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