Local businesses are famous for finding ways to lure street-corner attention – whether it’s rolling a clearance rack onto the sidewalk or hiring a clown to wave at passing traffic. But those attention-grabbers don’t work as well when most passersby are staring down at small screens. That’s why Main Street has gone “mobile,” adopting the latest new-media phenomenon at an alarming rate. Research indicates that half of all SMBs are hoping to jump on the mobile marketing bandwagon this year, driving combined spending on mobile advertising and promotions (including the ever-popular “deals”) over $1.2 billion this year. This 26-page report details the burst of interest by local businesses in using mobile devices to lure customers with proximity advertising, coupons and SMS offers. It offers 27 charts that show current and forecast trends for household penetration of mobile devices (including smartphones and tablets) and rich detail on local-business spending on mobile advertising and promotions.
At Borrell Associates' Local Online Advertising Conference, I talked about my experience getting SMS coupons from an organic burger joint for a free milkshake with a burger purchase. For those of you that were not there, the other panelists got a kick out of me not being interested in this offer because the milkshake was not organic, even though I love milkshakes. I am somewhat of an oddball, and this is a great example of how conscious we need to be when crafting offers to make them relevant to the interests of our mobile subscribers.
I talked to the manager that runs the campaigns for this organic burger joint, and he indicated that the locations that offer free milkshakes get a 4% to 5% redemption rate on their offers while the locations that offer to buy a burger and get one free get an 11% to 12% redemption rate. There may be several reasons for this lift. First, a free burger is a better offer because it can be enjoyed with a friend, and the savings is greater than that of a free milkshake. Second, not everyone wants a milkshake after a burger, particularly people that watch their weight.
I'm not going to suggest everyone is as nutty about the kind of milkshake they drink, as I am, but I think this story exemplifies the need to experiment to find the right offer for your patrons until you find the best match that motivates them and adds to your bottom line.
I was asked yesterday if I could come up with an estimate for the number of iPads in a small market. I can do this, but I hate coming up with estimates that cost money when people can get a gut-kicking number for free on their own. I replied with, "What is Google Analytics telling you about the number of iPad visitors you have?" This local TV site had 1%, of its traffic coming from iPads in the last month, or 13,000 people. She was struck at the growth rate as well, feeling confident that this number would rise in the coming months. I had to ask, "How does your site look on the iPad?" She replied that many of the videos and ads were not showing because they were flash based.
The conversation quickly turned from a tone of speculation and interest in serving iPad users to a V8 moment in which this local interactive media director had to scramble to fix the experience for her all-too-real iPad population of users.
Do you need a V8? How many iPad users visit your site?
If you're using Google Analytics, you can find your iPad users under Visitors > Mobile > Mobile Devices > iPad.
If you're serious about mobile marketing, you first must have your online marketing house in order. Here are some simple steps to take that will help customers find your business on the online and mobile web before you even have a mobile site.
Update your business listing in online directories.
Mobile search is not necessarily going to favor mobile site listings. Google, for example, will use location information to deliver nearby results on Google Maps and in Google Places. These results may show higher than a list of relevant websites. The following is an incomplete list of sites that will allow you to enhance a business listing for free. The links go directly to the pages that allow businesses to create and enhance listings.
When I set out to create my first mobile web site last year, I figured it was 1998 all over again, and I would need to become comfortable with a new language and software tools. I'd heard about WAP protocol for years, and that word, protocol, kept me from experimenting for far too long. Take a moment to consider why you need a mobile site and how you can create one whether you have web skills or not.
In a survey conducted by Merchant Circle in Q1 2011, 5.2% of SMBs placed mobile marketing in the top 3 most effective marketing or advertising method the business had ever used. Further research by Borrell Associates places SMB adoption of mobile advertising at 15% in 2010. This implies a very strong favorability of mobile marketing by the SMBs that have tried it.
Messages with 160 characters or less carry a no-nonsense vibe that a small business owner can relate to. A busy restaurateur is in no position to come up with catchy copy or a long term marketing plan. In contrast, this entrepreneur has a clear idea of what this week looks like and what he can afford to give away today to create a stir. Tools for stimulating a day's sales have included banners, sandwich boards, menu inserts and rooftop gorillas. While effective at stimulating response on a particular day, these promotions were limited to people within proximity of a restaurant.
Some businesses have tried promotional stunts in traditional media to drive a single day's sales such as major contests, discounts, and celebrity appearances. With the traditional media publishing cycle that includes morning papers, evening broadcasts, and drive-time radio, an ad campaign had to span each cycle, and spend money with each media to get the message to an entire market of consumers. Automotive dealers and furniture stores may have mastered this art.
Pandora started in 2000 with the Music Genome Project to build a new form of radio, one that defines music by its intrinsic qualities, as evaluated by a team of musicians. The revenue Pandora has earned is primarily attributable to the growth of the online site, but that is shifting as mobile adoption accelerates. Listener hours are a key driver for revenue generation and a multi-device strategy is fueling listener hours. The devices on which Pandora can be accessed include mobile phones, automobiles and other consumer electronics such as iPods, tablets, Blu-Ray players and TVs.
Scotty P's is a hamburger chain that has grown along with the suburbs of Dallas, TX. The business has grown without advertising outside of community building methods. They participated in school fundraisers and ran ads in high school newspapers, but nothing in traditional media. This strategy worked very well in small communities on the outskirts of Dallas, but as those towns grew and as Scotty P's launched locations in larger communities, these methods did not prove to be as effective. This is what prompted Scott Pontikes, COO and co-founder of Scotty P's, to try a new method. In 2009, they started to market to their customers via e-mail. Since starting that campaign, they have collected 10,000 e-mails, and their alerts generate a 40% open rate and a 4-5% redemption rate in the stores. He attributes a boost in revenue of about $5,000 each time he sends an e-mail blast.
The restaurant, El Pelon Taqueria, in Boston, MA, stumbled on the advertising power of combining a free product offer with SMS alerts. On a recent Sunday, a mistake by the kitchen on a catering job caused the creation of an extra 32 bean and cheese burritos. Since Sunday is the slowest night of the week, the manager, Jim, had to get creative to drive immediate business into his restaurant. El Pelon reaches its fans directly through a number of channels – e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and SMS. But Jim likes to keep his Facebook and Twitter marketing separate from his mobile list because "it's a tighter list." He adds, "My 500 Facebook fans aren't necessarily all customers. They could be foodies, out-of-towners, or others following us. But I know my mobile list is all customers."
Coupon sites are starting to add a new sharing feature that allows consumers to send a coupon to their own mobile phones via SMS. A Miami entrepreneur, Rita Borbon, created a website, Saveso.com, to create this sort of convenience for consumers looking for deals in Miami. Saveso.com encourages users to print coupons or send them via SMS to their phones. Shoppers that choose to send an offer to their phones can simply present the SMS alert in lieu of a printed coupon to the business at the time of purchase to redeem.