Mobile Marketing: The Ultimate Guide for Business Owners

Matthew Speiser

Matthew is a staff writer at Fundera. He has written extensively about ecommerce, marketing and sales, and payroll and HR solutions, but is particularly knowledgeable about merchant services. Matthew's writing has been published in Business Insider, The Fiscal Times, Best Company, and NJ.com, among others. Matthew was also a co-author for Startup Guide—a series of guidebooks designed to assist entrepreneurs in different cities around the world. He has a degree in journalism from the University of Delaware. Email: matthew.speiser@fundera.com.

Marketing is war. Every single day your brand is fighting other brands to occupy the headspace of your target demographic. This war is fought on many fronts: Television, magazines, social media, and live events are all popular mediums through which brands try to market to their customers. However, in 2019 there is one marketing medium that is arguably more powerful than all others: mobile devices.

A mobile device is the perfect tool to market on. People take their smartphones with them everywhere they go, and use them dozens of times each day. The statistics around mobile usage are staggering:

Because of these trends, marketers are investing heavily in mobile. In 2018, mobile ad spending surpassed television by more than $6 billion. By 2020, eMarketer predicts mobile ad spending will reach $113 billion annually, and be greater than all traditional media combined.

In this guide we’ll help you learn how to capitalize on the marketing industry’s shift to mobile. If you already have a marketing strategy in place, we’ll show you what you need to do to optimize your strategy for mobile devices. Let’s start by talking about what mobile marketing is exactly, and its benefits for small business owners.

What Is Mobile Marketing?

Mobile marketing is a digital marketing technique in which brands try to reach a specific audience through their smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices. Mobile marketing is a multi-channel technique, meaning there are various mobile channels through which audiences can be targeted, such as a text message or a mobile application.

If you’ve ever seen an ad while scrolling a webpage on your phone, that’s mobile marketing. If you’ve received a push notification from a business whose app you downloaded, that is also mobile marketing. Even opening an email from a brand on your phone is a form of mobile marketing.

Benefits of Mobile Marketing

Brands are investing in mobile marketing because it works. But why does it work? There are a myriad of reasons.

Highly Targeted

One of the best benefits of any kind of digital marketing is targeting. With targeting you can be very specific about who sees your content, how they see it, and when they see it. With mobile marketing this is accomplished through the collection of customer data, such as email addresses and phone numbers, as well downloads of your business’s mobile application.

High Intent

Mobile users are high intent users. Think about how many times you’ve used your mobile device to help you find a specific product or service. Google reports mobile search queries that include the term “best” have increased 80% over the past two years, such as “best face lotion” or “best toothbrush.” Consumers are using their mobile devices to inform purchase decisions, so you need to make sure your marketing can reach them during this pivotal moment.

Instantaneous Results

Because users always have their mobile phones, you can track results and get feedback almost right away. Users will either open your email, or they won’t. They will either reply to your text, or they won’t. These results, such as if users prefer texts or emails, can then be used to improve the overall strategy.

Personal

While other forms of marketing are produced for a wider audience (think social media or TV ads), mobile marketing feels more like a direct interaction between a user and a brand. You are communicating with the user directly through through their mobile device. This presents a great opportunity to foster a strong relationship and build brand loyalty with your customers.

Easy to Produce

Mobile devices are small, which limits the size and scope of content that can be displayed. This is great for marketers, because it allows them to keep their mobile content basic and simple. Short messages, images, and videos typically work best, and require less  time and effort to produce.

Shareable

Nearly everyone who uses Instagram accesses it through their mobile device. In 2017, 95% of Facebook users accessed the social network through their mobile device, and 85% of the time spent on Twitter is on a mobile device. With so much social media usage happening on mobile, good mobile content has a better chance of being shared than other types of content.

SEO

Having your website optimized for mobile will help with search engine optimization (SEO). Google prioritizes websites that provide a good mobile experience and load quickly on a mobile device.

mobile marketing strategy for small business

Creating a Mobile Marketing Strategy

Now that we understand the benefits of mobile marketing, it is time to create a mobile marketing strategy. Like any marketing strategy, you first need to determine what your goals are. But before you can determine your goals, you need to identify your target audience. This is because you can only determine your goals based on the size and mobile behaviors of your audience.

Identifying Your Target Audience

You probably already have some idea of who your target audience is: Their age range, gender, income level, and education. You want to dig further to discover the mobile habits of your customer profile. What do they primarily do on their mobile devices? Do they feel comfortable purchasing something through a mobile device?

To help with your research you may want to use Google Analytics to see how often your website is visited from a mobile device. It can also be informative to survey customers about their mobile usage.

Setting Your Mobile Marketing Goals

Once you have identified your target audience and understand their mobile habits, set goals by creating key performance indicators (KPIs).  Your KPIs should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Keep in mind that KPIs are a means to an end, not an end in and of themselves. Your goal with all marketing is to ultimately increase sales, but you must determine which marketing actions to take that will help get you there

So if your goal is to increase sales, you will want to identify a KPI based on what you know about your current audience that will help you reach that goal. A mobile marketing KPI might be to increase visitors to your website from your marketing emails, because visitors who access your website via email are more likely to convert. To reach this KPI you will want to optimize your email for mobile and include a clear CTA (call to action) with a direct link to your site. You may also test the best times of day to send your marketing emails, the frequency with which you send your emails, and the type of content you include in them.

Remember that all KPIs need to be measurable and timely, so you will need to have a clear way to track your progress, and a timeframe within which the KPI will be reached.

Mobile Marketing Techniques

Earlier we mentioned that mobile marketing is a multi-channel technique, meaning there are various mobile channels through which you can market. Now that you know what your goals are, you will want to pick the channels that help you reach those KPIs. Here are your options:

Mobile Website

Regardless whether you are engaging in a full-fledged mobile marketing campaign or not, you need to have a mobile-optimized website. Aside from the aforementioned SEO benefits, having a mobile website ensures anyone who encounters your brand via mobile will have a good experience.

According to Google, 46% of users say they would never purchase from a brand again if they had an interruptive mobile experience.

To have what is considered a mobile-friendly website, the content on each page should fit the screen without side-to-side scrolling or zooming. The page should also load quickly, and return no mobile specific errors. To test your website’s mobile performance, use Google’s mobile-friendliness tool.

Email

Why is email a mobile marketing technique? Because 75% of smartphone users say they use their phone most often to check email. Therefore, your marketing emails must be optimized for mobile. Most email marketing services provide responsive design—a web design that makes web pages render well on a variety of devices and screen sizes.

However, there are still several approaches you can take to the actual creation of your email content to optimize it for mobile. For starters, try to place your CTA early in the email, so that users don’t have to scroll. Don’t include too many images, as this may make your email load more slowly. Use buttons instead of links, because buttons are far easier for users to click on with their fingers. Also, pay attention to the landing pages you send your recipients to. You want to be sure they are optimized for mobile too.

Finally, A/B test different versions of the same email to see which works best with your customers. In an A/B test, two small groups of recipients receive different versions of your email, and your service provider measures which version is more successful based on how many people opened each version and clicked through.

SMS Messages

SMS stands for “short messaging service.” You might know it better as a text message. SMS messaging is a highly effective form of advertising because it is extremely personal. According to Business2Community, 98% of users open SMS messages, and usually within a matter of minutes, making SMS messaging among the most direct and effective forms of advertising.

But what makes a good SMS marketing message? Well for starters, it has to be short. SMS messages have a 160-character limit per text. Unlike regular texts, you also shouldn’t use slang or abbreviations, as you are representing your brand. Finally, be sure to include a clear call to action (CTA), as the user will want to understand why they are being contacted.

MMS Messages

MMS stands for “multimedia messaging service.” The difference between MMS and SMS is that MMS allows for an unlimited number of characters per text. In addition, you can send multimedia components with MMS messages, such as photos, videos, and GIFs. This allows you to include more brand elements in your messages to users.

Compared to SMS, MMS messages foster more engagement. To take advantage of this form of messaging, you should be sure to include visual components in your message and provide options for sharing.

Note that both SMS and MMS messages fall under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). This means that users must be notified that they will be receiving messages beforehand, and you must get opt-in confirmation from the user before sending them messages. Also, you must make it very clear to the user how they can opt out of your messages.

Mobile Ads

You should clearly define your goals and target audience before engaging in a mobile ad campaign. As part of a larger mobile marketing strategy, an ad campaign should be employed to raise awareness for a new product or service, establish branding, drive traffic, or promote special deals.

Once you’ve determined your goal, you must define your campaign length and ad type. There are many different mobile ad types, including videos, interactive ads like games, full-screen ads, and native app advertising in which ads appear within an app’s natural flow. Most digital marketing and advertising agencies can assist with mobile ad campaigns.

Social Media

Similar to email, we consider social media a mobile marketing technique because most people access social media via a mobile device. There are many different approaches you can take to social media marketing for your business.

Mobile Application

Those looking to invest more heavily in mobile marketing will want a mobile application for their business. A mobile application is a software program designed to run on a mobile device. A good mobile application could serve the purpose of extending your product, driving engagement, or supporting ecommerce.

Your business type and KPIs will dictate whether or not you need an app, as well as what kind of app you need. If you’re ultimate goal is to drive sales, you’ll want an app that supports purchasing. If you want to grow your user base, you’ll need an app that provides content in exchange for a customer’s background information.

The notification function of apps is one of the best ways to drive conversions. Let’s take a look at the two main types of app notifications:

Push Notifications

Push notifications are messages sent via your mobile application to a user’s home screen regardless if they are in the app or not. To receive push notifications, a user must have your app downloaded and opt-in to receiving notifications. Fortunately, a majority of users opt-in to push notifications. Sending push notifications can increase app retention and time in app, both of which can have a positive impact on your conversion rate

In terms of push notification content, most are typically short messages featuring reminders, promotions, CTAs, or something more personalized based on user information.

In-App Notifications

In-app notifications are exactly what they sound like: notifications users receive while using your application. In-app notifications help increase time spent in the app, and can be more personalized. Examples of in-app messages might be tutorials showing users different functions of your app, or messages promoting new content or features.

App Store Optimization

If you’re going to build an application for your business, you should be aware of app store optimization (ASO). ASO is like SEO for the iOS app store, with the idea being that ASO apps will rank higher in app store search results. It is worth researching best ASO practices in order to maximize your app’s chances for success.

Analytics

The last piece of your mobile marketing strategy is analyzing the data gleaned from your marketing campaign to see if you are on course to reach your KPIs. Key data points vary with your goals, but some common marketing metrics include impressions, engagements, CTR, and conversions. Other mobile-specific metrics you might want to measure include email open rate, text open rate, app downloads, or time spent in app.

Google Analytics is a free service that allows you to track mobile behavior and conversion data. Other free tools to consider include Flurry Analytics, Countly, and Localytics.

mobile marketing strategy for small business

Outsourcing Your Mobile Marketing Strategy

As you can see, mobile marketing is complex, and something small businesses owners might not have time to budget for. Fortunately, there are a variety of third-party vendors that can provide the knowledge and technical know-how to bring your mobile marketing strategy to life. Some of the top vendors in the space include:

Vibes

Vibes provides a variety of mobile marketing products and services, including SMS and MMS messaging, push notifications, mobile web experiences, and dashboards where you can manage your strategy and view analytics.

LeanPlum

LeanPlum fosters mobile engagement through multi-channel campaigns. Some of LeanPlum’s capabilities include app design, push notifications, in-app notifications, email campaigns, web push notifications, A/B testing, and mobile analytics. With LeanPlum you can connect messaging across multiple channels and track customer behavior.

Braze

Braze provides customer relationship management and mobile marketing automation software that businesses use to manage their mobile applications. Some of Braze’s clients include Domino’s Pizza, Urban Outfitters, and Citibank.

Prolific Interactive

Prolific Interactive provides mobile application development and consulting services to businesses, including  social media and content strategy, branding and messaging, mobile web ads, and API integration.

Mobile Marketing Tips From Small Business Owners

Before you start creating your own mobile marketing strategy, here are some tips and tactics from other small business owners who have successfully implemented mobile marketing to help reach their business goals:

“Make sure you segment your campaigns by mobile phones and tablets. These two types of mobile devices behave differently, so you will want to be able to set different bids (on ads) and targeting. Segmented campaigns will allow you to optimize each separately.” — Jamie Burgess, Cariad Marketing

“Any small business can implement SMS marketing. It’s very easy to set up, very easy to get phone numbers from customers, and even easier to send out your messages. Plus it is pretty inexpensive. We can send out up to 3,800 texts for under $150 per month. We use a simple service called SlickText.com.” — Jeff Moriarty, Moriarty’s Gem Art

“If you want to take mobile marketing to the next level, then QR codes can help. QR means ‘quick response.’ Scanning a QR code can lead to a signup page or any landing page/website. This saves customers the hassle of going through the process of typing in a website and navigating to the page. You can also use a QR code to direct customers to download an app, and share social media pages or ecommerce stores.” — Eric Harrison, Sea Dog Straps

“With mobile ads, it is always a good idea to have a click-to-call button on your landing pages whereby a user can easily load a phone number into the phone application so it can be easily dialed by the user.” — Charles Corsello, Tax Debt Help

“Implement longtail voice search queries into your content. With so many people using voice search on their mobile devices, such as “where can I buy X” or “how much does a plumber cost,” adding this type of Q&A content to your mix can help capture more search traffic.” — Jaclyn Monaco, National Positions

“Use geo-targeting in your ads. Since mobile users are mobile, targeting ads and location specific material to them can surface great local results.” — Davide Debramo, Traffic Jam Media

Getting Started With Mobile Marketing for Your Small Business

Like all forms of marketing, mobile marketing requires constant testing, tweaking, and re-testing. The best way to get started is to create a strategy, track your results, and adjust your approach accordingly. There is no better time to get started. Millions of Americans are on their phones right now. Why not have them looking at your business?

Editorial Note: Fundera exists to help you make better business decisions. That’s why we make sure our editorial integrity isn’t influenced by our own business. The opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations in this article are those of our editorial team alone. They haven’t been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the companies mentioned above. Learn more about our editorial process and how we make money here.

Matthew Speiser

Matthew is a staff writer at Fundera. He has written extensively about ecommerce, marketing and sales, and payroll and HR solutions, but is particularly knowledgeable about merchant services. Matthew's writing has been published in Business Insider, The Fiscal Times, Best Company, and NJ.com, among others. Matthew was also a co-author for Startup Guide—a series of guidebooks designed to assist entrepreneurs in different cities around the world. He has a degree in journalism from the University of Delaware. Email: matthew.speiser@fundera.com.

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