Since the first edition of my book (The Mobile Marketing Handbook) came out in early 2009, people have been asking me how to start a business in mobile marketing. Last week I discovered a new idea to add to my answer about how to do it.
Most of the thousands of people I have helped to start and build their mobile marketing businesses have done it via the local business service model – by helping businesses use mobile marketing to bring more customers in the door. I love this business model and, as my core business, continue to train and teach this aspect of building a business.
It is not for everyone though. Some people are people attracted to mobile and the concept of doing something with it, but they don’t really want to start a service-based business.
Until now, I haven’t really had anything to suggest to those folks.
Now I do.
It is a mobile-focused business that can be started for less than $10 and is not about selling mobile services to businesses.
If that sounds intriguing to you, then please check out this website. I highly encourage you to watch the quick videos on the home page and be sure to see the App Questions section of the FAQ.
If you already have a local business mobile marketing company, this is something you can do completely separately in order to have something mobile you can offer to consumers. Plus, for certain types of businesses who might be your clients, this could make an excellent source of residual income for them and you.
Not that I am comparing myself to Moses, but I am taking on the responsibility of writing out the 10 Commandments of Mobile Marketing.
And while they are not being presented to you on a stone tablet, it would be wise to consider these as set in stone if you want to succeed in mobile marketing.
What is your biggest question about starting or growing your mobile marketing business?
I get dozens of emails and calls every week from people who are just getting started in a text messaging business or want to start doing mobile websites or mobile apps or QR Codes and are stalled at some point. They just need to get a certain piece of the puzzle figured out and then they can get moving forward again.
Given that nearly everyone on the planet who is old enough to be a potential customer of yours (explored fully here) has a mobile phone, it is imperative that your business takes steps to mobilize now. If your customers haven’t already interacted with you on mobile, they will. Mobilizing simply means making it easy for your customers to interact with you via mobile and determining the best way to reach out to them via mobile with relevant information for them.
Let me start with why the first two steps I am going to share with you are not optional. It is quite simply because the choice to interact via mobile is not in your control, it is literally in the hands of your customer. It is their decision whether to visit your website using their phone, tablet or their desktop computer. If they choose to use their phone and your site is not mobile friendly, then you lose.
Same goes with checking email. If they happen to check email using mobile and your email is too big and bulky to be read easily on the small screen, then it is your email that is ignored. The choice of using mobile is theirs, not yours. Not optional, see what I mean?
Three Steps to Mobilize Your Business:
1. Mobilize your website.
Yes, you need to create a mobile version of your website even if you think that smartphones make mobile websites unnecessary. First of all, smartphones are not yet the majority of phones. In the US the smartphone adoption rate is only 35% as of the end of 2011. It is only 30% in Canada. (See Tomi Ahonen’s blog post about smartphone adoption rates for details.) If you do live somewhere where smartphone adoption is much higher, keep reading to see the second reason you need a mobile site.
Secondly, even though smartphone browsers are, for the most part, powerful enough to serve up a desktop site it doesn’t mean that these desktop sites are easy enough to see and/or use on a mobile screen. It is always smart to give mobile visitors an experience that is customized to their mobile device and the choice to use the desktop version if they would rather.
- Short paragraphs that make it easy to read
- The information that your visitors need when they are mobile (hours, location, etc.) prominently featured
- Small sized graphics that don’t take a long time to download
- Calls-to-action that work well on mobile (click-to-call, links that go to mobile commerce enabled pages, etc.)
- All of this powered by a mobile platform that detects when the visiting device is a mobile one and serves up the mobile site
If your business has a physical location that customers visit in person (as opposed to being an online only business, like mine) a very smart step in mobilizing your business is to create a robust Google Places listing. With Google having a reported 98.29% market share of mobile search, it is an absolute no-brainer to use their free business listing service that serves up mobile search results.
2. Make your email marketing mobile friendly.
Quick poll: Do you ever check your email on your mobile phone? Yes, you do, I’m willing to bet on it. And so do your customers. Most of them probably do on a daily basis. Let me ask you this: what happens if the email you so carefully crafted and designed doesn’t even open on their phone? Or when it does it is unreadable?
You know as well as I do that people don’t have time to read their email twice, much less once. So your one chance at getting your email read is to have it opened and read the first time it is encountered. The best way to make sure that happens is to send every email out as if it will be opened on mobile.
A few tips about mobilizing your email:
- Don’t send multiple column HTML emails filled with lots of graphics
- Instead, keep your email design simple. Consider following the principles of “skinny email” as written about here.
- Remember that any calls to action you have in email should also work on mobile.
3. Build an opt-in SMS text messaging list.
If you are seeking a way to reach past your customers’ crowded email in boxes using a mobile technology that provides relevant value in a hyper timely fashion, you need to look no further than text messaging. Building an opt-in SMS list at this point in time is analogous to beginning an email list in the mid 1990s. The businesses that did it first and did it well reaped great rewards. You have that chance right now.
While email open rates plummet (ironically, even though we are all checking our email on mobile devices) SMS messages are seen instantly or nearly so. And because so few businesses have an SMS list built yet, you have the chance to be one of the few businesses with direct access to your customers wherever they are.
Since I am so avidly against mobile spam in all its forms, I have to say that it is important that you fully understand that any text messaging you send to customers must be done with explicit permission. This is not the post to go into this in detail, just know that it is critical to stay completely above board with text messaging.
A few thoughts about starting an SMS text messaging list:
- The only way to build a list is to launch a campaign that your customers will opt into.
- You must entice them to sign up with a compelling offer – a reason to sign up: a special discount, something for free, information they can only get via mobile, etc.
- When sending out your text messages you want to include a strong call to action, something worth their time and attention and all the details they need to move forward.
If you want to mobilize your business here are some additional resources for education and training:
If you want to build your own mobile marketing business and help other businesses mobilize here are some additional resources:
Why 67% of the world’s population having mobile phone access is a BIG DEAL to your business.
Your business needs to market to reach customers. Plain and simple, without effective marketing your business will suffer. Effective marketing is being able to reach and be reached by the right customers at the right time with the right message. My stance is that no other marketing medium can help your business with effective marketing better than mobile marketing. Let’s explore this concept further.
This post is written based on data and analysis provided by Tomi Ahonen in his post “7 Billion People on the Planet – How Relates to Digital Divide?” My take on the data Tomi presents is about why mobile is such a powerful marketing medium and why every business needs to mobilize now. I am taking only tiny snippets from Tomi’s lengthy post so you should be sure to read the original in its full glory. As usual he has written a very insightful analysis.
First, let’s get to the bottom of the 67% figure. According to Tomi Ahonen’s research, there are 3.95 billion unique mobile phone users (“actual human beings who have at least one mobile phone account and at least one actual mobile phone handset in their pocket”) in the world. When family-shared mobile phones are accounted for, the total reach of mobile today is 4.7 billion unique users – or 67% of the planet.
Keep in mind that 27% of the global population is under age 15 (source: www.globalhealthfacts.org/). So, even though a fair number of those under 15 do have cell phones, it is still safe to say that a vast majority of all the people on the planet age 16 and over has mobile phone access. That’s right; close to everyone in the world who is old enough to be a possible customer for your business has access to a mobile phone. The same cannot be said of electricity, computer access, television, radio or sadly, running water.
As impressive as it is to conisder how many people have mobile access, it is important to note that this is only one aspect of effective marketing. Still to be factored into the equation are reaching and being reached by the right customers at the right time with the right message. Let’s see how mobile works on those accounts.
Being reached is all about having a mobile presence that is accessible when people are trying to find you via mobile. When you consider 14% of people perform mobile searches daily (and many more do mobile searching, just not daily) yet only 12% of small businesses (and 21% of medium businesses) have a mobile website, it is clear that businesses need to stay on top of mobilizing to keep up with consumers in adopting this technology.
Factor in the statistics AT&T released that showed that 43% of local searchers of mobile devices physically showed up at the business location they found in online mobile search results and that 22% of those users actually made a purchase! This means that customers are actively seeking businesses at which to spend money using their mobile phones. Being reachable via mobile is simply not optional at this point in time.
On the other side of that coin is reaching customers. Let’s look at how mobile can help businesses to reach out to customers. First, it is crucial to note that the ONLY WAY that anyone should ever be contacted on mobile from a business is with explicit permission. To do otherwise is mobile spam, pure and simple; it is not smart marketing and in many countries is illegal.
One method of reaching customers via mobile is through SMS text messaging. A business that builds an opt-in SMS list of customers can proactively contact these customers on a regular basis through a channel that is largely uncluttered and gets paid attention to. Since people have their phones with them and on most of the time, when a message arrives it is read within seconds or minutes. Unlike email that piles up in the in box or television commercials that get fast forwarded or paper coupons that arrive in the mail only to be forgotten at home at the critical time, SMS gets read and is with your customer all the time.
There are two ways that SMS can be associated with the ‘right time’ aspect of effective marketing. First, businesses can reach out when they need to in order to make their marketing efforts pay off in a timely manner. An example of this is a restaurant having a slow night. A simple mobile coupon sent out at the beginning of the evening can bring customers to the table (literally) within the same time frame the extra business is needed. No other marketing method can do this as effectively. Period.
From the customers’ perspective the ‘right time’ aspect of mobile marketing comes into play by being able to communicate with businesses as they wish, when they wish, via mobile. You know what that feels like yourself: Doing a mobile search and finding what you need, when you need it. Or grabbing your mobile phone to get ahead on email when you have a minute and opening email that is easy to read on your tiny screen.
As for the right message part of the effective marketing equation, it is important to note that mobile marketing is truly only effective when the right message is incorporated. Because mobile is such a personal medium (for the most part we each use our own phones exclusively and they are with us 24/7) it is critical to always provide relevant value to the customer. Do this by mobilizing your website with what people want when they are mobile; sending out targeted text messages to opt-in lists based on what customers want from your business and keeping your customers’ wants and needs in mind whenever doing anything in mobile marketing.
Mobile marketing has the potential to be the most powerful marketing tool your business has ever used, but it must be utilized correctly and with effective marketing principles soundly in place.
If you want to mobilize your business here are some additional resources for education and training:
• The Mobile Marketing Handbook
If you want to build your own mobile marketing business and help other businesses mobilize here are some additional resources:
• International Mobile Marketing Business Network
• Mobile Marketing BOOTCAMP: SMS Business
• Mobile Marketing BOOTCAMP: Mobile Web
I am so excited to have a new design for my site and want to say that while the site is live, there are still quite a few tweaks and adjustments we are still making. If you see something strange or missing graphics or links that don’t work, please excuse our virtual dust. We’re sweeping up as fast as we can.
Today I will be mobilizing the site (watch for more about that whole process soon) and getting some more questions up on the FAQ page. If you have any mobile marketing questions, go ahead and submit them on the FAQ page.
Once I get my new slider graphics installed and all the loose ends tied up I will have a grand opening celebration and I’ll let you know all about it.
If you are just getting started with your mobile marketing business, you might find these tips helpful.
- Learn the basics of mobile marketing first. If you jump in without knowing some of the most basic requirements and regulations you could land yourself and your clients in hot water. I suggest reading the Mobile Marketing Association’s Best Practices document as your first step. A lot of it will be completely over your head the first time you read it. That’s OK. Do it anyway. Then come back to it later when you know more.
You can also check out my Mobile Marketing QuickStart as a quick, easy, affordable way to get started in mobile marketing.
- Read case studies and examples of mobile marketing in action. It will help to see what other businesses are doing in the mobile space. It will also get your ideas flowing about what you can do with your business. I read MobileMarketer.com every day for this very reason. You can also “Like” the Mobile Marketing Profits Facebook page. I share case studies and mobile marketing examples there all the time.
- Subscribe to as many text message campaigns as you can find. Use the mobile web frequently. You need to use this stuff in order to know how to sell it. If you don’t already have an unlimited data plan – get one now. Here’s your first chance:
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For a series of 10 weekly tips about mobile marketing from me:
Text KIMD to 69302
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- Start determining what you want to offer to your customers: text messaging, mobile website development, mobile coupons on demand, mobile advertising, mobile marketing strategy or a combination of some of these. You will find that your ideas will flow best around a certain type of service. Start with that.
- Make a list of potential local business clients and brainstorm what you’d offer them. This will be so much easier if you are reading case studies and participating in mobile offers. Of course when you are ready to start acquiring clients you will not just walk in and tell them what you want to offer them, you will start first by seeing what their needs are and then show them how mobile can solve their problems.
- Find a vendor (or most likely several) who provide the technological backbone to what you’ll sell. You’ll be looking for a text messaging company, a mobile website builder, etc. Check out my list of recommended mobile marketing vendors as a good starting point.
- Get training. If your vendors have training – take it! If you would like step-by-step guidance in building your mobile marketing business, please check out my Mobile Marketing Business in a Box (my self-study program) or the Mobile Marketing Masters Group (a 6-week group class personally lead by Kim Dushinski).
Good luck with your mobile marketing business. Please let me know what you’re doing and how I can help.
I was interviewed last week by Brian Prows of Mobile Beyond for his excellent mobile marketing podcast. He interviews a lot of great people in mobile, like Michael Becker and Mickey Alam Khan, and I was glad to do the interview when he asked.
Brian asked a lot of great questions and we covered a lot of ground in the interview titled Practical Mobile Marketing Advice for SMBs with Kim Dushinski. Enjoy!
The Mobile Marketing Association redefined “mobile marketing” this week at the Mobile Marketing Forum in Los Angeles. Here’s the new official definition:
“Mobile marketing is a set of practices that enables organizations to communicate and engage with their audience in an interactive and relevant manner through any mobile device or network.”
I love the MMA’s new definition because it encompasses all the different tools of mobile marketing that are available today and those that will become available. Also, it brings up two very important concepts: communication and engagement. After all, if a mobile phone isn’t about communication we’ve really missed the boat.
But my favorite part is the word RELEVANT because unless mobile marketing is relevant to the end user it will not work. No one wants to be marketed to, but everyone likes to have relevant information available to them.
But this definition still begs the question, what is mobile marketing … exactly? What tools are available to businesses today who want to reach their customers via mobile?
Top Four Tools of Mobile Marketing
Text Messaging / SMS
This is probably the most obvious tool of mobile marketing because so many people are doing text messaging – 123 million of us in the US and 3 billion of us worldwide. It is only natural that this type of communication would attract marketers.
The most common format of text messaging as a marketing tool is mobile couponing. Offering a discount or special offer via text message. But text messaging can and should be so much more than just coupons.
Alerts, text clubs, product/service information, sending mobile site links, interactive voting, contests, text-to-donate are just a sampling of the many uses of text messaging.
Over 50 million people in the US are going online with their phones and they are expecting to get websites that work on their phone. They want to find what they need quickly and easily and get back to whatever it is they were doing. The mobile web experience is not about “browsing” it is about “finding.”
If you are not sure if your company site is mobile friendly, just go to it on your mobile phone. Preferably access it from more than one type of phone so you can see how differently it works for different people based on the phone they are using.
Much the same as there is banner advertising on the desktop version of the Internet, there are also banner ads on mobile sites. Google made news recently by buying AdMob, one of the leading mobile display ad networks, and it is safe to say that mobile display (or banner) advertising will be a much more used tool in marketing now.
Additionally there is pay per click advertising which is aligned with mobile search. A consumer searching for something their phone will see search results ads showing along with the organic listings they find. Naturally, Google is a huge player in this space as well with their Google Mobile Adwords program.
Each day millions of people check their email on their phone. Whether the businesses sending emails to these people intended to be mobile marketing or not, they most certainly are. Once a person is communicating and engaging with you on their mobile device you are doing mobile marketing.
Every email that is sent must be easily readable on a mobile device or become so within one click. People are deluged by email and it is not likely that they will look at your email twice. If the first opportunity to see it comes on their mobile, it darn well better work because you will not get a second chance when they are on their desktop later.
If you need help with any of these mobile marketing tools I am here to help you. Check out my Mobile Marketing QuickStart, Text Messaging Module, Mobile Web Module and/or my Strategic Thought Session.
The biggest misconception around mobile marketing lies in the idea that a business builds a database of mobile phone numbers and then dives into a mobile marketing campaign using these numbers. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that in order to build a database of opt-in mobile numbers you have to do a mobile marketing campaign. Here’s why.
Text messaging is a mandatory opt-in marketing channel. It is never smart or ethical to send text messages that are not explicitly requested. And in many places around the world it is illegal to do so. This explicit permission is not granted simply by being a customer or giving a business a cell phone number for other purposes.
Opting in has very specific criteria. You have to get someone to text in to opt in, sign up online with using a fill in the blank form or reply “Yes” when you have gotten verbal permission to add them to your mobile list. None of these can be done without having a mobile marketing campaign going.
The good news is that everybody starts at zero. Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike all start with no one in their mobile marketing database.
Even better news is that it only takes a smart marketing strategy and powerful marketing implementation to get people opting in like crazy. Give people a good reason to sign up and make sure they know all about it and your campaign is underway. Your text message database is being built.
Waiting to start mobile marketing until you have a mobile database is impossible. You cannot build a mobile marketing database without doing mobile marketing.
Shout out to my friend Chris Torbit with SmartReply who coined the phrase “everybody starts at zero.”
- IMMBN IMMBN International Mobile Marketing Business Network
- BOOK HANDBOOK The Mobile Marketing Handbook by Kim Dushinski
- SMS BUSINESS TEXT MSG BUSINESS How to Start and Grow an SMS Text Messaging Business
- MOBILE WEB BIZ MOBILE WEB How to Start and Build a Mobile Website Building Business
- SPEAKING SPEAKING Invite Kim Dushinski to speak about mobile marketing