4 Ways Mobile Devices Impact Your Business and Marketing

4 Ways Mobile Devices Impact Your Business and Marketing

1.  Mobile devices have a smaller screen. This is painfully obvious, but have you designed for it? Mobile screens are changing e-mail messaging structures. I read an Infusionsoft report that highlighted this and implored customers to pay attention to the mobile screen. Dozens of others have followed suit. What will your customers see on a smaller screen? Is the subject line more important than ever because it is all they might see?

It is frequently stated that e-mail is dead due to mobile and social networks. E-mail is far from dead.  Although stats show that many people are migrating to social networks to communicate, consider the fact that Facebook recently decided to create an e-mail platform. Why? Because people need and want more than short updates and chat to communicate.  If you’re wondering what your e-mail might look like on a mobile device, Web-based service provider Email on Acid lets you test your e-mail as it will appear on many browsers and mobile devices.

The smaller mobile screen will also impact how a customer sees your website. Many mobile devices don’t allow or use Flash technology, so you have to think about that. It may be worth considering a mobile marketing platform instead. One of the top mobile site builders is mobiSiteGalore. Yes, it would be a pain to maintain two sites, but it could also be more cost effective.

2.  Location, location, location used to be the real estate world’s maxim, but should now be the marketing and small business owner’s maxim.  Location-based offers and services will change how customers engage in almost every way. Customers have the ability to be hyper-connected with their social networks.  You have only to look at Foursquare and Gowalla to get a glimpse of the power of location.

3.  Use of mobile apps is growing. Whether you know it or not, customers are scanning and comparison shopping, on the spot, in your retail store.  Search and search engine optimization are rapidly changing. On the Droid X I’m testing and will be reviewing here shortly, one of the top apps was a barcode scanner used via the smartphone camera.  Think of how you can tie mobile coupons to your offers.

I worked on a project in Japan years ago; in that country, I could use my cell phone to pay for an in-store purchase.  Japan leads U.S. mobile technology by five to 10 years and possibly Europe and other parts of Asia by one or two years.  Along with your Google Places (or Facebook Places) page, you can add a QR code (like a barcode) to your site, to your retail store window and your e-mails. The viewer or recipient can scan that code with a smartphone and receive a special offer or welcome message.  There are a few easy QR creation sites out there if you want to create a code for your site, e-mail or storefront.

4.  Text messaging still matters. Even with the growth of iPhones and Droid-powered smartphones, these are still only a slice of the mobile market. Millions of people are still engaging via text messaging and SMS platforms. Your customer will opt-in to text message (SMS) offers. You don’t have to wait for smartphone usage to completely dominate. Text is a favorite way consumers communicate, but is not used often enough as a way to market. Again, this isn’t spam, but permission-based marketing.

One of the best posts I’ve read about mobile marketing trends came from one of our contributors, Paul Rosenfeld of Fanminder. Granted, Paul is in the mobile marketing (SMS) space and has some bias, but he paints a fair picture from all I’ve seen and studied about mobile.  One important note from that post: “Gen Yers (18-29) say their phone is the most important device they own.” I would argue that other generations are saying the same thing.

If you want to get just a taste of the many mobile applications for small business, read my 19 Mobile Apps post.  What mobile apps are you using, developing, or researching?  Please share them here in the comments.

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

10 Ways to Improve Your Business with Mobile Technology

A recent study shows how reliant small businesses have become on mobile technology. The 2013 AT&T Small Business Technology Poll says 85 percent of small businesses now use some kind of smartphone. And 80 percent of small firms founded less than two years ago use tablets, the survey also showed.

Customers are becoming more mobile too. The International Data Corporation, a global marketing intelligence firm, says the number of smartphones shipped now outpaces the number of “regular” cell phones worldwide. Tablets are on the increase with customers too.

Improve Your Business With Mobile Technology

Add Mobile Payment Options for Customer Convenience ~ USA Today

Uyen Nguyen owner of Lemongrass Truck, a growing food truck business, reckons her budding company would be nowhere at all without mobile technology. Her company uses tablets to take credit card payments at points of sales and uses social media to let mobile customers know where their truck will be located from day to day. Mobile technology makes sense to Nguyen because her whole business is mobile.

Arm Your Sales Team With Mobile Tools ~Tweak Your Biz

Zoe Maldonado, blogger at TechBreach, writes about the tools of the modern sales force. These include smartphones, PDAs, laptops and tablets. Smartphones and tablets provide mobile sales teams with constant communications and productivity tools including email, internet scheduling and calendars. Mobile business applications allow teams to do presentations, engage in social collaboration and even prepare invoices.

Use QR Codes to Engage Customers in the Mobile Space ~ Right Hand Planning

Online marketing and SEO consultant Peter Semple gives two case studies showing how small businesses can do this. In one instance, a savvy auto mechanic sent out a direct mail piece with a QR code allowing customers to download his mobile app. In another, a local promotional clothing company offers customers a protective sleeve for wireless credit cards. On the sleeve is printed a QR code to the company’s mobile store.

Add Cloud-Based Software-as-a-Service for Mobile ~ TechCrunch

Companies like T-Mobile have begun offering cloud-based services for mobile customers, including telephony features like voicemail, CallerID, conference bridges and more. Increasingly, these services will now be available for the small business market, too. This latest package is aimed at companies with 20 or fewer employees.

Increase Agility and Reduce Costs ~ Firmology

Boil it all down and the real benefit of mobile technology is agility and efficiency. Sam Frymer, founder of personal consulting firm the Awesomeness Institute, points to the time you save sharing information instantly via email, social media, or other electronic documents from no matter where you are. Add to this eliminating paper from your world completely and you can begin to see the increased efficiency and decreased costs.

Use Mobile Apps for Management Tasks ~ Digital Journal

A study by email marketing company Constant Contact finds small businesses are using mobile apps for a host of management activities. The study found small businesses most often used apps for activities like scheduling and time management, customer communications, GPS and mapping and accounting and invoicing.

Do Banking in the Mobile World ~ American Banking

There’s at least one other small business task you can complete using mobile apps, though it’s a task that didn’t show up on the list of popular activities in the Constant Contact study. Small businesses can use mobile apps to do their banking too. Check out the latest feature on Jot, a mobile app Chase provides its business customers.

Use Mobile Video Messaging Apps ~ OurHelix Blog

Mobile video apps aren’t limited to Vine, the 6-second looping video app Twitter acquired while still in development and launched a few months ago. There are also apps like Tout and Viddy. Amy Nedoss, strategic direction and business development leader for OurHelix, takes us through some of the basic differences between these apps and then gives us an overview of what businesses can do with each.

Create a Mobile Friendly Website ~ Entrepreneur

Your website should be easy for mobile users to view. One way to accomplish this is to simplify your web design so it is easier to view on a smaller screen like the one on a smartphone. Another is to create a special mobile version of your site designed specifically with mobile visitors in mind.

Look Into Responsive Design ~ Small Business Trends

When looking into creating a mobile friendly website, one term that keeps coming up is “responsive design.” Simply put, this means creating a website that is not designed for a specific format. Instead, this kind of website resizes itself based upon the screen of the device upon which it is being viewed. In practice, this may be the most versatile solution for the issue of making your site friendly to mobile users.

Have we missed something? Tell us how you’re using mobile technology to improve your business today.

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

The Most Effective Ways To Protect Your Small Business From Cyber Attacks

Small businesses are even more prone to cyber threats becuase they're weaker on defense. Here's how to protect your small business against a cyber attack

Okay, I’m going to start with a question.

What would happen if a hacker decided to launch a cyber attack against your business? Would they be successful? Would they easily gain access to your company’s sensitive information? Or would their attempt fall flat?

Believe it or not, cyber security isn’t just a concern for large businesses. It’s something that small business owners need to pay attention to.

Consider these statistics about Small Business Security:

  • 43 percent of cyber attacks target small business.
  • Only 14 percent of small businesses rate their ability to mitigate cyber risks, vulnerabilities and attacks as highly effective.
  • 60 percent of small companies go out of business within six months of a cyber attack.
  • 48 percent of data security breaches are caused by acts of malicious intent. Human error or system failure account for the rest.

If you’re a small business owner, you can’t ignore these statistics. You don’t want your business to suffer because you didn’t take the appropriate steps to protect it.

You have worked way too hard to allow your company to be threatened by a hacker, right? In this post, you will learn why it’s important to focus on cyber security. You will also learn how you can protect your business.

Why Should Small Businesses Be Concerned With Cyber Security?

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that your business is so small, nobody would ever want to hack it.

It’s easy to think that a small business would never have to deal with cyber security issues. Makes sense, right? Usually when you hear about a company being hacked, it’s a major brand like Target or Sony.

But these aren’t the only targets.

It may sound hard to believe, but hackers target small businesses too. You just don’t hear about it because the media isn’t going to report on hacks involving small businesses. There are several reasons why a hacker might go after a small business…

Small Businesses Don’t Take Cyber Security Seriously

Let’s face it. Most small business owners don’t take cyber security seriously. They think that they’re too small to get a hacker’s attention.

However, this is one of the main reasons why a small business might get hacked. Hackers know that most small business owners don’t invest in cyber security.

Why? Because small business owners tend to think they have nothing worth stealing. This makes them an easy target.

Chances are, you do have something that hackers want: customer payment information. That brings me to my next point…

You Have Information That Hackers Want

Your business may not be as big as Target or Starbucks … but it doesn’t matter. You do take payment for your products and services, right? That means you have something that hackers want. You have your customers’ payment information. You have your employees’ information.

The Council of Better Business Bureaus found that 7.4 percent of small business owners have been defrauded. As a business owner, you have customer and employee information. This information is as valuable as gold to hackers. If your system isn’t secure, these hackers could have access to payment information and social security numbers. It’s your job to make sure that this information is protected.

How to Protect Your Small Business Against A Cyber Attack

Okay, so I’ve showed you that being a small business doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get hacked. But if you’re smart — and I know you are — you’re probably wondering how you can protect your company’s information. That’s what the next section of this post is about.

Get Cyber Security Insurance

Insurance! It’s not just for your car, house or medical bills. You can also get insurance for your business. As a matter of fact, every company should carry some type of business insurance.

But, there is also cyber security insurance. If you’re a small business, you need this.

Sure, we all hope that security breaches won’t happen. But hope isn’t good enough. You need to make sure your business is covered.

Cyber liability insurance is designed to protect your business from various cyber security threats. If there is a security breach, and your company is held liable, you may end up having to pay out tons of money in a lawsuit. This can cripple most small businesses.

If you have cyber liability insurance, you won’t have to worry about this. If you buy the right type of insurance, your legal costs will be covered.

Develop A Password Strategy

Many cyber security attacks happen because the passwords your employees use are way too simple. If your team isn’t educated, it’s possible that they’re using passwords that are way too easy to hack.

It happens all the time.

That’s why you need to implement an effective password strategy. You may not be able to stop every single attack, but you can certainly slow down a persistent hacker. If your system isn’t easy to hack, it could discourage the attacker. They will move on to another small business owner who isn’t as smart as you are!

Fortunately, this is pretty easy.

You should make sure that your team members are required to create passwords that include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, along with numbers and symbols. Yes, I know this might be a pain, but the security your company will have is worth it. Also, you should require your employees to reset their passwords at least once a month.

Use Virtual Data Rooms (VDR)

Virtual data rooms are a great way to keep your company’s information secure. They make it easier for your employees to share sensitive data.

A virtual data room is an online repository where your company can store data. They’re usually used with financial transactions. It’s very hard for a hacker to get to information that is stored in a VDR.

There are many types of information that a company might store in a VDR:

  • Financial information
  • Legal documentation
  • Tax paperwork
  • Intellectual property information

VDR’s are a great way to ensure that your sensitive information is being kept safe.

Speak With An Expert

Yes, I know you don’t want to do it. But you should. Paying an IT security consultant might seem to be a little expensive. But it’s a great investment.

If your house sprung a leak and water was building up in your kitchen, would you try to fix it yourself? Probably not. You would probably call a plumber, right?

Why? Because if you’re like most of us, you don’t know the first thing about plumbing. The same principle applies to IT security.

If you’re concerned about cyber security, you should consider speaking with an IT security expert. An IT security consultant can take a look at your business and determine the best course of action when it comes to protecting it from cyber attacks.

An IT security consultant can identify areas where your company is vulnerable to cyber attacks. They can make recommendations that will help you keep your business safe. When it comes to cyber security, you can never be too careful. If it’s in your budget, hire an expert. You’ll be glad you did.

Beware Of Internal Threats

This may be a surprise, but most of the cyber security issues that happen are the result of someone inside the company. It’s not something most business owners want to think about, but it’s totally true.

Here’s a hard truth: 55 percent of all cyber attacks come from inside the organization. 31.5 percent are done by malicious employees. 23.5 percent are done by company insiders who mistakenly leave the company vulnerable to an attack.

Protecting your company means looking within the organization. It’s easy to assume that a cyber attack is going to come from an outside force. But it’s not true. You have to focus on the people inside your company just as much as people outside your company.

Make sure that you are keeping an eye on your authorization requirements. Be careful when you’re deciding which employees should have access to sensitive data. This will help you prevent “internal hacks.”

Don’t feel guilty for watching your employees’ activities; as the owner of your business, it’s your duty to ensure that you and your team are being protected. I get it. You don’t want to micromanage. The key is to find the balance between being safe and being big brother. It’s different for every company, but if you work at it, you will find that balance.

Summing It All Up

If you’re a small business owner, you need to take your cyber security seriously. Don’t assume that your company isn’t a target just because you’re not a big business.

You owe it to yourself, your employees and your customers to make sure that your business is secure. Preventing cyber attacks should be one of your top priorities. If you take the right steps, you won’t have to worry about endangering your business.

Hacker Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-ndtv”]

10 Ways to Market Your Business in a Changing World

The way businesses market to their customers is constantly changing, from use of new tools like Twitter and Foursquare to the need to cope with shorter customer attention spans.

So, businesses need to constantly update their tactics in order to stay relevant.

This week, members of the small business community shared some tips for continuing to adapt to changes in your industry.

Read the full list of tips in this week’s community news and information roundup below.

Skyrocket Your Twitter Marketing

(TechWyse)

If you use Twitter as part of your online marketing strategy, you might not be doing all that you can to leverage the platform. Sherman Standberry shares a few steps in this post aimed at helping businesses make the most of their Twitter marketing strategies.

Market to Customers’ Short Attention Spans

(DIY Marketers)

Consumers these days don’t spend a lot of time learning about different businesses and their offerings. If you can’t catch their attention in the first few seconds, they’re likely to just move on. Here, Ivana Taylor talks about how to get and keep customers’ attention in the short amount of time you have. BizSugar members then discuss the post further.

Take Geo Local Marketing Seriously

(SmallBizDaily)

Twitter and Foursquare recently announced a partnership that could impact the way local businesses market to nearby customers. Though many have already dismissed platforms like Foursquare in terms of marketing value, it might be time for small businesses to take another look. Nicole Laurrari discusses the potential of geo local marketing.

Write the Ultimate Blog Post

(Blogging Wizard)

There’s so much that goes into creating a great blog post, from catchy headlines to SEO, and of course great content. Your goal should be to make every single post you write as great as it can be. And this blogging cheat sheet from Elna Cain might be able to help. You can see more input on the post in the BizSugar community.

Focus on Solving Problems with Business Apps

(Buzinga)

Wanting your app to make a lot of money won’t magically make it so. In fact, creating an app just to bring in some extra cash is unlikely to lead to success. As Jason Coutsodimitropoulos points out here, successful apps are those that actually solve a problem or provide a useful service for people.

Make the Most of Your Social Media Schedule

(Social Media Slant)

Running a successful social media campaign doesn’t have to be time consuming. In this post, Cendrine Marrouat explains how you can effectively run your social media campaigns in just an hour a day. The BizSugar community also shares some thoughts on the post.

Get Your Customer Service in Gear

(Yodle Insights)

Providing good customer service can make a huge difference in your company’s bottom line. Those who have been in business for a long time can provide some valuable tips for newer businesses looking to improve service. This post by Angelica Diamond provides some of those tips.

Consider Including a “Start Here” Page on Your Site

(The SITS Girls)

When a new reader gets to your blog for the first time, there’s a possibility that they could be confused or overwhelmed enough to simply click away. But if you have a “start here” page specifically designed for new readers, you could at least partially eliminate that problem. Laura Gelnett discusses the power of these pages along with some things you might include on them.

Target Your Ideal Buyer

(Riverbed Marketing)

If your marketing efforts aren’t specifically tailored to your ideal customers, they’re not reaching their full potential. In order to tailor your marketing, you need to first determine who your ideal buyers are and how to reach them. Todd Mumford shares some tips for doing so.

Make the Most of Your Business Travel

(The Marketing Eggspert Blog)

Traveling for business is often necessary if not always convenient. But you can use that travel as an opportunity to grow your business, as April Lisonbee discusses here. You can read more input about business travel in the BizSugar community.

Market your business  photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]