Before or shortly after you got out of bed this morning, chances are you checked your phone for messages, a social media update, or other communication. That’s why mobile marketing has become so important for small business owners. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, more than 90 percent of Americans have mobile phones. More people are using their cellphones to access the Web than ever before. It’s time to position your business to take advantage of the growing number of mobile users.
Here’s what you need to know to leverage mobile Web marketing:
• Have a mobile-ready website. You must make sure your website can be seen from a smartphone. If your current website was not built with responsive design–meaning that it adapts to the type of screen on which it’s viewed–you may need a separate mobile website. Keep your content simple, and limit the number of pictures. Make sure that your business address is posted, there’s a click-to-call button, and a way to get directions.
• Use text messaging. Every small business should be developing a strategy to use text messaging to stay in touch with their customers. It’s a great way to confirm appointments or share coupons. Of course, as with email, you need permission first, but once you gain the opt-in it can be very effective. Develop a promotion that is just for your text customers; they don’t want a coupon they can already find on your website.
• Create a QR Code. QR codes are black-and-white images that are a more advanced form of bar code, which allow people to instantly access information with a simple scan by a smart phone. You can add these codes on business cards, in-store ads, and flyers to offer rewards or discounts or simply deliver your contact information. Scanner software is free on any smartphone.
• Promote check-ins. Provide you customers with incentives to do check-ins. This is a way of gaining social proof that will increase awareness of your location and drive customers into your business. If people know that their friends are hanging out at your restaurant or cupcake shop, they will want to be there too.
• Develop an app. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in, you can develop an app that serves your target audience. An app is a small piece of software, downloaded to your phone, tablet, or PC that delivers an experience, game, or unique content to the user. You can create an app that produces an e-newsletter, sells products, or drives traffic to your business website. For example, a restaurant might have an app that allows customers to access daily specials, hours of operation, and events while offering a link to the website for more information.
• Grow your email list. Instead of collecting business cards at a networking event, you can accelerate the growth of your email list by using a text-to-join app. Once people text their number, they are added to your email program. Services such as Camcard.com integrate with many email marketing programs.
• Mobile customer service is key. If you have a business that delivers a product, you can use your mobile device to accept payments from customers right at their doorstep. Use your smartphone to accept payments, issue receipts and shipping details, and to respond to any customer service or new business inquiries on the go.
MELINDA EMERSON: Melinda F. Emerson, also known as, SmallBizLady, is one of America’s leading small business experts. She is an author, speaker and small business coach whose areas of expertise include small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. She publishes a resource blog and hosts a weekly talk show on Twitter called #Smallbizchat for emerging entrepreneurs.