Why a mobile strategy for small businesses is no longer just nice-to-have, but essential

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

It goes without saying that, as a whole, we are spending more and more time on our mobiles not just to make calls and text, but also to browse the web, update our social status or watch the latest videos trending on YouTube. Of course, there has also been the prolific take-up of tablets over the past few years, writes Georgina Rayner of Fluid Creativity.

With that mind, adopting a mobile marketing strategy would seem an obvious step for businesses to take. But if you’re a small business owner, with a modest marketing budget, and have already invested time and money in creating a successful website, then you could be forgiven for exhibiting a lukewarm response to what could seem a complicated and potentially expensive subject.

Mobile marketing is the buzz term of the moment, but is it really the concern of small businesses? The reason it is the hot topic in the world of marketing right now is because the proportion of online traffic that is generated from mobile devices is growing considerably, and it’s only likely to get bigger. For small businesses, this means that it is the online medium to which more and more of your customers are migrating. For example, Cisco’s global mobile data traffic forecast update showed that mobile traffic in 2012 alone was bigger than the entire internet in 2000 and research from Gartner predicts that traffic on mobile will surpass desktop traffic by 2014.

If you’ve not done so already, take a look at your site’s own traffic statistics in Google Analytics; specifically, the proportion of overall traffic now being attributed to mobile to see what impact mobile is having on your site specifically. Add to this reports that 25% of UK consumers have already made a purchase using a mobile device, and the evidence for all businesses adopting some kind of mobile strategy is compelling.

While the value of mobile traffic is pretty clear to see, implementing a successful mobile strategy can be tricky, and there are numerous examples of large brands that have made mistakes as well as a handful that have still not adopted a mobile strategy at all! In fact, Econsultancy has reported that only 70% of the UK’s top 20 retailers have mobile-friendly websites.

So if you’re a small business, how do you go about implementing a successful mobile marketing strategy? Where do you even begin? Apart from setting out what you want to achieve and the resources available to you, it’s hugely important to take some time and understand how visitors from mobile devices already interact with your website. For instance, mobile users often engage with your site differently or use different search keywords to find it than desktop users. This is the type of data that you can then utilise to inform your mobile strategy.

There are three main approaches to creating a mobile friendly website: responsive web design, which rearranges the layout of your website to suite the device; dynamic serving, which serves different HTML on the same URL; and a specific mobile site hosted on a subdomain.

The approach you take will depend on your goals and technical capabilities. For example, responsive web design is often a good solution for small businesses because you don’t have to worry about maintaining and updating multiple websites. Similarly, you won’t have to worry about embarking on a brand new search marketing strategy to promote your new mobile site. On that note, it’s important to remember that the option you choose could potentially affect your existing search marketing campaigns.

However, if a re-design or mobile site is just not a viable option then this doesn’t mean closing the door on mobile altogether. Social media can also serve as an important part of your mobile strategy. Platforms such as Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter are mobile-friendly already, meaning you can still promote your brand and engage with potential customers. That said, it’s important to remember that, as with social media campaigns in general, it’s all about engagement - multi-flowing communication rather than one way broadcasting about your business and its products.  It’s also important to note that if you run social competitions via third party Apps, you’ll need to make sure they are compatible with mobile devices otherwise you could be losing a lot of potential new followers or fans!

Another added benefit of a mobile strategy is the ability to reach the customer where they are, instead of waiting for them to come to you. You can bypass the search process altogether with Apps; for example, if your site receives a lot of returning visitors then it might be worth considering investing in a mobile App. Apps allow you to create dynamic content that often facilitates much more meaningful engagement with your brand.

Mobile marketing isn’t the future of marketing, it’s the here and now and not being prepared for it could see you trailing behind your competitors. Google themselves reported that 61% of consumers would quickly move onto another site (one of your competitors) if they couldn’t find what they were looking for immediately on a mobile site.

Remember to take a step by step approach to mobile marketing, starting with the fundamentals and always bearing in mind what you are trying to achieve as well as the resources available to you. As discussed, mobile visitors often engage with your site differently and this is largely because people have a much more personal relationship with their phone. This means you’ll have to tailor your efforts accordingly and in some cases may have to employ a more sophisticated, data driven approach.

Georgina Rayner is senior SEO consultant at Fluid Creativity, a digital agency based in Hyde who have been providing small business in Greater Manchester and beyond with innovative website design and online marketing solutions for over 10 years.


[Image credit: Vibe]