Submitted by: Meridith Rohrbaugh, Managing Partner, Mobicize

By now, we’ve all seen the commercials, read the print ads and heard the radio promotions for some type of mobile marketing campaign.  They’re everywhere.  Whether it’s Coke asking us to text (TXT) a keyword (i.e. “Zero”) to a shortcode (i.e. 733774) to win tickets to an Eagles football game, McDonalds sending coupons directly to our mobile phones, or Toys ‘R Us alerting us about weekly sales, the big brands have realized the value of mobile.  But should small businesses be leveraging these strategies, too?

The facts are undeniable.  By the end of this year more than fifty-percent of all mobile devices sold in the US will be smartphones, and within the next two years more people will access the web from their mobile devices than desktops and laptops combined.  More than 70 percent of the 285 million mobile users in the US text daily, and mobile apps are being developed by the hundreds of thousands and downloaded by the billions.  Mobile is no longer a channel that businesses can ignore.

So, how can small businesses get in the game?

There are a number of mobile strategies that can be implemented that are not cost prohibitive.  SMS (or txt) marketing campaigns can be easy to set up, manage, and won’t break the bank to implement.  These campaigns can take the form of mobile coupons, loyalty programs, instant win, sweepstakes or any number of tactics that engage customers and reward them for doing business with you.  Depending upon the number of customers that opt-in and the frequency of your campaigns, the monthly investment can be as little as a few hundred dollars.

Another cost-effective mobile strategy is the creation of a mobile-optimized website.  Consumers are increasingly on the go, and accessing the web though their mobile phone is becoming the most convenient way for them to find information.  However, websites built for use on desktop or laptop computers are not designed for mobile devices.  When viewed from a mobile device, traditional websites load very slowly, are difficult to read and navigate and require time and patience to find what you’re looking for.

Mobile websites are tailor-made presentations optimized for mobile browsers and correctly configured to deliver the right user experience no matter what device or operating system.  Mobile websites don’t require their own URL, and can pull content directly from your website to ensure continuity of information.  Depending on size and complexity, pricing for mobile websites can start at a few thousand dollars.

Right now the mobile landscape is still wide open and the early adopters of this technology will be best poised to reap the rewards.  But remember, the primary goal is to keep your audience in mind when developing your mobile strategy.  Mobile marketing shouldn’t be something entirely new; it should just be an extension of what you’re already doing.