Should Small Businesses Adopt Mobile Marketing in 2013?

Only 1 in every 10 small business in the UK believes that going mobile is necessary.

Based on the results of a survey among small business owners commissioned by software developer and publisher Serif in 2012, 74% of small businesses’ websites are not yet optimized for mobile devices.

If you belong to the 74%, then you’re missing out on a lot. There is a well-documented increase in mobile Internet use. Statistics presented at the Westminster eForum in 2012 showed that search queries conducted on mobile phones in 3 major industries increased significantly:

Entertainment-related searches increased to from 10% in 2011 to 19% in 2012
Retail-related searches rose to 16% (from 10% in 2011)
Travel-related searches went from 11% in 2011 to 19% in 2012

With the number of mobile phones exceeding the actual human population in the United Kingdom, and with the sales of smartphones expected to continuously grow, small businesses are in the best position to finally switch to mobile marketing.

But what is mobile marketing and should you really use it for your business?

An Overview of Mobile Marketing

According to the Mobile Marketing Association, mobile marketing is “a set of practices that enables organizations to communicate and engage with their audience in an interactive and relevant manner through any mobile device or network.”

Simply put, mobile marketing is a way for businesses to get their target customers interested in their products and/or services through mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablet PCs. Businesses can do this through text messages, mobile-optimized websites, mobile advertising, and email.

Though it sounds too high-tech for typical consumers, people are starting to make actual purchases using these mobile devices. In fact, in 2012 28% of people in the UK bought something using their phones.

It’s safe to assume that as mobile devices become more prevalent, and as their costs go down, these numbers will increase.

If this isn’t enough reason, then know that experts, CEO’s, marketers, and executives in the mobile industry predict only good things for the mobile market this year.

Despite the positive forecast on mobile marketing, many small businesses still have a lot of catching up to do. As recent as November 2012, the Lloyds Banking Group released a report that a over one-third of UK SMEs still do not have a website.

Those who do, often have websites that aren’t mobile-friendly. Despite heavy mobile internet use among smartphone owners (as much as 84% of them) 74% of UK small businesses didn’t have smartphone-friendly websites, much less optimize for tablet PCs (86% didn’t).

This can be attributed to the perception that mobile marketing can be expensive or very hard to do.

Spending on Mobile Marketing: Is It Worth It?

It’s worth knowing that 52% of 122 marketers surveyed by Luth Research say that mobile marketing brings in more ROI than traditional marketing methods because they felt that it increased brand awareness (39%), attracted new customers (39%), retained customers (37%), increased average spend (35%) and purchase frequency (30%), and even win back customers (11%).

The Challenges of Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing can be challenging. Because mobile devices vary, mobile marketing campaigns can be restricted due to differences in operating systems and screen sizes.

Navigation can also pose a challenge. Users may find it difficult to check out ads on their smartphones.

Another thing to note is privacy issue. People value their privacy, so any campaigns targeted to smartphones and tablet devices have to be carefully planned to avoid unnecessarily annoying customers.

How to Plan a Profitable Mobile Marketing Strategy

The success of a mobile marketing strategy depends largely on careful planning. To get started, here are few guidelines to follow:

Know your market

Is your business geared towards a demographic that uses mobile devices all the time? Is mobile internet access something that your audience actually uses?

It’s important to note that most (71%) mobile internet users are younger people aged 16 to 24 years old. So if your business caters to the younger population, there’s promise in utilizing mobile marketing.

Be familiar with your online presence and modify when necessary

Make sure you have a website first before you try newer marketing methods. Or if you already have one, check how it’s viewed in mobile devices. Don’t be part of the 40% of UK small business owners who had no clue about how their websites appeared on mobile devices. Check for any improvements that can be made.

Go local

Claim your Google Places presence. Submit your website to local search engines. 40% of people who use mobile phones when searching the web have local intent. You’ll get a lot of exposure this way, especially from people who are ready to buy from a brick and mortar store.

Social media + mobile marketing

Integrate social media and mobile marketing. In 2010, mobile social networking use increased to 55 million (according to comScore’s MobiLens study). With that many users, small businesses can reach out to more people via mobile social media.

Mobile marketing is seen to do well this 2013. And based on the data provided above, it’s something all small business owners need to heavily consider.

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