What Small Business Needs to Do to Get Ready for Mobile Marketing Now

We’ve been talking about the coming of mobile marketing for a long time now. I remember talking about it when I was doing work for one of first PCS carriers, Aerial Communications (now owned by T-Mobile), back in 1995 of so.mobile version of blog

Mobile marketing has taken far longer to evolve than people imagined, but I believe we are on the doorstep of an evolution in marketing that will rival social media in terms of impact.

First off, what is mobile marketing really? To me it’s not a hot trend driven by some new killer technology so much as a realization of the fact that more people have mobile devices than land lines and those devices have evolved to contain the power of usability of multiple devices, including desktop computers. According to industry source dotMobi four mobile devices are purchased today for every personal computer purchased.

My current mobile device is a phone, email client, web browser, digital camera, video camera, digital recorder, music player, alarm clock, navigation system, compass, calendar, to-do list, flashlight, book reader, hard drive, guitar tuner, and four-track recorder.

People are using mobile devices for everything, including surfing and shopping for local businesses, products, and services. Marketers must now come to grips with the inclusion of this device as one of the considerations whether it’s to broadcast or be found.

In this coming year the buzz around mobile marketing will get very strong as big brands rush to create text coupons, iPhone apps, and offerings based on your phone’s current location, but most small businesses can play in the mobile game by simply making these subtle changes.

Read and learn

The first step to getting involved in mobile marketing is getting educated. These sites are a great place to start.

Search Engines

Bookmark the mobile versions of the major search engines and start learning how differently they return and display search results. This is an important area as mobile SEO will differ for now from traditional SEO and understanding the differences is a part of the game.


Mobile marketing may be more important to some industries or target market demographics initially than others. Restaurants and anyone trying to attract customers under 30, for example, have better jump in with both feet, but eventually the local accounting firm will need to master mobile marketing as well.

One of the first steps is to get a sense of how many people today are visiting and viewing your web sites using a mobile device. There are many things that can be done to address the needs of this audience once you start to learn about them.

Mobile web analytics packages have become popular in recent years.

  • Google Analytics – This free tool does the job to some degree if you set-up a customer segment for a list of mobile browsers or screen resolutions associated with mobile devices
  • Mobilytics is a free tool that can track mobile site traffic and web application usage.
  • Bango – a paid tool that boasts the best accuracy and is a leader in this rather new field

Mobile Friendly Sites

While mobile coupons and location based offers may seem far off for your local small business, the fact that a growing percentage of web surfers use their mobile devices to view your web site is here today. Creating a mobile version of your web site must become a priority.

There are a number of ways to address this task. You can work with a designer to create a smaller, simpler site that involves mobile standards or you can employ one of the growing number of bridge tools that can convert your site. For now, the mobile site converter tools look very promising as a way to get a mobile version of your site immediately and also include some of the necessary SEO, sitemaps and analytics at the same time.

  • MoFuse – this paid service can convert your entire site and put it on a custom domain such as m.ducttapemarketing.com. The good news is that you can get your blog converted for free.
  • MOBIFY – Another converter that offers a nice list of features for a monthly fee
  • EverywhereIGo – Nice set of features including form building and SMS functionality
  • WordPress Mobile Pack – Plugin that offers mobile functions for WordPress blogs

Tools like the ones listed above are a great solution right now, but I suspect, as mobile sites become the norm, web design firms and open source plugins will create mobile versions of sites as part of a standard package.

Auto detection – A word about mobile domains. Once you create a mobile site with its own URL you will want to make sure your server determines when a mobile browser in visiting your primary site URL and automatically redirects it to your mobile site. This way you won’t need to promote two separate URLs. This is standard in most mobile site converters, but you may need to add some code to the head of your main site to facilitate this step. Here’s some bonus reading on Mobile Site Detection.

Text Message Campaigns and Ads

Text messages get read – depending on the source, research suggests it’s over 90%. So, at some point, small businesses will need to embrace text message (also called SMS) campaigns. This new frontier will eventually suffer fatigue in ways the email enjoys currently, but done right, it is a powerful new tool. One very simple principle to get started – this is not another broadcast channel, it’s a way to offer useful information to people who want to receive it.

Choosing the right vendor and strategy is key to your success. Offering coupons, Text2Win, and SMS auto responder campaigns are a few simple ways to start building a Text Message database for future use.

  • Clickatell – whole business communications solutions using SMS
  • Mobivity – focuses on use of short code messaging – ie: Text DuctTape to win
  • Mobireply – very simple text message auto-responder
  • AdMob – offers mobile advertising opportunities for small businesses and web publishers

Mobile Apps for Smallest Business

Eventually you may feel the overwhelming need to create your very own mobile applications like those you see in the iTunes app store. You can hire a programmer to create a custom app or check out one of these low-cost simply builders. As users choose mobile apps over web based sites this is a tool that many businesses must consider even for content that is available on their main site.

Local Directories

One final thought and plea for you to get your company listed with the local search directories. A great deal of local search on the mobile device (ie: people looking for a local business to buy from) will happen around the local search directories that are powered with click to call, maps, directions, and coupons. This may be the highest priority if you haven’t yet claimed this real estate.

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  • http://www.strategy6.com/blog shoupe

    John, this is a really great post. Two weeks ago I had a client ask me about how to make their site mobile-friendly. That was the first time I'd ever had someone ask me that and I'm sure it won't be the last. Ironically, I recently wrote a blog post predicting that more and more business owners will be concerned about creating mobile-friendly sites in 2010. In my opinion, mobile-sites may be as important as SEO in the near future.

  • http://tripleodeon.com jamesgpearce

    Thanks for the WordPress Mobile Pack namecheck… if you or any of your readers have any feedback or further ideas for it, don't hesitate to let me know.

    Agree with you that small business mobility is about to take off an be HUGE. Nice to be here and involved in it!

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    James – and thanks to you for showing up with that great offer of service.

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    It certainly will take on a much bigger role as more and more people use their phone as their only computing device.

  • http://twitter.com/WebsterJ Webster Jorgensen

    Google's recent My Favorite Place's initiative with scannable QR codes should be a big eye opener for any small retail businesses.


  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    Maybe, but even my most geekiest friends don't know or care what a QR scanner is – will Aunt Bettie use it when she goes shopping? I think it was a nice publicity stunt, but does suggest Google's intent for local.

  • http://twitter.com/EzTexting Josh @ Ez

    For SMBs (and many other larger companies too) SMS Marketing is the first thing to do, for a number of reasons.

    First, no other mobile marketing medium offers the reach of SMS. 4 billion texts are now sent a day in the US, so clearly consumers have embraced SMS. Second, the mobile web, while growing, is still very early along. Mobile apps are great, but the iPhone, now the most popular phone in the US, still only has 3% of the market. The other big factors for an SMB are cost, and ease of deployment. SMS marketing, at least for now, wins those categories, hands down. A small, local company can deploy an SMS marketing campaign in minutes, for less than $50 – though the cost does increase if your campaigns are popular.

    Of course Ez Texting (http://www.eztexting.com) is a provider of SMS marketing services to over 50,000 clients, so do your own research – we think you'll reach the same conclusion!

  • http://twitter.com/WebsterJ Webster Jorgensen

    Aunt Bettie also wouldn't use a mobile site, SMS or mobile apps.

    I wouldn't right off the Favorite Places initiative. Smart businesses are prompting their best customers to interact with the QR codes in a fun way (e.g. oh you have an iphone, well check this out), and have received additional local ratings and improved SEO performance in Google Map results. If a business goes from no ratings in Google Maps to 5, 10, or 15, they will receive a sizable improvement in local SEO performance. Highly relevant to any store with customers in the 18 – 34 demo.

  • databasewatchdog

    First off – I really enjoyed this most – especially for the ton of resources that you've provided. This is the best collection of mobile resources in one place that I've seen.

    I'd like to provide a somewhat contrasting viewpoint. As you mention, mobile marketing is taking a while to get here. Every year about this time articles start to appear about how this year is the year that mobile finally takes off. Well, each year, mobile does get a bit more penetration, and a bit larger percentage of Internet visits.

    Maybe my head is buried in the sand, but I still don't think mobile has quite arrived. The percentage of visits to my sites from mobile users tends to be about 1-3 percent. A recent study by the online ad network Chitika showed that 1.5% of total ad network impressions are from mobile users.

    I think most small business owners can afford to wait a bit longer before going “all in” on mobile marketing. The penetration is just so low, that I think most should continue to focus their efforts on optimizing their websites and ad campaigns for conventional web browsers – while at the same time monitoring mobile marketing as it evolves.

    An obvious exception to my strategy would be restaurants who I think should all get involved in opt-in text messaging campaigns immediately.

  • vlbeta

    Great summary post John. Once people get past the idea that mobile sites or iPhone apps are company accessories and start focusing on the function, usability, and ROI possibilities, I think the mobile space will really take off. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg so far, especially with SMS.

    Warmest Regards,
    Vitaliy Levit
    Recess Mobile

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    OK, I'll back off a bit on that – the reviews angle is one that I preach often and could be a nice way to get some miles out of it. I've proudly displayed my Favorite Places decal in my office window :)

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    First off – thanks!

    Yes, I'm cautious on this front as well, but I'm am convinced it's coming so moving ahead of the pack now might make sense – my blog is running in the 6% range and SMS campaigns are easier than ever.

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    Yes, tip of the iceberg indeed – is this the year we see mobile take over the social media buzz?

  • http://twitter.com/WebsterJ Webster Jorgensen

    Thanks. I agree that without promoting it the Favorite Places thing isn't worth much. I got the promotion ideas from Matt McGee's blog. Here's his full post entitled: “You’re a Favorite Place? Now Promote It”


  • http://www.strategy6.com/blog shoupe

    I agree that mobile isn't there yet, but according to MediaPost web-enabled smart-phones will out-ship the desktop PC market by the end of 2012. That means that by 2012 most new Internet connections will be from smart-phones. So if a small business gets their site redesigned in 2010 and it isn't friendly with a smart-phone's web browser, in less than two years the site won't be compatible with the fastest growing web browsers on the market.

    Even though the mobile web hasn't “arrived” we should still account for its expected growth right now.

  • vlbeta

    I think you'll see it take over indirectly. Mobile is becoming such a powerful trend in general, utility > marketing, etc. Check out the recent post about Jack Dorsey's Square and the disruptive nature of mobile: http://gigaom.com/2009/12/01/jack-dorsey-on-squ

    I have a comment towards the bottom as well highlighting my thoughts on mobile disruptive technology.

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    Josh, Great argument for SMS and Ez Texting belongs on the short list of service providers for small business. The small biz owner needs to start seeing success stories from plumbers, accountants and insurance agencies to get really excited about it being more than a pizza coupon delivery tool.

  • http://twitter.com/EzTexting Josh @ Ez

    Thanks again for starting an important discussion. As our CEO says, 'We love educating customers about what exactly mobile marketing is, how they can use it and showing them what kind of results they can expect.'

    Also, I definitely agree about small biz owners needing to see examples. We have some case studies at Ez Texting @ http://www.eztexting.com/case_studies.html, as well as a couple great retail case studies at our sister company Club Texting @ http://www.clubtexting.com/text-messaging-clien

    Another great resource, as you pointed out is, Mobile Marketer. They have tons of case studies @ http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/resources/cas

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  • cindyroberts

    Are you mobile?

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    que buen articulo listo para funcionar en latinoamerica asi que pilas..

  • http://twitter.com/mutlu82 Murat Mutlu

    90% of text messages get read…well you don't who its from until you click read most of the time so it's a bit deceiving

    1 New Message – Read? Yes. Oh it's a ad.

    Question is, how many people would read the message knowing it was a ad?

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    Um . . . right now, yes

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    Fair statement, and note that I suggest it could become like email but right now text messages are getting people's attention – the key like all things in marketing is that the ad should go to someone who wants to receive it.

  • susanweinschenk

    Hi John,

    Thanks for the thought provoking post. In the US we are slower to get on the mobile band wagon so to speak, than other parts of the world. But I'm sure it's going to increase.

    I am wondering if you know anything about MotherApp… they do mobile applications and they supposedly have a service where they turn your blog into an easy to read mobile format. I just heard about them, but don't know much more than that about them.

    FYI, I went to the Mobilytics site and if you press on the “Get it For Free” button it says that they aren't taking on any more free accounts. Maybe too many of your readers went there like I did!

  • http://www.bvminternetmarketing.com/ Top Seo Company

    Thanks buddy Great post & I like it.

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    Susan – US is behind, mainly because we had alternative technologies hanging on to the those wires if you know what I mean. I remember talking with some teenagers from Sweden ten years ago telling me how much they used SMS.

    I've written about and read good things about MotherApp, but have not used the service – although I plan to check it out soon.

    Thanks for the heads up on Mobilytics – also look at MoFuse for a free mobile version of your blog – scroll way down the page to find that button.

  • KellySWil

    Thank you for this great article. It gives me the jumping off point that I needed.

  • http://www.Spidvid.com Jeremy Campbell

    Some great information in there John, the best post I've seen on this lacking topic. I can't believe that for every computer sold there are 4 mobile devices sold, obviously mobile will be a hot spot for opportunities in 2010.

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    Thanks Jeremy – I think it's time to cover this more for the small business, we've been talking about getting out soda pop from a machine with our phone, and somewhere along the way mobile just crept into everything we do, not futuristic stuff anymore – I'll be hitting this topic hard this year.

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    Awesome Kelly – jump off and go for it!

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  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Great post and absolutely super resource! On this side of the pond, businesses particularly small businesses have been slow to get on board – perhaps 2010 is the year?

  • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

    It's funny, but for all the hype about social media I am still dragging a lot of small businesses to blogging.

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    :) That is so true! I think I read a recent report that said approx 60% still don't blog. Time remains a big barrier.

  • alfredmarteen

    According to the study, the most important tool for small businesses to succeed in 2010 is search engine marketing, while email marketing, public relations and social media cited as crucial for success.
    23.8% of all small businesses reported that search engine marketing was the tool most needed for their business to succeed in 2010.

  • http://www.indevia.com/small-business-accounting Eric

    The evolution of Mobile as a marketing channel will be fun to watch over the next few years. Definitely the new “Black.”