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Updated Apr 10, 2024

4 Mobile Device Marketing Strategies for Your Small Business

Your small business needs a mobile marketing strategy.

Ben Mizes, Community Member
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Smartphones are ubiquitous these days. People have near-constant access to their phones, using their mobile devices to shop, buy, research purchases, compare prices, and more. Small businesses need a mobile marketing strategy to reach and engage with their smartphone-using customers and prospects. 

However, mobile marketing is a unique endeavor, unlike other elements in your business’s marketing plan. To succeed in the mobile space, you’ll need marketing strategies specifically formulated for the medium and its users’ unique preferences. We’ll explore four of the most effective digital marketing strategies to reach on-the-go customers and prospects.

How to target customers with mobile device marketing

According to Pew Research Center, 85% of U.S. adults have a smartphone – and use them frequently, with Statista estimating that Americans spend nearly 4.5 hours on their smartphones daily. Clearly, targeting smartphone users with mobile marketing will get your message in front of a vast audience. 

Here are four specific mobile marketing strategies to consider. 

1. App-based marketing helps you connect with loyal customers.

According to eMarketer data, mobile users spend 88% of their time using apps, making app-based marketing a crucial strategy. Marketing via your business’s custom mobile app helps you engage with proven, loyal customers. 

For example, skincare giant Sephora used its app to dramatically expand consumer engagement by offering features like rewards, loyalty programs, and customized shopping experiences. It harnessed artificial intelligence to let consumers test makeup products and leveraged consumer data to steer users toward products that would likely appeal to them. 

To get the most customer usage (and promotion time), design features into your custom app to make it easier and more fun for customers to shop with your company. The possibilities of app-based marketing are limited only by your imagination.

If your business doesn’t have a dedicated app, you can still reach your target audience through the Google Ads AdMob service, which helps businesses place ads in third-party apps. You can also use Facebook’s Promoted Post ads, a Facebook marketing strategy that places ads in Facebook mobile app users’ news feeds.

App-based marketing’s primary benefits are: 

  • Fostering an intimate and constantly evolving relationship with your customers.
  • Utilizing predictive data technology that can enable a hyper-efficient shopping experience.

App-based marketing’s primary downside is that: 

  • Your audience is largely limited to existing customers, so this method isn’t optimal for bringing in new users.
TipBottom line
To create a custom mobile app for your business, consider finding an app makers and development solutions to help with app development, content, distribution, and customer engagement.

In-game mobile marketing

Technically, in-game mobile marketing falls in the category of general app-based marketing. However, gaming is such a vast segment of the mobile market that it deserves attention. Statista estimates that gaming accounts for 45% of all smartphone use, with over 200 million gamers in the U.S. alone – 33% of whom play more than 10 hours a week. 

Mobile ads for gamers include banner ads and video ads. 

  • Banner ads. Banner ads are self-explanatory. We’ve all seen – and promptly closed – many banner ads. Gamers will see your ad on a loading screen or during a game. Though they’re a relatively low-effort, low-return marketing form, they increase essential brand awareness.
  • Video ads. In contrast, video ads have proven to be a hugely successful form of in-game marketing, mainly because they spur interactivity. Incentivized video entices consumers to watch an ad in return for rewards like in-game points or gear and has excellent conversion potential. Gamers have found the rewards irresistible, making incentivized video the gold standard of in-game marketing.

In-game mobile marketing’s primary benefit is: 

  • In-game marketing gets your ads in front of some of the most engaged, enthusiastic mobile users.

In-game mobile marketing’s primary downside is: 

  • Gamers’ receptivity to banner ads and video ads has declined. 

2. Location-based marketing is an effective mobile marketing strategy.

Location-based marketing uses consumers’ past or present locations to give them tailored ads. The two most popular forms of location-based marketing are geofencing and geotargeting.

  • Geofencing. Companies like Facebook and Snapchat use geofencing to push ads to consumers based on where they are at that moment. For example, if you’re downtown, you might see an ad for a concert happening a few blocks away or for nearby bars and restaurants.
  • Geotargeting. Geotargeting is similar to geofencing but is based on a consumer’s past location. Let’s say a restaurant is running a holiday promotion. It can use geotargeted mobile marketing to push ads to everyone who visited the restaurant over the past three months. Places like car dealerships or clothing stores can use a narrower time window for geotargeting. If you’re on the fence about that convertible or shearling coat you looked at earlier, an ad offering a discount could push you to complete the purchase. 

A Google Business Profile is an easy way to take advantage of location-based marketing. It ensures that people searching for your products or business will find you and that you can reach your customers where they are. According to Google, 76% of consumers who search for nearby merchants (e.g., “shoe repair near me”) visit within a day, and 28% of those searches result in a purchase. 

Location-based mobile marketing’s primary benefits are that: 

  • It helps you target high-value consumers.
  • It uses geotargeting as a great tool to close a sale.

Location-based mobile marketing’s primary downsides are: 

  • Some consumers have expressed privacy concerns.
  • Consumers may be alienated by creepy ads that stalk them if it’s done too aggressively.
Did You Know?Did you know
SMS marketing and mobile marketing are different, though related, strategies. SMS marketing is a way to send customers reminders, notices, offers, and coupons. Mobile marketing is the overall practice of marketing a business on a mobile device platform.

3. QR codes are a multi-function mobile strategy.

Consumers today want their information fast, and QR (quick response) codes are one of the best ways to deliver quick information. These scannable images can auto-dial your business’s number on a user’s phone, start an app download, email a receipt or menu, or show your business’s exact location. 

Marketers are of two minds on how upfront businesses should be about what their QR codes do. Some believe you should take all the guesswork out of the interaction and tell the consumer exactly what the QR code contains. In contrast, others believe an element of mystery can entice more users to scan a code out of curiosity. 

Ultimately, marketers have found that consumers in the gaming space are more responsive to a surprise or mysterious QR code, while retail consumers prefer a more straightforward disclosure.

QR codes’ primary benefit is: 

  • They’re fast and easy to implement, packing a huge amount of information into one point of contact. QR code usage increased during the pandemic as businesses used them as an alternative to paper menus and other printed material.

QR codes’ primary downside is: 

  • QR codes can be challenging to implement in the real world, as clear scan lines and unobstructed views can be difficult to come by in urban environments.
TipBottom line
Consider hiring a digital marketing manager to help with mobile marketing strategies as well as email marketing and social media marketing.

4. Mobile search ads provide immediate, measurable results.

Mobile search ads are the mobile equivalent of the Google ads we’re all familiar with. They’re ads that appear at the top of a user’s search results, formatted so that they appear to be part of the results. Like desktop Google ads, mobile search ads have significant and quantifiable benefits.

You can see massive traffic if you organically rank at the top of Google searches for your keywords. One study from Backlino found that the top three positions in search results have click-through rates of 43%, 37%, and 3%, respectively. 

With a mobile search ad, you essentially jump to the front of the line. Some advertisers have seen click-through rates as high as 11% and successful lead conversion rates as high as 13%. That’s an exceptional digital marketing ROI.

Mobile search ads’ primary benefit is: 

  • It provides immediate, measurable results at a great value.

Mobile search ads’ primary downside is: 

  • Online users have grown steadily more suspicious of ads; you need a mobile-friendly website to utilize any potential traffic. 

Why mobile marketing is important for your business

If you aren’t marketing your company on mobile devices, you could be leaving business and profits on the table. Here are some reasons why you should consider using mobile marketing for your business.

  • Mobile marketing casts a wide reach. Nearly everyone has a smartphone. By carefully choosing your mobile marketing strategy, you can reach your prospective customers directly. 
  • Smartphone users want to buy. People use their smartphones for various tasks, but many are related to researching and purchasing. According to the Global Digital Shopping Playbook, Americans use their smartphones in-store to look for offers and discounts (12.2%), find product information (10.2%), and read product reviews (9.8%), among other shopping behaviors. If you can put your marketing message in front of prospects when they are looking to buy, you have a good chance of converting them into a customer.
  • Mobile marketing helps you engage with prospects. Mobile technology lets you offer prospects a unique experience that will make learning about and interacting with your business convenient, interesting, and fun with features like augmented reality, gaming, loyalty programs, and shopping trials. When a prospect’s initial interaction with you gives them value, you can shorten the buying cycle and create a stronger relationship with the customer over time.
  • Mobile marketing is cost-effective. Mobile marketing is less expensive than traditional digital advertising. It also costs less to create the ads because there’s less content. This cost-effectiveness puts it within reach for even small businesses. 
  • Mobile marketing feels more personal. Since your smartphone is a personal device, the messages you receive on it feel more personal. When combined with personalization and location-based marketing, mobile marketing messages can feel like they speak to each user individually.

Mobile marketing is a must-have strategy

Smartphones are ubiquitous, and apps monopolize more of consumers’ shrinking attention spans, making mobile marketing a must-have strategy. But applying old marketing techniques to this new medium won’t work. Ultimately, marketers need innovative, contemporary strategies for innovative, contemporary platforms. 

Jennifer Dublino contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.

Ben Mizes, Community Member
Ben Mizes is the co-founder and CEO of Clever Real Estate. He's an active real estate investor with 22 units in St. Louis and a licensed agent in Missouri. Ben enjoys writing about real estate, investing, personal finance, and financial freedom. He's a serial entrepreneur, having run several successful startups before Clever Real Estate. Ben's writing has been featured in Yahoo Finance, Realtor News, CNBC, and BiggerPockets.
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