The Ultimate Mobile Marketing Primer for Small Business

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The smartphone revolution is under-hyped. More people have access to phones than access to running water. We've never had anything like this before since the beginning of the planet.

— Marc Andreessen

Small businesses need to understand mobile marketing more than ever. Indeed, mobile marketing is the future for small business. And so small businesses need a primer for mobile marketing. Here it is.

And the thing is, there are no shortage of other options for getting found today, that’s for sure. Should we advertise online, and if so, how? What about social media marketing? Is TV still king? Yes, they all work, but right now, the big kahuna, el Numero Uno, is the mobile revolution and its devices. There are four times as many cell phones and smart phones on the planet as there are desktop computers. The iPad is one of the fastest selling devices in history. Laptop computers now easily outsell desktop computers. In the year 2000 there were 0 text messages sent in the world. Today, billions a day are sent.

Over half of American smartphone owners don't go an hour without checking their device

According to Business Insider, “Over half of American smartphone owners don't go an hour without checking their device. However, most app sessions last only a minute. Businesses are going to compete harder than ever to get a slice of that engagement, and make it as valuable as possible.”

There is nothing else out there that has become as important, and as ubiquitous, as the smartphone. It is the medium you will need to master. Indeed, 95% of your customers use a mobile device and if you want to keep your business in the conversation, then you need a mobile marketing strategy that takes advantage of popular sites such as Yahoo and Google Local, Yelp, and sites like Citysearch.

Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to be mobile-ready. Here are just a few tips to help get you on the right track:

Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile Accessible

According to a one study, more people access online stores through mobile devices than through any other medium. “Since U.S. consumers now spend more than half of their time on retailers’ web sites using their smartphones and tablets, mobile can’t be viewed simply as an ancillary device or action, it now epitomizes how consumers think and act when they interact with retailers,” says Shop.org executive director Vicki Cantrell. “Retailers have to continue to invest to make sure they get their mobile offerings right, or will increasingly risk alienating customers and leaving significant money on the table.”

You need to be sure that your site is set up to make your customer’s visit as easy as possible

What this means for you is that you need to be sure that your site is set up to make your customer’s visit as easy as possible. If your main call to action is difficult to find on a phone, your contact information isn’t readily available, or your checkout software doesn’t work correctly on mobile devices, you run the risk of losing potential customers before you even have a chance to win them over.

Take Advantage Of Location-Based Services

While things like Foursquare may not be near the top of your marketing list, the potential they have as marketing tools is still quite large if you use them correctly. Not only will the person using the service be more inclined to visit your store, but their friends will be able to see when they check in, thus gaining you even more publicity. In addition, tools like Foursquare often offer tools to allow you to reward customers with special discounts and offers.

“Foursquare is a location-based social networking website for mobile devices, such as smartphones. Users “check in” at venues using a mobile website . . . by selecting from a list of venues the application locates nearby.” — Wikipedia

Stay Active On Social Media

This is a great tip for an overall marketing strategy, but when you think about how many people are using their smartphones for social media in today’s world, it quickly becomes evident that utilizing social media properly can do wonders for your mobile marketing. When posting to your accounts, be sure to keep in mind whether or not your posts are a good fit for mobile. For instance, a quick picture or quote is easy to share or comment on, but a link with no explanation might not see a lot of interaction.

Keep Your Promotions Mobile-Friendly

Whether you’re posting a deal on Facebook or sending a newsletter to your email subscribers, you need to ensure that your communications are easy to read and interact with across all mobile devices.

Test, Test, Test

One of the most important things you can do when it comes to mobile marketing is to test your ideas and work on finding new ways to improve. Adding a mobile landing page? Take some time to interact with it on your own phone and tablet to help identify potential problems before they go live and cost you users. Not sure if your homepage is mobile-friendly? Ask someone who’s not very tech savvy to perform a few tasks on their phone, and report back to you any issues they have.

While optimizing your business for a mobile world may seem like a daunting task, these few easy steps can make sure that, even if you’re not 100% ready, you’re not left in the dust by other companies who are embracing mobile.

Creating a Text Campaign

The point here is that, if you want to make an impact with your marketing, you have to go to where the eyeballs are, and increasingly, they are looking at text messages on mobile phones. Certainly that is what the big boys have concluded. If you haven’t noticed, text marketing is hot, hot, hot:

  • Dunkin Donuts wanted to increase the sales of lattes among high school and college kids in the Boston area, so they sent a text coupon out to those who opted in. The result was a 21% increase in sales.
  • What about the lawyer who defends drunk drivers? He has a campaign that asks you to text him and in return, he will send you all of his 24/contact info, “just in case you ever need it.”

Lots small businesses are getting in on the act. Ice cream stores are texting specials, gyms are offering free trials, chiropractors are texting coupons.

Here’s how you can join the party:

1. Consider your audience.  Texting is especially effective with younger people, although it is by no means exclusive to them. The important thing is this – people on mobile phones are, well, mobile. Any campaign has to take this into account. They are not watching TV, they are not sitting at their computers. So whatever you decide to text, just be sure that your product or offer fits the audience you target.

2. Create a “pull” campaign: Essentially, with a text campaign, you have two options: Push and pull:

  • Push is when you send unsolicited text messages. Not only do people not like that, they have to pay for it, so it’s a double negative whammy.
  • Pull is when people opt-in and give you permission to text them. That is what you want.

The best way to create your opt-in list is simply by letting your clientele know that if they sign up for your text campaign they will get exclusive offers that others won’t get. You can get the word out in your store, on your website, via email, in your advertising, through Facebook, and via tweets: “Sign up now for our text alerts and be the first in line for our popular Sunday special!”

Any list you create will be far more effective than any list you buy.

3. Choose the right service: As with anything, there are inexpensive text message service providers and gold-plated ones. The cheaper ones will let you send or receive a batch of SMS messages for a set fee. For example, with Salon.TextAlert.com, beauty salons can easily and affordably send promotional texts to clients.

More sophisticated SMS marketing services offer campaign software, a dashboard, reports, customer databases and more. An all-in-one service like MobileCommons allows you to create a list, start a campaign, track it, and refine it as necessary – just as you would with any ad campaign.

You can use a service like MobiQpons, which allows people in your area to sign up and receive coupons for discounts. Only people within 10 miles of your business will receive your coupon. (Another factor to consider is whether you want to have your own short code, i.e., “text in Idol07 to vote for Adam.” You do this by applying for a short code, though this is both time consuming and expensive.)

4. Create a campaign that will work: Cell phones are, even still, relatively free of a lot of advertising. As such, your campaign has to fit in with the culture of the mobile phone. People use them when they are on the go, and they use them for fun. Contests, polls, sweepstakes, games, and of course promotions and coupons work best.

More than ever before, people are looking up, interacting with, and purchasing from businesses using their phone rather than their computer, and if you’re not prepared to accommodate those people, you’ll quickly find yourself falling by the wayside.

Mobile advertising

The last thing you really need to consider is having your site or ad show up someone’s mobile phone when they do a search. How do you do that? One easy way to get your site listed on mobile search sites, as well as by buying  some mobile ads.

For example you can reach a lot of mobile customers by listing your site on the DexOne partner network. This includes very popular shopping sites, as well as social, Yellow Page, and sites like Local.com, YahooLocal.com, and Superpages.com. It’s a smart use of your marketing dollar.

Click-to-call: One easy way to increase your conversions is to buy something called click-to-call. This is where your mobile ad is placed at the top of search engine results. When people see it, they can simply click your phone number to reach you. For local businesses this is a great way to get people to contact you.

Mobile marketing: It's the future. Are you ready?