April 7, 2011, 12:54 PM

Small and mighty

How even a small number of mobile users can have a powerful impact.

A common excuse online companies use for not investing in a mobile channel is that they feel few consumers will use it. What they fail to realize is that those relatively few mobile users will likely be more engaged, and thus more valuable than the typical consumer.

That’s the interesting point Forrester Research Inc. made in a recent case study highlighting how online review company Yelp.com is leveraging its mobile app users to make its reviews web site more robust.

Yelp.com only has about three million monthly app users—a much smaller number than the 45 million who visit Yelp.com each month. But what Yelp realized was that it could use those engaged mobile users to make Yelp.com better.

For example, Yelp’s app users can upload pictures of a place, from a restaurant to a hair salon, from their mobile devices. Those mobile shots don’t just stay in the mobile realm, they are added to Yelp.com too, making reviews more colorful and informative. Today, Yelp says it receives an image from a mobile device every 30 seconds.

Yelp’s app also lets users take notes about a place while they are there. That way, when a Yelper gets home to write her more lengthy analysis, she won’t forget to mention that the bathrooms were dirty or that the garlic mashed potatoes were heavenly.

These are just a few examples of Yelp.com’s smart approach to mobile. For more examples, check out the Internet Retailer story here.

Yelp and Forrester make a great case for all companies to invest in mobile. Because even if a mobile channel is small, it can still pack a potent punch.  And the growing number of smartphone owners means the number of consumers accessing retail web sites from mobile phones is steadily growing.

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