5 Basic Mobile Marketing Tactics for Brands and Businesses

By: Jack Winston

Connecting with your customers on their smart phones is no longer cutting edge – it is basic business.  Big brands are spending big money on mobile marketing strategies.  From SMS marketing campaigns, to advertisements on mobile ad networks, to custom developed apps, businesses will spend well over $1B in 2011 on mobile marketing. While big mobile marketing campaigns can deliver big returns, they can require big budgets and lots of hand holding to be effective.

The growth of smart phone use has increased the importance of mobile marketing with 1) Location based services enabling users to more easily identify nearby businesses of interest (and businesses to better target nearby users); 2) social networking tools offering apps optimized for mobile browsing; and 3) internet enabled phones that enable users to check email and surf the web while on the go.   Location based businesses in particular need to be considering how to connect with their customers on their mobile phones.  Here are some basic tactics to consider when developing a mobile marketing strategy without breaking the bank.

1.  Mobile optimize your email newsletters
In 2011, consumers are spending more time surfing and checking email on their phone than they do on their computer.  If you regularly send an email newsletter, take the time to consider how it looks on an iPhone and Android.  Optimizing email for mobile is a bit of an art, but some basic design strategies will prevent you from delivering a message that is unreadable on common mobile devices.  This blog from Bronto offers some basic strategies for email design.  In short, keep your newsletter simple – light on images, heavy on well written, interesting content.  Good email newsletters are great marketing.  But if you don’t currently have one, instead of spending your time ramping up a good one, consider first scaling up your Facebook posting activity and mobile optimizing your website.

2. Keep up a steady stream of activity on Facebook
A May 2011 study from Flurry Analytics showed that smart phone users spend approximately 1/3 of their mobile surfing time on social networking apps like Facebook.  Once a business or brand invests in building a healthy fanbase, they need to keep them engaged with regular, interesting, and valuable news feed posts.   Make sure you are getting your share of your customers’ attention as they play with Facebook on their mobile phones.

3. Claim your Google place
Google maps is one of most popular location enabled apps out there.  Increasingly, it is how smart phone users search for nearby businesses, evaluate their options, and plan where to go.  Businesses can claim their Google places entry for free  - customizing their entry with offers, video and most importantly, a link to their website.  The ability to impress potential customers with a well designed, helpful, mobile optimized website can differentiate you from the competitor down the street that has not spent the time to claim their place.

4. Mobile optimize your website
Again, users are spending more time surfing on their mobile devices than they are on their computers.  You need to make sure your website is readable on smart phone screens.  If you outsource the development of your site, consider creating a mobile version that is the default for mobile phone users.  If not, make sure your site avoids common mobile pitfalls – no flash, light on images, and clearly defined navigation designed for touch screens.

5. Engage your customers on their phones when they are at your business
Consider whether your business lends itself toward running mobile based promotions for on-location or nearby customers.  Apps like Shopkick can create new incentives for browsing your merchandise.  Game based apps like Scvngr can give your customers new reasons to visit your store.  Discounts and deals from Foursquare and Google can leverage location to present promotional discounts and loyalty programs to potential customers.  And there is this genius new concept from Bozuko that lets a business create simple instant win games that give in-store or nearby customers the chance to win prizes in return for Liking the business or checking in on Facebook.

No matter what type of business or brand you are marketing, you need to think mobile.  These basic tactics are great starting points for smaller businesses not yet thinking mobile as well as must-haves for larger businesses already experimenting with more sophisticated mobile campaigns.

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