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Can Local Small Businesses Benefit from Mobile Optimization?

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Mobile optimization has become a hotly talked-about subject since Google announced its latest “Mobile-Friendly” algorithm change earlier this year. Essentially, sites that are mobile responsive will now rank higher than sites that aren’t.

 
But how does this affect businesses that don’t rely heavily on web traffic? Companies like local brick & mortar stores and restaurants? The answer is more than you may think. Foot traffic may be your biggest draw, but research has shown that 74% of smartphone users use location-based services to get directions and recommendations. That means a major chunk of your target market will use their phones to find your business. And, if you don’t have a mobile strategy in place, you may be left in the dust.
 
Optimize Your Site
 
As I mentioned, Google recently changed its algorithm, but one of Google’s Webmaster Trends Analysts was quoted as saying this wouldn’t dramatically impact local pack listings. For those who don’t know, pack listings are the local search results tied to the searcher’s location that appear above the regular results. So if your business was within that pack before, not having a mobile-site shouldn’t have dropped you out of it.
 
 
That said, there is nothing stopping the team that handles local results from tweaking their own algorithm to include mobile friendliness. It’s a good idea, then, to have a mobile version of your site up, even if your site is literally just a picture of your store front with its name, location, and phone number. Just be sure to keep that vital information front and center, since mobile users are less likely to hunt for contact details.
 
Don’t Copy Big Brands
 
Marketing tends to follow a trickle-down path: big business tries something out, succeeds, and smaller business emulates. But some of the tactics major companies and brands use just don’t work for small brick & mortars. Popular brands like to push people to take pictures with the product, interact with the marketing team and, if they do have a location, to check-in.
 
When smaller businesses try to do it, it tends to feel a little off. Fewer and fewer people are using their phones to ‘check-in’ places, which makes sense—checking into Disneyland shares what is, for many, an experience. Checking into the local Italian restaurant isn’t quite the same. Mobile optimization, then, means building a mobile presence based on how your market wants to interact with your business. Chances are that means coupons, alerts about sales/specials, reviews, and information on how to contact you.
 
Offer Opt-In Messaging
 
With that in mind, the other part of your mobile strategy should be to use it to spread information about the business. Case studies have found that SMS-based marketing is still an effective strategy for businesses. A study by Responsys found that 76% of consumers actually prefer receiving offers via SMS to adverts on mobile apps or in-app messaging. You simply have to make sure people want to receive texts from you. As long as they are open to it, it’s a great way to get your business into their phone.
 
An active mobile presence builds credibility, and helps you to stand out from the competition. Nearly 9 in 10 consumers will, at some point, research companies and read reviews to size up local businesses. When they search for a keyword or your company’s name, you want them to be able to find you, your address, your website, and your reviews.
 
Along with making sure you’re locally listed, ensure that your site is mobile friendly and up-to-date. Once you have that presence set, start looking into using direct mobile marketing through an avenue like SMS. There are tons of CRM services that can help you automate and track your mobile marketing. The most important part, though, is to make an effort to optimize your business for mobile—the last thing you want is to be passed over because someone couldn’t find your address on their phone.
Published: June 15, 2015
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Deborah Sweeney

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.

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