Now that it’s January and the “best of 2012” lists are complete, it’s time to look ahead at the new and interesting mobile marketing tools or strategies coming our way this year. Why mobile marketing? Check out these stats: According to eDigitalResearch, 54% of all smart phone owners use their phones to access websites, and 38% have made an online purchase with their phone! That’s a huge audience to grab for your small business. While it’s still early in the year, we know big changes are in store for how mobile phones will be used, and how mobile marketers, like you can use them. So here are three innovative mobile marketing tactics, features and/or apps we think will be big in the next year:

1. Passbook – As a user, this mobile app allows you to store all of your boarding passes, event tickets, retail coupons and store cards all in one place. As a business, you can create offers, such as coupons, event tickets or loyalty cards in the form of a “pass,” which you can distribute to current or potential customers via email, the web or directly from an app. All coupons or passes are then stored in the Passbook app, ready to be used. Amazingly, the app is also time and location enabled, so when a customer walks into your store any/all relevant coupons you have in Passbook, will appear on their phone. And once someone has accepted an offer stored in Passbook, permission is automatic granted for other offers you may have. So you can continue to offer deals to your most loyal customers and easily update or change the deal. Apple has a helpful site with more info about Passbook.

This app appears to be a great idea, and easy to implement in your marketing. And, you don’t have to be a programmer to take advantage of it (phew!). If you have the iPhone 5, or you update to iOS6, the Passbook app will be added to your phone.

2. Location based marketing – Sure we’ve seen and used different location based social media programs like FourSquare, but as mobile marketing continues to expand, using location based apps could become much more important for your business. Location services rely on GPS data to pinpoint where the phone user is. Since many people are already willing to check in when and where they shop or eat, savvy marketers can use this data to target their messages to the right people at the right time. This allows you to send cool time-sensitive offers, increasing the sense of urgency to customers while they’re in your store or the area. ByteLight takes this a step further by using location-based services (indoors) through actual light! ByteLight is a light blub that sends waves of unique patterns only visible on a mobile device mobile to determine where a user is. As a business, once a customer reaches a certain part of your store in the vicinity of a ByteLight, you can send an offer specific to that section of the store. Watch the video to learn more about this innovative technology:

3. Mobile payments – This is not a new concept, but with more businesses enabling payment from a mobile phone, it’s something that’ll be in full force in the near future. Google Wallet and Square Wallet are examples of apps that can be used by your customers to purchase from your business. But beyond the ability to make a purchase in-store, they also offer a quick way for someone to pay when shopping online. And, for a business that offers loyalty programs, its an easy way for your customers to keep track of their purchases. Starbucks does a bang up job of this – not only can you purchase a coffee using your mobile phone, but the app also tracks purchases for their loyalty program. Want to do this for your biz? You’ll need to add a button for online payments to your website, and an NFC reader for in-store purchasing. And, of course, your customers will need to download an app like the ones mentioned above.

And don’t forget, with all this attention on mobile phones and mobile marketing, it’s vital to have mobile-friendly email marketing and websites. According to Knotice, 36% of all email opens in the first half of 2012 came from mobile phones. And that number is just going to keep increasing.

These are just some our predictions of what will be big in 2013, what are your mobile marketing plans for 2013? Is there an app, feature, strategy, or concept you’re excited to try?

© 2013, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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