Monday, 23 May 2011

For Small-Business Marketers, Are Fewer Channels Better?

Increased use of online formats might hurt effectiveness

Finding new customers is the greatest business challenge for small businesses, according to a February 2011 survey by Bredin Business Information, and small businesses are turning to a wide variety of online marketing channels to do so.

Small-business owners were most likely to say they used websites to find new customers (85.8%), followed by email and search marketing, each used by about three-quarters of respondents. Notably, every online marketing channel showed a dramatic increase in usage between 2010 and 2011.
With a confidence interval of ±5%, the survey results can be used directionally to indicate a great level of experimentation among small businesses using digital marketing, according to Bredin.

Online Marketing Tactics Used by US SMBs to Find New Customers, 2010 & 2011 (% of respondents)

But at the same time as small businesses have expanded their use of online marketing, respondents in 2011 indicated they were much less satisfied with the effectiveness of these channels. Website, email and search were rated most effective for customer acquisition, but even these had dropped since the prior year.

Most Effective Online Marketing Tactics for Customer Acquisition According to US SMBs, 2010 & 2011 (% of respondents)

A rush of small businesses to new marketing channels can mean that less experienced respondents are now reporting on the effectiveness of their efforts, which would naturally be lower than those who have been using a channel for many years. In addition, some small businesses could be overreaching by trying to tackle too many channels at once, without the necessary time and resources.
“There is a fair amount of learning that has to happen for each small-business owner to know how to use and how to measure online marketing tactics,” Stu Richards, CEO of Bredin Business Information, told eMarketer. “In many cases, businesses are struggling, and there’s an opportunity to educate SMBs.”
Small businesses surveyed in April by email marketing software provider Constant Contact also reported that websites and email were highest in effectiveness.

Effectiveness of Marketing Tactics Used by US Small Businesses, April 2011 (% of respondents)

Respondents to the survey were more optimistic about the effectiveness of many channels, especially social media like Facebook.

Original source: with thanks 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

HOW TO: Optimize Marketing Materials for Mobile Devices

It’s no secret that mobile is the future. While ownership of TV sets in the U.S. fell for the first time ever, smartphone ownership continued to explode — it’s up 60% versus a year ago. Marketers who had traditionally focused on getting their message across through broadcasts on television and radio or in print magazines and newspapers are quickly working to adapt their messages for mobile.
Mobile is a new paradigm. It has its own rules, standards, technologies, and challenges. Here’s how marketers are working with designers and developers to optimize branded materials for these new platforms.

Pare Down

The golden rules of mobile: simplicity, brevity, accessibility. The screens are small, the Internet connections slow and people don’t have a lot of time. The best mobile experiences are those that condense the bigger picture into a bite-sized chunk, friendly for on-the-go consumption.
“Successful mobile websites and applications will do fewer things, but do them better,” says Daniel R. Odio, CEO of PointAbout. On mobile especially, it’s important that things ‘just work.’ ”


Think about the use cases for different consumer devices. Nicole Amodeo, director of creative products at the mobile ad platform company Medialets, stresses three key points for anyone creating content for mobile: “Why, when and where does your consumer use a device?” When exploring answers to these questions, it’s important to allow “your target audience and their particular use cases to dictate the experience, the content, the features and utilities,” Amodeo adds.
Before deciding on a platform for mobile marketing material, think more about what makes the most sense for the user and use cases. For example, does it make sense to create create an app, or phone- and tablet-optimized website?

Mobile Sites

There are two key points for designing for mobile: speed and usability. Content on a mobile is commonly created for an “on need” basis. A user browsing for online content on a mobile device is generally searching for something specific, not just casually surfing the web.
A user will need to gather the data they are after, quickly and easily without having to wait a long time for a page to load on a 3G connection. Therefore, when converting a traditional website into a mobile version, it’s important to make sure a number of things happen:
  • Auto-Detect Mobile Phones. Mobile-friendly websites automatically detect that users are on a mobile device and then display the appropriate version of the site.
  • Clear Calls to Action. The most important features of the site should be the at the top of the page and should include clear calls to actions.
  • Avoid Mobile-Unfriendly Elements. The design should avoid mobile-unfriendly elements such as Flash, large images, video, and complex layouts.
  • FluidityDesign with a fluid layout that will gracefully adapt to a range of typical mobile screen resolutions.
  • Touch Interface. Touch screens don’t have hover states — it’s all about fingers tapping, so don’t build a site that requires users to move their mouse over menus or other elements. Also, make sure links and other clickable elements are big enough to tap with a fingertip.
  • Scrolling. Limit scrolling to one direction — the site should only scroll vertically. Having to manage a page that scrolls horizontally and vertically is difficult to navigate.
  • One Window. Avoid pop-ups and new windows. A user’s entire experience should take place in a single window.
  • Simple Navigation. Simplify your navigation. Typically, a site’s traditional navigation is too complex for a mobile site.
  • Clean Code. Most desktop web browsers allow a lot of leeway when rendering HTML and will usually display a site correctly, even if the code has flaws. Mobile browsers usually have less room for error, so there is an added value to having clean, simple code.
  • Use Alt Tags. Sometimes images won’t load, either because of issues with the mobile browser or because a user’s connection is too slow. Always include descriptive alt tags for images, in case they don’t appear.
  • Label Forms. Some modern websites embed form labels inside the form field. On mobile, it’s much more difficult to keep track of the fields, and users often make use of “next/previous” buttons built into they keyboard. Without clear labels alongside the form fields, it might be impossible to know what information is supposed to be in which field.
  • Escape Hatch. Sometimes users just need to use your normal site. If possible, always have a link back to the original, unoptimized site.

Responsive Web Design

One of the largest challenges in designing for mobile is the vast amount of devices to cater to. Rather than designing a mobile-specific website, responsive design allows websites to automatically adjust to a devices resolution, orientation and feature set.
The technology behind responsive websites is a relatively simple mix of CSS and a flexible grid-based layout. The best responsive websites even take into account device rotation, displaying different content depending on if the phone is in landscape or portrait mode. Taken to the extreme, a responsively designed site might even use GPS to display content relative to a user’s location.

Mobile-Friendly Calls To Action

The world hasn’t completely transitioned to mobile (yet). Until that day, one important way to leverage traditional media is to tie it into mobile. What are an ad’s viewers being asked to do, and can they do it on mobile? If an ad is going to be seen by consumers on the go, making mobile-friendly calls to action is important. If an ad asks users to check out a website, make sure the website loads well on a smartphone.
Embrace mobile technology. Instead of asking users to call a phone number or visit a website, use a QR code to let consumers quickly learn more about a product or even receive some sort of exclusive content, such as a free MP3 or other product tie-in.


Sometimes the best way to optimize marketing materials for mobile is to create an app. Users expect apps to complete simple, narrowly defined tasks quickly and easily. Think about how simple many popular mobile apps really are — they do one thing and they do it well.
The most successful way to market through an app is to create some sort of branded experience, tool, utility or game that both transmits a marketing message but still provides a level of utility and enjoyment for users.
A fantastic example would be the toilet paper brand Charmin’s app, which helps users locate the nearest public restroom.


There are many design and development tips to keep in mind when optimizing marketing — or, for that matter, any — content for mobile. But it all comes down to leveraging design and technology to keep things simple, clean, fast to load and easy to digest on the go.
Keep it simple.
Original post from Mashable. Article by Ryan Matzner who is a mobile apps and social meida junkie. He's also the Lead Stategist at Fueled, an iPhone & Android app development agency based in New York, NY. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog at

Thursday, 5 May 2011

10 Ways to Find Customers with Mobile Marketing

10 Ways to Find Customers with Mobile MarketingSmart business owners find customers by placing their marketing messages where the most eyeballs are focused. And nowhere are there more eyeballs than on the screens of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
More than two thirds of the world’s population has a mobile subscription, and mobile users are highly active. Facebook recently reported statistics indicating that over half of its 500 million subscribers access Facebook from a mobile device and exhibit twice the activity level of non-mobile users. The time for mobile marketing is now.
Finding customers with mobile marketing involves either pulling people toward your messages or pushing your messages out. Here are 10 mobile-marketing channels that'll help your efforts: 
  1. Text-messaging (SMS)
    Pull customers to your SMS messages by asking people to opt-in to your text-messaging list. Use a text-messaging provider such as or to access a short phone number known as a common short code and an opt-in keyword. Then, use the text-messaging service to push periodic text messages out to the people who opt in. 
  2. Multi-media messaging (MMS)
    MMS messages are like SMS messages, but they can contain pictures, sound and a lot more text. Pull customers in with the same opt-in process as SMS, and then push out multi-media content via your MMS service provider.
  3. Mobile email 
    Pull customers to your email list with signup links on your website or ask people to text in their email addresses to join. When you push your emails out to mobile users, ask for mobile-friendly actions such as clicking phone numbers instead of links or using the mobile device to show an email coupon at the point of sale. 
  4. Mobile search
    People searching online with mobile devices are often looking for a nearby product or service. Pull customers to your business by including mobile-friendly maps and directions on your site. Push your location out to new potential customers by asking your customers to check in on their favorite social media service when they visit your physical location so their friends see where they are. 
  5. Mobile Internet
    Pull mobile visitors to your site by advertising your site's address or by including a mobile barcode -- also known as a Quick Response or QR code -- in your advertising that points to your site. Push messages through your site by formatting content and navigation to be mobile friendly. 
  6. Mobile apps
    Pull customers to your mobile apps by listing your apps in the app stores and by offering app downloads from your own mobile site. Then, push your marketing messages through the downloaded apps.
  7. Mobile content
    Pull customers to content such as videos, images and downloads by providing links and mobile barcodes that activate the content. Push that content by posting to mobile-friendly sites such as YouTube or your own mobile site. 
  8. Mobile advertising
    Pull customers to your advertising by placing ads on external mobile sites such as mobile versions of newspapers, blogs and other content sites. Push your advertising out by including ads in your e-mails, text messages, mobile content and branded apps. 
  9. Voice
    Pull customers in by advertising your phone number. Push your messages out by answering the phone or by using Interactive Voice Response systems to answer calls and deliver voice messages automatically. 
  10. Capabilities and enablers
    Mobile devices come with built-in capabilities and enablers such as cameras, WiFi, and GPS. Pull customers in by asking customers to use their capabilities. For example, taking a picture of a product and e-mailing it to you for a discount. Push your messages out in reply to people who use their capabilities by using one of the aforementioned nine channels.

Posted on by John Arnold who is a leading marketing expert, author, speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in marketing advice for small businesses, franchises, associations and organizations.