Over the last half-decade, mobile marketing has emerged as one of the most powerful, cost-effective outreach tools for small businesses. 25 percent of all online searches occur on smartphones or other mobile devices, and more than 50 percent of all American consumers now use Web-enabled mobile technologies. Nearly 80 percent of these mobilized consumers use mobile devices while shopping. According to a joint study by IBM and others, three-quarters end up making purchases in-store or online.
Simply put, it’s no longer possible to ignore the amazing potential of mobile marketing. In 2013, business spending on mobile marketing will exceed $10 billion for the first time in history. While spending on flashy mobile advertising campaigns accounts for plenty of this total, social media marketing takes a big slice as well. This is particularly useful for businesses that already use multiple social channels to run promotions, generate brand awareness and open two-way channels of communication that build leads and increase conversion rates. Far from being some crazy new thing that requires years of tech experience to understand, mobile marketing is largely an extension of traditional social and content marketing activities.
The mobile revolution also has particular resonance for small businesses that draw from a localized base of potential customers. Per a recent Constant Contact study, 40 percent of all mobile searches occur on a local scale. For many neighborhood businesses, this can be a moneymaker: The same study found that 64 percent of local restaurant searches result in conversions within 60 minutes. Talk about putting your sales funnel on warp speed.
No matter how comfortable you feel about mobile marketing, you have plenty of tools at your disposal. While the power of local search is obvious, some platforms stand out from the competition.
Foursquare for Business allows you to maintain an active directory listing that contains promotions, discounts, special events and regular-customer specials. It also offers a slew of analytics that monitor traffic to your listing and provide insight into your word-of-mouth performance.
Constant Contact’s SinglePlatform lets you maintain a consistent presence across a variety of local search directories while managing customer reviews and making regular updates from a centrally located app.
With millions of users, Yelp can be an indispensable source of information about your business’s relative performance. Its reviewers’ brutal honesty may help you make necessary customer-service improvements, and its interactive platform allows you to respond to negative reviews and control conversations about your company.
Also, don’t neglect niche sites that cater to hyper-local audiences. USA Today recently ran a story on a New Orleans clothing-store owner who used a “bayou-only” fashion app called Snapette to boost sales at her Magazine Street location.
Make sure your local search pages are as engaging as your company website and social media presence. According to an internal Yelp study, consumers view image-rich directory pages for 2.5 times as long as text-only pages. Ensure that your menus or product listings are up-to-date. Link back to your main site and social media pages to inform local searchers of any specials, deals or online-only promotions that you might be running.
It’s crucial to maintain a consistent presence across the dozens of local search directories and apps that consumers have at their fingertips. Don’t forget to make periodic checks on your company’s “NAP” — (name, address, phone number) — information on all of the local directories that you use. Also, make sure that your email address is correct and that any links to your company website function properly. Apps like BrightLocal’s Local Directory API can help you verify and fix contact information, customer-satisfaction data and client reviews on most local directory services. They’ll also boost your marketing ROI by determining how and where potential customers discover and discuss your business.
Don’t be frightened by the novelty of mobile marketing. As long as you have a mobile-friendly website and an active social media presence, you’re well on your way to exploiting its power. With accurate directory listings, targeted local search efforts and a multi-channel presence, your business will be more visible and attractive to smartphone-wielding consumers.