Mobile Marketing for Local Business: Four Steps to Start

It’s pretty much everybody’s get-it-done tool for daily life: the mobile phone. Customers who need a plumber, a pizza or any other local product or service, most likely start by asking Siri or exercising their thumbs. In fact, if you search a simple word like “plumber” or “pizza” on a mobile phone, Google gives you a list of nearby plumbers or pizza parlors – it assumes that mobile users are local business customers first.

Just because you have a website or buy some ads on Google doesn’t mean your local business is covered for mobile. You need a mobile marketing strategy to take your best shot at local customers. Start with these 4 steps:

1. Mobile-ize your website

Mobile phones and tablets come in many sizes. Your site must adjust on the fly to stay readable. A web developer can rebuild your site in a “responsive” design that changes from device to device. Google warns that it will push down any non-adapting site from the top positions on search pages, so this is pretty much an offer you can’t refuse. Also, talk to your developer about maximizing the download speed of your website pages, particularly important for mobile.

2. Make sure you’re “nearby”

Your business won’t appear on “nearby” searches or on maps if web information providers can’t find an accurate street address or service area.  At a minimum, open an account (for free) at Google My Business and Apple Maps Connect, and fill in your business details. It’s also a good idea to use a “digital presence management,” “reputation management” or “online listings management” company to make sure the many business directory sites around the web display a correct and consistent name, address and phone number; Google and others check those sites to confirm the identity of your business.

3. Ads: Target mobile

If you buy search ads from Google AdWords, for instance, you can track how keywords perform by desktop vs. mobile, and adjust your bids for more exposure for your mobile ad winners.  You should add location and call “extensions” to AdWords—that allows you to target display of your ads to mobile users who are in your area, and add driving directions and a click-to-call button to your ad. With Facebook Local Awareness ads, you can also target your business area for the popular social network—Facebook users spend an average 14 hours a month on its mobile app.

4.  Reach out with text and app messaging

Phones get smarter, but text messaging, a technology from the '90s, is still one of the most effective ways to reach the mobile audience with short ads or simple offers. Unlike mobile ads, customers tell you that they want to receive your messages, twice, actually – once when they give you a number and again when they confirm. Text messages have a high open rate; people respond to the urgency of a text more than, for instance, email (just don’t overdo it and wear out the welcome.)  

And keep an eye on messaging apps like Snapchat (100 million users) and Facebook Messenger (800 million users), which have grown wildly as texting alternates. Companies are experimenting with Messenger as a customer service channel, but Facebook reportedly is working on a way offer advertising, too. Snapchat users message each other by sending quick videos or snapshots—marketers are beginning to get in on the action, and the company is also developing ad opportunities.

Learn more about mobile marketing on the Dex Media blog. 

Jeff B. Copeland is a senior manager for content at Dex Media, where he works on the Dex Media blog and email newsletter, the consumer information site EnlightenMe.com and other content projects.

Dex Media
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