to change the channel on the TV if someone else is watching it—at least not outside my home, anyway— so I spend my time playing Candy Crush, reading an eBook or checking Facebook on my smartphone or iPad while I wait for my services to be done. I almost always check my social media sites on a phone or tablet. And I am not alone.
Nielson came out with its State of the Media: The Social Media Report 2012 that stated that although the personal computer is "still at the center of the social networking experience," 46 percent of social media users say they use their smartphone to access social media and 16 percent say they connect through a tablet.
More and more consumers are turning to the mobile Web and apps to get their information. Why? Because the time they want to go on social media is when they have time to spare.
Consumers are making decisions based off what they see. According to a Social Media Today article, 89 percent of consumers rely on a search engine to make a purchase decision. Also, 54 percent of consumers have decided to avoid brands based on faulty or low-quality Web design. You might be thinking that you spend a lot of time and money on your site, so you are all set. However, what does your site look like on mobile devices? If more consumers are looking up your site on a phone and you do not have any kind of a mobile-friendly site, you might be missing out.
As a sidenote, the article also states that 42 percent of consumers expect a customer service response from brands on social media within 60 minutes. As I spoke in my blog about social media management, if you do not have a dedicated staff or a lot of time throughout the day, utilizing a social media management platform, such as HootSuite, can give you time to schedule posts throughout the day. And then follow up during lunch and toward the end of the day can make sure your customers are not going 24 hours without a response.
Mobile-friendly vs. Apps
The Nielson report said consumers increased social app time by 76 percent, comparing 2011 to 2012, which means they spend more than seven times more minutes on apps than the mobile web. This means that the accessibility of sites is becoming more prevalent among smartphone users.
IDC, an analyst firm, was referenced in an IT World article, stating smartphones sales will double PC sales in 2014. This fact alone proves that the "move to mobile" will continue at a quick pace.
There are different ways to have a mobile presence. The first is to have a mobilized website, meaning that there is a website specifically designed for mobile devices. These sites normally have an "m" before the website to denote that it is the mobile site. Although standard websites can be accessed through the smartphone, this is something that is designed for it. There are also responsive Web designs, which are sites that respond to the size of the browser window, so the text will format either to the size of the phone, tablet or desktop.
For both a mobilized website and a responsive Web design, the user accesses the site through the browser on the mobile device, however, an app is housed on the phone as an icon on the screen. This might be helpful to customers if they can schedule appointments. Instead of having to go to the browser, they can just tap the icon for your business and get right into what they need.
Whether or not you choose to make a mobile-friendly website or an app, the truth is, more consumers are continuing to access their information through their phones. Think of this in terms of social media as well. Are you writing really long posts and not understanding why no one is responding? Maybe it is just too long for people to scroll through on their phone. It is important to think about how people are accessing your website and social media sites. The aim is to have people be responsive and to build the relationship with them. There are
ways to check on some social media sites on whether people are on your page from mobile devices and we will get into that, along with other "How-To" information, in more detail in Part 2 of this blog on Sept. 16.