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Small businesses are investing more of their time, money and resources by effectively strengthening relationships by implementing a loyalty program.  If you are a small business owner that has not leveraged the use of a loyalty program, you should…and this is why:

The January 2014 report “Achieving Big Customer Loyalty” focussed on surveying 1,000 small business owners practices and released its findings; that it is imperative that brands create personalized experiences for their loyal customers.  The results are astoundingly in favor of a business implementing a loyalty program. “Manta” reported that of 1,000 small businesses (members of Manta) surveyed, 50% of business owners reported 61% of their annual revenue came from repeat customers.  Loyal customers were spending 67% more than a new customer.  As a result, businesses were only allotting 14% of their marketing budget  towards the acquisition of new customers.  So it can be said, that future marketing dollars are better spent not by chasing a new customer, but by maximizing the value in customers they already have!   Unfortunately, only 34% of small business owners have adopted a loyalty program for their business, and those that have are using the tired old punch card.

For any loyalty program to be successful, it requires mass adoption.  And offering a another plastic card to a customer just doesn’t cut it in today’s high paced tech savvy world!  I for one automatically balk at the request of a store clerk that is offering me another piece of plastic for my wallet.  It is time to enter the world of mobile marketing…why not offer your loyalty program in the form of a mobile app?  In doing so, it allows a business owner to not only offer their customer the benefits associated with a loyalty program, but it gives the business a way to reach their customer on a platform that is the most engaging, and on a device that they have with them 24 hours a day.  The custom mobile app offered by Mass Mobile is a product that does just that!   The businesses that adopt this type of high tech engagement, get the instant credibility of being found on the “App Store” , which in the past was reserved for large scale operations, along with the ability to market in way that is sure to have the message being sent, seen by the target audience.  Push notifications have the ability to been on a users smartphone just like a text message…and these messages are opened at a rate of 99.8%.  This is staggering when compared to emails sent by businesses getting open rates of between 15-30%.  The question is no longer, will a business adopt a mobile app, it is when will they adopt it?

Small business owners need to engage with its customers to increase its sphere of influence and to create meaningful relationships by creating personalized experiences. “Every retail brand now understands that acquisition is just the first step, and that retention is a top priority for achieving profitability.”  Since 89% of consumers already participate in some type of loyalty/rewards program, the time is now to implement your own marketing loyalty strategy. Ted Williams, BIA/KELSEY’S Professor of Strategic consulting, confirms that customer loyalty programs are starting to gain traction in the small business community and went even further to say that these findings align BIA/KELSEY’S analysis that over half of small businesses will launch customer loyalty programs by the end of 2014 to help their businesses be more competitive.

Don’t be left behind, grow your sales and be on the forefront of the new way to do business!

Mobile Apps will Transform Your Business

A survey conducted, by Daniel Burns with over 700 companies asked them, if they had developed any mobile apps internally to help them with supply chain management, logistics, purchasing or sales and or support.  At this point only approximately 4 percent said yes, which is extremely low considering how many smartphones and mobile devices are on the market today.  The follow up question was even more interesting: ” Do you think that at least half the businesses in your industry will have their own mobile apps for these types of functions within the next 2 years?”  The response was amazing, 100 percent said “YES!”

So what does this mean for your business?  It means that mobile apps designed by business for either internal use, or to gain a competitive advantage will explode over the next 2 years.  Which way is your business leaning?  What are the trends?  A hard trend will happen; a soft trend might happen. The hard trend is that businesses will be developing mobile apps customized for their company for various functions. The soft trend is whether your company will be one of them.

Here’s something else to consider: The number of smart phones and tablets in all sizes of companies has obviously exploded in the last couple of years, and this hard trend is picking up speed.  So with costs decreasing and capabilities increasing, the time to act is now. The question is, “How?”  A mobile app that targets your customers and is able to deliver your marketing message in a way that is unique and current.  A platform your customers will see value in, and an app that they will not only download, but keep on their mobile devices.  What better solution than a custom mobile loyalty app, this addresses both issues.  Your customers will find value in it because they are getting something back in the form of reward dollars of points, and you will have the ability to market to those same customers. Marketing via mobile ensures your message is being seen, any app that is of value will have the ability to send push notifications.  A push notification is basically a text message that is targeted to your customers, and the open rates are astounding…98.7% as compared to 12-20% with emails.

You need to get ready for the mobile business app revolution now. Remember, there are two revolutions taking place: a hardware revolution (where our primary personal computer is shifting to our mobile devices like smart phones and tablets) and a software revolution (which is the mobile apps that will run on those devices). That means the rise of mobile apps for all business functions is a hard trend you can’t ignore.  The companies that transform their business processes using mobility will achieve new levels of success. The time for business process transformation is now.

10 Crucial Questions to ask when optimizing your Company’s website for Mobile Users:

1. My website looks okay on mobile devices now. Is it really worth it just to make it look and feel as slick as possible on smartphones and tablets? 

Yes, without a doubt, says Brian Alvey, “chief scientist” at Ceros, a cloud-based real-time web content authoring platform. Global fashion, auto and retail brands look to Ceros to publish interactive marketing experiences that are designed to “work flawlessly” on all types of devices, and smartphones and tablets are no exception.

“Mobile used to be the future of business,” Alvey says. “Mobile used to be a trend. Now it’s the norm.” The bottom line: If you don’t adapt to mobile and quick, you could miss out on a prime revenue-generating opportunity, or even lose customers to competitors who already embrace mobile.

2. Should I have a dedicated mobile version of my existing website or simply make my existing website responsive to mobile? 
You have two choices. You can either opt for a single website that displays content responsively for different device and browser types, otherwise known as responsive web design. Or you can create a standalone dedicated mobile website separate from your main website. If your main site is www.examplesitehere.com, then your dedicated mobile site would likely appear as m.examplesitehere.com. The .m signifies mobile.

Alvey prefers an all-in-one responsive site. He says he’s heard that Google and Bing prefer them as well.

3. Should I try to mobile-optimize my website myself or delegate it to someone on my staff?  
Particularly for small businesses that are light on resources, it’s best to leave it to the pros. The mobile optimization process is generally too cost-prohibitive, complicated and time-consuming to go in-house.

“Most SMBs can’t justify even a single full-time designer, so in-house isn’t an option,” Alvey says. “Unless you have the time and experience to directly manage freelance designers, I’d hire a company [to do the job].”

4. What are some of the best mobile optimization options available and what do they cost?
Luckily, there are a wide variety of solutions available for every budget. Alvey suggests deciding what you’re willing to spend, then choosing the best available option from there.

Alvey’s favorite mobile services are from popular website hosting companies like WordPress(free hosting, plus premium upgrades), GoDaddy (hosting costs $4.99 to $7.99 per month) andSquareSpace (free 14-day trial, hosting costs $8 to $24 per month). Each offers a broad array of automatically mobile-friendly, attractive prefab website designs, features and themes, plus premium add-ons.

Another is b Mobilized, whose slogan is “mobilize any website… instantly.” This can be a smart option if you simply want to add mobile responsiveness to your existing website. The service’s software mobilizes your site with the click of a button. Pricing is monthly and reasonable at $15.20 per month annually or $19 month-to-month.

5. Should I just hire a contractor? 
Hiring a contract web designer for the job is also an option, though it could cost you more in the end than using an online solution. Alvey says web designer fees are generally charged hourly and vary quite a bit from city to city. If you do go the contractor route, he advises that you hire locally and carefully check customer references before committing.

6. What are some key, must-have mobile site features?
Required mobile features vary, Alvey says. “Obviously, if you don’t have e-commerce, then a shopping cart is useless.” But if you do sell goods online, you should definitely include one in your mobile design. Or, if you own a brick-and-mortar retail business, be sure to prominently display your store address and hours, and perhaps a link to driving directions as well.

Another essential feature all businesses should position front and center is a “click-to-call” phone number. All mobile users have to do is click the number and their smartphone will call you, allowing them to instantly and directly engage with your business.

“Never forget that a customer who is checking out your business on their phone — is holding a phone.”

7. What about social media integration?
Social media integration is like free advertising. It lets users generate a buzz around your brand. In most cases including social elements is a must. For example, on the mobile site for a free online deal-tracking service called Hukkster, first-time users can sign up to use it by entering their Facebook (and Google) credentials. Hukkster’s Facebook integration makes it easier for its users to share their favorite product discounts with their friends on the popular social platform, while simultaneously broadening Hukkster’s marketing reach on Facebook.

Alvey points out that, because they’re so inherently visual, hotels and fashion companies thrive on Instagram and Pinterest, so those particular platforms make sense to integrate into their mobile sites. Whereas Twitter integration is a better fit for airlines and TV shows, which tend to experience high engagement on the microblogging service, he says.

Whichever social platforms you settle on, it’s wise to limit yourself to only two or three social media sharing buttons, not a dozen, Alvey says.

8. What’s the best way to test my mobile site before launch?
Test-driving your site helps you discover and weed out bad links, confusing navigation and a host of other potential functionality issues. Be sure to test yours on as many devices and browsers possible, “not just the ones your team or your CEO uses,” Alvey says.

Interestingly, he also suggests swinging by Best Buy, which he cheekily calls a “free mobile testing lab,” or a similar consumer electronics retailer to check your site out on as many of their sample smartphones and tablets as possible. You’ll get a hands-on feel for what works and what doesn’t — at zero cost.

9. How can I track the success of my mobile strategy? 
The most popular, user-friendly website traffic and usage tracking option available is Google Analytics. The free self-service tool shows you how many people visit your mobile site, from which devices and how often, along with where they live, how they found your site and much more. It also tells you which social channels drive people to your mobile entity and what content they share from it. Use what you learn to fine tune your mobile strategy over time.

10. What are some common mistakes to avoid?
One of the biggest blunders is poorly targeting which devices users will view your content on, Alvey says. “If you send my Android phone to a desktop version (of a website) or my iPad to a smartphone version (of a website), you’ve lost me as a customer.”

Other common mistakes on Alvey’s list of mobile mistakes to skip include: crowded designs with links that are too close together for people’s fingers to accurately click, not optimizing image sizes for mobile bandwidth, making people fill out complicated forms and “harassing me to download your app.”

This blog was taken from:

https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/10-questions-ask-optimizing-website-mobile-users-110000724.html

 

Interview with the founder…

Q.How do you increase customer loyalty with a mobile app?

A. Today consumers are extremely tech savvy, with the explosion of smartphones, people are able to research for products and services right from the palm of their hands.  Often times they will come into your place of business and already researched the details of the product before purchasing.  Our products give business and their customers the ability to interact with each other on a level like never before. With an app tailored for a specific business, customers are able to have access to that business on their terms.

Q.  How much does it cost to implement a custom mobile app?

A.  Our products are extremely cost effective.  We have eliminated all the barriers that a business would face, the costs are minimal. You can get your app up and running for approximately $750.  With Mass Mobile Apps, there is no reason for a business owner not to adopt a mobile app for their business.

Q.  What content should be included to make an app successful?

A.  The main thing that is necessary for a successful launch is adoption.  It is imperative that businesses get their customers to not only download their app,and to keep it from being deleted off their phones.  That is where the loyalty portion kicks in, once a customer has downloaded the app, they are not likely to delete it if they have points or dollars within it.  Content is also a great tool to keep your customers engaged.  Make sure to update the gallery at regular intervals, send Push notifications, and encourage sharing of images, and marketing messages with your customers.

Q.  If a business owner implements one of your apps, are they able to tweak it to meet their needs?

A.  Absolutely!  We are a custom mobile app developer, we are able to do what ever a customer would need.  With that being said, it is important to note that our products were designed by people on the front lines, and not by techies.  We have members on our team that have worked in various areas of industry, and they have brought their experience and expertise to our platform.

Q.  Does a business owner need to be tech savvy to implement an app?

A.  Great question!  Again, going back to the last answer, we have designed this app from the perspective of a business owner.  It is extremely user friendly, and easy to understand and master.  So the answer is No, they do not have to be a programmer to use our products.

Q.  Why do you think that a loyalty app is key for a business today?

A.  Studies have shown that businesses with a loyalty program generally preform 20-25% better than businesses that do not have one in place.  And the loyalty app is the most current means of implementing that program.  Customers do not want another plastic card in their wallets.  By having your own app, you are further extending your brand.  You have the instant credibility of being on the “App Store” and you are also now able to reach your customers in a way that was not available in the past.  Traditional marketing tools like email are becoming less and less effective.  Business owners today need to know that their marketing efforts are being channeled effectively, and that their resources are being used wisely.  Today their is no better way to do that, than with your own mobile app.  The mobile app will be for business in the future, what the website was for business in the past!

Loyal Customer or Frequent Customer?

There is a distinct difference between loyalty programs that reward for loyalty or those programs that reward for frequency.   It is of utmost importance to differentiate between the two;  since a customer may repeatedly purchase from a retailer because he/she may have no other options available to them.  This is a key distinction because when competitors become an option for a customer, loyalty is critical to whether or not a business will be successful.  Therefore a business must strive to create loyal customers not just frequent customers.

An ideal program would reward the existing loyal customer and include the future potential loyal customers.  Since as many as 45% of first time buyers do not revisit a small business to purchase a second time.  As a result the goal should be to acquire those customers that are likely to purchase for a second time, even if there is an initial cost for the business owner.  The focus of the marketing dollars should be directed towards customers that fit the profile of existing loyal customers.  A loyalty program can retain existing customers by offering higher rewards through the accumulation of points.  Most retailers notice  positive feedback from their customer when they redeem the points accumulated, thus connecting the retailer and customer in a positive way.  By providing a higher level of service, with the introduction of a loyalty program, offering extended hours during holiday periods, or having no hassle exchange and return policies a business owner will attract a loyal/frequent customer.

The acquisition of new customers through a loyalty program is largely dependent on how valuable and exciting the rewards are perceived to be by potential customers.  New customers should be targeted by demographic profiles and be executed based on the history of existing loyal customers.  However not all customers are beneficial to a business owners bottom line.  Some customers can actually cost more to keep then the amount of purchases that they generate. For example when a retailer offers an incentive to bring customers in, i.e. door crasher,  the customer that comes in only for that item actually costs the business money.

The recovery of an existing customer is 3-4 times more likely than acquiring a new one.  Since there are advantages in knowing their purchase history and ways to reach them, a business owner should be vigilant in knowing when a customer may have been lost to a competitor.  It is important to recognize this early enough to entice them back.  By rewarding them for their loyalty most customers feel appreciated and recognized.  Customers that are pleased with the product or service, are more likely to share their experience with others.  This type loyalty cant be beat; creating brand advocates for your business.