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How to… embrace the digital age: 5 ways to ready your marketing campaign for lift off

As of last year over 80% of UK adults were online and now, for the first time, the UK’s mobile users are consuming more data on their phones and tablets than any other leading nation, according to December 2012 data from Ofcom. Marketers will be aware that they cannot afford to miss the online audience but now the mobile audience is becoming just as important.

Despite this mobile opportunity, why don’t more SMEs integrate it with their wider marketing activity? Pitney Bowes recently found that just 8% of SMEs have a mobile optimised site. Many smaller businesses think mobile marketing is an expensive option, reserved only for the large corporates of this world but that’s simply not the case – there are quick, low cost, and simple to use solutions designed for those with limited resources. Working closely with smaller businesses, I’ve come to understand that, while it may seem difficult to dedicate the time and resource to mobile marketing or simply have the right in-house expertise to implement it, it is possible and well worth the effort.

Here are my top tips to help SME marketers break into all things digital:

1. Optimise your website for mobile

Data from an IAB report last year has found users on mobile devices visiting mobile optimised websites spent on average two minutes longer than those users on websites not designed for mobile. Developing a mobile-optimised website should be, in all instances, the first port of call for any business looking to begin or expand its mobile marketing.

Whilst you may feel that mobile marketing isn’t your forte, there are tools available which can offer a fast, simple and efficient way to create a mobile site, which can be scalable and fit with a wider digital strategy. What’s more you don’t need in-house design and technical expertise, as the right tool can offer a range of templates to choose from and a step-by-step guide to implement it. This includes the ability to add images, video and sound to make it as interactive as possible. Being optimised for mobile gives you more opportunities to engage with customers – from communicating a professional image to encouraging an impulse purchase – so it’s essential to get it right.

2. Get cracking with QR codes

QR codes are also increasing in popularity. In Q2 2012 3.3 million Britons scanned QR codes[1], showing that they are a great way of combining physical and digital marketing channels to increase customer numbers and boost online traffic. A consumer passing a poster or product can scan the QR code, which will send them directly to a website with more information or opportunity to buy. If you choose the right QR code generator you can also track where and when the scans were made and use this data to improve future targeting and fine-tune your marketing campaigns accordingly.

 There are now comprehensive platforms available providing everything you need to run professional, successful, interactive and promotional marketing campaigns using QR codes. From designing the code to making sure the infrastructure can support the entire customer journey – all of this can be taken care of so you can focus on your next innovative campaign. This linking of digital materials with physical channels was previously impossible via fixed internet access, but the mobile web has opened up a plethora of opportunities to reach that customer on the go.

3. Simplify your social media

Whether you want to use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or YouTube, it’s best to start with one or two channels and then build on it from there. For instance, setting up your own Twitter and Facebook account is easy but you need to set out a clear strategy first outlining what you want to achieve from it. Do you want to use it to proactively offer discounts and promotions to customers or ask them for feedback on services? Unlike traditional marketing channels, it’s a two way street, enabling consumers to engage with your business directly. Moreover, it’s incredibly simple to integrate with other marketing means; use a QR code to direct consumers to these sites, include the web address on your print marketing or even add social media buttons to your email marketing.

4. Enhance the entire customer journey

It’s important to embrace a mobile-centric approach at every stage of the process – from initially attracting and retaining customers right through to payment.

Mobile payment is set to be one of the greatest innovations in payment technology since the launch of the credit card last century. Today, customers are increasingly expecting to pay for products or services on their smartphone device and many retailers are now able to accept mobile vouchers at point of sale. These vouchers could be in the form of a Facebook offer activated by checking into a location, or a unique code sent via SMS such as Orange Wednesday or O2 Priority. These methods can effectively engage with customers, while they are shopping, simultaneously spreading brand awareness through social networking.

For those customers that aren’t in-store, you can also instantly convert online traffic into mobile sales by integrating your PayPal account with your mobile website, so customers can pay on the go. You can make this easily accessible via URL or QR codes, so that customers can buy goods at a click of a button on their mobile device.

5. Measure your campaigns to understand consumer behaviour

With numerous channels to now market through, thanks to the increase in digital marketing, it can be difficult to determine what is working best for the business. In order to get the most out of mobile channels data and analytics have a key role to play. Marketers can use free tools such as Google Analytics to see exactly how many visitors are accessing their content from a mobile device, while geolocation technology and maps make it possible to find out where customers are viewing information or buying products and services.

For example, you might launch a competition on your company Facebook page and proactively promote it via other social media channels. If you then notice, through Google analytics, that it’s driven more traffic to your website by measuring click through rates, you know that competitions and engagement with customers directly via social media are a successful way to get eyeballs on your homepage. You just need to keep trying different techniques and analyse the results - whether that be the number of scans from QR codes or clicks on your home page. By using intuitive charts and graphs you can quickly learn what works for your business and what doesn’t.

The fundamental advantage universal to all digital technology is the immediate creation of data which would otherwise be very time-consuming and expensive to collect. This instant ‘intelligence’ will help you better target future campaigns. It’s all about building momentum from one campaign to the next through continuous analysis, refinement and execution to ensure that they are as successful as possible and yield the highest sales figures.

pbSmart Essentials is a set of digital marketing tools for growing businesses that equips them with everything they need for better, more frequent and engaging communication with their customers.

If you’re looking to embrace the digital age you can find more information at: www.pbse.co.uk 

To help SMEs get more out of their marketing activity, pbSmart Essentials has created a ‘Rate Your Marketing’ test for businesses to find out how well they are doing: www.smallbizsuperhero.com  

[1] comScore report, ‘QR Code Usage Among European Smartphone Owners Doubles Over Past Year’, September 19, 2012