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Mobile marketing offers small businesses a chance to stand out from the crowd—and potentially grab smartphone-equipped customers. Get a jump on your competition by focusing on these five best practices:
Define your strategy. This may sound obvious, but being clear about your goals helps you achieve them faster. Would you like to engage customers through special deals on location-based services, such as foursquare and Gowalla®? Or would you like to help increase sales faster by providing an easy way for shoppers to find product information on the go, or by allowing diners to easily book a reservation while they're on the go?
Establish a presence. People visit websites on their mobile devices for different reasons from those who look up information on their desktops. Some may want quick access to locations, maps and business hours; others may want to check product details and pricing. Company histories and image galleries are nice features for conventional websites, but they likely won't appeal to people searching from their smartphone. If you create a website specifically for smartphone users, sometimes called a mobile site, organize your content so the most important information fits neatly on the smaller screen. Include large navigational buttons and links that are easy to tap on a touchscreen, and keep slow-loading graphics to a minimum.
Help keep information secure. If your mobile site enables eCommerce, use the same strong encryption that you use on your website. Consider asking customers to sign up for an account on your website before they can make purchases with their smartphones, so they don't need to re-enter credit card information from their phone.
Don't forget text messaging. Not everyone is able to view mobile websites, but just about everyone with a mobile phone can receive text messages. With open rates typically higher than email, text messages can be a particularly effective way for small businesses to engage customers. Promote your text messaging program inside your business, on your website, and in your email newsletters, and encourage customers to opt in by sending you a text message. You can then begin sending subscribers exclusive discounts or other useful information. For example, a deli owner might send a text of daily specials just before lunchtime. If you do use text message marketing, be sure that both you and your service provider keep subscriber data private and that access is restricted to only those who formation from their phone.
Promote your mobile site. If you build a mobile site, let people know about it by including the URL on your business cards, website, fliers, and other marketing materials. Promote it through your email newsletter and social media activities.