Rich Foreman is the CEO of Apptology, a Sacramento-based mobile application development and mobile marketing company, and the Sacramento director of Startup Grind.

The public sector tend to be late adopters of technology, and this is the case with mobile technology. However, there are several reasons why nonprofits and public-sector organizations need to adopt a mobile strategy.   

1. Adoption of Mobile: The main reason that a mobile strategy should be adopted is that the population has already adopted mobile. In the few short years since the debut of the iPhone, the smartphone has had unprecedented adoption. There are lots of studies and statistics to prove this point. My favorite stat is that there are more mobile devices than there are people in the world.

2. Mobile searches exceed desktop searches. Recently Google reported that there are more searches done from mobile devices than from desktop computers.

3. Google has changed its algorithm to favor mobile-friendly websites. In 2015, Google changed its algorithm so that a search done on a mobile device will favor a mobile-friendly website. So based on points No. 2 and No. 3, organizations that have a mobile-friendly website will have an advantage over those that don’t.

4. Mobile is the only means of Internet access for some. In a recent study, mobile was the only means of access to the Internet for 23 percent of families below the poverty level. So for organizations that deal with providing social services, a significant part of the population they serve can only access the Internet via a mobile device.

5. Websites designed for desktops are difficult to navigate from a smartphone. A good example is the California WIC website. This website is hard enough to navigate on a desktop computer. However, if you are in the WIC program, you are typically below the poverty level and there’s a good chance that your only connection you have to the Internet is through a mobile device. Try navigating the WIC website with your smartphone and realize that for some, this is their only option.

In developing a mobile strategy, there are three elements to consider:

  • Develop a mobile-friendly website.  This will address points No. 2 and No. 3 previously discussed. 
  • Communicate via SMS. I see a lot of communication from the public sector. Sadly, with an open rate of 22 percent, it’s really a futile way to communicate. SMS, on the other hand, has a read rate of 98 percent. The good news is that there are a lot of SMS marketing tools out there that are relatively inexpensive. I’ve actually seen a couple of organizations that realize SMS is a better way to communicate, and the employees end up using their personal cellphones to send out text messages.
  • Develop a native app. An app can be a very effective tool to communicate with a population served by a public-sector organization. The reasons for an organization having their own native app are numerous, and as such, I plan to write a future post on why a public sector organization would need a native app.

If you manage a public-sector organization, I hope this post gives you some food for thought on why you need to adopt a mobile strategy.