Mobile marketing for your small business - A quick-start guide

Small businesses are not making proper use of the vast possibilities provided by mobile marketing.

Mobile marketing

According to a report from Constant Contact, just 20 per cent of the UK’s small businesses are using mobile solutions to help market their products and services. This is entirely at odds with the UK’s position as a leader in mobile use, and with its rapid pace of expansion.

Mobile technologies provide a huge range of means by which small businesses can expand their customer base. So how might you use these technologies?

Mobile-optimised websites

Some 20 per cent of total web traffic is now generated from mobile devices. For many individual sites the proportion of traffic derived from mobile is significantly higher. A recent report from Cisco predicts that mobile traffic will increase thirteenfold over the next five years. The mobile web is an increasingly vital consideration for every business.

Optimising your website for mobile visitors need not be an expensive or time-consuming project, provided that it is factored in from the beginning of your web development plans. Platforms like Wordpress provide the potential for automatic mobile optimisation with many of the ‘themes’ from which businesses might choose. Read more about Wordpress and your small business.

Mobile payments

Mobile payment looks set to become an important trend for small businesses. Eight of the UK’s biggest financial institutions, which between them represent 90 per cent of the country’s current accounts, have pledged to offer mobile payment solutions from next spring, and the number of payments made using these methods is already on the rise.

Small businesses can make use of mobile payment technology to ensure that they can take payments anywhere. Using services like Barclays’ Pingit, or cheap equipment like the iZettle, you can take payments on your mobile phone or tablet computer - meaning that you will never suffer a lost sale as a result of a customer not having cash, and that the payment process itself could take even less time.

Google Places

Google Places is growing in importance. This service allows business owners to list their premises, along with some key information. This listing will then appear on Google Maps, and in breakout listings on Google’s search results.

Listings on Google Places are free, and are a great way of increasing visibility - particularly as the number of mobile web users increases. Read more about Google Places and mobile search here.

QR codes

QR codes might not have taken off in the way that some had predicted, but they can still be a great way of bridging the online-offline divide. These small, square graphics can be embedded in printed materials or placed on signs. When photographed with a specific app on a smartphone, QR codes direct the mobile user to a web location of your choosing. You might consider embedding QR codes in your own marketing materials in order to encourage traffic to your own website, or to provide mobile users with exclusive promotions.

Text message marketing

Text messages can be a highly efficient means by which you can connect with current and potential customers. If you have the ability to collect mobile phone numbers, you can leverage these effectively using one of the many self-service text message marketing services available in the UK. Platforms like TextMarketer allow you to deliver bulk messages using a web interface, and at significantly lower cost than conventional texting charges. You should remember, though, that significant data protection restrictions apply to these activities.

Mobile coupons

Mobile couponing is a significant growth area, and one in which small businesses may be able to differentiate themselves. As the name would suggest, this system provides customers with a discount or similar promotion on presentation of a mobile coupon. There is a number of ways in which this coupon might be acquired. For small businesses, perhaps the most viable of these is the growing range of mobile coupon platforms like Vouchercloud. These sites allow you to define your own promotions, which will then be passed to users who search for relevant criteria or, depending on the site, who are in your local area.

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