Firms are getting smartphone-friendly to reach more customers, writes Sandra O’Connell in the Sunday Times.
You know a trend has moved mainstream when it goes beyond the domain of the young. Up until recently, mobile marketing — promoting your business in a smartphone-friendly way — was considered the preserve of hip and cool youth-oriented brands.
Yet it has proven a huge hit for Dolores Madden’s business too. The average age of her customers? 78.
Madden is marketing manager of Hidden Hearing, a hearing aid supplier with 66 clinics around the country and a staff of 142. Despite the downturn, turnover has been growing by 20% per annum.
Mobile marketing has a key role in this success. Madden includes short code telephone numbers in traditional advertising.
If you use your mobile to text the word “hearing” to 51500, for example, the company follows up with a call. You get a free information pack about hearing loss. Hidden Hearing gets a hot lead.
“It’s a way of catching covert inquiries,” said Madden. “People can find the idea of walking into a clinic intimidating. Texting is easy.”
Hidden Hearing is taking mobile marketing further, developing a smartphone app that will allow people to get a rudimentary assessment of their hearing.
The app “will provide us with a platform for engagement”, she said.
There is an average of 10 to 15 years when people are in denial about hearing loss. “This lets the customer come to us with inquiries,” she added. “It’s a soft sell.”
The company has launched a version of its website especially for people accessing it on their mobile phones. “People have moved from laptops to mobiles, and businesses now have to move everything with them,” said Madden.
Google agrees. Its GoMo initiative, howtogomo.com, helps businesses “mobilise” websites. Existing websites, designed for desktop computers, are often unsuited to mobile devices.
Mobile internet searches have grown by 400% since 2010, tallying with the growth in popularity of smartphones such as iPhones and Blackberries. Google predicts that by next year more people will use mobile phones than PCs to get online. It says that 95% of smartphone users have searched for local information on their device, with 61% of users calling a business after searching and 50% of mobile searches leading to a purchase.
“Every businessperson out there has a smartphone in his or her hand all the time, and numbers are increasing,” said Anthony Quigley, chief executive of the Digital Marketing Institute.
“If businesspeople have smartphones, then you, as a businessperson, need to ask what you should be doing to reach them.”
Do you need to be building an app? Should you be engaging in SMS marketing? Does your email marketing even work on smartphones?
Emails designed for PCs, with graphics or jpeg signatures, are unreadable by some mobile devices.
Businesses that depend on a very defined catchment area can steal a march on the competition simply by being mobile-savvy.
“You can get a click-to-call service on Google Adwords which means customers will be able to call you straight away,” he said. “If I’ve locked my keys in my car and need a locksmith quickly, the one I find nearby on my mobile phone who has click to call, is at a huge advantage over one who hasn’t.”