As a small-business owner, if you haven’t developed a mobile strategy, now’s the time. Apple sold more than 5 million units of the iPhone 5 in its first three days on the market, and analyst firm J.P. Morgan expects Apple to sell some 168 million iPhones in fiscal 2013. That will put more smartphones than ever in the hands of your customers, and with the iPhone 5, they’ll be lighter, larger, faster — and have better connectivity than earlier versions.
Here are five ways to take advantage of the iPhone 5 for your business.
1. Shift from web to mobile. Your company has a website. How does it look on an iPhone? The iPhone 5 has a bigger screen with a new aspect ratio, and many customers are likely to use their mobile devices to find you. “Make sure your website is optimized for mobile,” advises Lori Chavez, vice president of marketing for Local Corp. “Click-to-call buttons, phone number, and forms are all critical.” If you use video on your website, make sure it’s optimized for mobile devices, too. Some 15 to 20 percent of videos posted online by businesses are viewed on mobile devices, according to analysis of 2 million videos conducted by Pixability, a video marketing company.
2. Think directionally. Apple Maps emerged as the “big fail” of the iPhone 5 launch, because the app tended to mislocate businesses and landmarks. Now is a good time to check to make sure your business is properly pinpointed, so that anyone looking for you will get accurate directions. (Make sure the mobile version of your site offers one-click mapping to help consumers find you quickly, Chavez adds.) Apple Maps also offers a new ratings system that can help users find your business better. Keep an eye on these mobile ratings and reviews so that you know what your customers are saying about your business.
3. Digitize coupons and incentives. Another new app, Passbook, keeps a user’s digital tickets, coupons, loyalty cards, and gift cards organized in one place. Get ahead of the curve on Passbook by creating passes now, Chavez advises. Once created, passes may be distributed via email, posts on your website, social media, and business listings. You can even set them to appear at certain times or locations and to update items with push notifications.
4. Organize on the go. Check out the iPhone 5’s new Reminders Badge, which helps users keep track of their reminders. (Look for the app icon with a number, circled in red, at the top right corner of your screen.) Consider ways to take advantage of the iPhone 5’s improved connectivity, which “allows people to be entirely mobile and do business in real time,” says Rob Ciampa, Pixability’s vice president of sales and marketing. He especially likes Evernote, an app that allows you to record notes, photos, and video on an iPhone and automatically sync them with all your devices.
5. Visualize better. The new iPhone 5 camera takes even better quality photos than its predecessors. Think creatively, and use it to your full advantage. For example, DICOM Solutions, which sells and maintains medical-imaging devices, arms all of its installers in the field with iPhones. They take photographs to record serial numbers and document equipment problems; the images go directly into the company’s record-keeping system. Remember that your customers have smartphones, too, and you can use them to make their lives easier. DICOM asks clients to send photos of malfunctioning equipment from their phones to troubleshoot problems before the service call. “That way, we’re more prepared to fix the problem, quickly, because we’re armed with information,” says Mike Hutchison, vice president of sales.