- Flash #1: I’m sitting at O’Brien’s Irish Pub, a neighborhood watering hole, having a beer with a friend. As I scan the other patrons of varying ages and stations, every one of them is doing something on a mobile phone; two have both a smartphone and iPad on the bar.
- Flash #2: The newest high-powered research report shows a stunning leap in the number of local businesses using some kind of mobile marketing, or planning to do so soon.
- Flash #3: I upgraded my own smartphone to the newest version iPhone and immediately discovered an even faster, clearer and more capable mobile experience.
Main Street business owners tend to be cautious about changing the way they market, but local businesses are now embracing mobile marketing opportunities at a remarkable rate, including SMS (text messaging), mobile banners, email, paid search, mobile video, proximity campaigns, sponsorships, coupons, loyalty programs and deals.
That’s one finding of “Main Street Goes Mobile,” a new study by Borrell Associates, a media research firm. As business owners see more customers staring at small screens, they are taking notice. Trade magazines are full of stories about mobile marketing successes. Even trade shows for funeral directors now offer sessions on mobile marketing.
New research shows that half of local businesses plan to use mobile marketing this year, devoting 20% of their ad budgets, on average. Meanwhile, U.S. consumers are spending more time on tablets and smartphones, and less on PCs and laptops. If you aren’t using mobile marketing, you should know that your competitors are upping their spending on it this year by 41%. Borrell predicts that spending on local mobile marketing will double every year for the next five.
The mobile trend creates yet another challenge for local business owners: How to grow your business with social media and mobile marketing at the same time. Mobile is critical because social media marketing is becoming a real-time experience. It’s not something people do only when they’re in front of a PC. Now they carry the experience in their pocket, purse or hand.
Integrating mobile capabilities with social media marketing is well worth it. In a few years this will be second-nature to millions more local businesses. Here are some benefits, tips and advice on joining mobile marketing with social media:
- Mobile expands your options: There’s only so much time you can spend in front of your computer, so adding mobile capabilities can free you to monitor, manage and update your social media marketing wherever you are. This makes it easier for you to make timely responses to customer questions or comments.
- Increase your QR Code mileage: QR codes are an excellent, low-cost way to extend your digital reach and are well suited to mobile (see: QR Codes for Local Businesses). Customers can scan the code with their mobile device (using a free code scanning app), and be taken to a web page or content. It’s far easier than searching online. QR codes offer one of the best ways for mobile devise users to interact with your business.
- Adjust your content for mobile: Content intended for distribution to a mobile device should be formulated with that purpose in mind. Make it short, simple, clean, easy to access and easy to share. If you have a blog, make sure you have a mobile version.
- Mobile sets the table: While some mobile-social marketing can result in immediate leads or sales, getting someone to fill out a form or make a purchase from a mobile device is difficult. Instead, think of mobile-social marketing as one more “touch point” that lets you connect with customers and prospects. Your goal is to offer helpful tidbits that set up the opportunity to connect in more substantial ways later.
- Tap existing social tools: You don’t have to create mobile-social marketing from scratch. By using existing, mobile-based social networks such as Foursquare (see Foursquare Basics for Local Business) as a base, and then spreading the word via Facebook and Twitter, you can begin to meld mobile with social marketing.