Whether you’re a restaurant seeking to attract customers on a rainy Thursday night, a nail salon offering manicure/pedicure combinations between 10 a.m. and noon, or a bowling alley spreading the word about “twofer” Tuesdays, small businesses are feeling the impact of mobile marketing on their bottom lines.   According to the Mobile Marketing Association, companies that employ a mobile marketing strategy can “communicate and engage with their audience in an interactive and relevant manner through any mobile device or network.”


mobile marketing.pngMobile marketing is proving to be more effective and affordable in comparison to traditional or online marketing.  Although there is still a tremendous amount of value in email marketing and online advertising, the response rate for mobile promotions is seven times higher than email, and mobile ads perform five times better than Internet ads.  Similar to their responses to personal text messages, customers are compelled to react in the moment to marketing messages received on their mobile devices, reading them instantly.  In fact, many consumers welcome the opportunity to receive coupons that match their purchasing preferences and are willing to trade some privacy for targeted offers:  25 percent of mobile phone owners are already enrolled in at least one subscriber-based SMS program.


Businesses large and small are getting on board and making mobile marketing a major part of their sales and marketing plan.  Three billion coupons are expected to be sent to mobile phones during the next two years, according to Juniper Research.   And, dollars spent on mobile marketing campaigns are projected to grow to $3-5 billion from a couple of hundred million in revenues just three years ago.


The shift in attitude is being driven by larger societal trends.  There are more than 234 million mobile subscribers in the United States, and 45.5 million of them have smart phones, according to a 2010 study by ComScore.  The fact that more than half of all Internet usage is accessed via a mobile device, signals the growing comfort consumers have with making purchasing decisions on the go.  Furthermore, we have become a texting nation – Americans now generate and receive twice as many texts as phone calls.


So what do you need to keep in mind when it comes to mobile marketing?


  • There are many marketing techniques: Promotions may be the most obvious manifestation of mobile marketing, but there are many other tactics small businesses can use to reach customers, including:  offering user reviews and ratings; allowing pre-ordering; offering the opportunity to create a “wish list” or registry of items a customer would like to receive as gifts; disseminating mobile coupons with barcodes that can be scanned on a mobile phone and creating customized mobile apps.mobile marketing stat.png


  • The costs are lower than you think.  At less than $50 a month for a basic package from select companies, there are reasonably priced texting and mobile marketing providers that small businesses can afford.  And, if you want to build a mobile website yourself, there are free and inexpensive do-it-yourself tools.  Creating a customer list is no different than it is with traditional marketing. Just be sure to collect cell phone numbers.  Designing a mobile ad only requires 160 characters of text and simple graphics, if any are used. 


  • Be strategic, not tactical.  Jumping on the mobile marketing bandwagon simply to appear current or technologically savvy ultimately won’t help expand your customer base.  You need to understand how customers are using your content (i.e. are buying decisions made at point of sale, or do you require a longer sales process?).  You should evaluate how your products and services will appear on a mobile device.  Mobile sites should have fewer layers and quick tabs for accessing information; graphics and photos should download quickly and text should be short. Finally, it’s important to ensure that your company’s branding and customer experience on mobile reflect the assets for which your company is known in the real world. 


Mobile is here. Customers are receptive to it and the younger market demands it.   There are a wide variety of technology options to build, manage and track the efficacy of texting campaigns and mobile websites. And, as the statistics indicate, small businesses are well suited to lead the way into a mobile future. You should consider getting started using this type of marketing.