Marketers are always on the look out for the next big thing. Being an early adopter of new technology can give a business a tremendous advantage over their competitors. But rather than look to the future for the next big thing, business owners and marketers should be looking in their pockets and purses. Mobile devices are becoming evermore important for small business and marketers are finding new and exciting ways to reach their audience. Here are some mobile trends that small business owners can use to their advantage.

The way mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets, are quickly replacing computers as the way most people access the internet and web services. For people who use their computer for work (e.g. web designers, photographers, writers, etc.) a tablet or smartphone can't fully replace the functions of a keyboard, mouse, and programs they need. But for everyday consumers who just want to read a website, check their email or shop, a mobile device is preferable option. Since most marketers are trying to reach everyday consumers, they need to dedicate part of their advertising budget toward a medium they know the target audience uses.

The imperative that business owner embrace mobile marketing is far more evident when statistics are considered. According to estimates from Pew Research Center, 58 percent of U.S. adults own smartphones and 42 percent own tablets. And to show how much mobile is effecting the behavior of everyday consumers, a recent study from Forrester Research showed that smartphone users were more likely by nearly 33 percent to be engaged on social media than PC users.

The study reported that 46 percent of US smartphone users who access social networking sites via their devices at least once per week post pictures, audio, or video that they created, compared to 34 percent for PC users. Similarly, the study found that 49 percent of tablet and 46 percent of smartphone social media users like something posted by a company at least once per week, compared to 37 percent or PC users.

The benefit of mobile marketing goes far beyond an increase in social media engagement. Mobile marketing lends itself to large number of integrated marketing campaigns. A recent survey among marketers found that email marketing is still the most popular way to reach new customers. In the U.S., more than half of email marketing messages are viewed on mobile devices. A different study from Forrester Research found that 42 percent of US retailers' email opens occur on smartphones' it was at 28 percent in 2013. Tablets accounted for 17 percent of email opens, though that's only up from 16 percent in 2013.

Nielsen recently released a report that showed a similar trend between mobile users and television engagement. Many consumers use their mobile devices while watching television and this can give marketers a chance to instantly convert on people watching advertisements. Nielsen reported 14 percent of US tablet owners and 7 percent of smartphone owners have used their devices while watching TV to purchase an advertised product. They also noted that 18 percent of US tablet owners and 12 percent of smartphone owners use their devices to discuss programs on social media while watching TV.

These connections between mobile devices and various forms of marketing are more than just fun facts to bring up on a date (just kidding, email marketing is rarely good dinner conversation); it's information that business owners can act on. For example, if a business is advertising an online special on social media or through email marketing, the link needs to be optimized for mobile devices. This goes beyond just making sure it works, it must be convenient and easy to use for mobile users without sacrificing quality. Similarly, if a company has a video on its website, the embedded player needs to function quickly and easily on a mobile device. Marketers can't expect the consumer to go back home to their computer and then look up the video again.

Marketers should also ensure that their landing pages have the elements that are most popular to mobile internet users, like click-to-call features and embedded links to Google Map directions. There are a lot of other ideas covered in this article by Web Marketings Pro on consumer expectations about mobile marketing.

Mobile devices are the future of marketing in the way that computers were 40 years ago. Smartphones and tablets are becoming more powerful and able to do many of the things that just a decade ago were impossible for a handheld device. Desktop marketing will remain an important marketing channel for a lot of reasons, but marketers need to keep their eye out for mobile innovations that can help them reach customers on the computers they keep in their pockets.

Published on: Aug 18, 2014