Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mobile, local and loyal - small business customers

Local, mobile and loyalty.Deals for real people
Many people are saying that the daily-deals sites like Groupon are struggling, especially after they turned down a once in a lifetime $6BN opportunity to be acquired by Google and had to drop a proposed IPO. The reason I believe is that consumers are maturing, or maybe just reverting to human nature. We shop, eat and enjoy ourselves more when we don't have to travel halfway across the country to do so. Daily deals give the impression of offering local offers, but local just means Massachusetts or Ireland, not Boston or Dublin. People are getting tired of this and so the announcement today by theadmenu.com about a new local online service [also see the Irish Press Releases site] is really interesting. I've been working with theadmenu.com for a little while now, so this makes it even better!

If you run a small business, a shop, restaurant, bar, hair salon, car dealership or lunchtime deli, you know that your customers typically come live or work close by. They are local.  Since you have the type of business where the number of feet through the door is proportional to the amount of business you do, you know that you need to catch the attention of people on the move. Your potential customers are mobile.

The thing that many small businesses struggle with is persuading customers to come back again and again. Your most profitable customers are not one-offs, they provide repeat business and so you need loyalty. Beyond one on one exceptional customer service, loyalty is hard to promote. But we all know that there is big business in loyalty, since every big brand store, every airline, even the railways have loyalty programs. The question is how can smaller businesses get in on this?

TheAdMenu, the new service I've been working with, is based in Dublin, Ireland and aims to address "local, mobile and loyalty" for local businesses. It is quite simply a mobile-friendly website that uses the location services of smartphones (also known as GPS, geolocation, satnav, etc) to help customers find the services they want in the local area, at the best price possible. And it then takes the one-off special offers, and helps customers and businesses benefit from loyalty, by making it easy for business to provide repeat promotions to existing customers, and customers to find out what deals or new services their favorite shops are offering.

Mobile sites, like the cities that will be represented by theadmenu.com should be targeted at their local audience, not just a way to try and sell the same old stuff to bored commuters across the country with iPhone or Android in hand. With Consected mobile sites technology, I'm proud to be helping TheAdMenu deliver simple loyalty programs to local business that want to attract and retain mobile customers.

A post from the Improving It blog
Let us help you improve your business today. Visit www.consected.com

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Apple does little but keeps app developers busy

Apple collected a lot of tech reporters together for an event to make a big announcement. Everybody held their breath, guessing at what the next big revolutionary change would be in the mobile space. What huge leap would we see in smartphone technology? According to Mobile Marketer's Chantal Tode, this amounted to not a lot except that the Apple iOS update poses challenges to existing apps in App Store. Yes, there is an iPhone 4GS, the next version of the ever popular smartphone, but its not ground-breaking. Instead, it was time for the operating system software, the "face of the phone" to move forward.

And this represents a dilemma for many people. Unless you are desperate, you're not going to buy a 4GS, knowing that the chance is greater than ever of an iPhone 5 with a great new screen and cool new stuff being just around the corner. If you are the owner of the iPhone 3 (like me), with a device that is running slower and crashing more than ever, will you even have access to the new iOS upgrade to hopefully fix some of your issues introduced by Apple's previous update? That could give your phone a few months more life (hopefully not screw it up even more), perhaps putting you in the running for an iPhone 5 (not me, I'm going to try Android next time).

And for app developers, the guys and girls building all the apps you find in the App Store, the 200 new features that could help some apps work better, break others, and finally completely replace others still, make for a busy time. The iOS software is tired, it need some TLC to make it more desirable, and hopefully add some of the missing essential business features (rich text emails for example). It needs to allow me to get notified of things that are going on with less pop ups. But any major change to an operating system represents a challenge for developers. In testing, in new development to benefit from new features, in quick fixes and late nights.

Of course, if you don't want to have to worry if your business's mobile app will work on iPhone 4GS, 5, Android, Windows Mobile, etc, etc, then it is worth considering developing using open standards like HTML5. Otherwise known as good old "web development". With some work, a mobile optimized website can avoid the constant arms race against for each vendor you want to support, giving you a consistent, easy to use and highly functional mobile website or app.

Thanks Apple, I won't hold my breath until your next big smartphone breakthrough. Mobile web optimized apps are already on their way, and companies like Consected are making them more about configuration and self-contained solutions, and less about development.

A post from the Improving It blog
Let us help you improve your business today. Visit www.consected.com