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Small Biz Getting Mobile Sea Legs

Posted on 5.08.2013

A new study from Constant Contact is shedding light on how many small business owners are leveraging mobile technology, in addition to how they are using it.

The report reveals that although 66 percent of small business owners claim to use mobile technology, only 34 percent have mobile-optimized websites. In fact, the top-two ways businesses are using mobile technology are for social media marketing (73 percent) and to conduct email marketing (71 percent). In addition, 44 percent use mobile technology to advertise through social platforms, while 18 percent run a mobile tablet-based payment point-of-sale system and another 18 percent use mobile apps to manage business operations like accounting.

“It’s encouraging that a majority of small businesses recognize that their customers are relying more than ever on their mobile devices to find information, look for deals and even to make purchases,” said Joel Hughes, senior vice president of strategy and corporate development at Constant Contact. “That said, small business owners are still getting their sea legs, so it’s not surprising that they’re leading with two areas where they have a solid track record of success with customer engagement: social media and email.”

Other noteworthy insights show that small business owners tend to prefer iOS mobile devices over Android, with 66 percent of respondents using an iPhone and only 39 percent using an Android device. Plus, iPad users outweighed Android tablet users, 49 percent to 15 percent. As for the most popular apps for managing business operations, 82 percent of respondents use a calendar/time management app, 74 percent use a customer communications app, 52 percent leverage GPS and mapping apps, 44 percent use accounting/invoice apps, while another 44 percent leverage industry news/information apps and 29 percent use a travel planning app.

That said, the most shocking data looks at why some small business owners are not leveraging mobile technology yet. Fifty-six percent of the respondents stated their customers haven’t expressed demand for mobile communications, while 47 percent said their customers haven’t requested mobile payment solutions. Furthermore, 36 percent of respondents reported interest in mobile solutions but don’t know enough about how to best use them and 33 percent said that they are interested in mobile solutions but haven’t had time to implement any yet. In addition, 31 percent said they don’t have a work/business-related smartphone and 28 percent claim mobile isn’t relevant to their industry/business.

“Generally speaking, small business owners have very little spare time on their hands, so learning how to use mobile technology for their business is not necessarily tops on their ‘to do’ list,” said Hughes. “We received some anecdotal survey responses that said ‘It costs too much’ and ‘I have no idea how this stuff works,’ representing the subset of small businesses that will forgo mobile opportunities until their customers start demanding mobile communications or payment solutions.”

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