Developing customized retail apps to deliver mobile promotions and generate customer data or retooling existing systems to accommodate backend solutions like Apple Passbook or Google Wallet may be out of reach for many small and mid-sized businesses, but there are some no- and low-cost channels and tools available that can make mobile marketing feasible for almost any business. A key point is that SMBs must stick to expectations and execution that align with where the industry is today, says Inman Breaux, COO of Airpush, a provider of data-driven mobile advertising solutions.

SMBs with limited resources should have a specific goal in mind and make utilization of location data a priority. “From there, it’s important to execute the marketing campaign with partners who can effectively leverage users’ location data,” Breaux says. “You don’t want to waste money reaching users outside of your business’s physical geography.”

One of the easiest and most affordable ways to get started in mobile is with SMS (text) marketing. Basic programs from companies such as TextMarks enable you to reach your customers quickly and efficiently to remind them of why they liked you in the first place, announce events, and offer special deals or promotions. Plans typically start at about $50 a month and offer options such as data reporting and analytics, automatic responses, expansion capabilities, and the ability to integrate with your other mobile marketing tools as you develop them, (e.g., apps and mobile websites).

That focus on existing customers is important, says Andy O’Dell, chief commercial officer at Clutch, which provides a platform for SMBs to create applications that unify a mobile wallet with mobile marketing and loyalty. SMBs should focus on improving their relationship with existing customers and making them feel more personally engaged with the brand. “Typically, relationships are the highest driver of loyalty in the SMB space, next to location, but they are often overlooked in SMB marketing plans,” he says. “With the right tools in place, SMBs can focus on running the business; the tools will automate the growth process and help maximize a personalized relationship with the customer.”

Many ad networks offer self-serve tools for campaign planning, targeting, and optimization that in the past were only available to large clients and agencies, notes Matt Shaw, chief revenue officer at Airpush. “Now that virtually any organization can quickly and easily play in the mobile space, SMBs are finding it much easier to test the waters. As access to mobile inventory through ad networks and exchanges continues to grow, custom audience targeting will be the most important factor in driving successful mobile campaigns,” he predicts. “The mobile device allows marketers to access GPS location, app usage, and other mobile-specific signals. These mobile signals are often better predictors of the types of content and advertising people are likely to engage with than desktop targeting options are.”

When it comes to finding practical ways to create a mobile marketing presence, the three most important things for SMB owners to keep in mind are usability, affordability, and effectiveness, advises Tien Wong, CEO of Appnetic, which has developed a cloud-based platform for creating seamless sales enablement mobile apps. Mobile marketing tools need to provide a great user experience for everyone who interfaces with them, from administrators and marketers to end users. They have to make sense financially, providing a rapid ROI. And they have to work. “It’s all about the outcomes,” Wong says. “Salespeople have to be able to close more deals, and marketing and senior management have to get value out of the feedback and analytics as well as sales process compliance and control over the usage of their marketing assets.”

Learn more:
Mobile Marketing Association
Native Mobile Advertising News