Mobile marketing is still a growing frontier. Many marketing pundits tell you to get into mobile, just as many tell you that it is too expensive and there’s no clear return on investment. It has risks, but mostly it has rewards.
As with any marketing campaign, think about how it will work across all of your marketing efforts. Will it integrate with e-mail and your website? Can you weave in a contest or sweepstakes? Promotions and coupons are two of the biggest categories in use. The big value in text messaging (SMS) is that it works with nearly any phone, not just smartphones.
Here are five free or low-cost tools that are worth a look for small business owners:
Fanminder is a simple and affordable fan-base marketing service that helps small businesses send engaging promotions to their fans' mobile phones, social networks, and online. Fanminder combines social media and mobile marketing to drive repeat business. You can do it yourself or they will do it for you. No matter how fans join your Fan Club — Facebook, mobile list, Twitter or online — Fanminder organizes all your fans on a secure website.
mobiSiteGalore is a 100 percent free mobile website builder. It has a rich feature set, including the option to let customers pay for your products through their mobile phones (PayPal, Google Checkout and Bango). The service includes three features that caught my eye because they are easy to use:
- Click-to-Call: Add a link to your page that visitors can simply click to dial your phone number.
- Driving Directions: Enable your visitors to view step-by-step instructions to reach a specific location from wherever they are.
- Simple Form Pages: Users can add a simple form page with custom text fields so you can gather information from your customers easily.
MobiQpons offers a pay-for-performance model that is very appealing to small business owners. You pay only when someone within 40 miles of your business views AND clicks through your offer on his or her mobile device. You create your offers using the service's online creation tools, then set the budget for your campaign to control the number of clicks you want to see.
EverywhereIGo is also a mobile website platform that lets you aggregate from social media as well as create mobile sites and promotions. Once you build your mobile site, you can integrate text message campaigns and alerts, all opt-in, of course. You also can create interactive maps to help your customers find you. I liked that they have a personal edition that’s free in addition to the low-cost monthly options for business.
WeReward helps local and national businesses strengthen their local presence. The service works like other coupon options where a consumer can only hear from you if they are physically close to your location and ready to spend. Restaurants, Hotels, Retail Shopping, Professional Services, and Automotive are just a few of the industries that are using this 100 percent performance-based marketing platform. You only incur costs when a customer completes a verified transaction with your business. With the ability to set the exact dollar value for your offer, you will know the return on investment for every marketing dollar you spend in near real time.
Mobile marketing is still catching on, but there are many opportunities to increase sales and profits with these different services. Most of them offer a free trial or a month-to-month plan, so it's not expensive to test and see which campaigns resonate for your customers and prospects.