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The Massive Opportunity In Guiding SMB Marketers into Mobile

Lynn_Tornabene - AffinityXThe mobile web has long since passed its tipping point. Approximately two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, and they spend a considerable amount of time using that phone for online content. More than three-quarters of the top digital news websites now receive more traffic from mobile devices than desktop computers, indicating that mobile web presence is now crucial for every publisher and advertiser.

This is particularly important for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), which may not even have an up-to-date desktop web presence, if they have one at all. While DIY solutions exist, business owners don’t have the time to navigate the mobile landscape by themselves. Research from BIA/Kelsey shows a growing segment of small businesses adopting a “do-it-for-me” (DIFM) mentality, rather than trying to do everything themselves.

These businesses are willing to pay for a partner to update their web properties and guide them into mobile advertising, creating a big opportunity for the media outlets that already sell advertising to these SMBs. The trick is for these media partners to offer the appropriate services, starting with responsive-design websites and mobile ad campaigns.

Mobile websites

Odds are, a consumer is going to find an SMB via a mobile device, as more than half of local shoppers are looking up information on their phone in the car or on the go. Websites are of the utmost importance to an SMB’s online success, but a good-looking desktop site won’t cut it on mobile. The site must be built using responsive design principles, so that it adjusts to the device a consumer is using.

How important is responsive design? Google’s new mobile algorithm update heavily weighs responsive design when delivering search results, and experts have warned that the update may affect more sites than previous revisions. There are lots of partners offering basic mobile search services to help raise awareness, but an easily accessible website helps the business really connect with on-the-go consumers.

This is a great area for local media companies to grow their business. Many already sell print and digital advertising to these SMBs today, and website design services are a natural extension. More than half of SMBs that prefer the DIFM model are willing to pay for updates to their online properties, with an average annual spend of $4,689, according to BIA/Kelsey. Providing this service to just 100 clients — roughly two per week — could result in nearly half a million dollars in revenue. Local media companies can grab that revenue by offering website design services, as well as re-platform services that make existing sites responsive.

Display Advertising & Landing Pages

Of course, SMBs also need to deliver ads on mobile, and they need those ads to leverage mobile’s unique capabilities. For local media already selling digital advertising, this is another logical, very profitable product to offer. Small businesses that follow the DIFM philosophy — meaning those that are more likely to turn to a partner — spend an average of $32,935 on advertising and promotion annually. The more advertising products a media company can offer, the more of that spend they’ll command.

When it comes to mobile-specific ads, geo-targeted campaigns are a huge win for local businesses. The researching-on-the-go consumers discussed earlier are a prime target for these kinds of ads, whether they are direct marketing offers or branding campaigns. Mobile ads should also feature click-to-call or click-to-map functionality, allowing consumers to get in touch with a business or find it easily, especially if they are part of this active research group.

Campaigns need mobile-specific landing pages as well, driving the consumer to the branded offer while delivering a positive user experience. When it comes to SMBs, it’s likely easier to use custom landing pages tied to the mobile campaign, because it saves the business from updating its entire site for every campaign or promotion.

Landing pages can also act as a placeholder for SMB brands that haven’t built a responsive design website. They effectively serve as an entry point to mobile advertising — by helping build these campaigns and landing pages, local media entities have an opportunity to showcase the power of mobile and build the relationship over time.

That final piece is the biggest opportunity here for any media company — to build relationships. Newspapers and cable companies already have relationships with SMBs, and they have sales forces that understand these advertisers’ goals and needs. With SMBs forecast to spend $12.4 billion on digital local media this year, there is a huge opportunity to offer mobile website and advertising services. Media companies may even explore bundling mobile together with other print and digital services, guiding SMBs into this growing area and while steadily opening up new revenue opportunities. Those same news organizations now receiving the majority of their traffic from mobile are part of a mobile age, whether they’re ready or not. The good news is that they can bring their advertisers with them.

Lynn Tornabene is a pioneering digital marketer with deep experience in the mobile, internet, media, advertising and technology industries. At Apple, she was a member of the leadership team that launched and grew iAd, the company’s mobile advertising offering. At Google, Lynn led the strategic branding and communications integration for DoubleClick, after having served as DoubleClick’s VP of Marketing. She has also led teams at Wunderman and IBM. Lynn’s passion for SMB started early. Right out of college, she joined a small radio syndication company, and in graduate school was a consultant for a Small Business Administration program. As CMO of AffinityX, Lynn leads brand strategy, corporate communications and marketing, and is directly involved with all digital innovation as head of product strategy.