October 21, 2014

Mobile Marketing for Your Small Business

small business mobile marketing

When people are looking for a local business, more and more often they’re turning to their smartphones or tablets for help. Mobile searching is a whole new playing field, with the majority of searches related to shopping or finding a nearby business—a gas station, a restaurant, a hotel or retail store.

Google dominates mobile phone searches, even more so than on computers. According to StatCounter, the search engine giant is responsible for 96 percent of mobile searches worldwide, and 57 percent of mobile ad revenue. However, mobile users are increasingly turning to services like Yelp for reviews during business searches, and the majority already searches for product information from their phone in-store – 84 percent of them, according to a Google study.

What does this mean for your small business?

If you don’t already have a small business mobile marketing strategy, or it’s been on the back burner and you haven’t done much with it, it’s time to shift your priorities.

Small Business Mobile Marketing

Optimize for Mobile

Smartphone and tablet screens are smaller and your website has to be able to function on reduced screen real estate. If consumers can’t read or navigate your site on a mobile device, they’ll head for the nearest competitor with a mobile-friendly website.

Some website platforms, like WordPress.org, have built-in mobile optimization tools. If your site is built with WordPress, you should check to make sure this option is enabled on your dashboard.

If you don’t have automated optimization, here are some mobile-friendly tips for your website:

  • Keep the overall design simple and clean, and avoid Flash animations—they don’t play well with mobile platforms.
  • If possible, avoid drop-down menus—they’re difficult to near impossible to work on a small screen.
  • Increase your font size to 14 and your line spacing to 1.5 for small-screen readability.
  • Place information that’s important for mobile users, like your address and a click-to-call phone number, near the top of the page.

Make Your Business Findable

The key to benefiting from mobile search is to make sure that when people are looking for your products or services in your area, they’ll find your business. That means you need to be able to be found. In addition to optimizing your website, you can:

  • Provide a mapping ability on your website for easy directions.
  • Make sure you’re easy to find on social media by listing your address and phone number on your Facebook page, and claim your business location on Google Places, which can be linked to a Google+ account.
  • Allocate a budget for mobile search marketing, which is separate from Web search marketing.

Get Proactive in Mobile Promotion

In much the same way you build an email marketing list, you should also be working on a text or SMS (Short Message Service) marketing list. These lists, often called “text clubs” to emphasize exclusivity, can be used to send customers special offers, discounts and promotions. SMS marketing is highly effective—according to Nielsen, 97 percent of all text messages, including marketing, are opened and read, compared to an average email marketing open rate of 10 to 20 percent depending on industry.

You can promote your text club on your website and social media pages, and in your retail location if you have one. You can also use interactive smartphone technology like QR codes or NFC tags that let shoppers sign up for your SMS mailing list with a wave of their phones.

Failing to leverage mobile strategies means denying yourself a lot of potential business.

Are you on board the small business mobile marketing train?

Mobile Market Photo via Shutterstock

24 Comments ▼

Megan Totka


Megan Totka Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for Chamber of Commerce. Chamber specializes in helping SMB's grow their business on the Web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. Megan specializes in reporting the latest business news, helpful tips and reliable resources and provides advice through her column on the Chamber blog.

24 Reactions

  1. This is a great read, when paired with Forrester’s new ‘Mobile Mind Shift’ study.

  2. What type of companies do you think the “text clubs” mobile promotions works best for? Or doesn’t work at all for?

    Seems like something that a lot overlook but at the same time, I don’t think it works for everyone.

    • Mike — I’m the community manager for Signal, a promotions platform that includes text message marketing software. You’re right, text clubs don’t work for everyone. We’ve found they work best for businesses that:

      1. Have a brick-and-mortar presence
      2. Can send coupons and other discounts via SMS (customers unsubscribe at much higher rates when discounts aren’t included in SMS promotions)
      3. Have multiple locations and wish to drive customers to events and promotions at particular locations

      SMS is such an intimate and immediate form of communication that it only makes sense to use when the end user, your customer, gets real value out of it.

  3. Interesting to hear about the SMS clubs. When do you think we have reached the stage when we got so much SMS that it feels like the cold-calling phone sales people ringing you up on a daily basis?

  4. This information is right on. Many people don’t realize if they are not using the internet than they are losing a ton of business. I had a business where I had to do home shows in order to make any kind of real money. I was always stressed trying to find someone to have a party. With the internet I no longer worry about that. People are now coming to me!

  5. Our firm does a lot of innovation around SMS technology. We build SMS apps for social entrepreneurship purposes that do very well in building subscriber lists, while at the same time generating a lot of engagement. We didn’t really plan on it, but we’ve grown and built an entire suite of text messaging utilities that serve nonprofits, community managers, customer service agents as well as for profit establishments. One of our most successful ventures has been the creation of a very effective text to give SMS donation utility that is integrated with Twitter, and which utilizes both short codes and long codes. This works very well for our smaller, successful local nonprofit clients who don’t have the big fundraising budgets of the larger, national nonprofits.

    Eric Bryant, CMO
    Gnosis Media Group

  6. Using mobile sites and SMS marketing is an easy and affordable way for any business to:

    1. Build their brand
    2. Build a valuable marketing list
    3. Build customer loyalty
    4. Bring in new customers
    5. Get more traffic to your business, website, & Facebook page.

    If your business relies on local business, this type of marketing should be integrated into your business today.

    Kevin
    mobiASAP

  7. Mobile marketing is cheaper and if correct messages are sent, it can bring instant customers and boost up your sales. With other methods of marketing it can take time to get a response but with the mobile it’s very fast. So I think small business need to deeply consider about mobile marketing and if possible they must all come up with a mobile version of their website.

  8. Good article. Regarding the need for your website to display well on a smart phone… To achieve this, look for a website builder that supports “responsive design.” #websitebuilder #responsivedesign #smallbusiness

  9. It’s about time. Let’s face it. People are no longer glued to their PCs. Instead, they use tablets and handsets. A good business owner knows that he should not miss on this traffic by optimizing his website for these gadget users.

  10. This is a terrific post Megan.

    We think text clubs and SMS marketing in general is a really useful and friendly way for local businesses to build up their customer base at the point of sale or local events.

    Related, we’ve released a couple of helpful for people getting started building their own text club:

    1) Beginner’s guide to text message marketing:
    http://www.signalhq.com/resources/guides/beginners-guide-to-sms-message-marketing/

    2) Text campaign pre-flight check list:
    http://www.signalhq.com/resources/guides/text-campaign-preflight-checklist/

    3) All You Ever Wanted to Know About SMS Marketing (webinar):
    http://www.signalhq.com/resources/webinars/

    All of these things were built to help people be successful, and we’ve really tried to minimize the promotion of Signal within them.

    Thanks,
    Jeff

  11. yes mobile marketing is required for small business.because mobile users are increasing day by day and you had given one good example of search over search engine by mobile. and every search engine has implemented mobile strategy on search engine. Google also has introduced mobile seo in organic search also added enhanced campaign in Google ad-word for sponsors search.

  12. This is Why You Need to Incorporate Mobile into Your Marketing Now.

    (1) QR Codes Marketing increases revenue opportunties from print ads and product packaging. One challenge that companies routinely have is getting their customers to make the decision to visit their website when they add it to a print-ad or product packaging.

    (2) Mobile Coupons Marketing are most helpful because they give customers the opportunity to take advantage of special offers without having to go through extra steps in order to redeem them. Customers do not have to clip the coupons, print them or remember to bring them to the location.

    (3) The Marketing Benefit of SMS, Companies that use SMS in their business are basically able to build another way to contact their customers with special discounts and premiums. And the true marketing benefit of being able to use SMS is that text message based conversation that happens in real time.

    (4) How to Keep Mobile Users Engaged, While the technology is changing rapidly, there are still some best practices that small businesses are using successfully to give their mobile users a customized experience. Much of what they do takes place in the mobile setup and design process.

    But there are also some things that they do on an ongoing basis to engage their customers. If you adopt three of these practices in particular, they will help you to create experiences that will make mobile users want to spend more time and money with you.

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