The basics of mobile Internet marketing

If you pay attention to both technology and marketing, you can’t get too far without hearing about “mobile marketing.” Mobile marketing is about engaging your customers and prospects on their mobile devices. It covers text message marketing, or SMS, apps, location-based marketing and mobile websites.
The proliferation of smartphones is the main driver of this trend. In fact, it is predicted that by the end of 2011 there will be at least 140 million smartphone subscriptions in the United States. To say “you can’t ignore this” would be an understatement. So let’s start with the mobile Internet.The mobile Internet is where Web-enabled smartphones do their browsing. About 20 percent of Google searches are originated on mobile devices right now. Google also dominates the mobile search market.So what can you do to take advantage of the mobile Internet long before your competitors?First, you have to realize the mobile Internet exists. Browsing a website on your desktop or laptop from a broadband connection in your home or office is a much different experience than browsing from a mobile device. As you may have experienced, most sites move slowly, are hard to read and sometimes their content can’t even be displayed on the small screen. What’s the problem? These sites are not “mobile” – which brings the need for a new player to the Internet marketing game.

Mobile websites

Mobile websites are meant to fit the small screens of smartphones and mobile devices. The key difference is found in the layout of the site. Graphics, text, offers, navigation and information is presented in a different way. And when it’s done right, the browsing experience for viewers is many times better than if they were viewing a traditional website from their mobile phone.So how does a prospect or customer get to a mobile site?There are few ways. One way is through the use of “quick response,” or QR codes. These codes can be scanned by your smartphone and take you to a mobile site. A quick note: At the time of this writing, Google is looking to replace QR codes with a new technology that uses “near-field communication” instead.Another way someone can arrive at your mobile site is by doing a search. Then, when your mobile site is properly installed, a piece of code detects the mobile browser and serves the mobile version. You can also get traffic to a mobile site via text message and email marketing by providing links in your communications.The trend setters in the mobile Internet world are the big retailers – think Best Buy, Target and Amazon. Beyond having mobile websites, these retailers conduct mobile commerce or “m-commerce.” Their customers buy right from their phones while on the retailer’s mobile site.For the small business who may not be concerned with conducting mobile commerce, a good mobile Web presence with lead generation and basic mobile search optimization would put you way ahead of your competition. Unfortunately there are still many, many small-business owners who are totally unaware of this trend. It’s easy to get started with mobile Web marketing via mobile sites, but be sure your current traditional site is pulling its weight.

Mike Dolpies, a business owner, author, speaker and Internet marketing consultant, can be reached at 603-286-4864