Small business owners Kim Inge and Beth Knockwafel know the importance of being fluid in today’s small business climate. The owners of Milk and Baby, an online shop for chic maternity wear in Louisville, Ky., say they use their smartphones for more than 80 percent of their business dealings. Not only do they update their various social media sites using Hootsuite at least three times a day, they also hold contests and giveaways using social media to help draw in new customers and stay engaged with their existing ones.
“Pinterest is huge for us,” said Inge. “People see our products on Pinterest and next thing we know, they are placing orders.”
Inge and Knockwafel say they no longer need expensive advertising campaigns to be on mobile shoppers’ radar. Many are experimenting with new and innovative ways to improve reach and increase profits. Here is part one of a roundup of mobile marketing tips recently gathered from an informal survey of small business owners:
Social media marketing guru Jason Falls estimates that by the 2014 holiday shopping season, retailers will derive 50 percent or more of their traffic from mobile, so “they better get their mobile house in order, [because] if your competitor offers a better mobile experience, that’s where your customers will go.”
2. Create a Mobile App
While there is an associated cost to developing apps, they also help small businesses reach more customers and promote their products and services in a mobile-friendly way.
3. Leverage Free Sites
People looking for something in particular or just browsing the Internet often visit sites such as Craigslist and Backpage. Small businesses can sell their products on these sites as well. And Craigslist allows businesses to track results through email, phone number or website referrals.
4. Use Locally Targeted Google AdWords
Google AdWords is an online advertising service that allows business owners to create ads and choose keywords related to their business. The ads then appear next to or above search results that use those keywords. According to Matt McCormick, a former Microsoft programmer who launched JCD Repair, a small business for repairing broken mobile phones, “You only pay for traffic delivered to your website, and if you pick your keywords right, the traffic is highly qualified.”
5. Write a Blog
Inge and Knockwafel post on their blog at least once a week and partner with other bloggers to write and share guest posts. Blogs are “an effective way to gain reach with little to no cost, [and] grow potential business relationships,” says Inge.
These low-cost yet targeted ways of reaching customers can help small businesses compete efficiently and effectively with their larger counterparts. It’s all about engaging with customers and making them feel that you understand and appreciate their needs.