Why Mobile Shouldn't Scare Small Business Marketers

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Darren Clark, YP
Darren Clark, YP

According to comScore, more than 57 percent of U.S. consumers own a smartphone. Not only is our country increasingly leading mobile lifestyles, but we're on the brink of becoming a “mobile-first” economy. In other words, a mobile device is our first choice for accessing information. For businesses, this means more opportunity to directly engage, communicate, and transact with customers.

The opportunities offered by mobile, however, are not just relevant to big brands, but also to small businesses that can increase the effectiveness of their direct marketing efforts by tapping into mobile.

With tighter budgets than their big, national competitors, investing in a mobile campaign may seem daunting to small business owners or marketer. However, reaching smartphone users may be more accessible than they may think. A few basic principles can help SMB owners and marketers better approach a mobile presence and marketing campaign like an enterprise CMO.

Here are five tips for SMBs looking to go mobile:

1. Keep focused on your target audience

For many small businesses, their local community—both locals and visitors—is their target audience. Luckily mobile offers a great way to reach potential customers in a close proximity. Data from the geo-targeted YP Local Mobile Display Network uncovered that the closer users are to a business, the more likely they are to click on a mobile banner ad for that business. However, there's a sweet spot, about 1 to 2 miles, that yields the highest engagement.

Tip: Businesses should not forget basic details in their online business listings, including a physical address. This will help them appear in search results when a smartphone user searches for businesses near their current location.

2. Give customers an easy way to get in touch

Like any smart direct marketing campaign, businesses must give customers a call to action. For smartphone users, this means making it easy for them to contact a business. While this seems like a no brainer, it could mean a lost customer if something as simple but essential as a phone number is missing from a business listing. Same goes for an incomplete address or even business hours. This is especially critical for businesses that service an urgent need. According to activity on the YP Local Ad Network, businesses offering car rental, auto parts, bus service, and pest control are among those that have a higher likelihood of a phone call placed after clicking a business listing.

Tip: Make sure your online business listing has a phone number. It's as simple as that.

3. Smartphone users aren't necessarily on the go

We know location-based targeting is a major consideration for mobile marketers, but mobile lifestyles are changing search behavior. We've seen growth of searches in categories that are not related to proximity or urgency, which were previous factors that typically led to a mobile search. In 2012, categories like industrial manufacturing and party planning experienced significant year-over-year mobile search growth (105% and 90%, respectively). This indicates that consumers are opting to make their mobile device their primary means of search whether their need is immediate or not.

Tip: Small businesses who think no one is looking for them while on a smartphone should think twice and make sure they're creating, or maintaining, a presence beyond the desktop.

4. Don't get distracted by mobile

I know, all this talk about how important mobile is and now a tip to avoid mobile distraction. While mobile is definitely not an advertising fad, it's important for businesses to remember that mobile marketing is just one component of an advertising or direct marketing solution. Think about how to attract and maintain customers any day of the year, on any device, and create a campaign that matches customers' unique needs.

Tip: Businesses should think about how mobile fits into their overall marketing campaign and not simply replace what they're doing today.

5. Go where your potential customers already are

Like pizza joints that send a pizza mascot into crowded plazas to pass out coupons, small businesses should promote themselves where there are already lots of consumers. Building a branded mobile website is a lot more realistic for small businesses today than it may have been a few years ago. In addition to building their own mobile site, small businesses can team up with online ad networks to reach a huge smartphone audience across various apps and mobile websites for minimal budget.

Tip: Tap into local online ad networks that cater to smartphone users searching for products and services.

Mobile isn't just for big brands anymore, and with consumers shifting their searches to mobile there's little reason to sit back and ignore the growing number of smartphone users. So, put on your CMO hat and go for it.

Darren Clark is chief technology officer at YP.

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