Savvy sole traders, start-ups and small retailers are putting a mobile presence on top of their priority list for 2014. With Australians among the highest owners of smartphones in the world, more consumers are using their mobiles to research and buy products. Establishing a presence on the small screen can mean success.
Here are four key tips to enable you to do this easily.
1. Get listed on search engines
The first step to increasing your mobile visibility is to put your business on the Google map. 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 number) and provide as much detail 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 interesting 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. 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.
2. Join social media sites
Facebook provides the ability to maintain your own business profile page. It’s best to set this up completely separate from your personal account. Make sure you add lots of content about your business and photos of people enjoying your products and service.
Encourage people to join through running competitions or offering special Facebook only promotions. You can also join other local business and community pages to increase your network.
Twitter enables you to tweet on subjects that may be of interest to your market and to engage with thought leaders and advocates that may retweet for you.
A photo-sharing board that can be useful for disseminating good quality images of your products, store, team or location.
3. Partner with shopping apps
Consumers also use 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. Popular options include Catch of the Day, Deals Direct or OzSale.
4. 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.
Vaughan Rowsell is the CEO of Vend.