The 411 on Mobile Marketing for Small Businesses

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411 on Mobile Marketing

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about mobile marketing lately (and if you haven’t, you will). We thought we’d provide a helpful Q&A post on what you need to know. Let’s get to it.

Q: What is mobile marketing?

A: It’s actually what it sounds like: it involves reaching people through their mobile devices (e.g. phones, tablets) and encouraging them to buy your products or services. Strategies that businesses use to increase engagement among mobile users include QR (quick response) codes, custom apps that people can download to their device, and websites optimized for mobile.

Q: How can I be sure my customers use their mobile devices to buy things?

A: The latest facts and figures suggest they probably do. According to data released in late November 2012 by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, “Fully 85% of American adults own a cell phone and now use the devices to do much more than make phone calls.” Fifty-six percent of these cell phone owners use their devices to access the Internet. This infographic from May 2012 says “1 in 3 shoppers have made a purchase via their mobile devices in the last six months.” HubSpot has pulled together a ton of interesting stats on mobile marketing from a Marketing Land study, including this one: “67% of users are more likely to purchase a product or service from a mobile-friendly site.” To say that mobile marketing is — and will continue to be — important is an understatement. And, yes: b2b buyers user their devices to search and buy products and services as well.

Q: Aside from making purchases, how else are people using their mobile devices?

A: This past holiday season, it was estimated that 80 percent of mobile users tapped into their devices to do things like compare prices, read online reviews, find store locations, and look for coupons. If you have a storefront, it’s imperative that mobile marketing is part of your overall marketing strategy this year. You can’t ignore it anymore.

Q: So people might visit my company website on their smartphone or tablet. Great! What do I need to worry about?

A: Ah, well, this is where it gets complicated. You know how your website looks great when you’re looking at it on your computer monitor or on your laptop? Unless your site has been optimized for mobile, there’s no guarantee it’s going to look so great or be easy to navigate from a smartphone. You know those monthly email newsletters you send out? Have you ever checked to see how they look on a smartphone? Since more and more people are using their phones and tablets to read email, browse websites, and even make purchases, it’s important to make sure your website and all of the content you make available to customers and prospects alike reads well on a mobile device.

Q: Oh, c’mon. If someone can’t access something on my site through their mobile device, I bet they’ll just check out my site later on their computer.

A: You might hope that’s the case. But, again, the data suggest otherwise. Here are more interesting stats from the HubSpot post: “79% of users who don’t like what they find on a mobile site will go look for the information they need on another site.” And this: “Additionally, 52% of users said a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company.” And just in case you need more convincing, there’s this: “And even if users really like a business, 50% of users will use that business less if their site isn’t mobile-friendly.”

Q: OK, OK. I get it. So how do I optimize my website for mobile devices? (And what other things do I need to think about?)

A: If you’re at all techie and enjoy tinkering, a Google search on “how to optimize my website for mobile devices” will yield plenty of results, like this one from the Nonprofit Technology Network. If you use an open source content management system, like WordPress, there are plug-ins that can help. If you don’t have the interest or time in doing this yourself, your best bet is to reach out to your web developer. Depending on your site, you might need to make an investment in making sure your site looks good on mobile devices. But, as the stats above indicate, it’s an important investment.

The other thing to do is always test how all content looks on mobile devices. So, for example, when you send yourself a test email of your monthly e-newsletter, open it on your smartphone or tablet to see how it looks.

Another important thing to think about: your online presence. Does your business listing come up on the first page of search engine results for your target keyword phrases? Does your business listing come up for local searches? Does your business have a presence on mobile maps? The last two questions are extremely important.  This article from Constant Contact cites data that shows “over 40% of mobile searches have local intent.” As an example, the same article points out, “In the case of restaurants, 64% of these mobile searches convert to real business within the hour.”

Again, it’s important to repeat this point: you need to consider mobile in your overall marketing plan and strategy. How big of a role mobile plays will depend on your business, your customers, and your budget. But mobile marketing needs to be discussed.

Q: What additional resources should I check out?

A: There are lots, but here are three to dig into:

So, tell us: have you paid attention to mobile marketing? Have you optimized your website for mobile? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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