Go Mobile for Leads and Sales - Or Be Left Behind

Mobile commerce is catching on, even in the high-end market of buying a business. Investors who want to buy a franchise are adopting phones and tablets at a rapid rate to research and apply for franchise opportunities.

The number of investment inquiries from mobile devices has tripled in the past 18 months, according to new research on the franchise-buying process. Findings were shared with franchise executives at Franchise Update Media Group's Leadership & Development Conference in Atlanta, held this past October.

"Many marketers will be surprised to see such a boom in mobile leads from the portals," said Steve Olson, president of Franchise Update Media Group. "We certainly expected phones and tablets to be part of the research process, but the growth in inquiries submitted was definitely a surprise. For business purposes, mobile seems to be catching on faster than any other channels."

With a typical franchise investment ranging anywhere from the cost of a car to the price of a home or college "Smaller screens are playing a big role in big purchases," Olson added.

Trends were drawn from an analysis of more than 15 million visits to the Landmark Interactive Franchise Group, a network of online franchise recruitment sites that includes Franchise.com, FranchiseOpportunities.com, FranchiseSolutions.com, FranchiseGator.com, and BusinessBroker.net, which have pioneered online franchise sales since 1995.

Among the findings that show mobile devices are now an important segment of the franchise recruitment process:

  • Mobile visitors now account for 20.7% of all visitors to the group's websites. The mobile share of visitors has tripled since January 2011, with phones for 57% of mobile visitors and tablets 43%. Tablets are the faster growing category with a share that has more than quadrupled since January 2011.
  • Mobile franchise prospects have tripled in the past 18 months, reaching 20.2% of online investment inquiries.
  • Mobile engagement mimics desktops in page views per visit and time spent per visit. The return frequency is virtually the same for tablet and personal computer visitors.
  • Mobile users are high-value prospects and were 8.7% more likely to request franchise information with $100,000 to $500,000 in available capital to invest.

"The challenge with mobile is that it includes so many different devices and screen sizes, not to mention several different app stores, operating systems, and mobile browsers," says Michael Alston, president of Landmark Interactive. "We have retooled our products to make sure that we are engaging prospects across all of these platforms."

"Just as the Internet fundamentally changed the business-buying process over the past decade, mobile phones and tablets are now further changing the game," Alston added.

And because no single mobile device or format is dominant, and because mobile activity is spread out over many platforms, Alston recommends that franchisors avoid putting all of their mobile eggs in one basket (i.e., don't develop an iPhone app and call it a day). In fact, he says, research suggests that users are using multiple screens simultaneously (computer, phone, tablet, and television) or switching between mobile phones, tablets, and the desktop as part of the same research process, so an integrated solution seems best at this date.

Landmark Interactive's business units operate leading consumer marketplaces for entrepreneurs interested in franchises and business opportunities. The company has more than 45 websites reaching more than 40 million unique visitors monthly, and its Franchise and Business Opportunities Group serves franchisors with prospective franchisees. Landmark offers Internet and marketing services to consumers, businesses, and marketers with solutions and services including lead generation, email marketing, ad targeting, geo-location, and predictive modeling, as well as customer relationship management, website design and hosting, and data management services. Contact Michael Alston at 757-351-8808 or michael.alston@deonline.com.

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