mobile marketing

By Rieva Lesonsky

The first rule of marketing is to be where your customers are — and today, that’s on their smartphones. A survey by Deloitte reports the average American checks his or her smartphone within 5 minutes of waking up every day. That’s just the beginning: On average, we check our phones between 46 and 74 times a day.

I can relate. I start my day by checking email, the weather forecast, news, Twitter and my calendar on my smartphone before I do anything else. With all of us spending so much time on our phones, if your business’s website, email and marketing efforts aren’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing out. Unfortunately, a whole lot of small businesses are missing out on the potential of mobile marketing: In a survey of small businesses earlier this year by Yodle, 48 percent of respondents admitted their websites aren’t mobile-optimized.

Why is a mobile-friendly website so vital? Last year Google announced that more searches are conducted on mobile devices than on desktop computers. And this year, Google began ranking mobile-friendly websites higher in search engine results (a change referred to in marketing circles as “Mobilegeddon”). Just think about how you search for businesses these days. I know I always start on my smartphone, and so do most of your customers. The younger the customer, the more reliant they are in their smartphones, but even customers in the older demographics are moving to mobile-first.

Having a mobile-optimized website will boost your business’s ranking in search results. Just as important, it ensures that when a prospective customer actually clicks through the search result to your website, they can read it on their smartphones and take action, whether by giving you a call, pulling up directions to your business or placing an order.

Mobile-optimized websites aren’t the only area where small businesses are lagging, however. In the same Yodle survey, respondents admitted that just 14 percent of them create mobile-friendly emails. Why is mobile friendliness essential to email marketing success? Currently, email is more likely to be read on mobile devices than on desktop computers, according to statistics from Litmus. Some 55 percent of email is now opened on mobile devices.

Like a lot of people, I start the day by quickly skimming my email inbox on my smartphone, deleting those I have no interest in, flagging some emails to read later and opening the most interesting ones right away. Chances are most of your customers and prospects do the same. Not only must you your email marketing messages be easy to read on a smartphone–with lots of white space, quick-loading images and to-the-point text — they should also include links to mobile-friendly landing pages. That way, if readers do what you’re hoping they do and take action, they won’t get stuck in a hard-to-read website and give up.

Finally, very few small businesses are taking advantage of an increasingly popular marketing method: SMS (text message) marketing. Just 11 percent of small business owners in the Yodle survey are currently using SMS marketing. However, given how reliant most people are on their smartphones, it stands to reason that being able to reach customers when they’re near your business — or your competitor’s business — and text them special offers and deals can give you a competitive edge. For example, if someone who’s signed up to receive text messages from your business is near your restaurant around lunchtime, you could text them a discount code or “buy one get one free” lunch offer good for the next few hours. A quick online search will uncover many SMS marketing tools that can make it simple and affordable to reach out to your customers with text messaging.

Small business owners in the Yodle survey report that “getting noticed over the competition” and “finding and targeting new leads” are the hardest parts of acquiring new customers. Mobile-friendly marketing, from your website to your emails to your text messaging campaigns, can help with both of these challenges.