While vacationing in Mexico this week, I could not help but notice that even in this developing country, mobile is not the future – it’s here now, and bigger than one might have expected.
While the quality of running water in this little resort town may not be up to the standards most of us experience here in the United States, quality WiFi access indeed was. In fact, it was nearly universal and predominantly free!
There was not a single restaurant or coffee shop we visited that did not have WiFi – with every waiter having the password at his or her fingertips.
Imagine a world where every business and retail establishment has free WiFi? That’s what we experienced, all the way down to access at the airport before returning home.
Now consider an important question. Why?
Better yet, why is the saturation greater than in the United States or your country? Could it be that mobile devices are functionally more universal – and less expensive than cumbersome laptops and desktops?
Regardless, it’s clear the next step is to consider what you should be doing to prepare for the inevitable shift toward mobile in the communities your business serves?
For those interested in statistics, in the most recent quarter, Apple more than doubled its sales of iPhones from the previous quarter – with an approximately 40% rise in iPad sales. More surprisingly, iPad sales easily surpassed sales of all Mac’s combined.
Here’s another wake-up call. It’s easy to think those mobile device sales were to a younger, tech-savvy crowd. Read on, as I’m confident those iPad sales are by baby boomers and retirees who also value mobile connectivity.
Mobile Connectivity is a Global Phenomenon
WiFi is now an expectation of consumers that are armed with not just one, but multiple mobile devices. This is a global phenomenon – having mobile connectivity is becoming a basic human expectation that is as universal as food and water.
According to Pew Internet, more than 50% of all local web search is now via mobile devices. And of those adults using the Internet, 65% use at least one social network.
This intersection of social, local, and mobile is a marketing sweet spot – in more ways that one.
As a retailer, offering local WiFi respects the needs and desires of your best customers, and attracts more like them. As a business marketer, this intersection is an opportunity to reach people where they are, and when they are most receptive to your marketing messages.
This could be due to their geographic location, and who they are socially engaged with, both physically and digitally.
People are Hardwired to Connect and Engage
Mobile connectivity is driven by curiosity and the human desire to socially connect and engage with others.
I observed active use of mobile for checking into establishments with Foursquare and Facebook – and this included both tourists and locals alike. In fact, when there are multiple free WiFi connections available, check with the locals, as they know which ones work better at peak demand times.
In the lobby of our resort where the Internet signal was the most reliable, guests were often camped out for extended periods to Skype with friends, family, and business associates back home – and yes, I was one of them. Although, my Macbook Pro seemed to be overdressed in this vacation environment where iPads were the norm.
What does this mean for businesses? For one, don’t judge trends from just what you experience from your normal office and home environment, especially if your business has a global reach.
Another message is that you do not want to deny your customers what they expect – free, easy, and mobile access to you and your business. When you can give your customers the one thing they want most, you personalize the experience and keep them coming back.
Does your business have a mobile strategy?
Are you planning to build mobile sites for an increasingly (and universally) mobile consumer?
Is your business actively learning how to use mobile triggers to engage with new customers?
I hope your answer to all of these is yes.
While I never had any doubts about the future of mobile, I now know my timetable needs to be moved up. Thankfully, my primary WordPress site is mobile friendly – yet, its now evident that a mobile-optimized website for businesses is no longer optional.
It is as necessary as basic food and water.
About the Author: Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business and host of This Old New Business podcast.