Catch the Mobile Wave

 

Mobile marketing isn’t just about texting, tweeting updates and sharing news with your Facebook fans. It also isn’t just for retail shops and restaurants. From accountants and contractors to medical practices, professional services firms of all sorts are among the many types of companies using mobile marketing for business growth.

In 2014, mobile users will surpass the number of desktop computer users, according to data presented by ComScore. For business owners, this means mobile marketing is an essential part of an effective marketing plan.

Here are four tips to help you get started:

1. Assess your website traffic

First, you need to analyze the traffic coming to your website to learn how many visitors view it on a mobile device. Google Analytics can help with this. Even if the number is low right now, expect it to follow mobile’s growth pattern. Then, you will want to see what your site actually looks like on a smartphone. Do the pages display correctly? Do you need to scroll to find key information?

Consider what you want users to do while on your mobile site. Do you want them to be able to quickly find your hours, contact information or the services you offer? As opposed to mobile e-commerce sites, many professional services firms want to convert mobile searchers into clients, so be sure to include a “click to call” function for faster dialing.

2. Optimize your website for mobile

Mobile device users expect your website to be mobile-friendly and easy to navigate using their fingers, without having to pinch and zoom. This means, you need to arrange content in a single column to reduce scrolling and to keep images to a minimum to help speed page loading.

Several popular DIY web design platforms automatically optimize websites for mobile. Transforming your current website into a mobile-friendly destination isn’t difficult. If you don’t want to hire someone, online resources can help with this. The Mobile Marketing Association website has best practices, research and case studies that can guide you. If you have a webmaster on staff, you will want them to look into responsive design to make your website mobile-friendly.

3. Make an impact with texts

With its ability to reach people on a personal level, text messaging can be very effective for building relationships and serving customers better. For example, realtors could use text messages to stay in touch with prospects who are interested in certain properties and invite them to learn about similar listings.

Appointment-based businesses like medical practices, spas and salons can send reminders via text. Plumbers let customers take photos of their plumbing problems on their smartphones and text them for more efficient troubleshooting. Texts are also an efficient means of letting customers know of the timing for arrival of a technician or other staff members or when an appointment has opened up because of a cancellation.

A key part of successful texting is to get permission to contact people. Give your customers a reason to share their mobile numbers with you — access to schedule changes or special deals — and then only reach out to those people who have consented.

Whenever considering text messaging as a form of mobile marketing, you must be sure to comply with SMS Messaging Regulations. Learn more from the FCC Guide, Spam: Unwanted Text Messages and Email.

4. Develop a mobile app

Having your own mobile app can also increase your visibility and deepen customer relationships. Apps can let customers check your services, request or confirm appointments, access coupons or fill in paperwork. Businesses using apps to improve service include health clubs that let members reserve spots in classes and real estate firms that let customers browse listings, access mortgage calculators and fill out loan applications.

Apps can also help professionals work more efficiently and improve service. For example, doctors are using mobile apps to monitor patients remotely and access information without relying on charts. Most businesses wanting their own app hire a programmer or buy a ready-made app that can be customized to their needs. Though developing your own app can be costly, several third-party mobile tools are available to help with your mobile marketing