Mobile technology has experienced significant year-on-year growth this decade and 2017 will be no different. In fact, predictions are that this will be a watershed year for mobile, as new and exciting technologies emerge. Any business owner that’s serious about staying in touch with this rapidly moving sector needs to consider these key mobile business trends.
Search ranking moves to mobile-first
Google is steadily moving to a mobile-only world. The search giant announced in November last year it would be shifting to mobile-first indexing in 2017. Businesses can prepare for this by making sure their website has valuable information that can be picked up by Google’s mobile ranking algorithm. A close eye needs to be kept on changing customer behaviour and expectations, as this is the most important driver of change in SEO. It’s essential to identify the key mobile word searches relevant to a business’s industry.
Businesses also need to create responsive versions of their websites, meaning they automatically adjust to the device they are being viewed on – specifically mobile. They also need to make sure that content and pages on both desktop and mobile sites are the same, to avoid a drop in search rankings when mobile-first search is rolled out.
The (targeted) customer remains king
Technology will play an increasingly critical role this year in customer experience, with mobile driving the transformation. Businesses will need to have the tech smarts to be able to track and follow their customers’ digital journey, analyse their online behaviour and product usage patterns and respond with personalised programmes across multiple channels and devices.
Marketing automation, custom audiences and exclusion lists are becoming important tools for following customers around the web and re-targeting them as they move from web to mobile and other channels. This will allow businesses to make their offers even more personalised and relevant than before, based on each customer’s online and email behaviours.
2017 will also see further growth in mobile-optimised video advertising and content, which will play a bigger role in search.
Mobile apps must become a standard offering for businesses
According to a recent report by Flurry Analytics, overall app usage last year grew by 11 percent compared with 2015, and that the amount of time spent in apps grew by 69 percent. While the bulk of the growth was in social media and messaging, the message is clear: Every business should seriously consider releasing an app if they haven’t yet, as they are valuable tools for providing user data and improving customer engagement.
“Three years ago, a small business might see 10 percent of its total traffic coming from mobile, but right now it’s closer to 70 percent. Within the next couple of years, a shift to a mobile app or a mobile-friendly site will become obvious.”
- Viktor Marohnic, CEO of Shoutem
A new survey by B2B research company, Clutch, reports that nearly 50 percent of small businesses will have a mobile app by 2017. This is a significant increase, considering only 20 percent of small businesses have a mobile app today.
From an advertising perspective, mobile-only apps like Snapchat and Periscope continue to rise in popularity and should be considered an essential component of any mobile marketing strategy. Businesses should also be monitoring their social channels, responding with tailored messages and using the opportunity to build customer loyalty.A new survey by B2B research company, Clutch, reports that nearly 50 percent of small businesses will have a mobile app by 2017. This is a significant increase, considering only 20 percent of small businesses have a mobile app today.
Mobile payments are set to increase
Despite initial reservations, consumers are now increasingly comfortable using mobile for a range of payment options. This includes mobile payments online and in-app – as seen by the increasing number of ‘Buy’ buttons seen on channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
This trend will be led by millennials, who will ditch card payments in favour of the easy and seamless experience of ‘mobile wallets’. These harness Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, and are already being delivered by the major players through their proprietary mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay.
Apple CEO Tim Cook noted last year that Apple Pay was bringing in one million new users per week and that transaction volumes were “five times higher" than in 2015. There is no doubt that this technology will continue to experience exponential growth in the coming year, particularly given the convenience and improved buying experience provided by mobile payment.
Mobile will facilitate super-quick retail experiences
Customers have increasingly high expectations when it comes to digital purchases – expecting delivery within hours now, not days. Mobile devices will drive the on-demand economy in 2017, with consumers buying, tracking, receiving updates and facilitating delivery or pick-up all from their mobile phones. These real-time capabilities offered through smartphones will be a feature of the mobile landscape in the coming year.
Improved mobile performance will support virtual reality expansion
Each successive generation of mobile devices offers improved technology, including faster chips and processing speeds. This results in graphics appearing smoother and apps running faster in the latest smartphones – with performance getting increasingly closer to that of desktop computers.
One of the beneficiaries of the improved performance on mobile devices is virtual reality, which demands heavy resources to run. So far, VR has only really been encountered in the gaming environment, but as businesses seek to give their customers an enhanced digital experience, this technology is the next step.
"Before travellers just had a brochure or information on the website to inform their choices. Virtual reality allows them to get a true sense of the hotel and the excursions they can go on it’s been a real game changer for us.”
- Marco Ryan, Chief Digital Officer at Thomas Cook
Amazon recently advertised a job for a ‘Creative Director, Virtual Reality’, hinting at just how seriously it views this as a medium of the future.
Google Cardboard, which is currently available, provides an inexpensive way to turn a mobile device into a VR headset, so you can view clips in 3-D.
VR is currently limited to a few handsets, like Samsung’s Galaxy S7, but it’ll be available to a wider range of high- and mid-range mobiles this year. These VR smartphones will need the latest technology to generate high-resolution displays and deliver a stunning visual experience.
Wireless, power and storage improvements drive consumers towards mobile
Expect to see a number of other technological leaps in 2017, including more manufacturers dropping headphone jacks in favour of wireless audio. These devices will switch to Bluetooth headphones, resulting in thinner and lighter handsets.
An other trend will be faster-charging smartphones, using USB-C cables, which can carry a greater charge. A new potassium ‘super battery’ has also been announced recently, which would allow a full charge in minutes, rather than hours. This technology probably won’t be available in 2017, but keep an eye on developments.
Higher capacity SD cards for mobile devices are just around the corner, allowing extra storage for photos, videos and games. At present, internal storage is maximised at 256GB and SD storage at 512GB, but SanDisk revealed a prototype 1TB SD card last year which will significantly up the ante in the mobile storage world.
While each of these technological developments is incremental, rather than revolutionary, they will increasingly drive consumers towards a preference for mobile devices and channels, which is vital for businesses to recognise and adapt to.