5 Free Mobile Marketing Tactics

21 Jun 2011

Ben Perry

Ben Perry is the VP of Advertising Operations at MocoSpace, a Boston-based mobile social gaming company. Prior to that he worked at iProspect, one of the leading search engine marketing firms, where he started their successful paid search practice. Ben holds several degrees in psychological disciplines, including a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.

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You’ve no doubt heard that mobile is hot, so I’ll spare you all the stats. What I give you in this article instead, though, is something that will help you capitalize on the mobile platform for marketing your business. To that end, the following is a set of five mobile tactics that you can execute relatively easily in a short amount of time, all at your favorite price.    

Tactic #1: Make your website mobile   

Go to http://mtld.mobi/emulator.php right now and view your website as it looks on a few different mobile handsets. Does it show up at all? Does it look like a tiny version of your full website?

If it’s visible, that’s better than nothing. However, if it looks like a tiny version of your full site (most do), then you could be doing a lot better. Even on devices like the iPhone that can display a full web page properly, you should be catering specifically to these devices with a version of your site that fits the phone better.

There are services that will make your site mobile, but it often involves either paying money or hosting the mobile version on their servers. I recommend doing it yourself and owning the site. One of the best platforms is WordPress, which makes the task super simple. Just install a plugin like WP Touch and you’ll be mobile with a customized experience for mobile users.

Tactic #2: Mobile SEO

Optimizing your site for mobile search engines is a whole field itself. However, you can cover the following basics quickly:

  • Make sure mobile devices can display your site. Check the emulator above for different devices, or better yet borrow your friends’ phones and check it there. Having a site that doesn’t show up is the fastest way to get kicked out of the search results.
  • Create a mobile sitemap and submit it in your Google Webmaster Tools account (Google provides instructions).
  • Get some links from other mobile websites to your mobile site. This helps get your mobile site listed as such in the search results. Mobile directories like dir.mobi are a good place to start.

Tactic #3: Use the Hcard microformat

This sounds a lot harder than it is. It’s just your business information in a format that search engines and other sites that crawl around the web looking for local business data can easily consume. Helping other sites locate and list your business properly allows customers to find you when they search for you on their phones. Use the tool at hcardcreator.com to produce the code and slap it on your site where you keep your contact info.

Tactic #4: Claim your venue on Foursquare

If you haven’t heard of Foursquare, you should check it out. It’s a game where people check-in at real world locations using Foursquare’s app and compete to see who checks in the most. You can immediately see the value in people frequently checking in from your business, Better yet, Foursquare has a set of free tools for merchants to use: https://foursquare.com/business/venues

Use them to track the activity at your venue and offer special discounts to Foursquare’s 10 million users.

Tactic #5: Use your Facebook fan page

I’m going to assume that you have a Facebook fan page for your business. If you don’t, get one right now. Like, before you finish this article. But assuming you do, you should know that Facebook is the second most visited mobile site after Google. So your customers are using it while on the go.

The first tip is just to communicate with them, keep your page fresh and keep your fans informed of what’s going on with your business. If you have a discount to offer them, do it through the new Facebook deals feature. Facebook will help you promote your deal in your area. It’s a lot like Groupon but without all the fees that cause you to lose money on the deal.

Bonus Tactic: Collect an SMS list

I’m giving this as a bonus tip because it’s not entirely free. In addition to other contact info, you should collect phone numbers from your customers so that you can send them text messages. Like an email list, you need a company to manage the list and send the messages, which carries a modest monthly fee. But it is very much worth the cost. The percentage of people who will open an email hovers in the single digits, but send a text message and most people will look at it. Be aware, it’s a different medium altogether. You have to say something important, say it in very little space and say it infrequently, but the response rate can be huge.