Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Kent Lewis @KentLewis is President and Founder of Anvil Media and Formic Media, sister search engine and social media marketing agencies based in Portland, Ore. For more information visit www.anvilmediainc.com.
SmallBizLady: What exactly does the term “mobile marketing” mean?
Kent Lewis: Mobile marketing technically refers to any form of messaging or advertising targeted at portable devices, which typically means cell phones, but may also include iPads and tablet-style devices. For our clients, we typically focus on developing strategic plans around mobile-friendly websites, local SEO, mobile advertising, QR codes, location-based services, email & SMS messaging and mobile applications or “apps.”
SmallBizLady: What does a small business owner need to know about the mobile web?
SmallBizLady: How does local search engine optimization play into mobile marketing strategies for small business?
Kent Lewis: While your website should do the heavy lifting in terms of providing a resource for mobile-enabled audiences, there are third party local directories that are playing a larger role in mobile search, particularly for small businesses. The content typically seen on a computer screen in local search results is going to power mobile search and other mobile applications in the future. For starters, be sure to claim & optimize local listings on Google Places/Maps, Bing & Yahoo! Local and related local directories. Specifically, Google Places pages now offer click-to-call capability, which will be appealing to mobile users who are more likely to convert.
SmallBizLady: Can you explain the various mobile advertising opportunities available to small businesses?
Kent Lewis: While mobile advertising is in its infancy as an industry, it is growing quickly. The good news is that you can get started relatively quickly and easily with mobile advertising campaigns. For those of you with existing Google AdWords accounts, adding mobile is as easy as clicking a button. Beyond expanding your text and display ads to mobile searches, you can incorporate mobile-friendly capabilities like click-to-call and call tracking (via Google Voice) to measure effectiveness of mobile marketing efforts, without the need for third party technology. If you’re looking for additional mobile advertising opportunities, consider testing mobile ad platforms like AdMob and mobile social advertising like 140 Proof for Twitter mobile applications. With a bit more time and resources, you can explore sponsorship opportunities within existing SMS, MMS and mobile apps. Last but not least, don’t forget to incorporate QR codes (customizable bar codes that embed a URL) into your print, and other display, advertising.
SmallBizLady: What are QR codes and how can a small business use them?
Kent Lewis: Quick Response or “QR” codes are essentially customizable bar codes that are read by mobile phones through the camera and an application. Most frequently, QR codes include an embedded URL, which offers small businesses an opportunity to incorporate a unique, trackable web page into offline/print marketing materials like business cards, newsletters, print, broadcast and outdoor advertising. Free QR code generators are available online and are easy to use, after which you can simply paste the new square code into your marketing materials and wait for the phone or inbox to light up!
SmallBizLady: What are Location-based Services and why should we care?
Kent Lewis: Location-based services (LBS) are generating buzz and ridiculous valuations, but can also be powerful tools for engendering loyalty from your customers. Getting started is relatively simple: create and optimize business profiles on Foursquare, GoWalla, Yelp Mobile, Google and Facebook Places. Don’t forget that these platforms are essentially virtual loyalty programs, which means they require a dedicated effort to maximize your marketing opportunities.
SmallBizLady: What do we need to know about email and SMS text messaging?
Kent Lewis: SMS messaging is going to be the “new email” — in that your focus will be to collect phone numbers instead of (or in addition to) email addresses. As such, make sure your email platform is mobile-friendly. Confirm your outbound emails render well in mobile browsers and that you are collecting opt-in SMS information and developing an outbound marketing strategy specifically for text messaging. To take full advantage of SMS, consider investing in your own dedicated mobile platform. Leverage existing mobile texting platforms (like MooText or MobileStorm) to create, manage and track mobile marketing campaigns. These platforms typically incorporate a mobile CRM (MCRM) to expand your customer insights and data into the mobile realm.
SmallBizLady: When should small businesses consider developing an application?
Kent Lewis: While mobile applications or “apps” are all the rage thanks to big consumer brands, Google and Apple, they may not be a good fit for small business. Before investing in development or licensing of an app, conduct thorough research into your target audiences’ usage of mobile. If you have critical mass, then ask pointed questions of your target audience about their needs and wants in regards to a mobile app. From there, you can get a bid against your specification from qualified vendors. Incidentally, research indicates mobile users prefer games, music and access to social networks as core elements of mobile apps.
SmallBizLady: Any parting thoughts about mobile marketing for business owners to consider?
Kent Lewis: Regardless of your marketing objectives, target audiences, budgets and available resources, there are at least seven core strategies to consider when developing a mobile marketing strategy for small business. Conduct the necessary research up front to minimize your investment and maximize your ROI. Don’t forget to develop measurable goals, embed necessary analytics and start small with limited testing before committing significant resources. Like any marketing program, mobile requires a dedicated effort to be effective over the long haul.
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Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is one of America’s leading small business experts. As a seasoned entrepreneur, professional speaker, and small business coach, she develops audio, video and written content to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. Forbes Magazine named her #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She hosts #SmallBizChat Wednesdays on Twitter 8-9pm ET for emerging entrepreneurs. She also publishes a resource blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com Melinda is also bestseller author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works.