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These days, it’s hard to imagine how we ever got along without smartphones. Calculators, road maps, databases, photo albums, and even credit cards can all live in a single space the size of our hand.

And since we can access all of those things — and more — with a few swift taps, it’s no wonder that every aspect of the customer experience has merged onto the heavily traveled mobile highway. And there’s no exit ramp to turn around.

Today’s Mobile Mindset

But what exactly does this mobile-first mentality mean for companies and their customers?

The mobile Internet takeover should come as no surprise. For nearly a decade now, developers have been creating apps specifically for mobile devices to deliver a better end user experience. Online brands with an app counterpart encourage users to explore their company via mobile devices simply by offering an app. And as app development soared, so did mobile usage, with 90 percent of mobile growth directly relating to the mobile app.

Understand that mobile-first does not necessarily mean mobile-only. Rather, it’s simply the first (preferred) method of interaction of the majority of people.

Living and working in the digital age, where information goes viral in an instant and people demand data at a moment’s notice, there’s no doubt that mobile-first has become synonymous with customer-first. And businesses of every size and industry are scrambling to provide and perfect that mindset before their competitors do.

The Transformation of Word of Mouth

Just over a decade ago, we primarily relied on our family and friends for opinions about the new restaurant in town, the local cable companies, or the best grocery store. We saw their input as a valuable source in making a decision.

There was no Yelp, Facebook, or Google Reviews to verify their claims, nor did we consider seeking the input of strangers to help us make the right choices.

Oftentimes, we adopted the “try it for ourselves” approach, and had to learn via our own experiences.

Jump to the present, where we exercise our digital sleuth skills on a daily basis to discover exactly what we need to know about a company before handing over our cash and credit cards.

No longer are we limited to our personal acquaintances to get the 411 about a brand. Now, we whip out the smartphone. A warp speed search on social media or Google can determine which eateries serve the best food, which beauty products actually beautify, and which hotels feature the fluffiest pillows.

All based on word of mouth from people we’ve likely never met.

And perhaps the most eye-opening revelation from this mobile-first practice? We trust what these people say.

  • Approximately 4 in 5 American consumers read online reviews before making a purchase decision. 79 percent do so to make sure the product or service is good, 61 percent read reviews to make sure the product or service works, and 53 percent read reviews to make sure that they don’t get ripped off. (YouGov)
  • Online reviews (55 percent) are more influential to women than product articles (19 percent), advertisements (17 percent), and information from salespeople (9 percent). (ReviewTrackers)
  • 36.4 percent of consumers agree that Google reviews, reviews on other websites, and local search rankings are the most important factors when looking for a business. (2017 Local Search and Online Reviews Survey)

PC vs. Mobile: Who Wins the Battle?

While the desktop PC isn’t dead just yet, mobile trends have risen quickly enough in recent years to justify a marketing shift to include mobile channels. Take a closer look at the facts:

  • 2013 saw the brief equalization of desktop vs. mobile usage, after which mobile platforms gained the lead.
  • The average adult spends nearly 3 hours a day online via their mobile phones.
  • 80 percent of Internet users own a smartphone, while nearly half of the total Internet users own a tablet.

Despite the deafening defeat of desktop usage illustrated above, you should take note that 91 percent of Internet users own a desktop or laptop. In addition, mobile channels still largely experience lower conversion rates than their PC counterparts.

Before unleashing your entire marketing budget on mobile targeting, consider how people use their mobile devices.

You might find that it’s mainly for social media and e-mail. And if neither of those outlets fit into your marketing scheme, does mobile make sense for you?

The short answer is yes.

Mobile Strategies Every Business Needs to Adopt

Looking at the big picture of mobile’s influence in marketing, there is clearly enough opportunity to consider developing some form of mobile strategy. But keep in mind that it’s not just about guiding website conversions.

Chances are, someone at some point has buzzed about your brand on the Internet.

From success stories with your product to warnings to ward off potential prospects, you can’t control people from sharing and publicizing their opinions about your company.

People are interested in what other people have to say, and with the mobile-first mindset, they can instantly sate their interest and make better-informed decisions on the spur of the moment.

You don’t need to splurge on new app development to marry your brand into the mobile revolution. Considering that the majority of mobile internet usage consists of e-mail and social media, you should focus your efforts on these cost-effective strategies:

Management of Online Reviews and Customer Feedback

Whether you ask for them or not, someone is bound to leave you an online review for all the world to see.

Start asking your satisfied customers to leave a nice review about their experience. If you see someone leave a negative comment, personally address it to see if you can find resolution with that person.

Review Response Templates

Not only does it show you are listening, but others will see that you responded, and may see your company as more favorable than before.

  • A strong positive review can sway a consumer to pay nearly 9 percent more for a product or service. (ShareThis / Paley Center for Media)
  • 55 percent will not consider a business with negative reviews and ratings. Additionally, 27 percent will also voice their dissatisfaction when it comes to businesses with no testimonials, ratings, or reviews. (YP)
  • Businesses that stay engaged on online review sites attract consumers that have 30 to 40 percent more interaction with revenue-driving products. (Atmosphere Research Group / TripAdvisor)

Social Media Marketing, Listening, and Engagement

What once started as a way for friends to connect with each other, social media now provides a two-way viewing window for businesses and consumers to exchange direct insight.

Customers have now transformed social channels into customer care centers to get their issues resolved or offer feedback about their experiences, and they expect a response.

See also: Do Customers Expect Responses to Online Reviews?

If someone leaves a comment or shares a picture on your social media outlets, honor it with a reply. Just like with online reviews, you can help to foster loyalty with that customer, while showing others you took the time to respond.

Citation Building and Business Listings Management

You can create a free business listing on sites like Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and many others.

Keep your listings up-to-date: name, address, website, operating hours, busy times, phone number, and anything else people may need to know in a pinch.

See also: Top 9 Reasons to Claim Your Business Listings and Review Site Pages

That way, people searching for your services on-the-go can find exactly what they want to know, which may prevent them from choosing your closest competitor.

Granted, these strategies are not limited to mobile devices, but the rise of the smartphone has certainly made accessing this information a lot quicker. Which stands to reason that your customers can make more on-the-spot decisions that otherwise would never happen.

This alone should offer enough incentive to jump on the mobile-first bandwagon sooner than later, lest you get left behind.

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Brian Sparker

Brian Sparker is the Head of Content Marketing at ReviewTrackers. Brian aims to solve problems through carefully crafted content, with the goal of helping businesses collect and understand customer feedback.

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