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There is no denying the fact that mobile marketing is not the wave of the future anymore – it’s a necessity in the present. 2015 marked the first year that mobile searches outpaced computer searches on Google, and the trend toward mobile search shows no sign of slowing.

As of 2016, over two billion people own smart phones worldwide. It is essential for companies to find ways to connect with their customers on mobile devices. In fact, mobile marketing is especially important for local companies. Amazon has started using delivery drones to guarantee same-day delivery on certain items, and that means that owners of brick-and-mortar stores have lost one of the few advantages they had over online retailers.

With that in mind, here are some ideas you can use to connect with your customers on mobile devices.

Enable Mobile Payment Options

Mobile wallets – apps that allow customers to carry their financial information, including credit cards, on their smart phones – are growing increasingly popular. In 2015, 12.7% of all mobile users in the United States used some kind of mobile wallet, and that number is expected to increase to 20% in 2016. Mobile users want the convenience and flexibility of being able to use mobile payments. While accepting mobile payments might not seem like marketing, it actually can help you to attract new customers. Once the word gets out that people can use their mobile wallets with you, it may give you the edge over competitors who haven’t yet caught up with the trend.

Use Text Message (SMS) Marketing

Text messages are one of the most underutilized forms of marketing – which is surprising, because they’re also one of the most effective. The open rate of text messages is close to 99% -- significantly higher than the open rate for emails, which is between 20% and 25% for most businesses. A 99% open rate means that you can be virtually certain that all of the people on your mobile list will see your message. That makes text messaging an ideal way to spread the word about sales and promotions; distribute coupons; and more.

Use Location-Based Technology

Another popular trend in mobile marketing is the use of location targeting to reach out to customers when they are in the vicinity of your business. For example, geo-targeting can now send an automated message to a customer who is in the parking lot, advising them that you have a sale or promotion that might interest them. You can ping customers when they are in your area and entice them to come into the store. An equally exciting notion is the thought that you could use mobile technology in reverse, to notify you when a valued customer is entering your store. Personalized service is becoming increasingly important in local retail. Imagine if you could great a customer at the door, armed with a tablet that would show you their buying history and preferences. It’s a way of providing concierge-level service without a lot of hassle – and it’s something that can make the experience of shopping in your store preferable to shopping online.

Tailor Your Marketing Materials for Mobile Users

It used to be that the apex of mobile marketing was to have a mobile-adaptive site that would automatically adjust to the device on which it was being viewed. However, that might not be enough for today’s sophisticated mobile users. The fact is that people experience content in a different way on mobile devices than they do on computers, and your marketing should reflect that. For example, emails that are in a single column format are very easy to read on mobile devices, while multi column emails can be a challenge, requiring users to scroll both horizontally and vertically. If you tailor your emails for mobile users, you will get a better open rate – and a higher conversion rate – than you otherwise would.

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Target Mobile Customers with Video

It used to be that smartphone users had to pay for huge data plans to be able to watch videos on their phones. However, today many mobile users are connected to wireless networks and thus find it very easy to watch videos on their mobile devices. For that reason, it makes a lot of sense to target mobile customers with video on sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Snapchat. Video marketing is hugely popular and one of the most shareable forms of internet content, making it a natural choice for companies who want to bring in mobile users.

Create a Mobile App

You might have heard that creating a mobile app is expensive. It can be, but it’s also one of the best ways to connect and interact with mobile customers. Many companies today have developed and sold mobile apps to make it easy for their customers to buy from them without having to access a website. For example, pizza delivery places like Pizza Hut and Dominos have apps that allow customers to place orders directly from their phones. Depending on your business, you may have to get a bit creative with your app design to make something that your customers will find useful. However, it’s worth the time, effort, and money. Mobile customers appreciate the companies who cater to them and will be happy to have an app they can use to frequent your business.

Use Social Media Intelligently.

Instagram is one of the world’s most popular mobile apps. In the past, their advertising program met with some criticism because it was not possible to place a link in an ad. However, that has changed and Instagram’s marketing is open to the public. Instagram also gives advertisers access to Facebook’s psychographics (hobbies and interests) making it easier than ever to target customers.

Speaking of Facebook, another good option for mobile advertisers is to take advantage of Facebook’s “Call Now” button for mobile ads. This button is perfect for local businesses who want customers to call. It puts in a touch button that enables people who see the ad on a mobile device to call your business with the touch of a single button. It’s a good way to encourage mobile users to call to ask questions or make appointments.

The bottom line is that mobile marketing is going to be hugely important in 2016 and beyond. The companies who make the most of the trend now are those most likely to be successful in the future – while their competitors are scrambling to catch up with them.

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