7 mobile marketing strategies for local business

Mobile-marketing spending is projected to explode in the next two years. However,owners of most small to medium-size businesses think they either can’t afford it or lack the resources for implementation. Here are seven strategies that will help you to implement mobile into your existing marketing strategies. SMS Marketing

In short, SMS stands for “short message server,” otherwise known as “text messaging.” With 9 out of 10 Americans carrying a mobile device, according to research done by Mobi Thinking, this marketing vehicle cannot be overlooked. Microsoft predicts that in 2014, mobile Internet usage will overtake desktop Internet usage. This makes sense, considering that in 2011, more than 50% of all “local” searches were conducted from a mobile device. Better yet: The cost is minimal, at 10 to 15 cents per message.

But how do you know if SMS is right for your business? Consider the following before jumping in head-first.

  • How will you collect mobile numbers for SMS marketing?
  • What pitfalls might you encounter?
  • How will you send your SMS messages?

Step 1: Collecting Mobile Numbers for SMS Marketing

Mobile-phone numbers are sacred to consumers. We all know what happens when businesses get e-mail addresses. Consumers fear being inundated with text messages and running up carrier charges. You’ll need to gain their trust to get their number. A solid relationship needs to nurtured through exclusive deals.

Be up-front with your customers and follow these guidelines:

  1. Restrain messaging to no more than two times a month;
  2. Offers need to be exclusive;
  3. Use SMS to send premium notices such as order status or an appointment reminder, or to announce an event.

You can collect their numbers using a sign-up sheet at your register, asking customers while on the phone, via a form on your website, or by giving them a number that they can text to subscribe to your SMS messages. To avoid problems later, keep a copy of their permission to market to them via SMS.

Step 2: Protect Your Customers

Put measures in place to allow consumers to “unsubscribe” if they change their mind. If a customer unsubscribes, remove them from the list immediately, as required by law. There are actually a few laws you need to be aware of when it comes to mobile marketing.

Opt-in only – you must obtain consent from the customer before sending an SMS text message;

Unsubscribe – every message must provide an “unsubscribe” option in the message. If they select that option, you must unsubscribe them immediately.

Be aware of the cost to customers who do not have unlimited-text-messaging plans. You need to make customers aware that additional fees may apply if they go over their plan’s limit.

 Step 3 – Set Up, Create and Start Your SMS Campaign

Once you’ve completed steps 1 and 2, you may want to consider a third-party service provider. They can send the mass messages, ensure that you are able to track the return on investment, embed an unsubscribe message, and manage your SMS marketing database – including unsubscribes.

Your message options are unlimited, but don’t forget to include your business name and contact with every message. If possible, include a call to action – for example, present the text for a discount, or visit your website and enter a code word for a free gift, etc.

QR Codes

QR (quick response) codes are simple two-dimensional codes, very similar to retail barcodes. Smartphones have the ability to scan QR codes and to deliver information in a timely manner to the handset. Scan the QR code, and the user is taken directly to a video, presented with a text message or directed to a website. Put your QR code everywhere … newspapers ads, flyers, direct mail, brochures, signs, etc.

SMS Competitions

Promote a competition to gain attention and generate excitement that will ultimately lead to brand recognition and word-of- mouth publicity. Don’t overlook an opportunity to generate repeat business. When a customer comes into your business, encourage them to text a code so they’ll be entered to win.

Location-Based Consumer Deals

Location-based services like Foursquare and Facebook Places allow people to “check in” based on their GPS location and to leave tips. Users can accumulate visits, become “mayor” of a location, attract special deals and earn badges. As users check in to a location, they are presented with a list of venues and special offers. Opportunities are endless to encourage completion and promote loyalty.

Bluetooth (aka “Proximity”) Marketing

Bluetooth is a wireless-technology standard for exchanging data over short distances. Bluetooth marketing involves the blasting of messages within a specified area to individuals who have their bluetooth turned on. Your message can be as simple as a text message; coupon; picture message; or even a short, compressed video. If you have a bluetooth unit set up in your business, keep the message blasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The message can be controlled to ensure that it goes to each device only once and that all statistics can be accessed.

Mobile Websites

It is predicted that within the next two years, people will spend more time browsing the Internet on a mobile handset than on a personal computer. What does this mean to business? To maximize visits to your website, you’ll need a mobile-friendly site.

Visitors to your site will be using a screen that takes up just a few inches. If visitors feel cramped, have difficulty reading the content, or if too much effort is required to navigate the site, they will leave. Another frustration is connection speed. Despite Internet service providers’ increasing capacity, our consumption outpaces the growth – which makes access feel slow.

To enhance the experience of visitors:

  • Install a mobile plug-in – transform your site into a mobile-friendly version in about 30 seconds with a simple plug-in;
  • Create smart navigation to your most important content;
  • Write clear content with compelling headlines;
  • Don’t use too many images – they slow the connection;
  • Don’t rely on Flash or Javascript – not all devices serve up these technologies;
  • Practice good design – don’t cramp the content, and make it scannable.

Mobile Applications (‘Apps’)

“Apps” are actual applications that are downloaded and installed on your mobile device, rather than being rendered within a browser. Users visit device-specific portals such as Apple’s App Store, Android Market, or Blackberry App World in order to find and download apps for a given operating system. The app might pull content and data from the Internet, in similar fashion to a website; or it might download the content so that it can be accessed without an Internet connection.

When it comes to deciding whether to build an app or a mobile website, the most appropriate choice really depends on your goals. Generally speaking, a mobile website should be considered your first step in developing a mobile web presence; whereas an app is useful for developing an application for a very specific purpose that cannot be effectively accomplished via a web browser.

written by: Michele Croft