I hosted a webinar recently that highlighted the popularity and potential of mobile marketing. The foundation for my presentation was data from a recent AT&T survey of 300 small business owners that featured what’s working now. Even before I saw the results, I had a pretty good idea that just a few key tactics are at the center of any effective mobile marketing strategy.
The research demonstrates just how powerful these tactics can be. Of those business owners who use mobile marketing, 69 percent rated having a mobile website—or a website that is designed to display well on a smartphone—as the most effective mobile marketing tactic.
Many of the small business owners surveyed are relying on quick response (QR) codes. A QR code is a barcode that can be scanned using a smartphone and leads to a Web page, often with a special deal or offer. QR codes are great for reaching prospects when they are likely to buy from you. To illustrate, imagine a potential customer walking by your storefront and scanning a barcode and immediately going to a page on your website where you present a special offer. Or, picture a restaurant’s QR code in an ad that directs viewers to its menu or list of weekly specials.
Another mobile marketing must-do tactic is text messaging. Texting to people or businesses who have given you permission can be a field-leveler. It plays to the strengths of small businesses by providing immediacy and one-to-one contact that reinforces what a local, small company can provide.
Done well, text messaging is hard to beat. For example, a wine store can text customers when a new shipment comes in; a bakery can reach out when a popular item is available; restaurants can let customers know when a spot opens during a busy time.
When I shared this data in my webinar, business owners overwhelmingly agreed that these tactics are the wave of the future. The questions they asked got straight to the point of what it takes to succeed. Here they are.
How do I put QR codes into place?
The name and concept of QR codes can make it seem like a long-way-from-here-to-there tactic. Actually, it is pretty easy. First, make sure your website is mobile friendly. Any designer can help you with the basics—limit scrolling, make key information easy to find and keep your Web pages short so visitors don’t have to wait for pages to download.
On your end, getting started is easy. You can create a custom code quickly and easily using an online code generator. AT&T has a free code generator you can download. Then, consumers just need to download a QR code reader onto their smartphones. Small businesses can use QR codes in a variety of ways—to drive customers to their websites, to entice them with coupons or provide additional product details.
Who can I text?
Attendees wanted to know if texting as a marketing tool is only good for certain target audiences. For example, is it just for young, mobile professionals or the tech-savvy generation? The answer is that you can text to anyone who tells you it is OK. I am not being flip here; permission is a key success factor.
To see how broad-based your audience can be, imagine a retiree who wants to be notified of available tee times at a golf course or reservations at a coveted yoga class. Or, for any age, a doctor who alerts patients about lab results or appointment reminders.
What works well with text messaging?
It’s important that things have a sense of immediacy or drive home your ability to meet the individual needs of your prospects and customers. If you come across an item that a customer was looking for or have news with a “freshness” element to it, this takes advantage of the immediacy of texting.
What do I need before I can start texting?
First, develop a plan to gather mobile phone numbers. In your store or on your website, promote the benefit of receiving texts, which might include access to offers, products or services or personalized attention from you.
Next, sign up with a texting service. Many services let you manage your account from a computer or smartphone. A basic service may allow you to send a few hundred text messages for a fairly low amount, while a more sophisticated service that lets you send more messages and includes campaign analytics and other advanced features may cost several hundred dollars a month.
AT&T recently launched a Messaging Toolkit that lets you design and distribute targeted mobile marketing campaigns, promotions and other information in a variety of ways: text message, e-mail, social networking, instant messaging, picture messaging and voice broadcasting.
If you are interested in listening to the webinar and learning more about what your peers are doing to increase sales and grow their businesses, go here.
The AT&T SMB eCommerce Survey was conducted online among a representative sample of 302 principals of companies with 1 to 500 employees in the United States by Bredin Inc. between September 6 and 12, 2011. The survey had a margin of error of +/-5 percentage points at the 90 percent level of confidence.
Alice Bredin is an internationally renowned small business expert. She is founder and President of Bredin, Inc., a marketing consultancy that helps Fortune 500 firms develop profitable, long-term relationships with small and medium businesses. She has advised millions of business owners over the last 20 years through her books, syndicated newspaper column, radio commentary and forums.