Small Business, Big Customer Data

51893852_lHave you noticed what’s missing from your customers’ wallets these days? Punch cards. Among so many easy-access options, the reward of one free coffee after buying 10 is no longer enough to keep customers coming back. Today, with so much customer data available — and so many new ways to use it — smart small businesses are using technology to connect with their customers on much deeper levels than that old punch card can.

Developing a mobile app for your small business is a great way to engage customers and give them a better shopping experience. Replacing static websites with a responsive, engaging web presence is now a requirement to convince your customers you’re the real deal. It’s time to get up to speed! Here are a few ways small and mid-sized businesses are going mobile to reach their customers and keep them coming back.

Why Go Mobile

Americans now spend more time on their smartphones than they do watching TV, and 60 percent of that time is spent using mobile apps.

Mobile apps are powerful tools for enriching relationships with customers, and consumers have come to expect them, even from small businesses. Digital engagement is a big win for customers and small businesses alike. Smartphone apps:

  •      Boost repeat visits, which drive customer loyalty
  •      Facilitate online transactions like push promotions and e-commerce
  •      Provide a visual touchstone for brand recognition
  •      Collect customer data, such as buying habits

What Your Customers Want

Small businesses that don’t have a mobile app presence miss a large segment of customers. A full 10 percent of the population relies on mobile devices as their only entry point to the internet.

The statistics prove a strong drive toward mobile when it comes to customer loyalty programs. One survey showed 73 percent of smartphone users want to save loyalty cards to their smartphone! You can bet your competitors will be acting on that statistic soon, if they haven’t already. And digitally engaged customers will follow.

Get Your Small Business App Going

You might think developing an app for your business is expensive and complex, and seems like a daunting tasks for most busy small business owners. Luckily, a host of new companies are springing up to develop apps specifically for small businesses.

If you’d rather save money and try your own hand at it, you can also find software that lets you develop your own app. But if you choose the DIY approach, remember that having a bad app can be worse than having none at all. Be sure to thoroughly test it before releasing it to the public. Studies show that customers are 40 percent more likely to abandon an app as soon as they encounter a bug.

A Customer Experience Loop

Mobile apps don’t just offer customers coupons and special discounts; apps gather data as well. Want to know how your latest promotion did, or how many people were interested in that big advertisement? This data can be collected, analyzed, and acted upon for a better, more personal shopping experience for your customer. For example: If you notice customers searching for a product and not finding it, you can respond by adding the missing product to your selection. Or if your customers search your website most frequently during the lunch hour, you could launch new promotions during that high-traffic time.

Integrating mobile strategy into your small business doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be used to provide a better experience for your customers and build better relationships as a result. So toss that old paper punch card!

Customer expectations are changing, but it’s not hard to stay relevant if you know what’s coming. Optimizing your small business for mobile as well as using mobile app data to benefit both your business and your customers will go a long way in keeping your business on the leading edge.  

Learn more about Intel’s solution for small businesses. We also invite you to join the conversation on Twitter.