At its heart, successful marketing is all about reaching your customers with an engaging message where and when they want to see it. And more than ever, mobile is the device of choice for consuming email marketing. More than half of all email users—55 percent—access email via a mobile device, and by 2019, it's expected that 85 percent of email users will access their email accounts via a mobile device, according to a report conducted by technology market research firm Radicati.
We know that small businesses see the value of mobile: More than half agree that mobile tools are fundamentally changing the nature of sales for their business, according to Endurance International Group; and more than half of all emails are opened on a mobile device, according to Litmus.
We also know from a recent Manta survey that 80 percent of small-business owners are using mobile tools or solutions for their business. Sounds good, right? Until you dig further and realize that the primary use of their smartphones revolves around scheduling appointments, creating to-do lists, banking, etc.
The reality is that most small-business owners might be maximizing mobile for running their business but not for marketing their business. Why? Lack of time and know-how are often barriers for the adoption of new technologies, and with mobile, this is no different. When we asked why they aren't using mobile solutions, some of the top reasons we’ve heard from small-business owners include not knowing how to use them and not having the time to implement them.
Yet with mobile, that really is problem of perception versus reality. Just as using mobile simplifies things like managing your calendar and your one-to-one communications, maximizing mobile for your marketing can actually simplify your efforts. Here are some key components to mobile marketing and, if done right, your business can benefit exponentially.
Mobile and Local Listings
Local search can be critical to small-business success, and mobile holds the key.
- 75 percent of people used a mobile device to get real-time, location-based information, according to PewInternet.org.
- 50 percent of mobile users are most likely to visit after conducting a local search, while 34 percent of consumers on tablets or computers will go to a store, according to Google.
Local listing information can come from multiple sources, including consumers, business submissions, listing management services, data aggregators, vertical-specific providers and data taken from websites. Given these many sources, it’s important to take control of your listings. Search for your business, list places that list your business, check your listing information for accuracy, list places that don’t list your business but should, and update your information. There are also companies that will do this for you. Here are some specific things that you should ensure are up-to-date and accurate:
- Hours of operation
- Parking options
- Business description
- List of products and services
- Specials and deals
- Logo and photos
- Contact information, URL and social channels
- Payment option
Driving Action With Mobile Messages
Now that they can easily find you from any mobile device, what is it that you want to say to your customers and prospects?
A lot of small-business owners get anxious when thinking about what message they want to convey, as many don’t consider themselves to be great writers. But that’s another benefit of mobile: the simpler and shorter the message, the better. First and foremost, you should have a call to action to engage your customers. That could be a mobile responsive offer or promotion to your customers, a Facebook promotion, a local deal or an event invitation.
For event planning, mobile invitations, registration forms, tickets and check-in are easy to create and make for a streamlined event planning experience. “I love using an event check-in app because no matter where I am, I can easily see on my mobile device how registration is going for my upcoming events," says Maureen Dudley, owner of Dudley and Nunez Communications. "It also makes it a breeze to check in seminar attendees on the day of an event using a phone or iPad.”
Creating Email Content With—and for—Mobile
People talk a lot about mobile-responsive email, which is an email that adapts to the device it's opened on, so it can be read easily on a mobile or desktop device.
Sound tricky? It doesn’t have to be. Most email service providers (ESPs) offer mobile responsive templates that allow you to easily create emails that customers can view and interact with effortlessly.
Small businesses can’t afford to ignore the influence of mobile-responsive emails. And in reality, making an email look good on a mobile device requires just making it simpler. That means avoiding too much text, multiple columns and tiny fonts, and having a strong visual to grab attention.
"Mobile content must be short, heavily visual and interactive," says Julia Campbell of J Campbell Social Marketing. "It must be sent out more frequently but in smaller chunks than old school, desktop-centric digital content. When thinking about how to write and format content for mobile, you need to think about how a person with a few minutes at their kid’s soccer game or waiting in line at the grocery store will read it on their phone. We need to accept that people want to get our content where they are, when they need it. And where are they? On their phones.”
Making Your Messaging Mobile
One of the really great aspects of mobile technology is that now you can market your business in real time. By taking advantage of simple apps to create timely emails and social posts on the go, you can be authentic and spontaneous by creating genuine mobile moments.
We call it “a picture, a paragraph and a call to action.” Take, for example, a local ice cream parlor that shares a quick email with a photo of hand-squeezed lemonade or homemade ice cream on an unexpected 90 degree day. A national ice cream franchise is more removed from what’s going on locally and can’t take advantage of local happenings the way a small business can. With your ability to be nimble and develop real customer relationships, you can achieve greater context with your mobile marketing—and context (delivering the right message, at the right time, to the right people) is the key to success in today’s world of competing marketing messages.
Consider how a business near my office in Waltham, Massachusetts, uses the “mobile advantage” to great effect. Knowing when there's a lull is a real boon for In A Pickle customers who’ve been known to stand in line for almost an hour to get their signature deli sandwiches.
These kinds of messages, whether a great photo or a coupon, can easily be distributed via both email and social media channels, as they all have mobile apps.
Ultimately, taking advantage of mobile opportunities and making sure your emails can be read on any kind of device really simplifies your marketing efforts. Why? Emails with shorter content and fewer calls to action actually perform better than complicated and dense messaging. By simplifying email campaigns, small-business marketers can take an essential step toward becoming mobile marketers and compete more effectively.
Mobile Amplifies the Small-Business Advantage
It’s no secret that small-business owners have a ton on their plate; learning how to use new technologies can sometimes end up at the bottom of a very long to-do list. The beauty of mobile technology is that the messaging is ultimately simpler, the calls to action can be immediate and the authenticity of being local and connected to your community can come through loud and clear.
Mobile can drive business success. It's has become a way for consumers to find you, read your messages and make purchase decisions. Yet it’s really not complicated. At the end of the day, mobile marketing is simply how your message is received. So take advantage of mobile technology beyond planning your schedule and getting directions to your next meeting; use it for marketing opportunities like email and social media—you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll start creating authentic mobile moments for your customers.
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