Each day you are flooded with articles about using social media and mobile technology, and how important it is for your company to keep up. However, few tell how to leverage this new world to enhance your overall revenue. FPN's Tom Harrington shared some of his insights at Franchise Update's Franchise Consumer Marketing Conference in San Francisco in June. Let's review some important stats from that presentation:
The mobilization of your customers is happening at a record-breaking pace. More business are accepting payments where the service is rendered by adding a credit card swipe to a smartphone or tablet. The app market is going crazy, with hundreds of new apps launched every day--apps that can not only help customers find you, but also facilitate the order and payment process.
In 1997 t took AOL three years to reach 3 million users. That same year, it took Netscape three years to reach 18 million users. In 2010 it took Apple three years to reach 85 million iPhone users. The growth curve in technology has sped up by roughly 10 times in the past decade. In 2012 there will be more smartphones shipped than desktop and laptop computers. Phones are rapidly becoming an electronic wallet: by the end of 2014, 25 percent of all phones will have an NFC chip embedded to facilitate tap-and-go payments at the POS.
The smartphone has become the one piece of equipment you are never without. If you are like me, you have at some point left the house and realized you did not have your phone, went into a panic, and had to turn around and drive back to the house to pick it up, no matter how late this was going to make you.
Remember my favorite stat, that 95 percent of all text messages are read within 5 minutes? Right now you should be adding text to your loyalty program by including the cell phone number in your signup process. With text messaging you can affect today's business today.
Imagine a slow day at the yogurt shop, so the manager sends a text to all of his loyalty customers saying that if they come in by a certain time they can get a special offer or double points. If 95 percent of those people will read it within 5 minutes, how many do you think will come in? Depends on the offer, but your loyal customers received your message and know what to do. This is much better than running a radio ad in hopes that someone who wants your product is close enough to you at that point and wants your offer. This is much more immediate and cost-effective than sending your customers a postcard or putting a coupon in the paper. No deep discounting, like daily deals, to reach people you might have gotten anyway.
What about all those people doing Internet searches on their smartphones? You better have a mobilized website or app for them to access the information they are looking for. Nothing is more annoying than opening a web page on your phone and having to scroll around and make the image bigger and smaller, and to have to do this each time you go to a new page--not to mention when it comes time to actually enter something onto an order page.
With an app or a fully mobilized site that can be bookmarked you make the customer experience such that they will come back to you not only for your product, but also because it is easier to order from you than from a competitor. Plus, with both of these solutions you take your competition out of the mix. If I am searching for a pizza place to order from on my phone, both you and your competition will show up. Then I have to make a decision. If I have your app on my phone, I just have to touch the icon with your logo on it; or if I have bookmarked your site I can easily find that. You have just secured your customer's loyalty without having to give anything away.
Now is the time to mobilize your business or you will, quite literally, be left behind.
Tom Epstein is CEO and founder of Franchise Payments Network, an electronic payments processing company dedicated exclusively to helping franchisors and their franchisees improve system performance, increase revenue, and reduce expenses. Contact him at 866-420-4613 x1103 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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