As consumers go mobile, so goes SMB marketing

Mobile technology developer Cellit offers several platforms that help small businesses run mobile marketing campaigns starting at $49 per month.

Plenty of articles and commentaries have been written about the risks to small businesses associated with using daily deals sites, especially the grand-daddy of them all, Groupon.

But that doesn't mean SMBs should shun the practice of using regular outreach via social media and mobile phones to alert existing customers to promotional activities or special deals. Increasingly, that is where consumers are inclined to want to receive these sorts of messages, especially since more and more of them are using smartphones as a shopping aid. There is another reason that your organization might consider mobile marketing: apparently targeted text messages that include coupons are redeemed 8 times more often than the same promotions sent out via email.

It might help to think of this idea as an extension to existing customer relationship management (CRM) activities, which is a position advocated by mobile marketing company Cellit.

Cellit has created a new service called Spark that allow small businesses to send out coupon codes, marketing messages and other communications relevant to their customers. The messages can be sent via text or according to the preferences of the customers. By allowing small businesses to track how coupons and keywords are used, by whom and where, Spark allows small-business owners to gather valauble feedback about their products and services.

"We like to think that coupons are great, but it is also just a great way to collect feedback," said Cellit founder and president David Wachs.

For example, your organization might consider including a mobile coupon code on a local Val-Pack mailing, extending the reach of that marketing spend. In addition, small businesses can better track which mailings are most effective. Spark information can be integrated with many major point of sale systems. In fact, Wachs advises small businesses to include mobile keyword information on all of their traditional communications -- including flyers, posters, door clings and such -- for a better conversion rate.

The Gelato Spot in Phoenix offers a great example of how mobile marketing can benefit a small business. The company, which runs four locations, reports that it has seen a 12 percent response rate for mobile coupons that it has been delivering via the Cellit Studio service. The company has been using the platform to collect names for its loyalty club.

Thomas Plato, director of marketing at Gelato Spot, told Cellit:

"We have seen a consistent 12 percent response rate for mobile coupons. Although we are only two months in, these are better results than any of our previous couponing efforts."

There is a caveat: Wachs said consumers aged 18 to 35 are more apt to respond to mobile marketing than other age groups. So, if your organization's demographic is much older than that range, this might not be the most effective platform. At least not yet.

The fees for Spark start at $49 per month, depending on the number of messages sent or key words used during a given time period, Wachs said.

(Image courtesy of Cellit)

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