How Cloud Technologies Enhance Mobile Marketing
No matter what the weather’s like where your business is located, chances are there’s a cloud on the horizon. Cloud-based IT services—i.e., technologies that leverage the Internet and central remote servers to maintain data and applications—are all the rage in the enterprise segment.
A new survey conducted by Edge Strategies on behalf of Microsoft says the cloud is rapidly expanding to the small business sector as well, as startups recognize its potential to reduce the amount of time and money they spend on IT needs—resources they can instead re-deploy to nurture and refine their companies.
After surveying IT decision-makers or influencers at more than 3,000 small businesses across 13 countries, Edge Strategies forecasts that the number of SMBs embracing premium cloud services will triple over the next three years, lured by the promise of operational cost efficiencies and anytime/anywhere access to information. The survey adds that 59 percent of SMBs already using cloud services report dramatic productivity benefits, 63 percent expect to grow in sales in the next 12 to 18 months, and 55 percent believe technology will power their future growth.
Like so many technology trends, the move to the cloud is directly connected to the evolution from the desktop to mobile devices. The cloud has liberated forward-thinking entrepreneurs from the office, connecting their smartphones and tablets to remote access tools, collaborative technologies and other business applications. But the cloud isn’t only about improving productivity—it’s also about boosting communications with customers, turbo-charging mobile marketing efforts by taking advantage of enhanced contextual technologies.
Cloud-enabled mobile marketing campaigns can combine real-time consumer location data, behavioral insights, demographic information with cloud capabilities like geo-fencing, and auto-notifications to deliver hyper-relevant mobile interactions customized expressly to consumers’ preferences and needs at that particular moment in time. Consider the potential of coupons that combine geo-fencing services with loyalty program data encompassing a customer’s buying history, delivered via mobile device when the patron enters the store or even ventures into its immediate vicinity.
That’s not a hypothetical example, either. Mobile technology providers are already rolling out the software and services necessary for marketers to harness the power of the cloud.
Case in point: In late February, mobile firm mBlox introduced Engage, a cloud-based platform promising real-time, location-based analytics and reporting tools. Engage includes a web-based dashboard dubbed the Engagement Manager, a cloud infrastructure and a set of device and cloud application programming interfaces.
Marketers can leverage the cloud to push rich-media mobile messages, store real-time usage information and trigger events according to time, location, and/or device status, adding these capabilities to new and existing mobile apps or integrating them into existing customer relations management systems.
Small businesses must first embrace the cloud before they can exploit its potential, of course. Momentum is growing, but more than 60 percent of the SMBs surveyed by Edge Strategies indicate they lack the resources necessary to implement new technologies and services. Startups should ask themselves a follow-up question: Can you afford to not invest in the cloud? The longer you deliberate, the more time you’re giving competitors to capitalize on its benefits.
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