“How’s your mobile marketing strategy coming along?”
This was a question I recently posed to a group of small-business owners and their responses varied from “What strategy?” to “that’s for the big guys with lots of resources.”
Not so fast. With more consumers relying on smartphones and expecting to be recognized for loyalty, referrals and purchases, now is the time for small-business owners to put their mobile marketing strategies in place.
The Next Big Thing
While we have yet to uncover the full potential of mobile marketing, consider these facts:
- According to Nielsen, 49.6 percent of the U.S. adult population now own smartphones, up from 36 percent a year ago.
- In 2011, the number of loyalty memberships in the US reached 2.1 billion.
- Moodmedia says that 93 percent of people who use apps in stores are significantly more likely to have made a purchase than people who don’t use apps in stores.
One of the most important takeaways from this data is that the growing reliance on smartphones creates an enormous opportunity for businesses to engage customers.
The introduction of Apple’s new Passbook application underscores this point. In case you missed it, Passbook essentially allows consumers to store tickets, loyalty cards, coupons, and passes in one place. You can use it to check in for a flight or get into a movie, for example. You can also use it to see when your coupons expire, where your concert seats are located, and the balance on your coffeeshop card. The potential of Passbook has not been lost on the major airlines, retailers, and hotels that are already on board.
Potential for Small Business
So, what can Passbook and similar applications do for small businesses? Plenty. Arguably, small-business owners are in a better position to use mobile for customer engagement.
For small-business owners, it’s all about connecting with customers as opposed to amassing fans and followers. Since they have a smaller customer base compared with big chains, they’re able to more actively engage them.
For example, they can easily see how their customers respond to e-mail campaigns, Facebook polls, and daily deals. Based on this information, small-business owners can segment customers based on preferences and present more customized offers. This personal touch enables them to differentiate their offerings while engaging customers to become ambassadors for their brands.
Make the Most of Mobile
As consumers increasingly rely on mobile devices, small-business owners can take advantage of applications like Passbook to digitally connect with customers and uncover new ones. For example, your mobile campaigns can include loyalty cards, VIP offers, event ticketing, opt-in alerts on deals and other mobile marketing tactics
Still, a lot of small-business owners shy away from mobile because they perceive it to be complex or time-consuming. What you need to keep in mind is that for your business, mobile is simply another marketing channel.
To extend your engagement marketing efforts to include mobile, do what you’ve been doing in e-mail and social media marketing to foster stronger ties to customers. Yet, now you’ll add another dimension to that engagement. And you don’t need to worry about learning a new technology because the applications allow you to reach customers on mobile devices without having to get mired in the technical details. It’s as easy as sending an e-mail campaign.
By embracing mobile as a marketing vehicle, you’ll be able to extend what makes your business unique with the added personalization only a small business can deliver.