While consumers and big brands continue their migration from desktop to mobile, local merchants are getting left further and further in the dust. More than two-thirds of consumers (67%) say they’re more likely to buy from a company with a mobile-friendly site, and yet 95% of SMB websites aren’t optimized for visitors using their tablets and smartphone devices. Of course, creating a mobile website isn’t the only way merchants can dip their toes into mobile. From apps to ads to geo-targeted push notifications, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. The challenge for marketers is explaining the benefits of mobile without overwhelming small business owners in a sea of technical jargon and complex language.
Here are seven tips from experts in the mobile community about how marketers can do a better job of selling their products to merchants.
1. Focus on simplicity. In capturing the attention of local merchants, simplicity is imperative. Today’s mobile marketing ecosystem offers a plethora of choices and platforms that are often overkill for smaller advertisers. There are many “solutions” that handle just one piece of the puzzle, which forces merchants to employ a variety of solutions in tandem to achieve their desired results. The time and expense involved with even basic ad creation and distribution can be overwhelming, leaving many SMBs intimidated by the prospect of communicating to their consumers on mobile. Marketers need to eliminate the fear associated with creating and delivering ad messages exactly where a client wants, at a budget that SMBs can afford. (Ryan Golden, Moasis Global)
2. Consider the maturity of the marketplace. There tends to be a direct correlation between the complexity of products available to SMBs and the maturity of the market. When the market is young, SMBs won’t tolerate much complexity because they don’t know if it’s worth their time to learn and manage new marketing tools. Creating marketing tools that get results while still being simple enough for merchants to use is extremely difficult. As the market matures and it becomes apparent that the trend is here to stay, SMBs will become more willing to invest time and resources into understanding these tools and they will slowly tolerate more complexity. Marketing to SMBs is really a moving target that relies on creating a solution that is as simple or complex as the market will allow. (Soso Sazesh, Circl)
3. Don’t Offer Mobile as a Separate Product. SMBs are already overwhelmed with the dizzying array of marketing services, and mobile can get lost as just another, separate thing that needs to be done. Don’t make mobile separate, because SMBs don’t have time. When a merchant updates an event or deal, it should update his mobile website, his mobile ad campaign and all other channels (website, email, directories). An integrated approach saves merchants time and money by simplifying their lives. (Trevor Sumner, LocalVox)
4. Don’t assume everyone has an iPhone. Many business owners and decision makers are still using Blackberry devices (they were early adopters of the platform, and they’ve stuck with it). Therefore, they don’t use the mobile web in the same way as many iPhone and Android users. Because of this, many local merchants don’t understand the value of mobile as much as they might otherwise. The best technique for marketers is to not assume that a business owner understands the difference between mobile and standard websites. Marketers should show merchants exactly how their website looks on an iPhone, compared to how it could look if they utilized mobile optimization. (Colin Pape, ShopCity)
5. Promote store locators. Last year, more than 20% of the campaigns on Millennial Media utilized a store locater. This is an incredibly useful tool for retailers, where getting someone into a physical location can make the difference between consideration and purchase. Using a store locator is a way for merchants to take advantage of the built-in GPS in smartphones, and make sure people can find their locations, no matter where they may be. (Mollie Spilman, Millennial Media)
6. Push mobile sales. Offering mobile products to local merchants is a challenge when SMBs can’t measure the impact that their marketing is having on sales and customers. We think there are three ways to further engage SMBs in mobile marketing. Marketers should make sure there is a shopping cart attached to any form of media, they should make sure there is inventory available for visibility and immediate purchase on any device, and they should make it easy for SMBs to integrate with the e-commerce of the brands they sell. (David Levine, gaxsys)
7. Turn static brand assets into points of engagement. Marketers should make it possible for national brands to work with local merchants to deliver customer experiences that people will love. Our platform turns static brand assets (like logos and product images) into rich, dynamic points of engagement. Packaging content together presents more of the brand’s story, and the added visibility to analytics also gives local merchants a hand in understanding what’s really working to help grow their businesses. (Michael Weissman, SYNQY)
Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.