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Bridge the mobile marketing gap

Bridge the mobile marketing gap

Mobile smartphone usage is growing fast. Yet most small businesses like restaurants have yet to tailor their marketing efforts to reach this huge customer base.

The most recent numbers from digital business analytics firm comScore tell part of the tale: there are 101.3 million smartphone users in the U.S.  The rest comes via a new survey from Group: Only 26 percent of small businesses have a mobile-friendly website, and only 14 percent have a standalone mobile website. If you’re one of the holdouts, this disconnect might be pointing to a lost opportunity for your restaurant.

First, a couple of caveats. Yes, Internet marketing firm reaches the conclusion you should start buying services like the ones it sells. And yes, the survey sample (500 small business owners) seems a little thin. Yet it’s hard to argue with the survey’s top line results.

Here’s what found out about what small business owners such as restaurants think about mobile marketing opportunities:

Awareness is good. Sixty-nine percent of small business owners agree that mobile marketing is a key to their growth over the next five years.

Adoption lags. Sixty percent of respondents say they have a website, but only 26 percent have a mobile-friendly website (i.e., their website content displays well on a smartphone screen). Only 14 percent have a standalone mobile website.

The payoff is real. Of the 14 percent of respondents who had a standalone mobile website, most (84 percent) said they saw an increase in new business activity from marketing efforts made on it.

• Mobile search strategy is lacking. Just 39 percent of small businesses have a mobile search strategy in place; the 61 percent that do not miss out on customers who try to find them via a smartphone device.

Businesses recognize the need. The top motivators for developing a mobile search strategy are to provide better service to existing customers (38 percent) and to attract more local customers (36 percent).

• Businesses lack resources. Time and resource limitations keep small businesses like restaurants from exploring mobile search solutions. The biggest hurdle: 64 percent of business owners also act as a one-person marketing department on top of their other duties.

Restaurant operators will have to decide for themselves whether having, and paying for, a mobile search strategy makes sense for their operation. It’s impossible to know right now whether not having one costs your business money or not, or whether investing in one would make a material difference to your restaurant’s bottom line. But now that the number of smartphone users tops 100 million, a mobile search strategy is something many restaurant owners may want to think about as they plan their long-term marketing efforts.

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