Mobile has become the buzz word for the marketing industry, enticing businesses from all over to get in on the game. But with so many options and strategies to pursue, which one is the most effective for your business?
Don't think that mobile marketing is only for large businesses in major metropolitan areas, either. Businesses of all shapes and sizes can effectively use mobile marketing to draw and grow their business.
Kyle Agha, owner of a local restaurant situated just a few miles from an open pasture is using mobile marketing to recession-proof and strengthen his business. He has run the New Town Bistro & Bar in Winston-Salem, NC, for 17 years, weathering changes in the area’s economy while keeping pace with rapid-fire technology innovations. He told me about innovative ways that he connects with customers.
To gain even more insights about mobile marketing, I also spoke with:
- Navin Ganeshan, who leads new product development and strategic investments for Network Solutions
- Tim Gorin, vice president of business development for MyEyeDr with 35+ locations in the Washington, DC area and Small Business Advisory Council member for Yelp, a business review site
- Lawren Desai, owner of a/perture cinema, a movie theatre showing independent, documentary, and art films in downtown Winston-Salem, NC
They talked about techniques for tapping the power of mobile marketing.
1. Slow time marketing tool
If the dinner crowd is not yet pouring in at 5 p.m., Kyle may send a text message mentioning a specific menu item appropriate for the evening. He might promote a “cool summer salad” on a sweltering July day. Plus, he’ll offer an incentive for customers to show the text to their servers as a way to track ROI.
2. Special promotions with limited lead times
Mobile marketing has also been useful in solving the problem of selling fresh seafood quickly for the restaurant, since delivery dates are rarely nailed down in time for traditional promotions. But the immediacy of texting plays in the business’s favor. Kyle can alert customers to the availability of soft shell crab as soon as he is sure of its arrival and quickly receives requests for dinner reservations.
3. Piggyback on another’s app
New Town Bistro does not have its own app but has a presence on Open Table’s mobile app, which comes pre-loaded on a host of smart phones. As a result, customers can find his restaurant, view a current menu, and call for a reservation easily. Kyle has been most surprised at how this particular listing has attracted out-of-town guests.
4. Search and discovery, not mobile advertising or apps
Navin at Network Solutions tells me that many small business owners tend to think of mobile advertising campaigns or apps to promote their business when they first consider mobile marketing. But he recommends avoiding those low-ROI techniques in favor of establishing and managing a presence on free local directories and review sites. Focus on major players such as Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Urbanspoon and those ranked high in search results pertaining to your business.
Here’s what to do so that prospects can discover your business:
- Claim and verify the listing as the owner
- Describe your business, its products, and services
- Add compelling elements such as photo reviews
Thirty percent of all searches are local searches and the intent to buy is high: 82 percent of users doing a local search engage in some sort of interaction with merchants on the same day; and 62 percent make a purchase the same day. By establishing your Web presence via local listings, you are capturing business from customers who are ready to buy but need help in selecting a merchant. Help them find you.
5. Review sites: perfection not required
Through his marketing role with MyEyeDr and non-paid advisory gig with Yelp, Tim Gorin has learned that discriminating consumers do not expect businesses to have spotless records on review sites. However, they want to see engagement by owners or key employees when customers post unfavorable reviews, comment on poor service, etc. Prospects are interested in learning how businesses deal with complaints, not whether they have 5-star ratings.
6. Review sites drive customer service
Business-review sites can be a valuable tool in managing customer service, especially for businesses with multiple locations such as MyEyeDr. When lodging a complaint, customers often reveal employee names and locations, along with a way to contact the aggrieved through the site. These features can not only hold employees accountable but also offer a mechanism for dealing with customer service problems as they occur.
7. Not just local business
Mobile marketing can attract customers who are not local to your business, Navin tells me. E-commerce sellers are creating mobile catalogs to allow on-the-go shopping. Rather than listing all items for sale, they are promoting their most compelling offers with navigation designed for the mobile experience.
Businesses are also using mobile technology at out-of-town special events, trade shows, and conferences. They might distribute literature with QR codes that direct prospects to specially-designed landing pages, invite customers to their booths or venues, and accept mobile payments.
8. Mobile can do it all
Lawren, of a/perture cinema, sees a growing reliance on mobile technology. To capitalize on this trend, she directed a mobile-friendly re-design of her cinema’s website. Customers are visiting the website to check out film descriptions and show times, just as they always have, but they are also buying tickets on their mobile devices and redeeming mobile versions of Groupons. By facilitating transactions this way, Lawren's mobile-friendly site closes the mobile-marketing loop.