There is always some buzz in the business world about the latest and greatest application. The “thing” that is going to change the world, or at least change the time that the sun rises. Mobile marketing has been gaining momentum for a long time and the iPhone introduction has certainly captured the hearts and minds of thousands of developers and millions of consumers. But mobile marketing is an opportunity for large and small businesses even without the iPhone revolution.
Most of these tools will allow you to begin experimenting and exploring the world of mobile marketing. In its simplest sense, mobile marketing is creating a website that is viewable on a mobile device. On more complex levels, it is creating and managing advertising or branding campaigns via these mobile tools so that your mobile customer can experience what you have to offer.
Here is a range of 19 mobile marketing tools to help you reach more customers and manage your marketing via cell phone:
1. Sumotext  is a mobile marketing app that focused on SMS/text messaging only. They offered short codes. Those are the cool 5-digit codes you see on ads where text messaging is part of the campaign. With 160 characters allowed in a text message, every bit counts. They did not appear to have a free trial, but only monthly subscriptions starting at $79/month.
2. Mojiva is a mobile ad network. They have a very hip and intuitive interface for both advertisers and publishers. As soon as you start creating an ad, the screen shows you standard web phone interface or iPhone interface. There is a publisher portal and an advertiser portal, plus they have an affiliate program.
3. Mobile Storm is an email and SMS marketing solution. It starts at $30/month for 100 SMS messages (email program pricing same, but more emails). Inc magazine rated it the best way to get text messages to your customers. Enough said.
4. Kodime is a web-based mobile marketing called ZoomTxt that allows you to create text campaigns. $199/month to start. $199/month to start. UK-based.
5. Inmobi is a mobile ad network that allows you to run pay-per-click type ad campaigns on their network. If you are a publisher, you can post your content and get paid for ads similar to other standard web programs.
6. Billing Revolution is a web payments solution. Pretty affordable at 50 cents per transaction. No monthly fee. A single click billing service, from your phone. From their site: “Whether you’re a mobile game publisher, online retailer, small business owner, national retailer, media company, advertising agency, publisher or an individual looking to sell your creations, we’ve got it covered.” They have good reviews elsewhere, too.
7. Big in Japan (based in Dallas, Texas) Their name alone made me laugh. While I was not seeking iPhone applications for this review, these guys made it in because of their ShopSavvy application. It is currently available for the Android, but catch this, it allows a user to scan barcodes to find the best online and local prices. The iPhone version is coming soon. The reason it’s here is competitive defense: How are you going to handle consumers walking in and surfing prices while in your store? It isn’t what can you do to prevent it; what can you do to take advantage of it? Here’s what a user sees:
8. mobiSiteGalore  is a 100% free mobile website builder. It has been rated by many media players and seemed to have the richest feature set of the mobile site builders, including the option to let customers pay for your products through their mobile phones (Paypal, Google checkout, Bango).
9. Unity Mobile is one of the mobile website builders that talked about SMS campaigns and that caught my eye. It isn’t to say that every mobile website needs to be able to SMS/text out to a customer, but it sure is one of the featuers I’d want to have as my customers engaged with my company. They offer a 30-day free trial, then starts at $79/month.
10. Tekora states that it is an advanced Mobile CMS and Mobile Website Builder, bringing your photo,video, audio content to the mobile audience has never been that simple. Free version, then $99 a year is basic plan.
11. Winksite  is a mobile website and community builder. With their tools, you can create a website that subscribers can view on their mobile device. It appears fairly easy and straightforward to use with a large number of niche communities formed. I signed up and it appears to be completely free; I couldn’t find any pricing info.
12. Mofuse  is a mobile website builder with a free and premium version. The free version seems oriented at the personal blogger community and less the business person. The premium version started at $39/month. I found their site to be the most engaging and easiest to read. They even showed the following before-and-after photos of a standard website and a properly built mobile website:
13. Vibes offers several full service SMS messaging campaign options, but the self service platform is where I focused. With it, you can create promotions or prize giveaways, voting polls, allow consumers to request specific info, send helpful alerts (sports scores, weather, coupon offers) to your customers. They did not have a free trial that I could find and you had to call to get pricing.
14. MobiQpons  is a mobile coupon provider and you pay only when the coupon is redeemed. You create and modify the coupons through their web interface.
15. Everywhere I Go is a mobile web site builder with an SMS component built in. Starts at $49/month.
16. Phindme owns Everywhere I Go above. If you are an agency or brand manager, Phindme if a mobile marketing platform. From their website: You can use PhindMe.Net to design, publish and host mobile-friendly web sites and then maintain each client in their system.
17. Jittergram is a mobile coupon company. One of their catchy marketing phrases is “Save Money: Show the Phone.” Essentially, merchants can sign up to send text promotions to their customers phones. As you’d expect, there’s no paper coupon, just show the phone screen to the cashier, as per the graphic below. Starts at $75/month.
18. Swebapps is a cool service. Build your own mobile application with this web-based toolkit and then track usage of that app through their dashboard. If you can imagine how many buttons you need on your application to navigate through, that’s how it is priced. Four buttons starts at $200.
19. Mobiltytics  is the Google Analytics for mobile websites and applications. Although you might think web traffic and mobile traffic are the same, there are enough differences that you’ll want to at least check out their free starter pack.
Thanks to Kim Dushinski at Mobile Marketing Profits who shared brainstormed a bit with me by email and confirmed that some of these companies are useful for small business. She offered these tips from her blog . Although out of the scope of this review, she does have a paid program called Quick Start Mobile Marketing that looks useful for those starting down the mobile marketing path.
Overall, if you’re even remotely thinking about entering the mobile marketing frontier, this is a wet-your-feet post. Like blogging, and twittering, and facebooking, the world of mobile marketing promises growth in the future. Tell us your stories and successes here in the comments.