Seventy-two percent of small-business owners planned to increase or maintain their mobile ad spend this year, with 65 percent of these increasing their spending by up to 30 percent, according to a study by Borrell Associates of 1,300 small-business owners.
Add to that the fact that Google and Facebook are shifting more of their revenues to mobile, and it’s clear that mobile marketing, advertising and purchasing is more than just a trend—it’s a key factor in how consumers prefer to do business in today’s marketplace.
So how can your business maintain relevance and competitiveness within this new paradigm?
1. Create A Native Mobile Ad
One of the newest buzzwords currently doing the rounds in social media is “native advertising." This form of advertising complements the website it's running on, or the content it’s displayed beside, by being relevant to both the topic and audience.
Instead of the usual Google Ads that may or may not be related to the content on a page, a native ad by a phone accessory retailer, for example, will appear on a blog that has mobile phone reviews, which encourages a warmer lead and better click-through opportunities.
A recent report highlights the increased engagement enjoyed by mobile native ads:
By finding and partnering with relevant blogs and news sites in your niche, you can create relatively low-cost ads and target a more receptive audience.
2. Use A Mobile Display Advertising Partner
If native mobile advertising doesn’t appeal to you, the immediate alternative is to partner with a mobile display advertising partner. (These include solutions like Jumptap, mMedia and Mojiva.) The benefit of these partnerships is that you can create an inventory of products for a fairly low cost; the hosting is taken care of by the partner.
These types of advertising partners can help ensure your ad reaches a wider audience than traditional forms of digital advertising by placing your ad across their communities. Additionally, features like contextual ads work much like native advertising and ensure only the audience that would benefit from your product or service sees your ad, offering a higher chance of click-through and activity.
3. Build A Foursquare Ad
Geolocation mobile app Foursquare allows users to “check in” at a physical location. This could be a restaurant, bar, gym or car dealership. By checking into the business, a customer has the option to share their location and buying preferences with their online connections on Twitter and Facebook.
This type of additional revenue from potential customers has resulted in many businesses joining Foursquare yet using it ineffectively. Companies reward “Mayors”—people who have checked in the most—as opposed to rewarding the wider customer base, and increasing loyalty in return.
A solution to this is Foursquare Ads. Instead of relying on your customers' check-ins, Foursquare Ads are more akin to review sites like Yelp, and helps personalize local searches for consumers looking for the types of products and services your business provides.
Similar to Google’s PPC (Pay Per Click) model, Foursquare Ads only charge you when a potential customer takes an action. The difference is that it only counts when that person visits your store, thereby driving more foot traffic to your storefront.
Additionally the ads will appear for nearby users who have either visited a similar location to yours, or are searching for related services (pizza restaurants for fast-food diners, for example).
4. Take Advantage Of QR Codes
One of the most misunderstood and maligned forms of mobile advertising is the QR (Quick Response) code. Similar to the barcode on a grocery item that’s scanned at a supermarket checkout, QR codes are simple and effective ways to drive mobile advertising—if used correctly.
The biggest fault many businesses make with QR codes is not optimizing the experience when you scan the code with your phone, either by a built-in feature of third-party app. Instead of optimizing for the mobile user, businesses are directing people to standard websites or poorly designed landing pages, where it’s almost impossible to take the desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up for offers.
To truly take advantage of QR codes, consider the following tactics:
- Use real-time marketing with your ad. When customers scan the code, offer an immediate discount or, if in a restaurant, a free drink or appetizer when they present the code.
- Drive the clicks to a simple yet optimized microsite. Have your offer of the week coupled with a simple “Text me when new offers go live” call-to-action to encourage sign up and use of the QR code.
- Complement the experience. Recommend your favorite apps to enhance the user experience (a spa business could recommend the Spa Week app, for example). Provide a coupon or bonus discount for that week only.
There are several ways to take advantage of all the real-time and loyalty-building solutions QR codes offer. You just need to keep the mobile experience in mind at all times.
5. Think Local With Your Keywords
Perhaps one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to benefit from mobile advertising is to “not advertise” at all and use local mobile searches as your form of organic advertising instead.
As smartphone users increasingly use GPS and apps like Google Maps, along with search terms to find local services and businesses, being optimized for these types of searches can benefit your physical foot traffic exponentially.
To give you an idea of how important local mobile search is to your business, consider these statistics:
- Mobile searches for restaurants led to a 90 percent conversion rate, with 64 percent visiting within an hour of the search.
- 74 percent of mobile users used their phones to get "real-time location-based information" directions, up from 55 percent the previous year, according to the Pew Research Center.
- Mobile search will generate 27.8 billion more queries than desktop search by 2015.
With these kinds of numbers, it’s clear that simple SEO isn’t enough for your business—now you need to optimize for local mobile search, too. To take advantage of this shift in research patterns, your business needs to ensure your main website is optimized for these potential customers.
- If your site is not already mobile-friendly, consider revamping its design now. Ideally switch to a responsive design that automatically resizes the screen and provides the optimal user experience for your visitor.
- If you have an e-commerce section, adjust keywords and alt-tags on images to target local searches (“buy the best seafood in New Albany, New Jersey” versus “New Albany seafood,” for example.) Also, ensure that smartphone users can make purchases easily.
- Optimize your images by resizing them and using them as lead first impressions for mobile visitors, with relevant alt-tags, to ensure your mobile site loads quickly, avoiding possible penalties by Google for slow-loading sites.
These are just some of the ways you can currently make use of mobile advertising for your business. Budget, resources and implementation will determine which ones work best for your company—but try adopting at least just one, which is better than no mobile ad strategy at all.
Read more articles on mobile advertising.
Photo: Getty Images, StudioPress
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About the author: Danny Brown is Manager, Social Engagement and Insights for iGaming, at OLG. Co-author of Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing, described as the book that will change the way we do business today and recognized as one of the Top 100 Business Books in America by Nielsen BookScan. He is an award-winning marketer whose delivered results for organizations like Microsoft Canada, BlackBerry, FedEx, Ford Canada and LG Electronics, and his blog is recognized as the #1 marketing blog in the world by HubSpot.