Mobile smartphones and tablets are fantastic for marketing a business and improving relationships with clients. In fact, mobile may be hotter than social media, and yet there are many agents that have failed to consider using mobile marketing.

Here, six reasons why you should be using mobile marketing:

  1. Google is 100% behind mobile, and they have developed separate search algorithms for mobile.
  2. Mobile smartphones are in the sweet spot of adoption. Within the next 5 years, ABI Research estimates that mobile commerce will reach $119 billion dollars a year.
  3. Smartphone users have more income and a higher net worth than regular cell phone users.
  4. Smartphones are easy for clients to use on the go, and when they are bored. Could there be a better time to reach them with questions and answers about insurance?
  5. Mobile search converts 50-60% more than desktop search.
  6. Google Places (the local mobile section that helps advertise businesses on Google Maps) has just been rerouted through Google+, and by extension, Gmail.

There has never been a better time to start using mobile in your business. And now, seven tips to help you get started.

Tablet

1. Take your website mobile.

For once, something tech-y is pretty easy. WordPress blogs can be quickly converted into mobile websites by adding a free plug-in. Many standard websites are also not difficult to convert. Lines of code at the beginning of the website tell the servers to recognize mobile devices and deliver the proper form of your website to the right device.

The advantage of doing this cannot be over-estimated. Take a look at just how many insurance sites out there have failed to address mobile. Then take a look at non-mobile sites on your smart phone. Can you read them? Can anyone over the age of 12 read them? Adding a mobile interface makes your website miles better than the competition.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Google Maps

2. Register your business with Google.

Now this may seem like a no-brainer for any insurance business that has an insurance office — but you’d be surprised how many businesses and agents have failed to do this. Registering with Google puts a business on Google Maps, and by extension, brings your name up on every search when a potential client in a particular community types “life insurance” or “health insurance” into their phone.

Image: AP Photo/Courtesy of Google

Foursquare3. Join location-based services.

Some of the best location-based services include foursquare, Friends Around and SCVNGR. These are applications that allow users to access promotions when they check into particular locations.

From an agent’s perspective, these applications are a great way to advertise in and around your community in a very low-key manner. For example, on foursquare, every location has a “mayor,” who is one of the most frequent visitors to the location. In our community, the foursquare mayor of one of the most popular pastry shops is a life insurance agent. Whenever I check-in to this local place looking for pastry coupons I am met with his grinning face. Location-based services can also be used to directly connect with clients using promotions and offers.

Image: AP Photo/Foursquare

SMS messaging4. Respect your customers’ privacy.

Less is more with mobile advertising; this is especially true with SMS. Absolutely no one wants to receive a barrage of garbage on his or her phone. So stick to useful, thoughtful, customer-centric messages. For example, the month before a term is up, send out a customer-centric message, such as, “Your term policy will renew in 30 days. We should get together to make sure you get the best policy at the lowest rate.” Another idea might be a SMS such as: “New changes to Medicare will directly affect the coverage of most seniors. Learn what you need to know now.” Try to send SMS messages no more than twice a month. Less is more.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tablet information5. Think “engagement,” not “selling.”

No agent intends to end up in the spam folder, but it happens. It happens with email marketing, social marketing and, above all, with mobile marketing. Think how fortunate we are to have these new ways to connect with our clients. The goal is always to add value to their day. Two of the best ways to do this are through humor and by delivering quality information that appeals to your audience. The latter is easier for most people. For example, an agent could easily collect the upcoming schedules for Frontline, 60 minutes and Charlie Rose and highlight upcoming health episodes with times and dates 24 hours before showing. Other ideas for engagement might include: Flu shot locations, Medicare updates, life and health insurance news, state legislature news, investment news, the 10 best websites for answering healthcare questions, etc. Add value to your clients and they will start to think of you not only as an insurance agent, but also as a reliable and valuable source of information.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

App AP6. Add an application.

Applications take additional time and investment, but they can pay off handsomely. Applications can be designed to entertain, educate or help customers. Having a popular app is far more effective than most banner ads.

This is one of my personal favorites.

Image: (AP Photo/Amber Hunt)

Branding7. Integrate mobile messages into your marketing plan.

Mobile is just one of many platforms that can be used to interact with clients. Establish a style, logo and brand and stick to it. People live hectic lives and although your banner ad is very important to you, it isn’t to most people. However, if the banner ad carries the same message as your mobile messages, and uses the same logo and message as your Facebook page, the advertisement is likely to eventually sink in. Develop a brand and then use mobile as one of the many ways you can reach your clients. Make sure the message is distinctive and recognizable across multiple platforms.

For more on mobile marketing, see:

Using Tablets to Boost Your Business

The Latest Trends in Digital Media

Life on the iPad