When you give your phone number out to someone today, do you give your home landline number, or a mobile number? For an increasing number of Americans, cell phones are an important part of life—in fact, over a third of Americans report that they no longer even have a landline phone. As mobile phones get smarter and more common, law firms should start thinking about mobile marketing. Having a mobile-friendly version of your website was once just a novelty. In today's mobile-based world, it's a necessity. Here are eight reasons that the legal marketing landscape is changing in a way that is favorable to lawyers who get on the mobile bandwagon.
#1: Smartphones Are Getting Cheaper And More Widespread
When smartphones came out, in the form of the Blackberry and other similar devices, they were regarded as gadgets best suited for high-powered businesspeople and tech geeks. Today, the situation on the ground has changed dramatically: Over half of Americans now own a smartphone.
Smartphones, in addition to allowing basic telephony features, also let people connect to the internet, watch videos, use maps and global positioning satellite systems, and even play games or use apps. The huge market share of smartphones has come as the result of steep price drops, including many which are now free with plan purchases. The ubiquity of smartphone technology means that attorneys can no longer simply assume that their target market doesn't use smartphones—while younger demographics are certainly more likely to have a new iPhone or Android device than older people, all demographics are buying smartphones at an unprecedented rate.
#2: Better 3G and 4G Coverage
The first smartphones had data connections that were extremely slow compared to the speeds available for desktop web browsing at the time. Typically, the first generation of data connections for smartphones only allowed a connection speed that was about the same as a dial-up modem.
Today, that's all changed. Third and fourth generation data systems (abbreviated to 3G and 4G) allow for faster transmission and exchange of data than ever before through smartphones. Today, 4G coverage, which is as fast or faster than many home broadband connections, is rolling out or already exists in hundreds of cities in the United States, while 3G connections can be found even in smaller towns and along major United States highways. This better data coverage means that people are able to use their smartphones to get online more often and with less frustration—a great thing for marketers.
#3: Less Expensive Data
While some carriers have discontinued unlimited data plans, other cell phone service providers have stepped up to the plate to provide unlimited, flat rate data services. When the data rate (the amount of internet downloading/uploading you're doing) is lower, people are more willing to do web searches on their cell phones.
#4: Conversion Ready Customers
It's hard to think of a type of client that's better to get than someone who's looking at their cell phone when they see your website. After all, if they like what they see, it couldn't be easier: all they need to do is simply press the phone number on your website and the smartphone will dial it automatically. Smartphones and mobile internet make it easier than ever for potential clients to get in touch with you right away, without the kinds of hesitations and second guessing that can make it significantly more difficult to convert new clients.
#5: More Tablet PCs
Smartphones aren't the only game in town when it comes to mobile computing. With its introduction of the iPad, Apple began the rise of the tablet PC. While tablet computing had been tried before, the iPad was the first device to become truly commercially successful using a touchscreen tablet interface.
Much like smartphones, tablet PCs often use mobile internet, including 3G and 4G. These devices are considered mobile platforms for the purposes of marketing, because tablet viewers will see your mobile website, not your main site, first. Mobile marketing to tablet users looks identical to mobile marketing to smartphone users, because the two types of devices actually use many of the same apps and graphics features.
#6: Social/Mobile Marketing Combinations
Sometimes, two great marketing tastes go great together. If social media is peanut butter, then mobile marketing is definitely chocolate. When you get your social media into your mobile marketing, you'll start seeing definite signs of success. Why? Because people like to use their social media accounts when on their smartphones.
Smartphone users are more likely to be users of various social websites, like Facebook and Twitter. This means that whenever you do social media marketing, you should make sure that all your links are viewable by anyone who is using a mobile device. Try checking on several devices with different operating systems (iOS, Android) before confirming that a web page is necessarily mobile friendly.
#7: The Rise of the Planet of the Apps
One of the other ways people interact with their mobile phones is through the use of “apps.” Apps are a great way for attorneys to interact with potential clients. Keep in mind that not everyone uses an internet browser and search functions any more. Consider having an app that relates to your practice area. For example, criminal defense attorneys may want to create apps that will help people understand how to interact during a routine traffic stop or a request to search a vehicle.
#8: Decrease in Desktop PC Market Share
It's been about 35 years since desktop PCs for the home market began to see initial sales. However, the sales of desktop PCs have slowed. Many specifications for desktop PCs haven't changed appreciably in several years, while significantly more innovation has occurred in the mobile realm.
It's unlikely that we'll see the desktop PC going away any time soon. However, the ease with which clients can contact you after seeing your firm's mobile website means that you can't just rely on your desktop site forever.