Think about how many people you see out and about with smart phones in hand – checking emails on the go – texting friends and family – watching videos and surfing the web. It’s a growing trend and businesses who tap into the mobile communication stream are profiting and growing their businesses.
There are many different aspects of mobile marketing –
- Mobile Websites
- Text Marketing
- Mobile Coupons
- Mobile Tagging (QR Codes, etc.)
- Mobile Applications (Apps)
Businesses small and large are implementing mobile marketing strategies to bring in customers, move inventory, increase appointments and increase revenues. No matter what your small business is or does, you can profit using low-cost mobile marketing strategies. Here are some examples of the power of mobile marketing –
- Medical, dental, optometrists and chiropractic practices use mobile marketing to remind patients of appointments, follow up on office visits, provide wellness information and promote new service offerings to encourage ongoing use of the service provider
- Beauty salons, barbershops, health spas, massage therapists and aestheticians use mobile marketing to prevent cancellations by offering pre-appointment reminders, to fill open time slots or increase foot traffic on slow business days
- Retailers, whether clothing stores, accessories shops, bookstores, wine and liquor stores use mobile marketing to move dormant inventory through discounts offerings, promote new products and advertise special sales and in-store events
- Service providers such as auto repair shops, landscapers, house painters, handymen, HVAC, carpet cleaners and maid services use mobile marketing to promote services and offer discounts to increase their client base
- Restaurants, bars and nightclubs use mobile marketing to fill empty seats on sluggish nights with last-minute coupons and offers to bring in customers and invigorate profits on what would have been dead nights
- Movie theaters, stage theaters, comedy clubs use mobile marketing to offer 2-for-1 deals and last minute specials to fill empty seats that represent lost revenue at every performance
No matter what your small business does or where you are located, mobile marketing can benefit you. Mobile marketing is so successful because it is easy to implement, requires little technical knowledge and is one of the most affordable modes of advertising and promotion.
According to a recent Nielsen report, roughly 50% of all Americans now own a smart phone – that’s a nearly 40% increase from the prior year. Smart phones mean mobile web access – more people now use the mobile web on their smart phones to search for places to shop, dine, party and for service professionals – including home repair, medical, personal services, hair salons and more.
If your small business doesn’t have at least a mobile website, you will be passed over by consumers who shop for businesses on the mobile web. What’s more, people now ignore most promotional emails – they head straight into the spam folder! Direct mail flyers hit the trash can, unread, 84% of the time. Mobile marketing circumvents the normal filters that create barriers between consumer and service provider or retailer.
Mobile marketing can be easy to implement and is one of the lowest cost forms of advertising. Ignoring the mobile marketing trend can be hazardous to your bottom line and the likelihood of your small business either thriving or dwindling.
Ian Carrington, Google’s director of mobile advertising recently said, “Businesses need to get mobile in order to provide a positive user experience for their customers. At the moment, businesses are not keeping up with consumers.”
Mobile Websites Are No Longer Optional
The mobile web will soon be the dominant choice in internet usage, overtaking web browsing on PCs and laptops by next year. Given the clear supremacy and growth of mobile web browsing, it’s shocking to learn that 70% of businesses don’t have a mobile website.
Standard websites designed to be viewed on laptop and PC screens are incompatible for the smaller screens of iPhones, Androids and other mobile web devices. Even if your non-mobile website can be seen on a mobile device, that doesn’t mean it’s functional on a mobile device. Only 1% of standard websites will render on a mobile device.
Your standard website may feature high-resolution graphics, flash video and lots of interesting content. The very things that make your standard site so interesting are what will make it unusable as a mobile website. Most smart phones can’t play Flash programs, hi-res photos take too long to load and the volume of content will make the site slow to load and navigate.
Instead, you need to focus on the most critical information about your small business that a mobile web surfer needs. At a minimum, they need to know where you are, what you do, how to contact you and your hours of operation. For a mobile website, less is so much, much more!
Many of the best mobile websites launch with an opening screen that has just a few options that are large clickable buttons to easily navigate the user to the information they need including:
- How to Find Us – clicking this can take your potential customer to a page where they can see your address, click for directions or click to activate their smart phone’s GPS function to automatically navigate to your establishment
- When We’re Open – clicking this can take your potential customer to a page that simply lists your daily hours of operation – if there are holidays upcoming, you should also indicate whether you are open on the holiday as well as any days your hours will deviate from the standard
- How to Reach Us – clicking this can take your potential customer to a page where they can click-to-call your business number, click to send an email to you or click to send a text to you – just be sure that whichever option they choose is monitored so you can communicate on the spot
- What We Offer – clicking this can take your potential customer to a page that very briefly summarizes what you do, what you sell, what services you offers, etc.
- Special Deals – clicking this can take your potential customer to a page that offers them an incentive in the form of a discount or freebie to sign up for your mobile texting list – this captures them on the spot and allows you to reach out to them again to encourage a transaction with your small business
Two other options to consider when prepping your small business website are social media links and an option to link to your full website. Consumers are very engaged in social media and if you have a presence on Four Square, Facebook, Twitter or other media sites, you should include links to your pages so they can follow you if they like. Another option that many mobile sites don’t offer, but that may be desired is a link to your full website in case they want to browse all of your content.
No matter what, a mobile website, even a poorly executed one, is better than no mobile website at all. But it’s easier than you can imagine to set up a mobile website for your small business in just a few hours to get found on the mobile web and drive business to your establishment.
The Importance of Mobile Websites
Between 2009 and 2011, mobile web browsing grew by 1000%. It went from less than 1% to a 7% market share in less than two years. A recent study in March 2012 by Opera (a web browsing company) showed that 43% of respondents say that mobile web is their primary means of accessing the internet. If this trend holds out, the mobile web is set to almost entirely replace the traditional web by 2015 according to research firm IDC.
What these statistics translate to for small business owners is that a web presence is now mandatory. Traditional websites that were designed to be viewed on 10-15” screens are largely incompatible with the much smaller screen of smart phones and tablets. Not only will your standard website be difficult, if not impossible, to view on the smaller screen, the functionality will be unusable.
Websites that work well on mobile devices are those that have been designed specifically to function on the mobile web. Most mobile devices won’t load Flash graphics – a common aspect of traditional web design. Large graphics files are also incompatible with mobile web browsing. Your website is expected to load within 3-5 seconds on a mobile device and any load-time exceeding this leads to lower and lower browser satisfaction.
Bloomberg news reported last week that “twice as many mobile-phone users abandon a website for reasons such as sluggishness than their desktop counterparts.” If your site won’t load, 1/3 of users will try to reload the site and 2/3 will move on instantly. After another failed reload, all but 1% of browsers will move on, most likely to a competitor that has a mobile web presence that meets their needs.
The Bloomberg reporter then added that, “almost half of all mobile users are unlikely to return to a website at all if they had trouble accessing it from their phone.” This means that you have lost the opportunity to engage that potential customer, likely forever. But using a free mobile web converter or low-cost mobile web designer can prevent you from losing business you never knew you could have had.
The Bloomberg article cites one of the problems with slow load times is that “often it’s because the webpage isn’t designed to load quickly on a wireless device.” Mobile web design can be very thin and provide just the basic information about your business to your potential customer including:
- Location – preferably with click-to-navigate option for GPS navigation
- Phone number – preferably with click-to-call functionality
- Hours/Days of operation – in the easiest to read font and format
- Opt-in – a link or info on how to opt-in to receive text offers and information
- Calendar – if you offer special events or certain items on certain days, a simple fast loading calendar or roster is helpful
- Photos – if relevant, for menu items, inventory, etc. and if they are fast-loading, these can be helpful to customers
Whether you enlist the aid of a professional mobile website developer or decide to go it on your own with a mobile website builder utility, any mobile web presence is infinitely better than no mobile web presence.
Hard Facts about Mobile Marketing for Small Business
If you’re still not sure that mobile marketing is right for your small business, take a look at these results from several recent studies on small business mobile marketing to see why if you don’t already have a mobile marketing strategy in play, you’re significantly behind the times. Consider these findings and comments from top marketing surveys and sources:
- Out of 700,000 small-medium sized business websites 60% do not have even the basic information consumers using mobile web devices need to find their business.
- Over 93% of small-medium sized business websites do not properly render (appear) on mobile devices – including iPhones, Android phones or tablets.
- Of the small businesses surveyed that implemented mobile marketing, 84% reported an increase due to the initiative.
- 64% of small businesses plan on increasing their mobile marketing budget – this means your competition may be more effectively using mobile marketing than you are.
- While 60% of small businesses report they have a standard website, only 26% of these offer a mobile-friendly version and only 14% had a free-standing mobile website.
- Only 39% of small businesses have a mobile search strategy focused on getting them easily found on the mobile web.
David Brown, CEO of one of the firms that accumulated this data, Web.com, recently said, “With more and more consumers specifically searching for local businesses on their mobile devices, it is imperative that small businesses invest in a mobile presence.” He added, “Having a mobile presence can be a huge competitive advantage for small businesses trying to attract local customers by instantly introducing a potential customer to their business’ products and services in a mobile-enhanced way.”
Here are some more statistics showing why now, more than ever, your small business needs a mobile web presence and strategy:
- For small businesses who engage or plan to engage in mobile marketing, 34% say they do it to gain competitive advantage.
- For those small businesses already engaged in mobile marketing, only 1/3 of them plan to devote the same amount of funds and effort to it – the rest plan an increase. None plan to cut their programs.
- The longer your website takes to load, the more people you lose. If it takes more than 2 seconds for your site to load, you’ll lose 40% of mobile users.
- Almost 50% of consumers expect mobile websites to load within 2 seconds and 79% say a bad mobile web experience will keep them away from your site in the future.
- Over half of mobile web users have encountered sites that froze, crashed or returned an error on their mobile device.
- Nearly 75% of mobile web users have tried websites that were too slow to load on their mobile web devices.
- 23% of consumers say they are less likely to transact business with a company that gave them a bad mobile web experience.
- Another 40% of consumers say that a bad mobile web experience would send them to a competitor who offered the same or similar products or services.
These study results should convince you that if you don’t already have a mobile web presence and mobile marketing strategy, you urgently need one. For many consumers, your mobile web presence is the basis of their perception about your company. If you don’t have a mobile web presence, it tells customers you don’t care about their preferences. In contrast, a small business with a mobile web presence that engages the customer and enhances their experience will encourage both new and repeat business.
QR Codes Are Free Marketing!
You may have seen or heard about QR codes, but weren’t sure how they worked, what they were for and how they could benefit your small business. QR codes stand for “Quick Response” codes and are a matrix barcode similar to a barcode that’s on most every retail product these days, but holds much more data and information. Bar codes hold up to 20 digits, but QR codes are 2-D matrices that can hold thousands of letters and numbers of data.
Smart phones – whether iPhone, Android or Google branded devices – read QR codes and use the data to access a mobile website, mobile offer or other digital content. Companies and small businesses are using QR codes to link to sign up pages for mobile text lists, mobile coupon offers and mobile app downloads or contest pages on mobile websites or to send people to their Facebook page or to a mobile app or other download site.
QR codes have been used effectively for over a decade in Japan – their country of origin – by many different types of businesses. QR codes differ from other aspects of mobile marketing because they need to be placed somewhere that they can be easily scanned by mobile devices.
QR codes are perfect marketing tools for small businesses because they are free to create and use. Some of the places that businesses use QR codes are:
- On marketing materials like flyers and brochures – these can link to a specific page on your mobile website or a specific offer
- On business cards – on the front if there’s room, if not on the back – and links to a specific offer or opt-in page
- On sales receipts – offering a discount on the next purchase when customers opt-in to your email text list or other promotion
- On restaurant menus – particularly take-out menus – that can link to a page where people can order takeout or delivery on the go
- On vehicles – your company car, personal car, cars of friends and family – that link to your mobile website or a mobile opt-in offer
- On flyers – posting flyers on phone poles, bulletin boards or car windshields with codes that link to offers
- On packaging – these can link to information pages about the products or instant coupons to encourage purchase
QR codes are time savers because they allow your customers and potential customers to have instant access to your company’s mobile website, text opt-in page or mobile offers while on the go with a quick snap. Busy people won’t call a number and they may forget your website url, but they appreciate the instant gratification of clicking and getting information and access they want – when they want it and are in the mood to receive your message.
Because they cost virtually nothing to implement, there’s no reason not to try to integrate QR codes into every small business marketing strategy. QR codes are exciting, because there’s really no limit to what you can offer to your customers and potential customers using this low-cost flexible marketing tool.
Mobile Text Marketing – Tapping into Profits
As an adult, you may be warming up to texting in your personal life – a domain once dominated by teens with fast fingers. Beyond sending 160-character missives to friends and family, text messaging for business is now wide open as a potential source for revenue. Text messaging is also commonly called SMS (short message service) messaging or bulk texting or bulk SMS messaging.
In a recent report, CTIA research showed that last year over 193 billion text messages are sent each month for a total of 2.3 trillion texts sent last year. A growing number of these missives are from businesses reaching out to consumers.
Text messages have a 99% open and read rate compared to emails which, if they are not clogged in a spam filter, can hope for a 9%-23% open rate but only if they are extremely well-written, relevant and requested.
Mobile text marketing is used by small businesses to send mobile coupons, announce special events, sales, new inventory or programs announcements and special offers. In order to implement mobile text marketing for your business, you first need a set-up for mobile texting. You can try to do it yourself by downloading free text messaging software (just do a Google search for the latest versions.)
Otherwise, there are many companies that can send out text marketing messages for you for around 1 penny each while others charge a flat rate for a certain number of texts sent each month. Some of the current small business SMS marketing firms include:
It doesn’t matter what firm you use, so long as they aren’t likely to go out of business tomorrow and that you own your text database and NOT the firm. If you ever come to a parting of the ways with your text service provider, you should be able to take your list with you when you go. Read the fine print and make sure you won’t lose your database of cell numbers if you walk away at any point.
Once you’ve got the software or consultant set up and are ready to start receiving opt-ins to build your database, you must encourage people to sign up. The best and fastest way is to offer something free or at a great discount to encourage enrollments – here are some high opt-in strategies that have worked to build a customer text list rapidly:
- Redbox offers a free rental or cents off code to get people to text a keyword and be signed up for their mobile text list
- Ed Hardy clothing chain offered a 10% coupon that could be reused for a certain number of days to drive opt-ins
- Belle Tires got a huge opt-in rate by offering $20 off coupon on future purchases in exchange for opt-ins to their list
After you build a list of a couple of hundred numbers, you’re ready to send out your first offer! The key is to only tap your list when you have a high-value, relevant offer they are likely to be interested in and not too often. Depending on the nature of your business, once a week may be plenty, for others, twice a month may be more appropriate.
For restaurants, video rentals, dry cleaners, movie theaters or other entertainment, weekly texting may be appropriate since these are high-use industries. Spas, salons, landscapers and other occasional-use services may prefer once or twice per month texting. Clothing stores, tire shops, jewelry stores and other higher-dollar establishments may want to limit their offers to monthly or special event/special occasion texts.
Once you start texting out offers, redemption rates will help you analyze your customer preferences and tweak your text marketing efforts to maximize revenue while not treading on your customers’ patience for excessive texting.
No matter what strategy you implement, mobile text marketing will be a boon to any small business – people appreciate relevant mobile offers and respond at double digit rates to interesting offers!
Mobile Apps – Much More than Angry Birds – They’re Big Business!
If you’ve got a smart phone – whether iPhone or Android – you’ve no doubt got it loaded up with apps of one kind or another. Angry Birds and other fun and free game apps are enormously popular, but you probably also have apps from businesses such as Netflix, Redbox, eBay and many others, but you may have never considered launching a mobile application to promote your small business brand.
Both Android and iPhone offer low cost app-development tools that can be used by even a novice who just wants to try their hand at app design. Apps are broadly in a few categories – entertain, inform, shop and utilize.
Entertainment apps run the gamut from Angry Birds and iTunes to Netflix so you can amuse yourself using your mobile phone. Information apps include those that provide data on air travel, train and bus travel, wiki reference sites, news sites and the like. Shopping apps include eBay, Amazon, Red Laser and many, many more. Utilization apps are those like Google Translate, Dragon Dictation, iTorch (flashlight) and iHandy Level.
You need a creative idea that relates in some way to your business that people will enjoy using for one of the above reasons. And don’t even think about charging for your app to create a revenue stream – you’ll most likely just discourage any clients who were considering downloading. Once you have some ideas, you’ll need to check the app stores such as iTunes and Android Market to see if your idea is played out, still hot or emerging.
You may also want to bounce the concept off a few people you trust to give you feedback to see if your idea sounds interesting to them. Here are some ideas to consider:
- If you own a bar, you could offer a signature cocktail designer where people can mix a virtual drink, name it and submit it to your bar for a chance to be a featured cocktail – you could incent them to participate by offering a tasting party for semi-finalists in the competition – offer to post their picture – or free drinks for a night.
- If you own a movie theater, you could offer a make a movie trailer app that would allow people to upload video they shoot and add sound and voice over effects to make their own fun movie trailers – you can offer ongoing incentives for the best trailers each month in the form of a movie pack for two (tickets, drinks, popcorn and candy) and discounts for participants.
- If you own a gym, you could offer a virtual personal trainer that would allow consumers to enter their measurements, height and weight as well as interests and limitations and generate a training program that correlates to equipment in your specific gym and then offers a free trial to your gym – the app could prompt them to rotate through machines, enter information about reps and allow them to update their vital stats as they lose weight.
- If you own any kind of business, you could design a simple game that ties somehow into the theme of your establishment or is silly nonsense, but engaging fun where the consumer can accumulate points by playing and these points then translate into discounts at your business – people love free games!
To promote your app, you can announce the launch via text to your opt-in list with links to download it from the app stores along with an offer tied to the download. In-store signage, stickers attached to packaging or products and reminders from sales associates can also trigger downloads.
Mobile apps downloads and usage are on the rise according to a recent study by Juniper Research. The firm estimates that by 2016, 66 billion mobile apps will be downloaded compared to 31 billion downloaded in 2011. 87% of these are free downloads.
Windsor Holden, who prepared the report for Juniper Research said, “Brands that wish to remain competitive have turned to apps as part of an integrated multichannel distribution system.”
Consumer Focused Mobile Marketing Drives Profits
A recently released survey by Web.com on small business mobile usage revealed that 84% of small businesses that use mobile marketing have seen an increase in business. But before you jump blindly into mobile marketing, you need to craft a strategy that will most effectively leverage your resources to increase profits.
To know how to effectively reach your target consumers, you need to understand their wants and needs. If you have regular customers, you can ask them what they would like to see on your mobile website, if they are interested in mobile offers and what they feel your business is lacking in terms of marketing.
Another good way to analyze your mobile marketing needs is to see how browsers of your full website navigate your site. You can use free tools such as Google Analytics to see which links are most often clicked on or try a low cost ($9/month) service such as CrazyEgg.com. CrazyEgg creates a heatmap of your site that will show you what parts of your site people hover on and click on, even if they are not links.
Even if you only sign up for an analytics service for one month, this should give you an idea of what people are looking at on your full site – this should give you some ideas of what to include on your mobile website. If you offer discounts or disclose pricing on your website and see heavy activity there, this can be an indication that mobile coupons and offers would be greeted eagerly.
By looking at what areas of your full site generate the most action, you can refine your mobile marketing strategy to be most efficient. For instance, restaurant websites may see a lot of action on their online menu or delivery/takeout options. Dry cleaners may see more action on their price list areas. Based on the analysis, you can design your mobile website interface to get the consumer quickly to their area of interest.
Equally as important, you can eliminate from your mobile marketing program, the portions of your full website that aren’t seeing any action. This will streamline your marketing approach. As well as considering your standard website browsing activity, think about what people ask when they are in your establishment and what they want to know when they call. Your mobile web presence should be designed to provide all of the information people seek via all of your communication channels. Here’s what you are likely to find:
- Callers may ask your days/hours of operation
- Callers may ask about special events
- Callers may ask about discounts or promotions
- Callers may ask about your inventory/menu/services
- Callers may ask for directions or landmarks to find your establishment
Once you’ve accumulated all of the input, you can devise a mobile marketing strategy that will meet all these needs using an easy-to-navigate format that will get them the information they need with the least clicks and least hassle possible.
When you meet the needs of potential customers by giving them a positive mobile web experience, you greatly increase the odds of them transacting with you. And if you don’t meet those needs, the results will be less in your favor. If your mobile website doesn’t load correctly or rapidly, 33% of mobile web users will immediately click off of your website and look to your competition and 57% of people will not recommend your business due to an unfavorable web experience.
So by all means, establish a mobile marketing plan for your small business, but be sure to do your pre-work rather than jumping in blindly – remember the customer is what matters!
Tapping Into Trends in Location-Based Mobile Marketing
No matter what type of device they use, more and more consumers are browsing the web on the go for places of business near them. Not only do consumers use their smart phones to find businesses, they actually use them while shopping, dining and spending.
A recent study showed that 34% of smart phone users will comparison shop on their device while in a store – nearly 30% will search for reviews while shopping – 21% searched for coupons to use instantly – 12% opted to buy online instead of in-store and over 5% searched for a recommendation on the business or product from their friends.
Consumers age 25-44 are most likely to comparison shop and search for reviews on products, services and businesses using their mobile devices. If these ages are in your target demographic, this lets you know that location-based mobile marketing services would likely be used by your target customer.
When it comes to location-based mobile marketing, coupons are increasingly popular. 34% of smart phone users have redeemed an online coupon and 18% have redeemed a mobile coupon. Another growing outlet for location-based mobile marketing services is QR codes. Over one-third of mobile devices have a QR code scanner.
In fact, all location-based mobile marketing trends are on the upswing. Last year, over half of all local business searches were conducted via a mobile phone or other mobile device such as a tablet or web-enabled iPod.
Location-based marketing services are now getting even more local with the emergence of proximity marketing. Already huge in Japan, proximity marketing is now trending in Europe and spreading to the US. Using proximity marketing, the nearness of a consumer to a specific object or physical location triggers a specific action.
NFC chips, QR codes and other new technologies can provide consumers with an interactive experience. QR codes in particular are attractive for both consumers and vendors because they are free to set up and easy to use. As more businesses use QR codes, their increased presence will increase consumer interest and use of the tool.
As more and more consumers seek to engage with local businesses, it will become more and more critical for business owners to equip their establishments to accommodate the increasing demand for mobile interaction.
Consumers now prefer establishments that offer free Wi-Fi and this baseline service will be a necessity if you want to expand your mobile strategy to embrace proximity marketing. By hosting Wi-Fi services for customers, you’ll be able to offer fast-loading content attached to proximity items such as QR codes and NFC chips.
More advanced proximity tools such as iSign allow you to ping a customer’s smart phone as soon as they enter or near (3,000 feet or less depending on your platform and technology) your establishment and ask if they would like an offer from your establishment. The mobile consumer can click yes or no. Current response rates are nearing 25% and may induce drive-by customers that may not have been planning a visit to your store to stop by and transact with you.
Mobile marketing is here to stay, is prevalent and constantly evolving. Ignoring this trend will be at great peril to your business. The good news is that many aspects of mobile marketing have a very low cost to use and a low barrier to entry. If you don’t have a mobile marketing strategy, now is the time to develop one.
Increase Business with Mobile Tagging – QR Codes, SnapTags and more!
Connecting the digital and physical worlds – tags are on tangible things – like products, signage, flyers, countertops, display windows, print ads (newspapers, magazines and more.) Scanning them connects the consumer to a relevant digital experience. Using tags allows you to measure response rates to a particular marketing effort.
There are a number of different mobile tagging apps that you can use to tie physical marketing materials to your mobile website, texting program or other mobile marketing services. Some mobile tagging services to consider are:
- QR Codes
- Microsoft Tags
QR codes are a type of 2D barcode made up of a series of square dots that encode alphanumeric data. When scanned, your smart phone reads the data and takes the action indicated, whether it sends the user to the home page of your website, to a special offer you’ve created or even your company Facebook page.
QR codes were created in Japan and have been widely used there and in Europe, but are just evolving into wide use in America in the past couple of years. The great thing about QR codes is that they are free to use and there are a number of free applications you can use to easily create them for your small business. The downside is that they are more functional than aesthetically pleasing.
Microsoft tags are much like QR codes in their functionality, but have more visual style. Another plus to Microsoft tags is that you can easily create a custom tag in just a minute or two for absolutely no cost. There are five different types of Microsoft tags:
- URL tags – these open a web page on the customer’s mobile phone and sends them to a specific page of your mobile site or a video or some other type of content.
- vCard tags – these open a virtual business card that customers can add instantly to their contact list.
- App Download tags – it recognizes the type of mobile device and sends the customer to the appropriate download source to get your mobile app.
- Free Text tags – this displays text of up to 1,000 characters, but is not an SMS/text message, it simply displays the text.
- Dialer tags – this automatically dials a specific phone number that you specify – it can be your business number, a help-line or even an automatic voice message.
SnapTags work in much the same way as QR codes and Microsoft tags, but typically take either your company logo or associated icon and convert it to an interactive tool that will direct people to your digital content. The upside of using a SnapTag is the advanced customization and visual appeal; the downside is that both creation and use of the tags come with a price tag. There are several different types of SnapTags:
- Branded SnapTags – these are tied to a particular marketing campaign and can take you to product information, a special promotion or something similar.
- Social SnapTags – these are linked to your Facebook or other social media account and allow the consumer to easily “like” you or “follow” you depending on which social media site it is tied to.
- Buy It Now SnapTags – these are linked to a specific product and take the consumer to an instant “buy it now” window where they can buy your product or service instantly.
- Action SnapTags – these initiate specific actions when scanned, such as getting a mobile coupon, emailing you, accessing your website, viewing video or requesting information.
- Mobile Giving SnapTags – these allow your customers to make a donation to a specific charity you have selected. You can even offer to match customer donations to promote your brand.
No matter which platform you decide to try, mobile tagging is a great way to make use of every inch of physical advertising space available. These can be created and placed on your checkout counters, takeout menus, packaging, posters, flyers, print ads, on your car or anywhere there is a physical surface and will increase your brand recognition.
Effective Mobile Coupons
If you’re a texter, you know that sometimes 160 characters are just not enough to communicate what you want to say. Spilling over into a second text is no big deal when you are texting with friends and family, but when you are texting a mobile offer to a customer, this is a big no-no! A single text – 160 characters (including spaces) – is what you have to learn to work within to craft effective text offers that consumers will rush to redeem.
When you hear “mobile coupon,” do you picture a paper coupon with dotted lines around the edges, ready to be cut out? Most mobile coupons – in reality – are simply texts from businesses with a code to provide at check-out or when ordering food, a product or services that generate the discount promised.
When you write a mobile offer to send out over text, you are sending a mobile coupon. Within the 160 character limit, you have to convey who the message is coming from, what you are offering, the time limit for the offer and the offer code. For instance, if you manage a pizza parlor, a text offer might go something like this:
Gianni’s Pizza is having a Monday Madness pie sale – $5 for a large 2-topping pizza – good today only 2 pm-10 pm – carryout only – discount code MONDAY5!
That’s 153 characters and it’s pretty good – it covers all the elements, but it can be improved – consider this instead:
Gianni’s Pizza’s Monday Madness pie sale is on. $5 for a large 2-topping pizza. Today from 2-10 pm. Carryout only. Use code MONDAY5 when ordering. 555-555-5555
This refined message is at 159 characters. By stripping out a few words and some punctuation, the text is more targeted and now includes the phone number which would be click-to-call to encourage on-the-spot ordering to take advantage of the time-sensitive offer.
By having the business name up front, you let them know who’s communicating with them – this is appreciated and will encourage them to read on and making the offer immediately lets them evaluate whether the offer is relevant for them. Next, giving the terms and limitations encourages them to act immediately if they are interested in the offer. Finally, providing a click-to-call number makes it very tempting for them to click to access the deal straight away. If they close the offer to look for your number, you’ll lose people who would otherwise have redeemed the offer.
This model is valid for any small business, whether you own a dry-cleaner, hair salon, yogurt shop or landscaping service. The components of an effective text message are the same, only the content relevant to your business will vary.
Once you start sending out mobile offers, you’ll learn which offers generate the highest redemption rates. If you approach your texting strategy like a science experiment, you’ll be able to most effectively hone your text writing skills. This means changing only one aspect at a time. For instance, if you send out a mobile coupon, be sure to keep the text to improve upon it.
Even if you get a good redemption rate, you can always tweak for better results. If your offer was a dollars-off coupon, consider trying a percent-off next time or a buy one-get one type of offer to see which type of discount engenders the best response from your customers. Then, you may want to tweak the time period your offer is valid for – same day offers may elicit a better response than a three day window – depending on your business – but you’ll never know unless you tweak.
When crafting your text message, brevity is key, but don’t use abbreviated lingo unless you have to – for instance “Call to order” is preferable to “Call 2 order.” When people scan texts, this can look like a typo or a spam message that can cause them to delete your message.
Mobile coupons are being redeemed at a rate 10 times higher than paper coupons and cost 1/50th the price of paper coupons. If you’re not using mobile coupons to increase revenues and profits, you’re leaving money on the table every day.
The Mobile Coupon Boom
In 2010, just 13% of mobile smart phone users were using mobile coupons –totaling around 7.2 million Americans. By 2011, this more than doubled to over 15 million smart phone owners redeeming mobile coupons. Growth projections indicate this number should reach 26 million by the end of 2012 and 34 million by 2013.
Mobile web analysts anticipate that over the next four years, annual mobile coupon redemption will top $43 billion in the US alone. Nearly 70% of smart phone users say that mobile coupons are useful and nearly one-third of Americans will search for mobile coupons using their smart phone or other mobile device. Over 25% of smart phone users indicate interest in proximity based marketing, saying they would like to get mobile coupon offers when they are physically in or near a business.
Booze Allan Hamilton, an international marketing firm, has this to say about mobile marketing, “As smartphones change shopping, merchants face a stark choice: Fall in behind their newly enabled consumers or fall behind altogether.”
Even if your target customer is an older adult, don’t assume they don’t own and actively use all the features of a smart phone. In fact, 83% of smart phone users are age 25 and older. Statistics also reveal that smart phone users are in higher income brackets – meaning they may have more disposable income – making them a desirable customer.
Among adults earning more than $75,000, 60% have a smart phone and in the $50,000-$75,000 bracket, nearly 40% own a smart-phone. Yet even high earners love to get discounts and mobile coupons and they have the money to redeem them and then, based on a positive experience, come back to your establishment and pay full prices.
When it comes to finding mobile coupons, smart phone users have very specific preferences. A recent study by Microsoft showed how consumers like to receive mobile coupon offers. The results are:
- Most prefer to receive them via text message
- The second most popular option is via email checked on the mobile device
- The third option is to be texted an offer while they’re in an establishment
- The fourth most popular is to find mobile coupons using an app
- The fifth most popular option for getting a mobile coupon is scanning a QR code
- The least popular option for getting a mobile coupon is in exchange for a social media check-in
However, what may not be evident from these results is that while QR codes and social media check-ins are the least popular methods in the survey, they are on the rise. Many survey participants may have rated these lowest simply because they are inexperienced with using QR codes and location-based aspects of social media.
Microsoft research indicates that mobile coupon use will have doubled between 2011 and 2013. Their recent study shows that 10% of all cell phone users redeem mobile coupons but the rate is 20% among smart phone users. They project these numbers to be 16.5% and 30% respectively by 2013.
Nancy Cook, Vice President at Valpak – one of the top firms in couponing, both mobile and paper – said recently, “A strong offer will work in any space and mobile even more so, because it can be relevant when a consumer may actually be ready to make a purchase.”
The numbers don’t lie – mobile coupons are a powerful and growing segment of mobile marketing and marketing in general. Tap in to this growing trend or look to find your customers tapping out on you.
Mobile Coupons That Work Like Magic
In these days of budget tightening in most American households, coupons are growing more and more popular. But beyond tedious clipping of paper coupons, is a growing trend for convenient and low-effort mobile coupons. According to research done by American Express, in 2009 mobile coupons redeemed across the US number approximately 200,000, but they estimate that by next year 70 million mobile coupons will be redeemed, worth $2.4 billion in discounts to eager consumers.
There is virtually no limit to the types of deals that your business can offer with mobile coupons. It really doesn’t matter whether you offer dollars or percent off, buy one get one or any other type of offer as long as it’s valuable to your customer or potential customer and is relevant and time-sensitive.
Coupons sent using mobile messaging are 10 times more likely to be redeemed than paper coupons of any type. Coupons in newspapers have lower redemption rates than those mailed directly to consumers, but mobile coupons trump these time and again.
Cost is another factor to consider with mobile coupons. Having a paper coupon mailed either directly from your business or as part of a bulk mailer such as ValPak costs you $.25-$.40 per coupon and these are redeemed on average at a rate of just 1%. By comparison, mobile coupons cost around 1 penny each and are redeemed at double digit rates between 11%-26%.
There are a couple of different options for offering mobile coupons, including:
- Posting them on your traditional or mobile website to either print or with a code they can provide at checkout or when ordering.
- Using an aggregator site such as https://getyowza.com or www.cellfire.com to offer your coupons on their sites. Yowza cost as little as $99 and Cellfire offers a variety of plans.
- Text them directly to customers who opt-in to your email text list. People will give you their cell number in exchange for an instant discount and this lets you easily build your database.
Zero coupon fraud is another pro of mobile coupons vs. paper. People try to sneak in expired paper coupons, print duplicates and all manner of sneaky methods to get more than their fair share of a discount. Mobile coupons virtually eliminate these issues because they are attached to an individual cell phone account and will clear out of the coupon cache upon expiration so customers can’t pull them up and try to pass the deal off as current.
Immediacy, relevancy, portability and ease of use are the big drivers in the double-digit mobile coupon redemption rates. Immediacy means that by setting a same day or 3-5 day redemption window, you encourage people to act quickly to take advantage of the deal. No one likes to miss out on a deal, so they will move rapidly to take advantage of a discount.
Relevancy is crucial. If you mail diaper coupons to childless couples, you’re likely to get a 0% redemption rate. However, mailing coupons to parents of a newborn will likely get you a much higher redemption rate. Because mobile coupons are driven by coupon searches or opt-ins to business text lists for establishments frequented, you can offer relevant promotions to drive increased revenues.
Portability is a big plus for consumers – if you forget your box of coupons at home or your flyer that offered a discount, your customer is out of luck. But everyone always has their mobile device with them, so mobile coupons are accessible anytime, anywhere which encourages redemption when it is convenient for the customer which means profits for your small business.
Ease of use is critical – many people don’t want to hassle with clipping coupons and may not even look through coupon mailers that come in their box because they literally have to sift through pages of offers that won’t interest them. Mobile coupons offer what consumers want with little to no effort on their part. They get a text or access a site and show the offer or code to the sales person or order taker and they’re done – coupon redeemed!
If you’re not using mobile coupons, the good news is, it’s easy to get into. Even without having a mobile website, you can start offering mobile coupons. It’s a low cost promotional tool that can drastically increase sales by improving your relationship with your loyal customers while expanding your customer base.
How to Combine Social Media Marketing and Mobile Marketing
With people today busier than ever and on the go with smart phones in hand, your small business needs to be able to integrate the technology your customers prefer into your marketing strategy. Two of the biggest growth areas are social media and mobile marketing.
Social media apps account for 30% of the time smart phone users spend accessing apps from their device. Facebook and Twitter account for a great amount of this time, so your company needs a profile and activity on both of these. Here are some of the other social media sites you may be interested in establishing a presence on:
- Google Plus+
Your social media presence will feed into your mobile marketing strategy and vice-versa. Using multiple channels will enable you to increase your brand recognition and bring in more business which translates to increased revenues.
Here are some specific ways to integrate social media and mobile marketing:
- Facebook – Your Facebook page should have a clickable link to your mobile website and a discount offer tied to a text code that will sign the texter up to join your mobile texting list for offers. You may want to establish a different code for each media site so you know which outlet is bringing in the most opt-ins.
- Twitter – Your Twitter page should have a link to your mobile website in the banner area and you should post frequent tweets offering a discount or promotion to encourage people to text to opt-in to your mobile texting list.
- LinkedIn – Your LinkedIn page should have the basic information about your business, including a link to your mobile website and basic information about the business. As the owner, you should also have a LinkedIn page so people can search by either you or the company name to access your profiles.
- MySpace – While MySpace is not the big deal it once was, it won’t hurt to set up a page for your business including photos and interesting information about your business. Links to your mobile website and a text to opt-in code should be included as well.
- Google Plus+ – Setting up a Google Plus+ profile will allow you to interact with customers in one circle, vendors in another and employees in yet another. When you set up the page, include a link to your mobile site and a link to opt-in to your text list.
- myLife – This tool can allow you to manage several of your social media profiles in an easy to use dashboard and allow for local searchers to find you. Always include a link to your mobile website and text opt-in offer wherever you can. Be sure to set up both a business and personal profile that are cross-linked to maximize your presence.
- FourSquare – When you set up your profile here, be sure to include a link to your mobile website and text opt-in offer.
Once you have a social media presence, you can work in the other direction and link your mobile marketing back to your social media profiles. On your contact us page of your mobile website, be sure to have icon links to each of your social media profiles (you don’t have to include myLife, that’s more of a utility for you than your customer.)
Next, offer special discounts and promotions on your mobile website and through your mobile texting program to get customers to recommend you on LinkedIn or Google Plus+ or to “Like” you on Facebook or to check in with you on FourSquare.
Social media is social proof that your establishment is a place that others should frequent – by combining the accessibility of mobile marketing with the popularity of social media, you can most effectively promote your brand and increase your bottom line.
Using Location-Based Web Services to Amplify Your Mobile Marketing
Today, 97% of consumers use the web to search for local businesses – many of these on their mobile devices while they are on the move. If your business doesn’t have a profile or page on the most common location portals, you are leaving money on the table for your competitors. Even if you have a mobile website, that doesn’t guarantee you’ll be a top result on a local search for businesses of your type in your area.
But, by enrolling yourself on the most popular location services, you will enable consumers to find your business and more effectively rival your local competition, expand your customer base and increase revenues as more consumers discover your establishment.
A recent survey by TNS found that 66% of mobile users want to use location-based features such as check-ins, mobile maps and local business searches. The survey said that of this 66%, only 19% are already using location-based services, but this number is on the rise and now is your chance to get your small business on the mobile web map.
It will only take a couple of minutes to get your business listed on each of these sites. Your business may already be listed because you probably have a land-line that triggered a listing, but it will only have basic information such as your business name, number and perhaps address, but it won’t have critical information and be location optimized so customers can find you.
Here are the top services you should create a profile on for your small business – be sure to include all the information consumers need to find you – and activate all options that will enable mobile web searchers to find you easily.
- YP.com – This link will take you to an “Improve Your Listing” page where you enter your business number. From there, click to go to the Business Representative page. From there, you can enter hours, website, social media links and more.
- Yelp.com – This link takes you to the page where you can register your small business for free to be displayed on this popular location-based site where consumers love to check-in (i.e. log their visit) and review your business.
- GooglePlaces.com – This link will take you to a page to create a profile for your business on Google’s free local platform. There are a number of special features you can use to bring more attention to your business and get found.
- Foursquare.com – This link takes you to the foursquare for business portal where you can set up a profile, called “Claiming your Venue.” Foursquare is a popular location-based social site where consumers can check-in and chat about what they’re doing at your establishment.
- Facebook Places – This link will take you to Facebook’s location services home page. From there, click on “Claiming a Page for Your Business” to get started. The mega-popular social media site is now expanding into check-ins to allow users to share where they are.
- Loopt – This site works a little differently because business owners can’t maintain their profiles directly with Loopt – instead, Loopt pulls profiles from CitySearch.com (which is fee based) and Bing.com (which is free.)
You should be able to update your profiles on all of these sites within an hour or two and should begin to see an immediate uptick in business as consumers browsing the mobile web for local businesses can more easily find you.
As a final thought, be sure to post information on both your mobile website and in your establishment encouraging people to “Like” you on Facebook and check-in on foursquare and other check-in services. You can even offer a discount or other incentive to encourage them to do so – as you start to get more check-ins, more traffic will follow as you establish credible social proof for your business.