6 Strategies For Helping SMBs Understand the Importance of Mobile

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small townThe holiday shopping season is here, and retailers of all sizes are pulling out the stops to entice consumers to spend. Although there is little doubt as to the important role that mobile plays in the retail space — 58% of consumers now own smartphones, and 57% of those consumers have visited a retailer’s mobile site or app while shopping in-store — small businesses as a group have been reluctant to utilize the latest mobile marketing tactics.

According to a Manta survey, 67% of small business owners don’t expect mobile to impact them this holiday season. Only 8% of the 1,003 SMBs surveyed said they expect mobile to drive shoppers to their brick-and-mortar locations. This presents a challenge for hyperlocal vendors looking to sell their mobile products and services, however it’s something that can be overcome through a combination of education and original thinking. Here is a deeper look at six strategies for helping SMB clients understand the importance of mobile.

1. Be straightforward about the costs and benefits. “Vendors should focus their ‘cost/benefit’ explanations on practical information. Many marketers tend to use channel-specific metrics or high-level statistics, which at Spotfront we’ve found isn’t necessarily meaningful to SMBs. Instead, I would recommend emphasizing — and if possible actually visualizing or calculating in real-time — the ways that an improved mobile presence can actually impact a business. Quantitative metrics related to customers, products and revenue are most valuable. By putting mobile into business-impact-specific terms, a mobile pitch becomes more relevant and understandable.” (Alex Sherman, Spotfront)

2. Take a proactive approach. “SMBs are extremely conservative when it comes to trying new things. The risk is mainly their time. Hence, they all lament the sales calls. Depending on your service, go out and just put merchants in your mobile technology process as if they were paying customers. What we have done at near9 is put published offers on our platform that we have seen in print and online. The consumer base we have developed sees the offers, visits the business, displays the offer, and as you might expect, the merchant then ‘sees the light.’” (Dana Ward, Near9)

3. Put up a good offense. “I like to describe the ‘offensive’ and ‘defensive’ reasons to integrate mobile. Offensively, consumers are addicted to their mobile devices and increasingly expect their favorite retailers to support mobile ordering, payment, etc. You’ll get more business if you offer more ways for consumers to interact. Defensively, your competitors are integrating mobile, making them more attractive to the younger generation of digital native consumers. Don’t get left behind.” (Matt Niehaus, Instore)

4. Augment existing solutions with turnkey components. “SMBs don’t particularly love point solutions. Mobile should be an important extension of an existing business presence, marketing or commerce strategy for an SMB, instead of its own separate channel. To that end, vendors that are currently ‘on the plan’ for website creation, online marketing and e-commerce back-end should be focused on augmenting their existing product packages to include automated mobile components. It may be an upsell, but it’s a mutually beneficial one.” (Alex Sherman, Spotfront)

5. Show originality. “We suggest leveraging mobile targeting technology, breakthrough creative and real-time campaign optimization to maximize ROI. Smartphones and tablets present creative minds with new canvases to create compelling, original advertising. By creating ads that integrate the features and user behaviors unique to each platform, breakthrough mobile and tablet ad creative can provide both dazzling and utilitarian ad experiences.” (Michael Hayes UberMedia)

6. Do it and demonstrate it. “Vendors need to provide it, do it and show it. Mobile technologies looking to serve SMBs are up against an ‘immoveable object.’ Operate your services for a period of time to demonstrate the effect you can have on the SMB’s business, and report back to them on analytics and what you have been able to accomplish, such as clicks and views. Vendors need to do and demonstrate much more to teach local merchants the importance of mobile.” (Dana Ward, Near9)

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.