Mobile Marketing can Save your Local Business – or Kill it

Mobile Marketing can Save your Local Business – or Kill it
Key 'Takeaways' From This Post
  • Mobile search volume is sure to overtake desktop searches
  • Consumers spend about 15 hours a week on their mobile devices
  • Smartphone & tablet users comparison-shop on their mobile devices
  • A large number of smartphone users bring their mobile devices into stores to ensure that they are getting the best deals

You have heard about mobile marketing, but why should you care? If you are a business owner who is just starting out or have been around for decades, or anywhere in between, you have your hands full with inventory management and the creation of sales leads, employees and running your business.

Mobile marketing for local businessSimilarly, if you’re an agency or consultant, you may well have your hands tied by time & budget restraints, or local business clients that are reluctant to embrace mobile marketing.

Many small businesses have likely attempted to incorporate social media and blogging into their marketing approach, maybe even a video here and there, or an Adwords campaign. That alone may have them pulling out their hair and reaching for a lifeline. Offline ads may consist of billboards, radio jingles or graphic advertising with the help of vehicle wraps. Is it not enough that they are updating their Facebook business page, updating their blog and also providing excellent customer service?

In a word: no. To hear Forbes tell it, mobile marketing gets you closer to the consumer than any other form of advertising. Very few people are still without a mobile device of some sort today. Whether it is a tablet, smartphone, or dare I say Google Glass, there is always a gadget close by that has the power to connect to the Internet. Plus, the device is usually readily available  for use. This doesn’t stop when people are in their own home or even when they are out and about during leisure time. When was the last time you were out that you didn’t see a majority of people interact with their mobile devices? (except hospitals of course). Although surely someday there will be a mobile device that can do resuscitation – Clear!

While your wrapped vehicle might find the shopper at the park, or in the crosswalk on the way to the hamburger stand, the mobile device is there when the shopper rests under a tree, gets bored at work or wants to kill some time before the movie starts. It’s not just what the kids do. There is even a commercial segment at the theaters now about turning off your mobile phone. It’s that powerful that it is right up there on the big screen with popcorn, soda and the emergency exits. And if they do have to use the emergency exits, guess what they’ll do? Yep, turn on their phones.

Do mobile users really search for local businesses with smartphones?

You have seen mobile users actively interacting with their devices at lunch, whilst waiting in line, and pretty much everywhere else. What are these consumers doing? While it is true that some are playing Candy Crush and other games, a good percentage of them are researching local businesses for their next visit. This research spans the gamut from dinner options to footwear. BIA/Kelsey, a media research firm that keeps a firm finger on the pulse of mobile users’ behavior patterns, forecasts that “mobile local search volume will surpass desktop local search” by the year 2015. Some argue that it already has.

US local search market
Source: BIA/Kelsey

In short, the personal desktop PC may soon go the way of the library card catalog. Or for those that don’t remember that, how about methods of listening to music or renting a movie? If you don’t adapt to popular innovation, you lose out.

“By 2016, mobile local searches will exceed desktop local searches by more than 27 billion annual queries.”

Looking forward to 2016, the group anticipates that there will be more than 27.8 billion more mobile queries than those originating from a desktop computer. Realizing that these searches are primarily local in nature, the group further forecasts a staggering annual growth rate of local search revenues. Can you imagine what this could do for your local business? It’s like gaining an extra life. Don’t let It be a stumbling block just because you don’t understand the technology.

Are there statistics on user behavior?

You may not want to take my word for it so let’s see what the big boys have to say. There is plenty of information that gives insight into the search behavior of smartphone users. In fact, the ability to track the majority of mobile transactions makes it easy to tell what users are doing when they are searching for information.

Of course, you can simply ask them about their browsing behavior, which is the direction that Google took. This step has netted the search engine giant some rather amazing insights into the way that modern consumers like to shop.

Think with Google then went on to crunch the numbers and in so doing found that on average :

  • Consumers spend 15 or more hours per week conducting research on smartphones.
  • During this time, consumers visit six mobile websites.
  • 59% of users visited a business’s website.
  • Saturday and Sunday were the most common search days from an average 7.3 hours of web time.
  • Thursday & Friday were the most common Mobile App time days from an average of 8 hours per week.
  • Categories that mobile shoppers looked for the most were health and nutrition, automotive products & advice, and then home and garden related content.
  • Users with a preference for branded apps primarily researched financial products, electronics and apparel.
  • Those who used a search engine focused instead on automotive, home and garden, and then apparel searches.
  •  55% of surveyed users said that they used their mobile devices to do research on purchases that they were planning on making within the hour. This gives prepared retailers an amazing advantage when it comes to enticing shoppers away from a competitor.

We’ve turned these insightful stats from Google/Neilson into a handy infographic (click to enlarge):

Statistics on mobile user behaviour



Mobile users like to rely on mobile devices even while shopping in the store!

Do you remember when desktop computers were pretty much the only game in town? You would do your research on products and services and then find vendors. Then, you would head over to the store with the hope of locating what you were searching for. Nielsen now proves that a decided shift in consumer behavior is taking place. Those who like to shop from home frequently use tablets. Smartphone usage nevertheless accounts for 24% of mobile purchases, even though it pales compared to the 59% of purchases made online by tablet shoppers.

That said, the roles reverse when smartphone users step outside:

  • Whilst going to a store, 70% of smartphone shoppers rely on store locator apps to find the right location.
  • 37% follow a smartphone list of items that are needed.
  • Tablet users do some bargain hunting in the store – to the tune of 53% of interviewed users
  • 63% of smartphone users rely on their devices in the store for getting great deals.
  • In fact, 34% of shoppers present their smartphones to cashiers for mobile coupon scanning.
  • Once home, the shoppers blog or use social media to share about their experiences.

Retailers are getting in on the action

Have you ever noticed the black and white squares on the bottom of print ads? These are quick response (QR) codes. The smartphone user downloads an app that converts these codes to a real website address. This allows the savvy shopper to find the latest deals or participate in a retailer’s ad-hoc discount promotion.

An excellent example is consumer goods giant Kohl’s, which uses texting as a marketing method. When the smartphone user texts the keyword “SAVE01” to a given number, the retailer responds by immediately returning a special deal coupon that entitles the shopper to an additional 10% in savings. The retailer has successfully issued an incentive for the consumer to receive up to five marketing text messages per month. Kohl’s is by no means an isolated case. Rather, it is a good example of a business that knows how to make the most of online consumer behavior.

Why your business needs to be mobile-friendly

In the short time that you have been reading this post (ok so maybe not such a short time but you can text me later and complain), you learned that:

  • Mobile search volume is sure to overtake desktop searches.
  • Consumers spend about 15 hours a week on their mobile devices, not just talking to friends or family.
  • Smartphone users and tablet users comparison-shop on their mobile devices.
  • A large number of smartphone users bring their mobile devices into stores to ensure that they are getting the best bargains possible.

The takeaway for your business is clear. You cannot afford to do business as usual. If you have not yet incorporated a mobile marketing strategy, you are falling behind. The competitor who is embracing this technology will eventually come in ahead of you. If you fail to harness this type of technology for your company now, mobile advertising may very well kill your company’s future.

On the flip side, there is the opportunity to join the legions of businesses that are succeeding at enticing the growing numbers of mobile shoppers. You do not have to guess at what consumers want to see. Google has already done all the heavy lifting for you. When they conducted a survey of mobile technology users, these consumers spoke up about the features that turned them away from some business websites. They also highlighted the features that they wanted to see.

78% of surveyed users want to get their information in one or two clicks. Following endless links or tabs is not a viable option any longer. In the past, this was a preferred method that a retailer might have used to keep customers on a website and let them see more product choices. Now, this type of old-fashioned setup turns modern users away. The same percentage of mobile users also report wanting an easy-to-use search bar. Again, trying to search by webpage or tab takes too much time for the shopper on the go. Have you ever fumbled around on a website on your phone?

Even the choice of buttons was discussed. Well, modern shoppers now use sliding motions to navigate between pages. Buttons need to be a bit bigger to avoid accidental clicks on other information options that do not interest the shopper. 69% of interviewed mobile device users remarked on this little creature comfort that nevertheless makes a huge difference in the way they can connect with your business. Unless you are catering to the elementary school crowd with tiny little fingers (and I’ve seen some pretty skilled 5-year olds), you need to make sure that your potential customers can navigate your site on a mobile device.

Fitting everything into a small screen is another big concern. If the website simply does not fit, there is little value in it for the consumer who cannot easily find the required information. In fact, 64% of polled respondents said that they would prefer only one scrolling motion – top to bottom or left to right – versus the multiple scrolls that are needed on sites that are not set up with smaller screens in mind.

For this reason, quite a few retailers are already accommodating shoppers with mobile-friendly websites that are not as rich in content and visual aesthetics but display key information easily on a smaller screen. These websites highlight contact information, store hours, store locators and product data. Clever retailers know to avoid demands for app downloads or redirects to their standard websites that are difficult to navigate on a small screen. Rather, they allow for online browsing and shopping via the mobile site.

Getting mobile-friendly now

If you are an entrepreneur who is going it alone, you have the option of downloading several pre-built mobile website templates that you can then populate in the same manner as your main business website. For the business owner who does have the funds available, it is always a good idea to hire professionals to do the actual conversion for you. It saves you time and ensures that the coding is done perfectly. Moreover, you know that the site is tested and still adheres to your individual branding and marketing preferences. Downloading pre-built templates sometimes makes it difficult to incorporate your logo colors as proficiently as you would like.

Bottom line is, just get started with mobile in some fashion before it’s too late. It can breathe new life into your business.

Well that’s it. I’m off to see what offers I have for the week on my phone.

Got a different viewpoint on this subject or some useful insights you want to share? We’re interested in publishing unique content written by smart marketeers on our blog. Contact us with your details & ideas and we’ll get back to you ASAP!

Angela Moore
About the author
Angela Moore is President of Six Degrees Digital Media, a full-service Internet Marketing Company. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing Management and has worked in online sales and marketing since October of 2000. SDDM focuses on helping local and national businesses and also specializes in marketing for educational organizations.