According to a recent report by Internet Retailer, “nearly two-thirds of smartphone owners in Q2 2013 used a mobile web browser to research product features (64%), and more than half used a mobile web browser to find a store location (59%) and to find coupons and deals (53%).”
Clearly, consumers nowadays are turning to their trusty smartphones to assist them in every step of the shopping process, which is why it’s more important than ever to establish a strong presence in the small screen.
Here are a few steps to enable you to do just that:
Get listed on search engines and social networks
The first step to increasing your mobile visibility is to put your business on the map. Google’s map, that is. Doing so will allow customers to find you whenever they type in your business name or a relevant keyword (i.e. coffee shop, winery, etc.) into Google.
Head to Google’s Places for Business page then type in the necessary information about your business. Go beyond the basics (i.e. name, address, phone) and provide as much details as you can, including your hours of operation, methods of payment that you accept, available parking, etc. Also add some photos of your location and products. The more details you can provide, the more credible you’ll appear.
The next step is verifying your ownership. Google will send you a postcard containing a PIN number that you can enter on the verification page. Once this is done, you’re good to go.
Bing offers a similar service at BingPlaces.com. Its process is similar to that of Google’s, but you will need to create a Microsoft account in order to get listed.
Yelp can add tremendous visibility for your business both on the web and on mobile (its app was used on over 11 million unique mobile devices last quarter alone). In addition, having your business listed on the site enables you to track and respond to reviews, create deals, and get to know your customers more.
To start Yelping, go to the Yelp for Business Owners Page and claim your business. You can do this by searching for your company on Yelp’s Find Your Business page, and hitting the “Claim” button beside for your business name.
If your company isn’t listed on the site yet, you’ll need to create an account and fill out the necessary forms for your business.
Having a Foursquare listing enables customers to check-in to your location and broadcast their activities to their friends. It also lets them leave comments and tips for other users.
Get started by creating a Foursquare account. Like Yelp, you can use the site’s business search tool to see if your company is already in its database. If your business isn’t listed, you can create a listing on foursquare.com/add_venue.
Once you have found or created your listing, click the “claim here” button, then follow the steps to verify ownership. For a one-time $1 fee, Foursquare lets you verify your listing via phone, so you can start managing your account immediately. Alternatively, you can opt for postal mail verification, which is free, but it can take up to a month before you receive your claim code.
Partner with shopping apps
Customers are also using their mobile devices to look up product information and deals. If you’re offering promotions or just want to put your product information out there, consider partnering with shopping apps to have your store show up on shoppers’ mobile devices.
For instance, Red Laser, one of the top mobile apps for scanning product barcodes and comparing prices, lets merchants submit their data feeds so they can get their product information and pricing available through the app.
Meanwhile, Yowza!!, a mobile couponing app which surfaces deals based on the user’s location, also has some merchant services that allows businesses to upload coupons so that shoppers in the area can find their deals. Yowza!! offers a free account that lets companies publish one coupon per store a month. It also has a $49 ($19 for a limited time) standard plan for three coupons a month, and a $99 ($39 for a limited time) plan for unlimited coupons.
Optimise your site for mobile
So you’ve set up your listings and mobile coupons. What happens when mobile users actually click-through your site to learn more about your business? If shoppers are greeted with a messy website that’s difficult to navigate on their phone, you instantly reduce the chances of getting them through your doors.
Prevent this by designing a user-friendly and responsive mobile website. Make the text and images large enough so that they’re fat-finger proof and make sure that your contact information is easy to find. Also remember that you don’t have to cram all the information and pages from your full site into the mobile version. Only include the most important and frequently visited pages and just add an option to view your entire website so users can access it if they need to.
To make things easier, look into services such as Mobify or Mofuse to create a mobile version of your existing website. If you’re using WordPress, consider Obox Mobile, a plugin that converts your site into a mobile-friendly one.
There you have it. Three simple tips to help get you started on mobile business. Let us know your tips for achieving retail success with mobile customers, in the comments section below.
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.