ElementsLocal’s Top 10 Takeaways from IFA 2013.

 


By now everyone is back from IFA’s Annual Convention in Las Vegas and any embarrassment from attempted bull riding at FranJam is in the past… hopefully!

This year’s convention was stronger than ever, with higher attendance from suppliers as well as Franchises. Every speaker, from Dr. Rice and Mika Brzezinski to guest speakers for Facebook and Krispy Kreme were fantastic.

If you have any lessons learned from IFA, we would love to hear them. Here are our top 10 takeaways from the convention:

  1. On Change Management – Gordon Logan, CEO of Sport Clips suggested that we look to Kaizen (改善?), Japanese for “improvement”, or “change for the better” referring to philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering, and business management. While speaking at the session titled ‘C-Level Franchise Executive Issues’ Gordon repeatedly encouraged everyone to find the opportunity in change, not the challenge… so we don’t look at change as being scary. This couldn’t be more sage advice in a time of such change!
  2. On Understanding - Susan Black-Beth reminded us of Stephen Covey’s saying: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Thank you Susan.
  3. On The Ideal Fan - Jessie Dwyer, from Facebook, warned us of creating a fan base that is potentially toxic. He suggested investing in quality connections, not customers who want free stuff, because on Facebook, and everywhere else throughout the social graph, your connections tell your story online.
  4. On the Future of Search We heard from several marketing experts, including our own Michael Boyer and Steve Bridge, that keywords are dead… long live user intent. Digital marketing has become more about engaging content, and providing ways of allowing your customers to create that content, than simply pushing out messages. As a result, digital marketers have to be aware of how complex SEO has become and how sophisticated Google is in looking past mere keywords and understanding the ‘intent’ of your webpages, so they can continue delivering the most relevant content to their users.
  5. On Your Future Customer – At the Tech Summit Jeff Fromm, from Barkley, Inc, spoke about the keys to connecting with millennials being value, price, share worthiness, or peer acceptance, and the ability for them to participate. This is the future!
  6. On Your Next Ad Dollar – Much was discussed about Location Based Marketing, or using real-time location, or geo-aware, data from a consumers mobile device to deliver targeted messaged based on proximity to a specific location.
  7. On Technology – Paul Segreto, CEO of Franchise Foundry, discussed his concept of Integrated Franchise Marketing & Development and not falling behind on the technology curve. He suggested that an integrated marketing plan will provide you more automation, insight across your enterprise and ease of use by everyone involved. Go Paul!
  8. On Building a Business – Tom Feltenstein reminded us the true nature of business, “Recruiting is your most important decision! You don’t build business; people build business, hire better people!” 
  9. On Customer Satisfaction – John Hewitt, CEO of Liberty Tax, in that same session, reminded us that we never meet customer expectations… we either fail to meet them or we exceed them. I’m also looking forward to reading the book he suggested, titled What’s Your Purple Goldfish?: How to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth. I’m looking forward to getting my copy from Amazon soon. 
  10. On Focus - When a panel of experts was asked what a CEO should focus on… a resounding response suggested: vision, leadership and the morale of your customers and employees. You can’t beat that!

These were just a few of the many great takeaways we got from IFA this year. We would love to hear yours.

 

How to Maintain a Positive Online Reputation

Now that 2013 is in full swing,  more than ever we are representing ourselves 24 hours a day, 7 days a week whether we realize it or not. Between Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs etc., our names are out there for the World Wide Web to see. To each entrepreneur’s benefit, this means MARKETING. How do you maintain a positive online reputation? One of the easiest ways is to steer clear from the mistakes that businesses make to RUIN that reputation. Below is a list of what TO DO and what NOT TO DO:

    • Do you have a personal Facebook account as well as business account? Either be sure your personal page is strictly private or be your own monitor. You are selling yourself as well as the product/ service that your business provides. Anything you put out in the internet universe can never be removed. Deletion is an option, but once out there, it’s out there.  Respect  yourself and always keep that business hat on. Make sure that friendly banter between you and your cousin doesn’t cross the line and leads any potential customers astray. Same rule goes with all other social media outlets, if you would not represent your business in that light then don’t represent yourself in that light. You are your business, take pride in your posts.

 

    • Have you ever entered your own name in Google or Bing? It’s ok, everyone does it. Next time you do, take the opportunity to see what others see: search your business name as well as your name.  Make note of the results.  Here at ElementsLocal we use a Social Media Manager to track communications about business.  The search could produce anything from customer reviews of your business, to that old website you created back in 2002. Take the opportunity to cancel any old accounts and remove yourself from any unwanted attention. Interact with customers, thank them for positive feedback and respectfully resolve any negative issues.

 

    • Do you feel very strongly about a current event? Don’t be afraid to express your opinion. Rule of thumb: stay positive. A close minded negative post could drive any potential customers away, but a positive opinion could open up your personal brand. Personable posts separate you from a faceless name. There is nothing wrong with healthy discussion about the latest controversy in the news. Negative rants on the other hand will likely steer people away. Once again, you represent your business. If you are negative, it will reflect on your business.

 

    • On the note of your opinions: be weary of talking about yourself too much. When posting, take a minute to flip the script. IF YOU were online how much do you want to read about one individual?  Personally, I could talk all day if you let me. How soon would you stop caring about what I have to say? How soon until I am that post that you skip or heaven forbid, unfollow? Not to say that you don’t have an interesting life and people aren’t curious about what you have to say. They are. Just not 100% of the time. You already know how to engage your audience, now keep their attention. What would interest you? What would keep interested? References to a new article or intriguing conversation that corresponds to your business or personal interest keep your persona fresh and your followers coming back for more.

All in all remember this: YOU create and maintain your brand. If you take pride in yourself and your business, your reputation will grow in a positive way.
Google

Jeremy LaDuque to be on Franchise Today Show

On January 17th, ElementsLocal’s Jeremy LaDuque will be on Franchise Today online’s radio show.

“Franchise Today is hosted by Paul Segreto, President and CEO at Franchise Foundry. Paul’s unique perspective and extensive industry experience provides the foundation for relevant discussions about franchising and franchise best practices. Weekly guests include some of the brightest minds in the franchise world, with specific expertise and experience within various areas of franchising. Other features include Franchise News, as reported by the leading franchise publications, the IFA Corner, news and events from the International Franchise Association, and “Are You Kidding Me?”, eye-opening and thought-provoking insight into the comical, and sometimes illogical side of franchising. Franchise Today airs LIVE every Thursday at 11 AM CT / 12 PM ET with archived segments available on-demand.”

Early next year, Franchise Today will have a four part series called Promoting Your Brand. Jeremy will be on Thursday January 17th discussing local marketing, and local websites, etc.

Other guests will include:

  • Steve Greenbaum of PostNet discussing his Undercover Boss experience.
  • Sherri Fishman of Fishman PR
  • Sandy Lechner of SproutLoud

 

Please visit http://www.blogtalkradio.com/franchisetodayshow  and tune in for this informative series.

 

 

Elements Local’s Social Media Manager Advances

Elements Local’s Social Media Manager has advanced another step further, integrating Instagram into its dashboard.

Previously, the use of Facebook Photo Albums has been a beneficial tool used by our clients. With the addition of Instagram, clients get more options to expand their brand and make their social media presence more dynamic.

Instagram is a photo sharing social network recently purchased by Facebook in April of 2012. Through this service, the user has the ability to take photographs, apply a digital filter, and share it with other users. There are over 100 million registered users as of today.

The integration will bring features such as:

  • managing photos
  • viewing photos
  • liking photos
  • commenting on photos
  • following, and unfollowing other users
  • as well as building Instagram reports

 

The integration of Google+ is in the works.

If you have any questions about signing up with Elements and our Social Media Manager Dashboard, please call Mike Bruton  at (805) 547-1160 ext 210, or email him at mbruton@elementslocal.com

ElementsLocal Delivers aid to Victims of Hurricane Sandy

This weekend the ElementsLocal team on the east coast delivered aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Shannon Burroughs, Systems Architect, noted “That amount of people volunteering down at the Jersey shore and throughout the state / country was a wonderful thing to see (especially for the kids).”

Shannon and his family about to deliver donated goods.

“One lesson re-learned under an unexpected circumstance was that requirements and delivery commitments need to be written down and confirmed by both parties.  Our group delivered over 60,000 pounds of goods.  When we arrived, the mayor and local residents started to help us unload… to be stopped after about 1 hour of unloading.  I just happened to be near Senator Allen when the Mayor and a group of residence started complaining / arguing with the senator that they expected and wanted different goods: products and goods that we didn’t have.   While poor planning and communication left a bad taste for a few,  a couple of us worked with the Senator, Mayor, and local 1st responders to coordinate the delivery of the remaining goods throughout the region to many other locations that needed and wanted what we had to offer.  I still have one trailer attached to my truck for delivery to the Pines Community Center near little egg harbor when they can accept it sometime this week…. completing the distribution goal” Burroughs shared.

If anyone would like to contribute to the relief efforts please visit:

www.RedCross.org, www.RedCrossBlood.org, or call 1-800-RED-CROSS

2010 Internet Statistics

I have been sent this article about 5 times from different sources so I guess I better share it on our blog on the off chance you might have missed it.  The below article has estimated statistics of Internet usage for the entire 2010 calender year.

Some notable statistics are:

  • 107 trillion – The number of emails sent on the Internet in 2010.
  • 88.8 million – .COM domain names at the end of 2010.
  • 14% – Increase in Internet users since the previous year.
  • 600 million – People on Facebook at the end of 2010.
  • 175 million – People on Twitter as of September 2010.
  • 2 billion – The number of videos watched per day on YouTube.

You can read the full article at Pingdom here.

White paper just released: “How Franchises Can Leverage Social Media”

Social media is the fastest growing component to online marketing today. Are you using social media sites, such as Facebook and YouTube and/or using social media tools, such as blogs and Twitter, to attract visitors?

success More businesses are beginning to understand how to best leverage online tools to build a community and recognize that engagement and interaction are the foundations of social marketing, but most don’t know what’s next.

Download your copy of “How Franchises Can Leverage Social Media”

Why is Local Marketing Smart?

There are 10 Billion unique searches done each month on various search engines and it’s estimated that over 57% of those are for local businesses. Google alone has over a Half Billion unique Local Searches per month. The bottom line is that over 50% of people find what they want through local search.

Online Local Marketing
For most businesses the majority of their customers are local, especially if you are a brick and mortar business, a local service provider or a restaurant. Even with the internet the majority of purchases are still made within 30 miles of home. So it is critical to be found for as many pertinent local searches as possible.
What this means is you want to be found under as many combinations of words as you can, locally. For example, you want to come up in search engines for both “San Jose CA Plumber” as well as “Bay Area Plumber”. The more keywords that relate to your local area the better.

The Challenge for Franchise Marketers

Franchise systems have the particular challenge of showing up local because it’s difficult to have unique websites for each location. Typical solutions franchises implement include such things are micropages (http://franchisename.com/franchisee.html), sub-domains (http://franchisee.franchisename.com) and local websites (http://franchiseename.com).

  • A micro-page is typically a single webpage on the corporate website.
  • A sub-domain is typically a 2-3 page micro-website.
  • A local website is typically a branded local website.
  • A branded local website, such as http://pdromaha.com for a Paul Davis Restoration franchise in Omaha, NE, can deliver significant local search impact. The image below shows the results for both Maps and Organic search that a branded local website can deliver.

    seo_results4

    Local Search Tips & Tricks
    Regardless of how your franchise system is coming up in local search, here are some simple tips for in-creasing your search engine rankings:

  • Get your local business listed on Search Engine Maps and in major directories:
    a. Top Local Search directories, such as Google Maps, Yahoo Local, and Bing Maps
    b. Top online Yellow Pages, such as Superpages.com and Yellowpages.com
    c. Any other sites with local components
  • When you optimize your website you must specifically focus on geography and how keywords will
    function together with your location. This way, local clients and customers can find you through search engines.
  • One important aspect in keyword research is to bear in mind there are many local colloquialisms across the country. Different people might be searching for the same thing, but entering two totally different search words. Localized keyword research is much tougher than what it may appear to be.
  • Remember to use the local geographic description. In our area people identify with the title “Central Coast” so we would ensure that this was one of our key words, i.e. “Central Coast Plumber”.
  • Inbound linking are very valuable – for instance, if you are a member of a Chamber of Commerce, you can usually have them link to your site at little or no cost. Inbound links like these can be an as-sured gateway to increased targeted traffic
  • Make sure that you only apply basic html to crucial information on your site such as address, busi-ness name, phone number and email address. Search engines will be able to index a site easily when information is put in simple text and format. A programmer is essential to do this correctly.
  • Use email marketing. Research shows that email marketing, mass emailing, is still the number one method of marketing online. Make sure you’re asking customers for their emails and have a link your website to join your newsletter.
  • As a final comment… content is still king! The copy, or content, on your website still matters most to search engines. Specifically, well written copy that includes local keywords, published often (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) is by far the best tactic you can take to getting the best local search engine rankings possible. Make sure you have access to your website and can make changes easily.
  • Get Local. Be Local.
    Believe it or not… there is more to marketing than the Internet!
    The more you can get the neighbors to come to your business, the better. Consider turning your business into a community hub. For example, you could offer your establishment as a venue for dance, cooking or yoga classes. Or, you could do your own fundraiser and encourage patrons to participate. For example, Pastiche Modern Eatery in Tucson, Arizona donates a percentage of every sale to charity, but the business lets the customer decide to which charity they want to donate a part of their check. In addition to highlighting the generosity of Pastiche Modern Eatery, these donations also make the customers feel like they are making a positive difference.
    Here are some ideas for being local:

  • Hit the streets.
  • Meet the neighbors and engage in personal selling.
  • Go around to local businesses and corporations with samples and list of your products.
  • Distribute flyers and door hangers.
  • Post your product list in a prominent place right outside your business, like in a lit-up display case or on a podium near the walkway.
  • You could also try holding outdoor events A lot of businesses have found success with sam-pling. For example, when Mrs. Fields Cookies was founded, business was slow. So Debbi Fields started offering samples of her cookies to passersby, and almost immediately her business began to flourish.
  • Partner with other businesses.
  • Form partnerships with local hotels, theaters, salons and spas, offices, and any other nearby businesses that fit well with your business and might interact with your potential neighborhood customers. For example, you could offer a discount to guests of the neighboring hotel, and ask them to refer customers to your business if you refer customers to the hotel. Ask other local businesses to participate in a joint promotion, or just make friends with the workers there. Re-member, other businesses’ employees can become your business’s customers.
  • Is It Really That Easy Going Green? How Alt-E Companies can overcome challenges to increase business

    Our article “Is it Really That Easy Going Green” was published in Renewaable Energy World October 2009 (http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2009/10/is-it-really-that-easy-going-green).

    We all know that person who fashionably expresses concern for the destruction of our environment – and then they drive off in their gas-guzzling SUV to their home that’s lit up like a Christmas tree, all while drinking from a coffee cup made from non-recycled paper. Are they lying about caring? I’d like to believe most people would prefer to be environmentally responsible; however, the fear of the associated costs paired with the confusion as to how to actually go green is enough for many to hopelessly throw their hands up in the polluted air.

    This is why it can be a challenge for renewable energy companies to convey the value of their services. In addition to the presupposed higher price tags, perplexing industry jargon serves as another roadblock, as it only further bewilders potential customers trying to navigate an already ambiguous industry.

    In short, renewable energy companies are often communicating too much data and not enough useful information, which is scaring away potential customers. And if a renewable energy company can’t convince the consumer of the financial, environmental and personal value of their investment, there simply is no sale.

    That being said, many renewable energy companies have proactively created an online presence to better communicate to potential customers, but they are still lost in how to best deliver their message. Because of the distinct challenges these companies face in the sales process, the bar is constantly being raised in terms of creative Internet solutions designed to attract and capture valuable customers. It’s really no longer enough to just have a presence online.

    Here are four specialized strategies that renewable energy companies should consider in their online marketing efforts:

    Create a Local Presence

    Renewable energy companies, such as solar providers, should have not only a corporate web site, but also unique web sites for each location where the company provides installations. This makes the company more visible to search engines like Google, thus increasing their ranking when potential local customers search for them. ElementsGreen, for example, can create brand-compliant web sites, domain names and content management solutions for each city or region where installations are made, and the sites can be updated with attractive local content for local customers seeking services.

    Engage Your Customers

    Because many potential renewable energy customers fear encountering intimidating jargon, they often don’t want to speak with company representatives on the phone and would rather seek information online. Successful online engagement occurs when information is presented in a way that is user-friendly, digestible and relevant to the customer. Some effective web site tools to consider include online calculators that offer a clear breakdown of associated costs and the resulting return on investment (How will money spent translate into money saved?); photo galleries of the installation process (How will this affect the appearance of my home?); breaking industry news (What is the current buzz?); and online/live chat opportunities and social forums, which allow potential customers to ask questions and solicit feedback on concerns in an anonymous, casual setting.

    Implement Customer Portal Software & Solutions

    Leveraging social networking opportunities and fostering online relationships within the current client base should be a high priority for renewable energy companies. Existing customers — typically passionate about the product — can be a valuable resource in engaging new clients. Creating a “members only” area on the website provides a forum where existing clients can pose questions to each other and the company, access timely educational information and learn about current company incentives for referrals.

    Allow Customers to Monitor for Success

    A key component to understanding the value of renewable energy is being able to monitor personal usage. When solar, for example, is installed on a home, a monitoring device is also put in place. By integrating this information into usable software, customers can easily access their usage on the company website or on their Smartphone. This allows customers to always have ‘hands-on” access to the performance and functionality of their purchase, and the information can easily be shared, which helps to further share the company message to other potential customers.

    Interest in renewable energy is high and will only increase. Through effective online communication, renewable energy companies can help demystify the process of “going green” and gain informed customers in the process.

    Jeremy LaDuque is president and CEO of Elements Inc., creator of ElementsGreen, a software platform developed specifically for renewable energy companies and the unique challenges and opportunities they encounter in the sales process. Current ElementsGreen clients include REC Solar, Akeena Solar, Andalay, Underground Energy, Absolute Solar and Solar Technologies. For more information on the company, visit www.elementsinc.net.

    Driving Leads Through Mobile Internet Technology: The importance of adding “mobile” to the marketing mix

    This article was published in Franchising World Magazine in August 2009. http://www.franchise.org/Franchise-Industry-News-Detail.aspx?id=47280

    In a world where technology has infiltrated the very fabric of our social culture, consumers have evolved to be human spam filters, adept at tuning out the constant messaging coming in from TV and banner ads, billboards, email newsletters and the like. With marketers now realizing that the age-old premise, “if you display it, they will see it,” may no longer be viable, the current buzz throughout board rooms, marketing forums and coffee houses is whether or not Mobile Internet Marketing is the next effective and practical progression in the marketing mix.

    As companies question the effectiveness of traditional “outbound” marketing initiatives like broadcast and billboard advertisements, which push a message out far and wide, hoping that it resonates with a few individuals, they’re putting more emphasis on “inbound” marketing strategies that organically attract potential and already interested customers through search engines, blogs and social media. This has spurred franchises to take a closer look at making their messaging more local. Franchisors have moved from national level marketing, to regional, and local, by way of localizing online presence for every franchisee, and are now faced with Mobile Internet Marketing and wondering where it fits and what benefits it offers.

    The shift from traditional marketing efforts to inbound, permission-based initiatives has also created the requirement that communication with potential customers become more personal. Addressing people by their first names and narrowing the message to focus specifically on what a potential customer has “signed up for” is replacing more impersonal, mass messages.

    Mobile Internet Marketing offers the next wave of inbound, localized, personalized marketing by providing a more intimate, targeted, and increasingly proximity-aware method of reaching consumers.

     

    And Mobile Internet Marketing is here now.

    Are you ready for the burgeoning mobile world?

    The mobile phone is unique in that it’s a convergent device that brings together voice, Internet and technology all in one place. Its very nature is that it’s always on, always with you, intimately aware of your favorite content and music, and always connected to your network of friends. Marketers will soon be able to leverage its location-based technology, as well.

    According to Nielson Mobile, we’ve reached “critical mass” in the mobile world, with 40 million people in the United States categorized as ‘”active” mobile users. Even more, 144 million of the total 254 million mobile subscribers have data on their mobile phone, which allows them to use text messaging and access the Web.

    This mobile phone penetration can be startling when you realize that in the U.S., there are more mobile devices than TVs and personal computers (PCs) combined.

    And even more interesting is the information on who’s using them. Despite the belief that the mobile world is made up primarily of young people, Nielson’s data shows that 11.8% of mobile users are between the ages of 18-24; 27.4% are 25-34; and a staggering 37% are 35-54.

    In addition, recent data compiled by M:Metrics shows that the world has surpassed the 3 billion mark on mobile phones, making brand marketers now fixated on this “third screen” (PC, TV and now phone) and curious about the marketing opportunities best suited for this new medium.

    Before delving into opportunities available to franchise marketers for appealing to new markets, crossing cultural barriers and satisfying current customers through the mobile phone, let’s explore exactly what Mobile Internet Marketing is.

     

    What is Mobile Internet Marketing?

    Mobile marketing begins with the mobile web, which refers to browser-based web services such as the World Wide Web or Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) using a mobile device such as a cell phone, PDA, or other portable gadget connected to a public network.

    Although newer mobile devices use standard browsers (one you would use on a PC), a WAP browser on a mobile device provides all of the basic services of a PC-based browser, only simplified to operate within the restrictions – such as the smaller view screen – of a mobile phone. WAP web sites are also written in a special language so that a WAP browser can access it. Both of these browsers are being used by people surfing the Net on their phones.

    In addition to browsing the Internet, people are also text messaging. According to the CTIA – the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry, more than 110 billion texts were sent every month in 2008, for a total of over 1 trillion text messages for the year.

    Also known as a Short Message Service (SMS), text messaging can be used in several ways by marketers. When you “push” a text message out, you are sending a marketing message, such as a coupon or a client communiqué, directly to a potential customer, much like Expedia sends flight status updates via SMS. You can also create a “pull” message by communicating with someone who has actively engaged with a traditional marketing message. TV programs like American Idol have made this a popular marketing approach by running contests that require voting via a mobile phone. In this model, the initial message is conveyed through TV, radio or billboard advertisements and creates a call to action to text a code to a certain number.

    When discussing Mobile Internet Marketing, one cannot leave out the almighty iPhone. The iPhone has revolutionized downloadable applications – software programs you can choose to download to your iPhone that perform some action, similar to a program on your PC. The “App Store” for iPhone applications touts 50,000 programs, which have been downloaded one billion times. Applications include everything from games like Tetris to productivity tools to Loopt, which allows users to connect with friends by seeing where they are at all times.

    Palm and Blackberry have also come out with respective application stores for their mobile devices.

     

    The key factors of Mobile Internet Marketing

    Some fear that Mobile Internet Marketing will result in the mobile inbox becoming just as cluttered as the email inbox. However, the highly permission-based quality of mobile marketing makes it more relevant and targeted than any other marketing method, including email. It’s also believed that psychologically, consumers are more apt to “trust” mobile marketing because of the intimate nature and connectedness one has with their phone.

    In addition to the relevance mobile marketing offers to potential consumers, immediacy based on location, or presence-based marketing, adds to its effectiveness. If the Holy Grail of marketing is reaching the “right customer with the right message at the right time,” then mobile marketing may have found it.

    The ability for marketers to provide timely messages has already arrived. Take a pizza franchise, for example, that can text you a coupon code to order a Pizza at 5 p.m., just as you’re driving home from work. And for franchises that target the college audience, services such as eCampusCash may be appropriate, as they offer a multitude of coupons that they will text to potential customers’ phones. Customers then simply show the text to the business to use the coupon. And although it’s not here quite yet, text messages based on a customer’s location that pop up regarding a business they’re interested in when they’re in proximity, are indeed coming.

    Another key factor to Mobile Internet Marketing is how social media ties in. Social media sites like Facebook and MySpace can now be updated on the go with mobile devices. And considering the mobile phone is one’s “constant companion,” it has become as integral to social media marketing as the Web itself.

     

    How to use Mobile Internet Marketing

    First, make sure your website is “viewable” to the mobile world. Your current website may not be as user-friendly on a mobile phone as it is on a PC. You should speak to your web developer to make sure your website is properly optimized for viewing on mobile phones. Some Content Management Software (CMS), like ElementsLocal™, allows you to update your own company and local franchisee websites, making it easy to revise for both the PC and mobile phone. Further, software like ElementsLocal even offers features that allow users to send text messages to their mobile phones from a company website, making it easier for a potential customer to continue browsing your business’ website, even as they move from their PC to their mobile phone.

    You should also consider whether your company even shows up in the mobile world. Having a presence in Google and Yahoo on a PC does not necessarily mean you’ll show up on a mobile device. For starters, people can access your business’ location in a multitude of ways on a mobile phone, from browsing the Internet and texting Google your business name to using an iPhone application that is designed for a specific use. The common element is ensuring you’re listed not only in search engines like Google and Yahoo, but also local search engines like Google Maps and online directories like the local online Yellow pages. These directories are used by major companies to attain your address and contact information.

    Once your company is “in” the mobile revolution, customer service can be dramatically improved. Again, using the example of Expedia texting you your flight status, take into account the possibilities of updating a potential customer with timely details about your company that they may find critical while they’re on the go. Always Best Care, an in-home senior care service franchise, is working on sending text message updates to clients’ loved ones with pertinent information about appointments. In the future, this service will also allow family members to pinpoint a client’s location via GPS using mobile technology.
    Messages like this can go beyond just customer notifications and into marketing messages. The immediacy of Mobile Marketing can greatly benefit customer loyalty and VIP programs. Think about a hair salon franchise that during slow periods sends out a text message offering a discount for customers who show up in the next hour.

    Advertising dollars continue to move to mobile phones, as well. EMarketer forecasts that advertisers will spend $3.3 billion on mobile advertising in 2013, up from $648 million in 2008, while Experian Marketing Services predicts that mobile advertising, including mobile search, social networks and location-specific services, will become a more viable marketing strategy as consumers continue to adopt smart phone technology.

    If nothing else, consider this. Think about the web firm that convinced you almost a decade ago to start building your email lists to stay ahead of the game. Call it déjà-vu or just good planning, but it’s critical to start building your text message list now. As a consumer initially responds to a campaign by sending a text message, a marketer also captures his or her cell phone number. This valuable information, given by the consumer with permission, can then be used for future marketing campaigns.

     

    The Conclusion on Mobile Internet Marketing

    As franchises continue to strive to improve communications with customers and create brand awareness in an increasingly technological world, it’s hard to ignore the benefits of mobile marketing. Any brand that ignores mobile technology could be losing potential customers to competitors who are leveraging the technology and, more importantly, missing an opportunity to take the next step in creating a local marketing presence both on the Web and the mobile phone.

    In conclusion, Mobile Internet Marketing does need to be a part of your brand’s overall marketing plan, and it should rank in priority with your corporate website, local websites, social networking and email messaging strategies.

    Mobile Internet Marketing can’t be ignored as a viable solution to keep your company on the forefront of leveraging technology to improve brand awareness, extend product and/or service offerings and, most importantly, provide greater value and service to your customers.
    Jeremy LaDuque is the President and CEO of Elements Inc., developers of ElementsLocal™, a software solution for localized websites designed specifically for franchises. He can be reached at (805) 547-1160 or jladuque@elementsinc.net.