The Web is Dying. Long Live the Web!

Will apps disappear as browsers became more capable? Or will apps supplant the Web as the dominant tool of the next generation online?

Email, Mobile and Social Media Marketing: Lessons from top-performing B-to-B and B-to-C brandsTwo recent articles (here and here) got me to thinking about whether “the Web as we know it” is dying or whether “single purpose apps are dead.” These arguments have been around since the iPhone became the next big thing …

And it’s no different in our office, where this has long been a topic of discussion. Will apps disappear as browsers became more capable? Or will apps supplant the Web as the dominant tool of the next generation online?

Clearly, mobile devices are a big part of the equation, since their smaller screens, among other things, all but demanded apps — particularly when the iPhone first came out.

But with the advent of HTML5 and the ability to do all sorts of things in a browser “natively” that used to require plugins and widgets, wouldn’t the apps disappear, replaced by little icons on our phones and tablets that link us to that game’s web page?

Perhaps, though I don’t think we’re close to answering that question. Browsers continue to add great functionality and apps continue to proliferate. Each has it strengths. For example, if you’re looking for a restaurant? You want an app. Whether it’s Yelp, Urban Spoon or something else, one or more of these apps has you covered.

And an app makes sense for most games, of course. Directions? App again, whether Google, Apple or Waze is your preference.

But what about a video? The obvious answer would seem to be the YouTube app, but doesn’t that come with an asterisk? Not every video on a particular topic is going to be on YouTube, even though the overwhelming majority likely are.

And that leads us to other instances where all the answers may not be in one place. For example, information on bike racks for your car? Amazon might list most of the available models, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll get the most comprehensive picture of the market through Amazon.

A search of the broader Web will find all sorts of sites with relevant information on bike racks that just don’t lend themselves to apps — bicycling enthusiast sites, sites that sell trailers and hitches and related car accessories, general fitness sites …

So perhaps the Web isn’t dying but continuing to evolve as a great generalist tool — an incredible repository of information. The place to go when you aren’t quite sure what the question is. Or when the answer doesn’t lend itself to being answered under the wing of a single marketer or other entity.

For us as marketers, this means we need to decide what will work best for our audience. That is true whether you’re considering creating an app as a marketing tool or considering advertising on app or Web networks. Your audience really makes this decision for you, and they make the decision based on what’s most useful to them.

Never Drink and Change Your Password

It all started when I got a new phone. The AT&T rep assured me that all my data would be transferred to my new device by just “bumping” my old Galaxy against my new one. Yeah, right.

It all started when I got a new phone. The AT&T rep assured me that all my data would be transferred to my new device by just “bumping” my old Galaxy against my new one.

Yeah, right.

Two HOURS later, I left the store with my email and phone working properly, but I needed to find my password list in order to log into all my other apps. Fair enough.

With that accomplished, I was back to my daily rituals: Posting to Facebook and Instagram, playing Words with Friends, and posting and following on Twitter. My life seemed back to normal.

But last weekend, disaster struck.

I was at a wedding and the mother-of-the-groom suggested we Snapchat as the bride had created her own geofilter … a perfect way to create memories that celebrated her special day. Unfortunately, it seems I had not tried logging into Snapchat with my new device. And, since there was no way I could remember my password, I had to click on “reset.”

You would think I was trying to reset the password to my account in the Cayman Islands!

First, a series of photos appeared and asked me to click on those where “NO” vehicles appear. Ummm … you’d think that would be easy, but after a couple of glasses of champagne, it was not so much. I looked carefully at all the images and clicked as directed. It seems I was mistaken, as another set of images appeared and asked me to use different criteria to select the images. I tried again.

The next set of images and instructions felt like Snapchat was simply mocking me. I told the mother-of-the-groom to continue her socializing at another table and swing back to mine, as I desperately tried to pick the correct images that matched the criteria.

Third time is NOT the charm, as I snorted with disgust at a new set of visual requirements.

To be honest, the rest of the process is a bit of a blur as my husband took the device out of my hand and said he’d do it … but first he had to find his cheaters to see the screen clearly.

A few more minutes pass and he’s still not able to pass the verification tests, but eventually we were able to get to a reset screen. Whew! I choose a password and the first answer I get from Snapchat is “Sorry, you can’t use a password that you’ve used before.”

So now I am wracking my brain to think of a password that:

  • Seems logical to me,
  • I haven’t used before and
  • I’ll remember the next morning.

I finally make my selection, log into my account, call over the mother-of-the-bride, find the geofilter and post our picture. But the nightmare is far from over …

You guessed it. The next day, when I try to log into my Snapchat account, I can’t remember the password … and my journey to recovery starts all over again. Call me crazy, but does the system to recover your password need to be so complex — especially on a harmless app like Snapchat? Should I be fearful that someone is going to hack in and send embarrassing pictures of themselves under my name to my kids?

I understand the need for user name and password security. And I understand these apps are trying to ensure it’s not a bot hacking the system, but there has got to be a better way. Maybe the Russians have a solution … Just sayin’!

Mobile Turning the Corner

In the past few years, mobile marketing and advertising have been largely an afterthought for many brands. But this year, the hype is finally coming to fruition with the growing intersection of mobile and the retail experience. This requires brands and retailers to take a very thoughtful approach with their mobile strategy.

In the past few years, mobile marketing and advertising have been largely an afterthought for many brands. But this year, the hype is finally coming to fruition with the growing intersection of mobile and the retail experience. This requires brands and retailers to take a very thoughtful approach with their mobile strategy.

1. Strategic Focus
This increased focus has accelerated even since last fall. Brands are thinking about mobile as a strategically integrated part of their marketing, rather than just a stand-alone tactic. Many are no longer questioning the value of mobile, but rather questioning how to get the most value from it.

2. Consumer Value
Many brands are looking to achieve that value by focusing on meaningful user engagement with brand identity and utility. They have matured from simple marketing (static banner ads, coupons and QR codes that merely offer to help a shopper “learn more”). Once again, content is king.

For example, ConAgra engages consumers on contextually relevant sites and apps with recipes. Rather than just announcing that their products are available, they help shoppers save time and energy. Who doesn’t want someone telling you what’s for dinner and how to easily prepare it?

Mattel is another company that’s using its brand identity to engage with consumers in highly relevant activity. When you think Mattel, you think toys and games. So, the company is gamifying its digital efforts, giving people something to do in their downtime that’s fun and interactive. There’s a significant correlation between entertaining engagement and shopper conversions.

3. App vs. Mobile Web
While there have been great strides in mobile marketing initiatives, there is still some confusion about the strategic delivery of the content. This primarily refers to the confluence of the terms “mobile app” and “mobile Web.”

While mobile apps and websites in theory serve the same purpose, in reality they are very different beasts to create and maintain, and consumers approach each differently.

One recent example was a mobile app for a single recipe ingredient. Really? How many people are going to take the time to seek out this app, download it and see enough utility to open and use it on a regular basis?

For many brands, a better way would be to create a responsive, mobile-optimized website. This way, the content is universally and easily available on all operating systems and device sizes. It can be accessed quickly by a shopper who responds to a mobile ad or texts in a keyword with no need to download and install an app. For marketers, mobile sites are considerably less expensive to build and maintain, and faster to update.

Mobile, as a marketing channel, can no longer be ignored and must be addressed in order to succeed. There are definitely others that will help advance a brands mobile strategy such as better targeting, more relevant engagement with consumers and shoppers at the various touch points on the path to conversion and stronger collaboration with brands and retailers.

5 Tips to Create SMS Messages That Convert

When it comes to mobile marketing, there are many ways to drive your customers to take action. Whether that means visiting your website, visiting your store, contacting you, making an appointment or redeeming an offer, there is almost no better way than using SMS marketing … when done right.

When it comes to mobile marketing, there are many ways to drive your customers to take action. Whether that means visiting your website, visiting your store, contacting you, making an appointment or redeeming an offer, there is almost no better way than using SMS marketing … when done right.

You see, when you look at the top marketers who are using mobile, almost every single one uses SMS/Text messaging.

Do you think there is a reason for that?

Of course there is.

SMS gives marketers the widest reach among their customer base and offers the most effective communication channel when trying to drive immediate action.

Look at Starbucks, Macy’s, jcpenney, Lane Bryant, Crate and Barrel … They all leverage SMS as a key part of their mobile strategy.

Even Coca-Cola, the largest brand in the world, has been quoted saying it spends 70 percent of its mobile budget on SMS.

No matter how you slice it, SMS is the workhorse for many businesses when it comes to a comprehensive mobile strategy that leads to results.

The great thing about SMS is that businesses large and small can use it very effectively to drive action. Most of us want that action to be sales, and that’s when SMS can shine. At the end of the day, it’s super affordable when looking at the ROI it can generate, fairly easy to get started and very trackable.

In order to have SMS perform like a workhorse and drive the results you want, you should follow these five tips:

1. Utilize time-sensitivity in your messaging. Listen, more than 97 percent of SMS messages are read within 15 minutes. We both know your email isn’t competing with that. Because SMS is immediate, you need to make sure your messaging accounts for that and offers real value based on that immediacy. SMS is meant to be used like email or even push notifications. If you’re promoting an event that’s on Saturday, the SMS message better not go out the Monday before. It will be forgotten. You can always include a link or a promo code that can be redeemed for enhanced tracking and conversion reporting.

2. A clear call to action is mandatory. As a consumer, if you just broke through all the clutter to tell me something, you better not be delivering more noise. Make sure your messaging is clear and your recipients know exactly what action you want them to take. I’ve seen too many text messages trying to share too much info. Keep it brief. Keep it simple. Keep it clear.

3. Focus on driving customer lifetime value, not one-off engagements. SMS should be a part of your overall contact strategy. Like I said earlier, it shouldn’t be used the way you use email or push notifications. BUT, it should complement those forms of messaging. If you just try to send one-off messages vs. creating a contact strategy with SMS, you’ll be limiting just how successful you can be with SMS.

4. Know your crowd. Speak their language. When using SMS, you have limited characters to work with. Understand how consumers text, the language they use and use that to your advantage when composing your messages. If you’re too proper, it won’t come as natural for your consumer to engage. You language should fit within the text messaging environment.

5. Not everyone sleeps till 10 a.m. Oh wait, is that just me on the weekends? Not only is your call to action important, but the time at which you send your messages can be critical. Understand your customers’ time of day when delivering messages and always respect their time and time zone. I’d say never send before 8 a.m. (questionably, 9 a.m.) and never later than 6 or 7 p.m. Now, depending on your situation, it may warrant an earlier time or a later time. If I’m getting a flight reminder for a 6 a.m. flight, I better get that reminder with enough time in advance.

Start subscribing to how other businesses use SMS, especially the brands I mentioned earlier. Start recognizing what types of messages are sent when and what the call to action is. Ask yourself how you think they’d be measuring success of each message.

It will start to paint a picture for you in your own business so that when you start capitalizing on the power of SMS, these five tips are already natural for you.

What are some of the messages that you’ve found to be powerful?

4 Things Mobile Users Need

With the speed at which mobile technology and innovation is occurring these days, it’s almost impossible to keep up. With more and more consumers adopting smartphones or tablets and relying on them in everyday shopping decisions, it’s put them in the driver’s seat. As a business owner, it’s your job to keep up.

With the speed at which mobile technology and innovation is occurring these days, it’s almost impossible to keep up.

With more and more consumers adopting smartphones or tablets and relying on them in everyday shopping decisions, it’s put them in the driver’s seat. As a business owner, it’s your job to keep up.

The best way to keep up with mobile consumers is to understand their needs.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about an interview I had with Brad Frost, a thought leader in the responsive design community. He broke down what is essentially the mobile hierarchy of needs.

He used the pictured pyramid to discuss a mobile user’s needs as it relates to a mobile website; however, I believe these needs apply to more than just mobile Web …

In fact, I think these four needs are key to business success when integrating mobile into the business.

1. Access

At the foundation of the pyramid, you have Access. As Frost will tell you, this means giving the users what they want. When we’re talking about mobile Web, this essentially means giving them the info they are looking for. If they came to your site for tips on cooking the perfect steak … they should be able to find that.

As for overall mobile strategy, you need to consider what your mobile customer needs. Can you give them access to tools that will help them in their lives? Can you give access to specials or coupons while they are on the go?

Access is the first and most important component of success with mobile.

2. Interaction

As Frost mentioned in our conversation, interaction usually results in navigation as it pertains to your mobile website.

Simply, can the user get around your site to accomplish the desired result?

When considering your overall strategy, creating campaigns that allow consumers to interact with you and your business will often lead to deeper engagement and increased conversion opportunities.

3. Performance

Performance is often overlooked—mainly because marketers make too many assumptions about our user.

Your users won’t always have the fastest Internet connection and, despite that, expect your site to load faster than the desktop, although that rarely happens when looking at most mobile sites vs. their desktop counterparts.

Your mobile strategy should be focused on performance, as well. When I think of performance from a strategic standpoint, I think of giving the users what they want as fast and efficiently as possible at my lowest cost.

4. Enhancement

At the top of the pyramid, we have enhancement.

As Frost explained, mobile is inherently different from desktop. Mobile browsers can do things that desktop browsers cannot.

If your customer needs to complete a mobile Web form, you can offer your user different keyboards to help provide important info, such as a phone number.

When it comes to strategy, it’s important to remember mobile is different. Thus, you must consider how you can leverage that in reaching your goals. Can you use location or the accelerometer to give extra value to your customers as you begin to better understand their context?

Whether you’re developing a mobile website or looking for guides as you develop a winning mobile strategy, moving forward with the hierarchy of mobile needs in mind puts you in the best position to succeed.

As a small business owner, this can be your advantage. Because, quite frankly … many big brands fail to do this today.

Now it’s your turn … What are you doing to satisfy your customer’s mobile needs?

Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk Recap: Mobile Strategy

If you didn’t have the chance to attend Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk, you missed out. Lucky for you, I wanted to quickly recap my session on creating a successful mobile strategy.

If you didn’t have the chance to attend Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk, you missed out. Lucky for you, I wanted to quickly recap my session on creating a successful mobile strategy.

When looking at businesses that are truly successful in mobile, you’ll find everything they do is based off of the Mobile Success Pyramid. This is based off of Bruce Hershey’s “4 Pillars of Mobile Marketing” in that with a pyramid, each section can only be supported by the piece beneath it, making the foundational elements more important.

Let’s look at the pyramid from the bottom up:

At the foundation, you have Strategy.

Strategy is made up of a handful of things:

  • Who is your customer? If you haven’t already created customer avatars, you should do so in order to have a target marketing message.
  • What are you trying to accomplish? This is where you identify your business objectives and goals and assess your current marketing strategy.
  • Why are you in business? What is your mission, unique selling proposition or value proposition?
  • When do you need to reach the goal? All good strategies have a time associated with them. Give yourself a deadline to reach your goal and create a roadmap to get there.

As you define your objectives, make sure:

  1. They are measurable and quantifiable. Example: Increase sales by 15 percent.
  2. A timeframe is associated to the goal. Example: Increase sales by 15 percent in six months vs. the same six months last year.
  3. Your goal is realistic. Can you really increase sales by 15 percent? If your goal doesn’t mesh with your historical performance or competition, then adjust.

When you put these three together you may have a goal such as: “Increase sales by 5 percent in six months vs. the same 6-month period last year.”

The next piece of they pyramid is Tactics.

Because you’ve already defined your customer persona, you want to understand how they use their mobile devices. Knowing how each persona uses their mobile devices will lead you to your tactics.

These new mobile personas will offer you the right mix of tactics to generate the most reach and engagement with your customers.

Making our way up the pyramid, we have Integration.

Ultimately, you need to promote your mobile initiatives via other marketing channels. Mobile is the most dependent channel that exists.

Review your media channels and promotional calendars and make sure you have mobile call to actions throughout your media.

Lastly, you need to consider CRM.

This is the most difficult part for marketers today, as most use separate systems. But your goal is to combine all your data from all media channels and create highly targeted messaging campaigns.

Collecting this data throughout the customer journey means you can learn what areas convert the best for each and every customer.

This ends up with you being able to send the right message to the right customer at the right time.

Now it’s on you.

If you are just getting started with mobile, you should complete the pyramid for your own business. Don’t jump right into the tactics as, although it may work in the short-term, you will likely fail in the long run.

So how are you getting started?

Why SMS Will Be Your Mobile Workhorse and 5 Ideas to Get You Started

We’ve talked about the importance of a mobile-friendly Web presence and mobile-optimized email for your small business. But there is one mobile tool that your small business should be leveraging that will be a key puzzle piece to the success of your mobile strategy. Some might argue that SMS is the most effective mobile channel that exists, when it comes to ROI.

We’ve talked about the importance of a mobile-friendly Web presence and mobile-optimized email for your small business. But there is one mobile tool that your small business should be leveraging that will be a key puzzle piece to the success of your mobile strategy.

Some might argue that SMS is the most effective mobile channel that exists, when it comes to ROI.

There is a reason it continues to be the workhorse within the mobile strategies of brands like Coca-Cola, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, Target, jcpenney and many more.

5 reasons SMS will be the workhorse in your mobile strategy.

Instant Deliverability: SMS messages offer one of the most immediate marketing channels for businesses. More than 97 percent of messages are read within four minutes of receipt. So if you have a message that is time sensitive, there is no better way to connect with your customer.

Everyone’s Reachable: Nearly 100 percent of the handsets on the market can send and receive text messages. I don’t care that we’ve surpassed 50 percent smartphone penetration in the USA. I don’t care that that will continue to grow. You’re missing out on 40 percent to 50 percent of your audience right now by catering to smartphone-only customers.

Just because my 65-year-old dad has an iPhone now doesn’t mean he will use it the way I do. But you know what … he sure sends a whole lot more text messages to me.

Highest-Possible Visibility: Remember how I said that 97 percent of SMS messages are read within four minutes? Well, that means that 97 percent of your SMS messages are being read—period. When was the last time your email open rate was over 90 percent? I’ll let you figure that one out on your own.

Now I’m not saying “Stop using email.” Email is super powerful and has its place. But SMS offers you a new, quick, high-converting way to connect with your customers that no channel can match.

Highly Targeted: Because buying lists is a no-no when it comes to SMS, you have to build your database of loyal customers. Being a permission-based marketing vehicle, your customers have to opt in to receiving these messages from you.

Yes, that means they essentially raised their hands and said, “I’d like you to connect with me on my most personal device.” The next best thing in my mind is if your customer invites you over for dinner. Mmmmm …

Cost Effective, Considering the Return: For all you marketing folk, this means Return on Investment (ROI).

SMS is way more affordable than you think. Many of you still spend a good part of your budget on direct mail. Again, it has its place in your marketing mix. But look at some of the costs associated with direct mail: You have postage, shipping, mailing lists, printing, packaging/fulfillment etc.

Direct mail depends on your volume. But, at the end of the day, you could be spending 20 cents to more than a dollar per piece. SMS could cost you pennies per message.

As a small business, a Yellow Pages ad could cost you up to $4,000 per year. Yes, people (especially older demographics) do still reach for their Yellow Pages when they need a business in a hurry, but it offers little to no engagement or tracking.

Depending on the size of your small businesses, incorporating SMS into your monthly budget could run you $25 to a few hundred bucks a month. The level of return will far outweigh your older, traditional media vehicles.

OK, so you’re sold on adding mobile to your marketing mix. Congratulations, it was a wise decision, trust me.

Here are 5 ideas for you to get started with SMS this year.

Mobilize Your Loyalty Program: Begin building your list of mobile numbers and send timely, relevant messaging to your customers. This can include special mobile-only offers, promotion opportunities, sales, new product or service offerings.

The more you can personalize these messages, the better. Many of you may already have some sort of loyalty program in place. I’m not asking you to do something totally new. Just add SMS as a component of the loyalty program to bring loyal customers back with relevant, high-value messaging.

Mobilize Your Coupons: Target, jcpenney and Bed Bath & Beyond are great examples of this. Each and every week, these businesses send mobile coupons to their mobile databases. It’s fast, cost effective and convenient for the customers who prefer to receive these offers to their phones. They just bring their phones to the store and redeem their mobile coupons at the point of purchase.

Eliminate No-Shows: Does your businesses depend on filling appointment slots? Doctors, Lawyers, Salons, etc. rely on filling appointments, but what happens when your customer misses an appointment?

Let me guess, you don’t charge for no-shows? Some estimates state that missed appointments for a single physician can be as much as $150,000 in lost revenue and additional labor costs. Multi-physician offices are even more drastic, estimating no-shows in a single year resulting in losses of over $1 million.

So how can SMS eliminate no-shows?

Why not send an appointment reminder via SMS within an hour or two prior to the appointment? Include a number for those who have to cancel. Better yet, let them reply to the message so that it updates your appointment software.

Oh no, someone canceled! Send out a message to your database to fill that last-minute appointment.

If you’re a salon, restaurant or massage therapist, you can send a message to your customer SMS list offering a savings opportunity to the one that fills that appointment slot.

Add SMS and stop losing money due to no-shows.

Engage Customers With Giveaways: Sweepstakes and giveaways have been great ways to build your SMS list in the early stages.

Offer up one big prize and let your customers text in to enter. Give away a monthly prize and give customers a reason to stay on your list.

Not only do sweepstakes entice customers to opt-in, but everyone loves winning prizes. Is giving away one or two free services a month worth generating hundreds of new opt-ins to communicate with moving forward?

Learn About Your Customers With Polls and Surveys: Did one of your loyal customers just purchase from you? A quick SMS message could let them provide valuable feedback on their experience.

SMS is a two-way interactive tool that lets customers provide feedback just by replying to your messages.

Are you thinking about releasing a new product or service? Are you a restaurant and looking to add a new menu item? Poll your audience to get their feedback to help make smarter decisions.

Bonus point: Tie a sweepstakes to your survey and award a lucky customer with a prize of some sort to encourage participation.

Now it’s on you.

These are just a few ways you could quickly begin to incorporate SMS marketing into your business. It’s important to remember that SMS without a strategy or goal will lead to poor results.

Make sure you understand why you’re adding SMS and determine measurements for success to continually optimize your efforts.

The trick is to not re-invent the wheel. You should look to mobilize initiatives you already have in place.

You don’t need to create a separate marketing initiative. You’re already doing what you need to do. Now mobilize it.

Overwhelmed by the Complexity of Mobile Marketing? Start Here

When talking to small business owners,  I hear a lot of reasons as to why they haven’t added mobile to their marketing mix … These excuses illustrate why it’s important to educate folks on the benefits and use cases of mobile and to demystify how it all works in order to eliminate the fear and uncertainty that prevent businesses from moving forward with mobile.

When talking to small business owners, I hear a lot of reasons as to why they haven’t added mobile to their marketing mix …

“I don’t have time to manage one more thing … ”

“I’m not sure where to start … ”

“I feel like my competition has already done that … ”

“I can’t keep up with how fast the technology is advancing … ”

“I can’t afford to use mobile for my small business … ”

These excuses illustrate why it’s important to educate folks on the benefits and use cases of mobile and to demystify how it all works in order to eliminate the fear and uncertainty that prevent businesses from moving forward with mobile.

As those businesses begin to understand that mobile is just a piece of the puzzle they become less confused and you hear more of …

“OK, well. There are so many options. So how can it work for MY business?”

Well, I can tell you that if you’re asking yourself that question, you’re already two steps ahead of most business owners.

And you know what? It’s OK to be confused. The truth is, it’s overwhelming.

Mobile websites, responsive design, SMS marketing, MMS marketing, mobile optimized email, QR Codes, location-based services, augmented reality, smarpthone apps, tablets, NFC, the mobile wallet, mobile commerce …

Holy smokes!

Warning: If you try to jump into all of these areas at once, you will most definitely fail.

If you break down your mobile strategy into smaller parts, integrating one aspect at a time, it will become less overwhelming and you’ll be in a position for a successful mobile program without disrupting the rest of your business.

Remember … mobile is just one part of your marketing strategy. Take it one step at a time:

1. Start by planning how it will play a part into your existing initiatives. Mobile is the most dependent marketing channel to-date. You can’t view it as a solo initiative.

Plan accordingly and make sure it will play nice with your other channels, meaning there is one voice and one message. Chasing the “latest shiny object” thinking it will save your business will get you nowhere fast.

2. Focus on what works and what will delivers results to your business.
You’ll most likely start with your mobile site.

The most important thing to work on is making sure your mobile website is friendly. You’ve probably heard people say that having a mobile-friendly website will give you a competitive advantage.

To some degree, this is true—if your competitors are slow to execute. But, to be honest, a mobile-friendly website is now a cost of doing business.

As a small business owner you’re foolish if you don’t have a mobile friendly site. Let’s say you own a restaurant … A recent Google study stated that 88 percent of total search volume for the keyword “restaurant” comes from mobile devices. Do you own a bar? About 97 percent of search volume for the keyword “bar” is coming from mobile devices.

In fact, “restaurants near me” receives 10,000 searches a month from desktops. Guess what? It’s four times more on mobile devices.

This is the reason that you see restaurants and bars listed in the top of search results in Google from your mobile device but not from your desktop.

Small business owners seem slow to adopt mobile. Surprisingly, a restaurant study stated that 95 percent of independent restaurants do not have a mobile website, and only about half of chain restaurants have some sort of mobile site.

This means a lot of unhappy mobile searchers and no repeat visits.

3. You see, mobile searchers have a different intent than those on a desktop. They are looking for different things. When it comes to local locations like a restaurant or bar they most often look for your location, hours, directions and how to contact you.

4. What’s the cost of not offering these folks a mobile friendly version?
That’s easy … a whole lot of sales.

The same Google study found that 94 percent of U.S.-based smartphone users look for local information on their phones and 90 percent take action as a result, such as making a purchase or contacting the business.

90 percent take action …

Read that again.

Basically, if your site is not mobile friendly when a prospective customer is looking for you, the odds of you losing a sale are close to 100 percent.

5. Speaking of being more “findable” … If you list your business in the various directories AND location-based services, such as Google Places, Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook, etc., you’ll put yourself in a better position to be found. It’s like adding your listing to the Yellow Pages.

6. OK. So you built a mobile-friendly website. Now what?

Your mobile website is what many would consider a “pull” channel. This means that it doesn’t offer you the level of outreach that other channels do, but allows you to be right there when your customer needs you.

So next time, we’re going to dive into the second aspect of your mobile strategy to put in place. It’s actually the most overlooked part of mobile, in my opinion.

Seeing as how you are going to start mobilizing your website right now, you have time to prepare for the second part of your small business mobile strategy … mobile-friendly email.

Building a Mobile Presence

Mobile is a revolution. The power of the personal mobile device has created the potential for businesses to build stronger and more mutually valuable relationships with their customers. Nothing gets a marketer closer to their customer than mobile. Many marketers realize this, at least instinctively. They know that a mobile relationship has to be invited, built upon and cultivated. However, either due to lack of experience or training many marketers don’t know how to do this.

Mobile is a revolution. The power of the personal mobile device has created the potential for businesses to build stronger and more mutually valuable relationships with their customers. Nothing gets a marketer closer to their customer than mobile.

Many marketers realize this, at least instinctively. They know that a mobile relationship has to be invited, built upon and cultivated. However, either due to lack of experience or training, many marketers don’t know how to do this.

Today’s brand imperative is to include mobile in the marketing mix. A key element is to establish a mobile presence. Marketers leveraging mobile may use any number of the elements at their disposal to engage, entertain, enrich and delight consumers. These include:

  • mobile websites;
  • mobile applications;
  • SMS, MMS and email messaging;
  • voice;
  • mobile enrichments, elements and experiences;
  • mobile search;
  • location-aware plug-ins;
  • mobile social media;
  • mobile advertising (from text to banner to rich media);
  • mobile commerce;
  • response codes;
  • personalization and privacy management tools;
  • optimized mobile content (e.g., text, images, video);
  • mobile access points;
  • feature phones;
  • smartphones;
  • tablet computers and other connected devices;
  • use of traditional media; and
  • market verticals.

The versatility and capability of the channel means that building out mobile campaigns could employ any combination of the above. However, conducting a campaign that simply leverages one or more mobile elements for a finite period of time is simply a mobile tactic, not a mobile presence. It shouldn’t be considered core to the marketer’s strategy.

To develop a strategy, consider mobile from every side and dimension. In developing a strategic marketing plan, brands can no longer just rely on linear models. Marketing today is a multidimensional problem set requiring nonlinear solutions and thinking.

Without a strategy to hold these elements together, your mobile engagement could suffer. One key to a mobile strategy is where you’ll establish your mobile presence. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to building a mobile presence. Just as mobile is a personal choice for the consumer, the right combination of the mobile elements outlined above will vary based on particular marketing objectives, firm resources and customer needs.

You may not need mobile apps or mobile advertising may not be the first thing you start with. You must figure out the mix and sequence that will meet the needs of your brand. One of the first steps in building a mobile presence is ensuring that you have a mobile website that functions well on mobile devices in terms of form, function and content. These aspects of a mobile website should complement a marketer’s objectives and industry.

For example, a retail site may focus on providing consumers with product information, discounts, loyalty-building programs, store locations and maybe even direct commerce options. Whichever combination of these services a marketer employs, they need to get it right by making the features accessible and easy to use. A recent Limelight Networks’ study found that 20 percent of consumers may complete their research efforts but vow to never return to the site. An additional 18 percent will stop immediately and move on to another site. By not creating an effective mobile presence, marketers are clearly losing business.

Repurposing your site for mobile may feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be. In fact, being able to envision how your site reads or works as a mobile site has become much easier. There are several tools available that can help you build out your mobile web presence. One such tool was launched last month when Google released GoMo. By entering your website’s URL into HowToGoMo.com, you can see what the site looks like on a mobile device. GoMo goes a step further, making suggestions and showing alternatives that will help you make adjustments to ensure your site is mobile optimized.

GoMo also gives examples of effective and engaging mobile websites to show what’s possible. It also offers a selection of leading mobile site developers. GoMo is an extraordinary resource to help you see what your customers see when accessing your site on their mobile devices, including the challenges you face in making your site as accessible and useful as possible.

Yet however critical it is, having an effective mobile website is just one of many mobile tactics. You must consider all the mobile touchpoints listed above. See how they integrate with your objectives at every stage of the consumer consideration funnel, then adjust your execution based on your needs and those of your customers.

In the end, creating a mobile presence is about providing a better user experience across all channels to help consumers engage with your brand at any state of the consideration funnel from any device or location. In the mobile marketplace, mobile presence is essentially the front door of a business. Making it accessible, useful and easy to approach isn’t just an added service or a smart business tactic that’s essential to effective customer engagement, it’s a business imperative in today’s mobile world.

The 4 Pillars of Mobile Strategy

Your brand must have a well-thought-out plan that captures data from all interactions it has with each and every customer so that every customer interaction is contextually relevant. If this element is missing from a brand’s marketing plan, it will be severely limited — customer engagement and profitability will be hampered.

I recently spoke with the team over at Merkle in order to better understand what it takes to successfully embrace mobile marketing. According to Bruce J. Hershey II, mobile marketing strategist at Merkle, brand marketers must identify where their brand stands within the mobile ecosystem before moving on to specific mobile tactics and campaigns. Bruce emphasized that in order to achieve results with mobile marketing, it’s imperative that brand marketers develop and execute against a comprehensive marketing strategy that includes mobile rather than simply focusing on mobile capabilities in isolation. Doing so will allow your brand to stay focused on its overarching marketing strategy as you weave mobile or any other digital channel into the mix.

I asked Bruce what it takes to build a mobile-enabled marketing strategy. “Without a reliable and proven framework to use as a guide, developing and successfully executing a marketing strategy that includes mobile and achieves its desired and expected results can be a difficult thing to achieve,” he replied. According to Bruce, an effective mobile-enabled marketing strategy must account for everything, literally. You must understand the following:

  • your customers, the environment they live in and what they need;
  • your brand, including its objectives, resources, technical capabilities (both with traditional and mobile marketing), experience, and commitment to marketing and mobile at every level within the organization;
  • your existing strategy to meet your brand’s goals and objectives;
  • the technology that will enable your brand to implement that strategy; and
  • the media channels (e.g., print, email, television, radio, social networks, etc.) at your disposal that can be leveraged to reach and engage consumers.

I also spoke with Chris Wayman, vice president and general manager of mobile practice at Merkle. Chris emphasized that in today’s digital age another element to a successful mobile strategy is needed, namely connecting mobile data to your customer database. A CRM strategy helps businesses derive valuable customer insights by looking at all offline and online touchpoints throughout the customer journey.

In other words, your brand must have a well-thought-out plan that captures data from all interactions it has with each and every customer so that every customer interaction is contextually relevant. Chris noted that if this element is missing from a brand’s marketing plan, it will be severely limited — customer engagement and profitability will be hampered.

Merkle has developed a framework to help organizations build out their mobile plan. The framework steps through a process that helps organizations build out their plan along four key pillars:

  1. mobile audit and strategic road map;
  2. media integration of mobile tactics;
  3. mobile marketing tactics; and
  4. customer database integration.

By leveraging these four pillars and a proven approach to developing mobile-enabled marketing strategies, Merkle has found that its clients are able to properly integrate mobile marketing into their digital marketing plan, produce impressive list growth results, reduce uncertainty in the development and execution phases of their marketing plans, and generate predictable results for long-term, sustainable company success.

To learn more about what it takes to develop a mobile-enabled marketing strategy, join us for the following webinar on May 25: How Mobile Coupons Drive Revenue and Build a Mobile Database for Men’s Wearhouse’s K&G Superstore.