These days an online presence is an essential part of any business. The internet provides a forum to engage customers not only through your company webpage but social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook. By garnering lists of loyal customers and interested parties, businesses can mobilize their customer base to market their company and benefit from direct feedback.

In addition to social media, many believe that the evolution of mobile phones represents the next great marketing tool for small business owners. The ability for customers to connect and browse to the internet from anywhere in the world represents infinite possibilities for creative advertisers. Commonly referred to as mobile marketing, such strategies are currently being developed by both businesses small and large in order to gain an edge on their competitors.

Mobile phones have become an indispensable item for most individuals. They rely on them for planning, organization, socializing, finance, and keeping abreast of local and world news. According to statistics from the International Telecommunication Union, over 5 billion people across the world subscribe to a cell phone plan. In the United States, 90% of adults own a smartphone. Unlike traditional computers, cell phones are light and portable and always close by.

As a result, marketing to a potential customer directly through their cell phones is far more efficient than delivering an advertisement through radio, television, or internet ads. Currently, approximately one-tenth of all searches for online products is done through mobile phones. As mobile bandwidth improves and devices become more intuitive and web friendly, smartphones will represent a much larger share of the total web traffic. In fact, even today over 95% of new mobile phones are equipped with a capable web browser. Statistics indicate that over 70 million consumers use their phone to browse the web daily in the United States alone.

Experts believe that as mobile phones garner a larger share of internet web traffic, more and more purchasing decisions will be influenced by businesses who market to this demographic. The distinction is important given that mobile web browsing offers a vastly different experience than tradition internet usage. For example, a website that utilizes bandwidth intensive graphics and complex animations may work well with desktops or notebook computers, but is a poor design for a mobile phone with limited bandwidth and a smaller screen. Many websites must design specialized apps that condense content to cater to mobile users. Custom mobile apps with desirable features can even be sold to provide an additional income.

Mobile marketing also provides flexibility and instant gratification. A restaurant, for example, could provide the ability to make a reservation through a mobile app, or connect to users through popular review sites such as Yelp. Simply having a presence boosts the stature of your business, as consumers are more likely to patron companies that offer are accessible and offer discounts through mobile phone notifications. Text messaging a limited time promotion can deliver immediate response and urgency from your customers. Research from the group Mobile Marketing Watch estimates that 7 out of every 10 consumers respond to text messages, whereas only 3 out of 10 consumers were likely to patronize advertisements sent via email.

It is important for small businesses to recognize the current shift in technology and how it will influence the way consumers connect. Not only are mobile phones increasing in processing power, but wireless internet is getting faster and more comprehensive. This provides consumers with the freedom to stay connected the way they want regardless of their location, which will result in more individuals choosing to purchase tablets and smartphones in lieu of traditional computers. The businesses that market to these users will eventually be advertising to a much larger base, and do so more efficiently by utilizing social media. Unfortunately, less than 7% of small businesses have optimized their webpage for mobile users. A vast majority still believe that traditional online advertising reaches a broader base.

Internet commerce is at a critical juncture. The paradigm is quickly shifting from traditional online advertising to mobile marketing, social media, and text message promotions. In order to ensure your business isn’t left behind, it is essential that you optimize your websites for mobile browsing, and provide apps and features that make it easy for customers to make purchases, provide feedback and spread the word.

This is a guest article by Ruben Corbo, a writer for the website Cell Phone Expert where you can
different types of 
cell phones by provider and/or brand.

This post was submitted by a contributor. Check out our Contributor page for details about how you can share your ideas on starting a business, productivity or life hacks with our audience.