SMBs Along The Mobile Trail

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are marching along the mobile path.

Last year SMBs were dabbling in mobile apps and Web sites in search of new customers. Now it’s more about mobile Web sites, SMS and QR codes.

The top spending by SMBs on mobile is now on mobile Web sites (49%), SMS/text messaging (48%) and QR codes, according to the new Mobile Adoption Survey by Borrell Associates.

While one in five SMBs used apps in a similar study conducted last year, the new study shows that has now grown to about a third (34%). This may be nearing the cap, since expecting or even trying to persuade the customer of a small business to find their app among more than a million may be a bit too much to ask.

Besides, a recent study by Vibes found that that only 17 percent of consumers have used a company’s app while shopping in-store, showing just how important mobile Web sites are.

The Borrell study is based on more than 1,200 online interviews sent to businesses that deal with local media, primarily daily newspapers. The businesses had an average income of $2 million.



The level of mobile infiltration into SMBs is significant. A year ago, only about 20 percent of SMBs had been pitched by any vendors to conduct mobile-based advertising or marketing campaigns with mobile elements. That number has more than doubled, to almost half (47%) that have been pitched.

In last year’s study, a little more than 10 percent had conducted any mobile-related advertising or campaigns. The number of those who have done mobile marketing is now at 17 percent.

“It’s changing so fast, it’s astonishing,” said Borrell Associates’ Senior Researcher Greg Harmon, who conducted the study. “And it keeps on changing.”

Another observation from the new research is that 100 percent of the SMBs have Web sites, which Harmon cites as a first in their ongoing studies.

One of the most interesting findings is that the small and medium-sized businesses that have used mobile are sticking with it in a big way.

For example, of those who incorporated mobile elements in their advertising and marketing, almost 90 percent say they are likely to continue using it. Of those who have not, well under half plan to.

“Mobile keeps on building steam,” said Harmon. “Everything just keeps moving forward.”

With two years’ worth of data about the small business environment related to mobile, the research firm is finding dramatic, year-over-year growth.

“We found that if you’ve done any mobile campaigns at all, looking at how many you’ve done in the last year and how many you expect to do next year, it is going up no matter how many they did,” said Harmon. If people said they did two, they’re going to do four. If they said they did five, they’re going to do 10.

“They’re doubling down. “The people who have used mobile look to have a pretty religious experience. They go ‘Wow, I gotta do more of that’.”

As you might expect, the marketing dollars are following the intended activity. Of those who have used mobile, four out of five plan to either spend the same or more in the next year. Of those who have not, that percentage is lower.

Another difference noted was that those who have not used mobile consider social media to be of more importance. The opposite was true of those who have used mobile, with almost three times more saying mobile was more important than social.

As in businesses of all sizes, the top mobile challenge cited is lack of budget.

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