With mobile usage skyrocketing, it's no surprise that large brands are increasingly investing in mobile ad campaigns. But what about small businesses?
If mobile is ever going to grow into the advertising behemoth some believe it's destined to become, small and local businesses will need to be on board too. And, according to a recent study, they are.
But how should these businesses take advantage of mobile as a marketing channel? Here are six ways.
While the phone call is a thing of the past for a growing number of consumers, the telephone call isn't dead. For small businesses looking to connect with consumers, the combination of a mobile phone and click-to-call functionality can, for obvious reasons, be an excellent fit. Fortunately, putting the two together doesn't require a herculean effort: small businesses using Google AdWords can add click-to-call to their ads with just a few clicks.
Text messaging's maturity may make it one of the least exciting mobile marketing techniques but that doesn't mean that it can't be one of the most effective when used appropriately. Numerous companies make it easy for small businesses to build subscriber lists and send messages to them.
Using SMS effectively can be more difficult than email because SMS has significant limitations, but some of the techniques that often work well with email, such as discounts and time-sensitive promotions, can be quite effective with SMS as well.
SMS may be synonymous with mobile, but for many companies, email is fast becoming a mobile channel as well. After all, many consumers are reading their emails more frequently on their smartphones than they are on their desktops and laptops. For small businesses with an email mailing list, considering email to be part of mobile marketing strategy -- and all the implications that come along with that -- can be a wise move.
4. Mobile loyalty programs
If you're old enough to remember the punch cards often used by dining establishments to reward patrons, you're probably not surprised that mobile loyalty programs, some of which are literally app-based punch cards, are becoming more and more common.
When it comes to implementing mobile loyalty programs, small businesses have two options: roll their own using one of a growing number of vendors offering turnkey solutions, or join forces with companies that provide rewards for multiple businesses through a single app.
For small businesses looking for an easy way to test the mobile marketing waters, location-based services (LBS) can be a good place to start. Foursquare, for instance, allows businesses to claim their location and to offer specials. It even offers punch card-like functionality to boot and lets restaurants add their menus.
Obviously, your mileage on these services will vary as many of these services, despite their popularity, aren't nearly as mainstream as, say, Facebook and Twitter, but if you're in a city that has a decent audience, an LBS may be worth a closer look.
How can you ensure that your business is the right place at the right time? Put it on the map. Once again, small businesses using AdWords have a leg up on the competition in the mobile arena thanks to Google's Location Extensions offering, which lets AdWords advertisers promote their nearest location to mobile users searching for what they offer.