Smartphones, smart business: Tips for mobile marketing

Local businesses are in a great position to take advantage of the mobile phone revolution, according to two recent studies.

One, by Deloitte, the auditing and financial planning firm, reveals that 80 percent of mobile users prefer locally-relevant advertising. The other, from a Mobile Audience Insights Report done by the mobile advertising data firm JiWire, concluded that 75 percent of mobile users are more likely to take action on location-specific messages near them than others from far away.

However, according to Deloitte, the rapid pace of mobile adoption has even Fortune 500 companies scrambling to produce applications and websites that fully take advantage of the retail and information capabilities inherent in smartphones and tablets.

According to Keith May, head SEO campaign manager for Vancouver’s Fringe Digital Marketing, that’s true of local business as well. Some have already made substantial investments in their website and can’t afford or justify the cost of conversion to a mobile-friendly website. Others aren’t yet convinced of the need.

That’s a mistake, according to local digital marketing experts. For instance, said Carri Bugbee of Big Deal PR in Portland, sales using mobile phones are rising fast. Citing the Adyen Global Mobile Payments Index, she noted that 23 percent of all retail purchases were made from mobile devices in 2013, with overall growth of 55 percent in the same time period.
“Obviously, that’s big news for any business that sells merchandise online,” she said. “The best mobile marketing for brick and mortar stores will reflect how and why people are looking for your business. A restaurant or service business absolutely needs a lot of great reviews and should consider advertising on platforms like Yelp, Google, or location-based services such as Foursquare.”

She added that retail stores should consider mobile coupons and special offers, especially via SMS (short message service) texts.

May reminds his clients that people don’t just use their phones to buy products, but to check for local availability of their desired object. Also, said May, “Geotagging (pinpointing your location) is one of the real perks of mobile devices. I love that when I’m not sure what to do, I just ask my phone.”

Simple and responsive

One of the keys to a successful mobile marketing campaign, according to High Five Media’s Noland Hoshino, is making the mobile experience as easy as possible. Hoshino tells his clients to “Pare it down by 20 percent and put the good stuff out first. The homepage should be as clean as possible and get right to the point.” He and May highly recommend “responsive websites” – sites that are built or modified to automatically run on any device.
Such websites, said Julie Gorham, marketing architect at MarketingEQ.com in Vancouver, are critical to making the right impression with customers.

“It’s the difference between even looking or not,” she said. “We have three seconds to get them involved.”

Responsive websites are also essential for two key business concepts that are never outdated, Gorham said: trust and credibility. Designing mobile sites that are easy to use show a consideration for the customer and improve that critical customer relationship, she added.

“It’s important because just about all of us, younger or older are using mobile phones. [When you’re out] there isn’t a single person that comes to the table without a cell phone,” Gorham said.

Tag, you’re it!

Another key, according to May, is using the latest technology for targeting and evaluating web messaging. While keywords used to be top of mind for web marketers, search engines are moving to more precise search results.

“We’re going from strings (of words) to things,” he said. For example, a search for Leonardo DaVinci is now more likely to turn up actual information on the famed scientist/artist rather than hundreds of results for “Leonardo.” Similarly, said May, Google Authorship makes it more likely a search for a writer or artist will turn up a photo of the author alongside their work.

Many web marketers are also employing Schema markup, which puts all relevant mark-ups and tags into websites to make them more visible in a web search. Such tools and mobile-friendly design are not only the latest thing, they are quickly becoming the standard.

“Sites that aren’t properly optimized really do themselves a disservice,” said May.

Social strategy

When it comes to mobile marketing through social media, Arthur Woespe of Vancouver-based Flowerpot Media said businesses should think less about the platform carrying their content and more about how content is being represented.

“There are a lot of companies that are hyper-focused on the specific platform, and not necessarily on the way that the content is made to be palatable or digestible,” he said, citing user frustration over advertisements injected directly into news feeds.

Instead, Woespe said, businesses large and small are beginning to utilize local celebrities or individuals with clout to passively promote their product through various social media channels – product placement for the Internet age, if you will.

“It’s really just them (the individual or local celebrity) beginning to live the experience of the product,” he said. “Now you have this passive inference; you have a lot of the cognitive consumer behavior that’s going to have this buy-in mentality and affinity … Now you have a local connection and the feeling of that is so much better to drive that conversion.

“It’s about having a complete shift and making sure you’re not presenting a tired old approach with a different name,” Woespe summarized.

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