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By: Jesse Aaron, Mashbout

Mobile devices and smartphones have been more popular than traditional desktop computers for quite some time now. According to Strategy Analytics, more than 1 billion smartphones were in use by the end of 2012. That number has continued to grow over the past couple of years, and is still growing this very moment.

The real allure of mobile devices is the fact that they are always accessible, even on the go. Unfortunately, there’s a common misconception that they are only used in such a manner when in fact they are used everywhere. A lot of consumers will browse via their mobile device while sitting on a couch at home, even with a traditional computer close by. Still, many others will browse the internet from a tablet, which is really just an oversized smartphone. Why? It’s simply because of the convenience they offer.

This all shows that mobile can no longer be ignored, not even by small business. The problem is, when you’re a little guy or gal trying to stay afloat it can be difficult choosing what to focus on. We’re going to help out by offering some mobile marketing tips specifically for small business.

Implement a Responsive Design

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It’s not farfetched for a small business to create a responsive experience. For example, even RCS, a traditional HVAC business has a responsive website.

That being said, when you design your site you do need to keep in mind that some of your viewers will be browsing via mobile, which means less screen real estate. The best way to remedy this situation is to create a responsive site. What is a “responsive design” you ask? It’s a pre-configured layout that automatically adjusts screen elements, navigation and content to fit the type of device and screen the user is viewing the page from. It sounds more complicated than it really is, and any web designer worth their weight in gold can implement such a thing.

Not only will this allow you to deliver a streamlined experience to your entire audience, it will also save you from having to create separate content for varying platforms.

Increase Your Search Rating

Did you know that 95% of local searchers actually use Google to find local businesses online? Nearly 88% of those users take action within a day, which means calling directly or visiting the business in question. To break that down further, 77% have contacted a business, with 61% calling and the other 59% visiting.

What does that all mean? It means that you need to ensure your mobile site is searchable and visible. Keep your SEO standing positive, produce regular content to boost your search ratings and offer clear contact information to customers where applicable. Your mobile site is great for the consumers that already know you exist, but what about the ones who don’t?

81% of smartphone users browse the internet on a regular basis when they pick up their device, and 77% of them search through Google. Those are some pretty massive numbers, especially when you consider how many mobile users there are out there currently.

Mobile Users Don’t Waste Time

With any businesses you’ll want to convert mobile traffic into sales or leads, but you have a very small window to do so. It doesn’t matter where mobile users are when they pick up their phone to browse, they generally want instant gratification – or at least they want to get as close to that as possible. They don’t waste time, and they want information quickly. You can use this to your advantage by offering them important content right up front. Keep your call to action clear and visible, and any interactive buttons within the top 100 pixels. Furthermore, trim your content by offering excerpts that have great hooks.

A small business like the Amish family-run Country Lane Furniture is going to give most of us the impression that they have high quality products, but might not pack the technological gusto for younger generations. Fortunately, they have a design that shrinks products so mobile users can quickly browse:

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Don’t make them search for contact information, phone numbers or even your business address. Small and local businesses thrive on customer support, so make absolutely certain they know where to find you or how to get a hold of you. Long story short don’t turn anything into a guessing game for consumers.

Sharing is Caring

We’re not going to go off on a tangent about how important social media is these days, hopefully you already know that. If you have a desktop site chances are relatively high that you have integrated social media links and sharing support – at least we certainly hope so. Many businesses forget to add this functionality on a mobile version of a site. That is exactly why it is great to put together a responsive design from the beginning.

To get back to the point at hand, ensure that you have social sharing support on your mobile site. In many ways it’s actually easier for mobile users to share content because they’re just a quick tap or app startup away. Android and iOS both have integrated sharing functionality baked right into the system.

Encourage Check-Ins

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, FourSquare and many more networks allow users to “check-in” via GPS and location services when they reach interesting destinations. Allow and encourage your customers to do so, as this is essentially free word-of-mouth advertising for your business. One great promotion that a lot of local businesses offer is a free product, service or discount for users that check-in and provide proof. For example, some ice cream places will offer free ice cream to anyone that checks-in via Facebook.

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Other encouragements should be call to action based. A great example of a SMB doing this StateCE on their homepage. We’re immediately greeted with a call to action – we have to decide between 2 options.

You can do this easily via your mobile website by offering links, how-tos and information on checking-in. It sounds funny but if you have clear instructions, you may even have a few unorthodox users check-in to their favorite local business—yours.

Tailor Your Images for Mobile

A lot of times businesses get so wrapped up in producing a beautiful and attractive site they forget that mobile users have less space to view it in. You can compress and crop images for mobile viewing yet still preserve the beauty. Many smartphones include crisp, vivid, HD-quality displays so don’t forego the images entirely—just make sure they scale appropriately to the active device. This is another element of responsive design that could be ironed out during the development phase. Still, as you update a site and host content you will be using more images so keep this in mind.

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Murray Newlands

Murray Newlands is an online marketing industry veteran, and the founder of TheMail.

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Murray Newlands

Murray Newlands

Murray Newlands is an online marketing industry veteran, and the founder of TheMail.

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