By Kalin Kassabov
It’s no secret that the use of mobile devices has exploded over the last few years. Phones are now the most popular way for people to surf the internet. This has huge implications for small businesses. My company offers interactive tools to help users communicate with their audiences through mobile, so I can attest to the power of mobile firsthand.
While everyone knows that smartphones (along with tablets) are massively popular, many businesses are still using outdated marketing techniques that deny this reality. Let’s look at some ways to break out of this old paradigm and profit from the mobile revolution.
Go Beyond Mobile Friendly to Mobile Optimized
Several years ago, Google announced that mobile-friendliness was going to be a factor for ranking websites. This was labeled "Mobilegeddon" and resulted in thousands of websites rushing to avoid penalties. Unfortunately, many websites only did the bare minimum it took to appease Google while ignoring the bigger picture. While SEO is important, it’s even more important, especially for local businesses, to serve the needs of their customers. That’s why you want to make sure that everyone has access to all of your features from mobile devices.
As long as you can view a web page from a mobile device, it’s technically mobile friendly. However, if users have to scroll to see key information, you’re going to lose many potential customers. A mobile-optimized site, however, is one that is specifically aimed at mobile users. It has features such as a single column layout, an uncluttered design with plenty of whitespace and easy navigation. If you know that the majority of your customers are mobile users, go beyond mobile friendly and take steps to truly optimize your website for mobile.
Engage Your Audience With SMS Marketing
One of the tenets of online marketing has long been “the money’s in the list.” This referred to an email list, of course. Another option today is text message or SMS marketing, which gives you the ability to contact your customers whenever you want. There are many advantages to reaching out to people via mobile, especially with texting, as open rates are much higher for text messages than emails.
Of course, as with email, you never want to annoy subscribers with too many messages. However, building targeted lists is one of the best ways to keep your customers engaged and let them know about your latest news and offers. Use the same protocol when building a mobile list as you would with email. Always make sure people opt in and make it easy for them to opt out. You only want to contact people who have given you permission.
Create an App
People are app crazy. Not only are they using mobile phones more and more, but a high percentage of that time is spent using apps. That’s why you need one for your business. Apps are a powerful tool to connect with your customers. Nowadays, you don’t need advanced programming skills to create an app. You can outsource it at a reasonable rate or use one of the websites that makes it simple.
As much as people love apps, you do need to create one that has a useful purpose. Otherwise, your customers will quickly forget that it’s on their phone. Create an app that provides real benefits, such as providing coupons or letting users enter contests.
Use Live Stream Video
Live streaming video is a fast-growing phenomenon that overlaps with mobile. While people can watch live streams from any device, it’s especially geared toward mobile users. Since people carry their mobile phones everywhere, you can reach them just about anywhere with your broadcasts. Facebook is betting heavily on the future of this technology with its Facebook Live platform. Other options include Google Hangouts, YouTube Live Events, Livestream and Periscope. The fact that these and other platforms are fiercely competing for dominance in this arena shows what a huge trend this is.
Small businesses can engage their followers with live stream broadcasts in a number of ways. Introduce new products. Give people virtual tours of your store, office or facility. Broadcast live from interesting events, such as conventions, festivals and conferences. Remember that this is an interactive platform, so make sure you engage with your audience. Answer questions and comments. Hold regular live streaming events to help you build a larger following.
Prepare for a Mobile Future
These are just a few of the ways that small businesses can take advantage of the massive popularity of mobile. This is not a mere passing fad but a long-term trend: Mobile devices are popular because they’re so convenient. From a business perspective, they let you contact your audience wherever they go. Whether you do this with a compelling website, apps, live broadcasts or other tactics, make sure your business strategy is one that favors mobile.
Kalin Kassabov is a founder and CEO of ProTexting.com, a fast-growing enterprise level text message suite of services.