7 Mobile Marketing Tips For Entrepreneurs

Last Updated Jun 1, 2011 1:15 PM EDT

According to the Mobile Marketing Association, "the US is the second largest market globally in terms of mobile advertising spending behind Japan. It will close the gap next year with a forecast of $1.24 billion and will grow up to $5 billion in 2015." So as a small business owner, if you don't have a mobile marketing strategy, it's probably time to start thinking about one. I recently spoke to mobile guru Chuck Martin, author of The Third Screen: Marketing to Your Customers in a World Gone Mobile (Nicholas Brealey, May 2011) about the steps that entrepreneurs should take when dipping their toes into mobile waters. Here's what he had to say:
  • Determine what phones your customers have. "The first thing small business owners need to do is to find out what phones their customers have," says Martin. "If a customer doesn't have a smart phone than they need a specific approach, and if they have smart phones, then they need a different approach. In the US, roughly one out of three phones are smart phones, but by the end of this year it will be a 50-50 split.
  • Find out how they use their phones. "Then they need to find out what customers do with their phones. They should put up a sign their business, or just ask people to find out if they're using their phones to text, take photos, or scan barcodes. Then they can adapt their strategy to that."
  • Capture mobile phone numbers. "They should capture the mobile phone numbers of their customers. In any marketing materials, they should say 'please give us your phone number so that we can send you text messages.' Every phone can receive text but only a smart phone can run an app." When customers give you their mobile phone numbers, says Martin, they are essentially agreeing to an intrusion. You need to be respectful of that by making it clear that your messages will have value for them and that they are in the driver's seat. "They should have to opt in twice, " says Martin. After your initial message, you might send a second one saying "we will send a maximum of two messages a week and one of them will be a special deal or an advanced notice of sales." Your customers should be able to opt out with a single touch.
  • Analyze your results. "Watch carefully when people opt in and opt out to see if you are providing value," says Martin. "Only the best customers will opt in, so you will end up with a subset, but it's the best subset you can get. As a result, you have to provide high value to that group. It's the ultimate in one-to-one marketing. Get feedback, because you can instantly measure what is working and what is not."
  • Include a call to action. "Mobile is not a passive marketing tool," says Martin. "It's not like an ad in the newspaper." He suggests including video, which typically gets 15 to 25% higher click rates than text. "It could be as simple as a 15- 20 second video of some new product that came in," he suggests. You might also consider creating two- dimensional QR (quick response) barcodes that consumers can scan with their phones, and that take them directly to a website. QR codes first became popular in Asia, but are becoming more and more ubiquitous in the US. Martin, for example, has a QR code on his book.
  • Create a mobile version of your website. Most businesses already have websites, but they're rarely mobile-friendly. "Whoever has built or maintained their website can create a mobile version of it," says Martin. "A mobile site has significantly less on it, and if they use WordPress, there's a very easy way they can have it converted automatically.
  • Remember that mobile is about retaining, not acquiring. "This is not about acquiring new customers," says Martin. "Use mobile to treat your better customers really, really well. A lot of businesses make the mistake of doing it the other way around. You need to think of it as a way to interactively connect with your best customers. "
Do you use mobile marketing in your company in an innovative way? Tell us about it.

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