Whether it’s a smartphone or a tablet, more and more people are shifting away from using desktops and home-based systems towards using mobile devices to access the Web. With so many new, innovative ways to reach and interact with potential customers, mobile marketing is becoming an increasingly vital way for photography businesses to thrive in a constantly changing landscape. Professional photographers, as with any commercial enterprise, stand to benefit greatly from integrating effective mobile marketing strategies.
According to a report from mobiThinking, there are approximately 1.2 billion mobile Web users, accounting for nearly 10% of global Website hits. Trends indicate that internet users prefer to use mobile devices when seeking local information, such as finding restaurants or events, while their use in social networking and other services is on the rise.
Many businesses are eager to incorporate mobile marketing, but are at a loss on how to do so. HubSpot, one of the leading internet marketing organizations, has pointed out that the third most common Google search query on the subject is “What is mobile marketing?” Let’s consider some of the basic methods for reaching potential customers.
Mobile Applications (or simply “Apps”) refer to programs that can be downloaded and stored on a smartphone or tablet and provide a specifically tailored experience around a product or service. For instance, the PayPal App allows customers to transfer funds or make purchases without having to visit the PayPal website. Mobile Apps can be costly to develop and distribute, and may not be as essential as some other forms or mobile marketing.
As more people shift to using portable devices, mobile-friendly websites are an increasingly critical part of a viral marketing effort. A study by the tech company Compuware (pdf) found that 60% of mobile users expect a website to load on their device in three seconds or less, and 78% of users refuse to try loading a slow page more than two times. A well-designed mobile version of a company’s website will allow customers to access important information with ease, and without extraneous page elements that cost time and data. Well-designed in this case might mean considering a different website format for mobile, one that may not highlight photos in such a prominent format so that you are meeting the “load expectations” of your viewers. And one other thing to consider, Flash is not compatible on the Apple devices such as the iPad and iPhone.
Whether you’re familiar with QR codes and how they work or not, you’re sure to have encountered them. QR (or Quick Response) codes are the square shaped, matrix-like symbols that function like traditional UPC bar codes, and they are a becoming ubiquitous part of our social tapestry. They are often found on products or advertisements, and when scanned by a smartphone, link the device to a website that provides additional information which otherwise could not be conveyed on the physical item. And generating a QR code is easy, with several services available just a Google-search away.
There are a number of ways companies – and professional photographers in particular – can utilize mobile marketing to increase business and engage customers. A mobile site that allows customers to browse prices and services in a convenient and efficient way, rather than wading through site after site on their home computer, saves them time and energy – which is something they will remember when it is time to select a photographer. Keep the site clean, simple, and eye-catching, and make sure to allow for interaction. A consumer who has their questions answered and can provide feedback in real-time is more likely to be satisfied with their experience.
Keep in mind that many time-tested methods of increasing business can be translated into the virtual world. Using QR codes to direct customers to special offers and referral incentives lets them feel more connected than a simple, clipped coupon. Photographers can take things a step further, too. For instance, examples of their work can be posted and shared on a variety of image hosting sites like Flickr or Pinterest (remember to watermark your work!), and the referral process can be expedited through links on social networking sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn.
According to Department of Labor statistics, there are 152,000 photographers operating in the United States. At times, the field can seem saturated and competitive, but the photographer that is able to provide relevant and easy-to-access information to prospective clients is bound to stand out. With the advent of mobile marketing technology, there are plenty of new, exciting opportunities to not only attract, but engage customers, and it could make all the difference to get involved.
Guest post by Georgia McCabe – As an author, speaker, trainer and social media and photography evangelist, her perspectives on social media appear in print in her newest book entitled “SocialMorphosis – Transforming Your Business through Social Media”. Georgia is also a co-author of the book “The Relationship Age”, with social media guru Mari Smith. Georgia is a frequent guest blogger for our professional photography lab.