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Mobile Phones as a Small Business Marketing Tool

Take advantage of the mobile phone marketplace.


Over 90 million Americans get discounts, information and updates from businesses on their mobile phones. For businesses keen to better connect with their customers, mobile marketing is a great place to get started.

Here are a few examples of small businesses that are benefiting by using mobile marketing:

- Texas burger chain Scotty P's was looking for a new way to engage current and prospective customers. “When you’re a small business, you don’t have an enormous marketing budget,” said founder and president Scott Pontikes. “So whatever you do needs to be creative enough to stand out.”

Scotty P’s sent out an exclusive text-message coupon offering customers a special bargain: “lunchtime only-buy a burger, get a burger free.” The result of this campaign was a 12% response rate with zero opt-outs.(1)

- 93% of the customer base at Dragonfly Shops & Gardens in Orange, California is female. So how could co-owner Beth Davidson expose her business to a more diverse group of potential customers while keeping costs down? She turned to location-based mobile application, Foursquare, as cited in a case study on streetfightermag.com.

Using Foursquare’s check-in metrics, she found that 41% of her check-ins came from males. That allowed her to run check-in specials targeted to her male audience. “The men who come with their wives or girlfriends are starting to check in. About two or three months ago, we started running Foursquare check-in specials for newbies, and we’ve seen a lot of activity,” says Davidson.

Davidson has experienced greater ROI than traditional advertising without investing in new technology-and reached a more diverse clientele in the process.(2)

So how can your business reach customers through mobile phone marketing?

Text Message Marketing

With more business conversations moving to mobile, text-message marketing is a great way to create personal customer relationships. According to SmallBizTrends.com, text messages have a 98% open rate and are usually read within 15 minutes of being received.(3) What should you keep in mind when considering text-message marketing?

Choose the right service: With so many options on the market, it can be difficult to identify the appropriate text messaging service. Answering the following questions can help you select a service that is right for you and your customers.

- How do you want to use it?
Services like ReachPeople are better for one-way communication, while others like Tell My Cell are ideal for interactive, keyword-driven campaigns.

- How often do you plan to use it?
For businesses that use text messaging frequently, there are services like Mozeo that offer a one-time flat rate while others like Betwext allow you to pay only for the text messages you send.

- Do you want versatility?
Services like Fanminder and Simple Texting offer more than just text messaging, they allow you to disseminate offers and information across multiple channels, including social media and email.

Earn trust and provide value: Your text-message marketing efforts should provide valuable and exclusive content. Important information, updates, discounts and offers are the types of content that enhance customer experience. A healthcare facility could send urgent updates on office closings for holidays or appointment reminders through a text-messaging service. The owner of a local floral shop could use the same method to invite customers to text the keyword FLOWERS for a free delivery.

Less is more: Some experts recommend that a business should not exceed five promotional text messages per month.(4) Any more, and you not only risk a customer unsubscribing from your messaging, but ending their relationship with your business.

Mobile Applications

Mobile applications can help small businesses in a variety of ways. Some help improve productivity while others help keep track of billing and financials. But where they can really impact your business is improving customer relationships. Here are two ways that mobile applications can help:

- Marketing: If most of your business takes place at your physical location, mobile applications can help you interact with customers who are online. You can use mobile applications to publish news, events and deal announcements across many online channels, including social media, websites, local directories and email newsletters.(5) For example, a local clothing store could use a deal-based application like Groupon or LivingSocial to send out a weekly coupon to its audience with the click of a button.

- Transactions: Mobile payment applications empower anyone with a smartphone or tablet to easily accept credit card payments. For businesses on the go, mobile payment applications are a great way to make purchasing more customer-friendly. For example, a sales person could eliminate traditional paperwork by completing the deal via a mobile payment app on their smartphone-creating a better experience for him and his client.

As a business owner, you know that keeping up with your customer needs helps to drive your success. Every day, your current and potential customers are interacting on their phones and tablets. Text-message marketing and mobile apps are two tools to connect your business with them in a way that is relevant and meaningful to them.