By now you’ve certainly heard the term “mobile marketing”, which basically entails any marketing activities that are conducted via a mobile device such as a cell phone or tablet.  Mobile marketing can involve anything from SMS text messaging to location based marketing to formatting emails specifically for mobile devices.  While this method of lead generation is quickly gaining popularity, many people are still intimidated by it.

The good news is mobile marketing isn’t as complicated as it may seem.  In fact, once you get the ball rolling you’ll be able to reach your target audience on a whole new level and open up additional revenue streams for your business as a result.  Here are five simple ways you can jump on the bandwagon and get started using mobile marketing to connect with your customers.

Step 1:  Go mobile with your website.

Because mobile devices are much smaller and more compact than regular computers, websites must be specially formatted in order to be viewed properly on them.  The mobile version of your website must be clean, simple and easy to navigate.  To accomplish this, you have one of three choices.  The easiest option is to use one of the many available automated systems on the market, such as the one offered by GoDaddy, which basically takes your existing content and re-formats it.

For better results you can choose to use a plug-and-play platform instead.  This option is offered by a variety of different companies and essentially involves the creation of an entirely separate website designed specifically for mobile use.  A word of caution – be sure to do your homework before you choose a company for your plug-and-play platform.  Some of them are highly reputable and do excellent work, but others do not offer the same level of quality and service, so be careful.

Your third option is to optimize your existing site by adding a line of code which can detect the general screen size of each visitor to your site.  For instance, any visitor with a screen size of 600 pixels or more is likely using a computer whereas anything smaller than 600 pixels is probably a mobile device.  Based on this information, visitors are either directed to your regular website or sent to pages that are designed for a smaller screen, such as that of a smartphone.  This last option is probably the better of the three and can easily be done by your web designer.  The code snippets can be found at a number of places throughout the web by simply Googling the term “mobile website redirect code”.

Step 2:  Get Schooled.

As with anything, you can’t fully capitalize on mobile marketing if you don’t completely understand it.  The best way to learn about this innovative technique is by using it yourself.  Do you have a smartphone?  Why not play around with the mobile features and apps available to you?  Use a payment app for a business near you to pay for your gas or coffee, check in at Facebook Places or place an order online through a store’s mobile app.  The more you become familiar with mobile media and the incredible things it can do, the more confident you’ll feel about using it for your own marketing initiatives.

Step 3: Leverage Location Based Platforms by Claiming Your Business

This simply means affirming that you are the official representative of your business and wish to be listed on various platforms such as Foursquare, Facebook Places and Google Places.  By claiming your business on location based platforms, you can use them to run mobile promotions.  For example, you can offer a free product or service or a discount on a purchase to anyone who “checks in” at your location on Foursquare.

Feel free to think outside the box and get creative with your location based mobile marketing.  For instance, try extending your offers to anyone that checks in to any other place within a specified distance.  That means that anyone who checks in to a business down the street from you will automatically receive a mobile coupon for your company enticing them to stop by while they’re in the neighborhood.  (For more information on how location-based platforms can help your business, check out our article Google Places – A New Business Marketing Tool.)

Step 4: Launch Your Mobile Ad Campaign

Mobile ad campaigns are particularly effective because they are much more defined than traditional marketing methods.  Let’s say you own a pizza shop.  Unlike placing an ad in the newspaper or phone book, which is only viewed when someone specifically goes looking for it, your mobile ad can instantly pop up when someone does a search on their mobile device for “pizza restaurant near me”.  Instant, specific results mean a much better chance at conversion.

Mobile ad campaigns can be purchased a number of ways, including on a cost-per-click, cost-per-thousand or cost-per-acquisition basis.  There are a number of different advertising platforms to choose from, so spend a little time and learn about each one to determine which would be the best fit for your business.  Check out iAd from Apple and Google’s AdMob, both of which break down and explain the different payment options and how to use their services.

Step 5: Get Your Own QR Code

QR codes are those strange looking square bar code things that you’ve probably noticed are beginning to show up on everything from ads to websites to print media.  QR, or “quick response” codes, are basically 2 dimensional bar codes that are designed to be scanned and read by smartphones.  A user simply installs a QR scanner application, holds their mobile device over a code and is instantly directed to mobile web pages that offer things like coupons and special offers.

There are a number of sites that allow you to create your own QR code for free.  You define the URL you want scanners to be directed to, the message or content you want to share, or whatever other information you’d like associated with the code.  You can then use your unique QR code on anything from direct mail pieces to ads to your website to encourage people to connect with you through their mobile devices.

Once you break it down and take the time to get to know mobile marketing better, you’ll see that it’s not nearly as complex as you may have imagined.  These steps will have you up and running in no time so you can connect with your customers and potential customers on a whole new level and make the most of this innovative marketing technique.

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