Dial M: How small businesses can tap into mobile marketing to grow


"After ten years in the business SMS industry I haven't come across an industry [it] isn't effective in," he says. Even when used as appointment reminders, he says SMS reduces attendance failure by 30 percent.

What's more, 64 percent of respondents to a recent survey would rather text than call for tech support, according to Gigi Peccolo, content manager for cloud communication platform Onereach. One client of the company who adopted messaging for tech support resulted in a 33 percent call reduction overall.

"They did it partly by implementing 'channel pivot', which lets users switch from interactive voice response to text by pressing a button on their phone," Peccolo says. "They could then engage in a conversation over SMS instead of having to wait on hold."

Future tech

They haven't taken off in a big way yet, but if you've bought a mobile in the last year or two, it's certain to have near field communications (NFC) and/or radio-frequency identification (RFID) hardware.

But there are early adopters, and they're seeing real results. The MPact platform, from technology provider Zebra, uses WiFi and Bluetooth to capture analytics in the retail environment.

When customers opt-in to receive updates about products and promotions, the metrics can reveal which aisles and products are most popular and even the purchase history and behaviour (like which section they most visit) of individual shoppers.

Zebra claims just over half of the people they surveyed would opt in to receiving coupons applicable to their location amongst the wares, over 40 percent would use location-based assistance and a little over a third would be happy to receive text messages from staff about product information and availability while they browse.

And with the big pushes behind Apple Pay and Google Wallet, NFC tech might finally be ready to go mainstream. Instead of worrying about browser versions, OS updates and other technical issues, marketers can piggyback the channel direct to consumers, much like they do with apps through the various app stores.

Even users who don't use Apple Pay will still have the app for it on their phone or iPad, and that allows for a whole new portal for advertising, loyalty programs, promotions and more.

With sales of handheld devices said to have overtaken laptops and PCs this year, it might be the new final frontier in SMB marketing.