smb-tech-trends“America is not just a connected country now, but a mobile connected country, says Mike Vorhaus, president of research-based strategy consulting firm Magid Advisors.  Research from the 2013 Magid Media Futures study indicates that smartphone ownership has broken the majority barrier at 61 percent of online users;  44 percent of the population owns a tablet, up from 30 percent last year.

With the U.S. population increasingly connected on the go, many small business owners are reaching out to customers and prospects through mobile marketing. The recently released AT&T Small Business Technology Poll, which surveyed 1,000 small businesses nationwide, found that 66 percent of small businesses plan to invest as much or more in digital marketing – websites, social media and online advertisements – as they did last year.

Among the small business owners polled, investment in mobile marketing solutions is a factor, with 71 percent indicating they are “somewhat” or “very likely” to increase budgets for marketing via mobile devices. Nearly one-third currently use “mobile-friendly” websites to engage with customers.

Get started with mobile marketing

The first step of your mobile marketing effort should include creating a mobile website as an complement to the one you already have for computer access. Mobile websites, which consist of browser-based HTML pages that are accessed from the Internet,  display content, images, video and data — all of it optimized for the smaller displays and for a touch-screen interface.

Expand mobile marketing

Once you’ve got your mobile website up and running, there are several mobile marketing activities that are not difficult to implement and generally cost effective.

Mobile directories: Make sure your new mobile site is included in mobile business directories, such as Yelp for Mobile or Google Places. Craft a simple description of your small business products or services and include your hours of operation, phone number and address and a link to your website.

Text Messaging: Plain text SMS and multimedia rich MMS are the more popular delivery channels today for mobile marketing.  Mogreet, a company specializing in text and video messaging, says that text messaging has a 95 percent open rate and is accessible to 98 percent  of all mobile consumers. It is a convenient and effective technology to alert customers and prospects to your small business announcements – new products or services, special promotions or events.  Keep in mind that regulations require recipients must agree to opt in to your messages before you can send them any.

Mobile advertising:  Mobile ads download to consumers’ smartphones or tablets when they download games, apps or ring tones.  They can be especially effective smartphone couponwhen you add a special offer. Also consider mobile banner ads, which like traditional banners take users to a specific offer or advertisement on a site once they click on an image.

Mobile coupons: Mobile coupons are more cost effective and convenient to send than paper coupons. Consumers benefit because the coupons are available on their mobile devices so there’s no need to clip them and no risk of leaving them at home. Plus they enable some small business owners – restaurant owners or retailers, for example  –  to boost traffic on demand when things slowdown.

Mobile email: Optimize your emails for mobile. A report issued in February from data and digital messaging solutions provider Knotice estimates that the share of commercial emails opened on mobile devices will surpass 50 percent in the next six to 12 months. Currently, 41 percent of commercial emails are opened on mobile devices, up from a 27 percent mobile email open rate a year earlier.

When it comes to reach, mobile marketing enables you to communicate with buyers anywhere in the globe at any time. The question is no longer why mobile marketing for your small business but when.