Personal Finance

Can You Really Make Money With Your Smartphone?

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Smartphones don’t have to be just for communicating and having fun; they can also help make real money for your business. Mobile Web traffic is up 78% year over year. On Facebook alone, 37 million more people logged in through mobile than in 2012. Mobile is where people are — and where they’re engaged.

Mobile ads are four times more effective than banner ads. On both Facebook and Twitter in 2012 users spent more time online on their mobile devices than on their desktop computers, according to a report from comScore. One guess is that while most work happens on a desktop computer, many entertainment activities and searches for entertainment from local businesses take place on mobile. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the many ways you can take advantage of the huge number of people using their phones to browse the Internet, and turn this global phenomenon into profits.

1. Mobile social

Facebook and Twitter users engaged an average of one hour more per month through mobile than desktop, according to the comScore study. In addition to longer engagement time through mobile access, mobile-only platforms such as Instagram are posting impressive numbers.

To make these channels viable for increasing profits, however, a few things need to happen: The content that your business posts must be shared in order to grow your exposure, and the content must easily lead back to your store, website or other conversion funnel.

2. Content creation

Content curation is the talk of the Web, and it’s extremely important for businesses. Similar to a mobile social strategy, in order to turn profits, your effort here must increase virality and lead people back to you. The good news is that content curation is cheap.

Tumblr allows users to curate custom collections of photos, text, video and links. Good, consistent content will garner followers. This works extremely well with lifestyle-oriented businesses.

Mobile media powerhouse Flipboard has recently reached 50 million users and has opened up magazine creation to all users. Creating a magazine, then adding content to it from feeds around the Web, as well as other feeds on Flipboard, is an easy way to offer high quality content to your fan base, without spending money on developing it.

3. Marketing your business moments

Getting the word out on your business doesn’t have to be done solely from your fixed place of work. Business moments happen on the fly, and you want to share them as they happen, wherever they happen. Time spent running back to your desktop to share news could be time lost. For example, say your business is having a great event and, as it picks up steam, you want to showcase the excitement. It’s key to get the word out as events evolve live.

4. Emails

Ask any head of marketing; email is still an extremely fruitful marketing activity.  Email is inexpensive, it can easily be targeted to the correct groups of customers, and it can be highly cost effective. Considering mobile during the conception, writing and design of marketing emails is crucial. Those checking email on mobile want an optimized experience: this means short text so there is no need to zoom in and out to read the content.

5. Ads

A 2012 study conducted by three of Facebook’s biggest advertising partners found that Facebook’s mobile ads were clicked 13 times more often than Facebook’s desktop ads. When creating ads, users can design for mobile as well as sidebar and promoted posts.

Other notable ad networks such as Trademob and Go2Mobi connect advertisers with app developers and optimized websites. Buying ads from these ad networks will make your ads display on their partners’ apps and mobile websites. Look into targeting, as often there are no qualifications for whom the ads are delivered to.

6. Coupons

Consider a coupon that offers a modest award, but exposes customers to other services and goods. When this results in revenue that exceeds the amount of free or discounted merchandise, your business makes money. Mobile couponing can be highly effective, because it can target people based on location and interest. Look for mobile coupon apps such as iLoop mobile, Yowza and Coupon Sherpa. Be careful with coupons though; fees and the unpredictability of app user bases make them a gamble.

7. Launching a mobile store

For ecommerce businesses and small-scale merchants, an online storefront might be their only revenue generator. Consumers will spend $37.44 billion in 2013 using their smartphones and tablets, up from $23.72 billion last year, according to an eMarketer report. Mashable found in a study last year that even in locations with access to computers, mobile trumps. Services such as MobiCart and Shopify Mobile promise to help users set up mobile stores quickly. In other words, if you’re selling products on traditional Web browsers, there’s no reason not to sell them on mobile as well.

8. Getting on shopping apps

Shopping apps could be the mobile market equivalent of selling direct to merchants. Those interested in selling products, but staying away from retail, might consider Sold, an app that promises to price the item, find a buyer, send you packaging, then get you paid.

Simply Listed allows users to post their items, using only their phone’s native cameras. The photos are then listed for shoppers to browse.

9. Selling units

Mobile screens are relatively small but the opportunity to monetize your digital real estate there is substantial. There is likely some remnant space on your site or app that can be monetized through serving ads. Here’s where you’ll need to decide on a mobile ad network to partner with to sell your space. Google’s AdMob makes the process relatively simple by giving software developers a kit and allowing users some choice as to where the ads are displayed.

10. Subscription and download fees

Whether you decide to use a subscription model or charge download fees generally depends on the type of app you are developing. In addition to subscription and download fees, many app developers are offering the “Freemium Model” because it gives good exposure, while still bringing in revenue. This model offers an experience that has fewer features, and gives full access to those who pay. This is popular with games and cameras.

Smartphones have clearly changed the way we communicate on the move. The first step was a personal information revolution; we have access to facts and opinions like never before in human history. Then we used mobile devices to communicate with each other, sharing our photos, thoughts and senses of humor. The next phase of mobile communication is here — businesses are able to reach customers and leads on the move. The opportunity is enormous, so start learning how to make money with your smartphone as soon as possible.

Image: iStock

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  • Sugianto Jam

    Nice article :)

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