Mobile marketing is opening up a whole new world for small businesses. Think about it. More people than ever are constantly connected online—either by smartphone, tablet or computer. This always-connected evolution has created many more opportunities for businesses to connect with consumers. And for local businesses the benefits are huge.

While the natural instinct may be to adapt a desktop strategy to fit mobile, brands need to think fully about how to best serve the unique needs of the mobile consumer. While you may be aiming for shopping cart transactions from consumers visiting your computer website, you may achieve similar or greater results from a mobile user getting directions to your location, checking your hours, or calling your business directly. These are referred to as context opportunities. Understanding the context in which a consumer may be seeking you out will enable you to send them relevant marketing messages at the right time.

Mobile marketing opportunities through mobile search

In May 2015 Google announced that the number of mobile searches had surpassed desktop for US, Japan and eight other countries that weren’t named. Later that year in October, Google announced that mobile searches exceed desktop worldwide. This doesn’t mean that desktop searches have declined. According to comScore, desktop searches have continued to rise month by month. It’s the convenience factor of having a phone always within reach that has enabled mobile to grow into a larger percentage of the search market.

Mobile marketing and peak time usage

Google reports that tablet and computer usage peaks in the evening hours at home while mobile usage is spread more evenly throughout the day. Mobile is often associated with on-the-go usage, yet a Nielsen study estimated that 68% of mobile searches occur at home, where larger devices may not provide immediate access.

In-store smartphone use poses new mobile marketing opportunities

When you’re walking around retail stores chances are you’ll see someone looking at their smart phone. A 2015 survey by mobile loyalty company Session M found that 90% of respondents said they use their smartphones in stores while shopping.  The top activities on smartphones while in-stores were:

  1. Price comparisons — 54%
  2. Looking up product information — 48%
  3. Checking reviews online — 42%

There is no doubt that a consumer’s ability to compare prices with an online retailer after examining merchandise in-store does bring risk to brick and mortar retailers whose overhead makes it more difficult to compete. However the study did identify some good news for brick and mortar brands willing to leverage mobile marketing strategies:

  • 57% said they’d be more likely to shop in a store if deals and offers were available
  • 76% said they would be more likely to shop at a store if a loyalty program was available

Small business owners can develop and use apps to drive more sales

If the thought of developing an app sounds like a massive cost expense, rest assured that there are many app developers such as GoodBarber and BizznessApps that are template-driven and enable small businesses to create and modify their own apps using easy-to-use solutions at an affordable cost.

Here are two of the top mobile marketing strategies that small businesses should leverage to give consumers the incentive to download an app:

  1. Push notifications alerting customers about deals and offers – Your app becomes a direct marketing channel and a valuable tool for maximizing the lifetime value of your customers.
  1. Loyalty programs to reward frequent buyers –Instead of an old-fashioned paper or plastic frequent buyer cards, give your customers a digital version that they’ll always have handy. Encouraging repeat business is key to maximizing sales.

With smartphones, tablets and computers providing consumers the opportunity to shop anytime, the line between offline and online shopping is going away. Stay ahead of your competition by leveraging the mobile marketing opportunities available to small businesses today.