Just look around you – smartphones are everywhere. In fact, a recent study shows that currently, 40 percent of cell phone subscribers in the United States have smartphones already, with the number projected to increase to 60 percent by next year. The number is even higher in the UK, which has 51 percent smartphone penetration.

While many early non-adopters viewed smartphones as simply a trendy gadget, as a small business owner, your business success may easily hinge on your view of the smartphone as an all-important vehicle to get–and stay–in front of your customers.

You may be wondering why developing a mobile strategy is important. First, of the 40 percent of current smartphone users across the US, half of them engage in shopping activity with their smartphones. This buying activity includes searching for restaurants, searching for coupons, researching products, taking a photo, and yes, even searching out competitors who offer similar products. That is, of course, in addition to actual purchases made through the smartphone.

With increasingly more consumers on the go, and many watching their spending these days, mobile marketing offers the small business owner the opportunity to communicate inexpensively with their customers. The mobile customers is generally out and about, actively searching for products, services and entertainment, versus the stationary desktop user who may simply be conducting a random search without an intention to buy.

Results from a May 2012 Placecast survey found the following: “Among consumers who have signed up for text alerts from retailers and merchants, 26 percent say that the information they received has led them to purchase the promoted product in the store, while 25 percent say they have purchased a different product from the store.”

Simply put: your mobile customer is far more likely to be an actual buyer rather than a tire kicker. With 69 percent of small business owners citing mobile marketing as “crucial to their growth,” here’s how you can begin to implement a mobile strategy right away.

1. Use Text Messages

Mobile phone users do not have to own a smartphone to receive texts, so you’re certain to include as many customers as possible by using this strategy. However, many mobile customers must still pay per text message, so be sure you have their permission to send texts before implementing this strategy. Keep the messages short, valuable, time-sensitive and be sure to include a specific call to action. Your SMS advertising provider has options to allow you to track which campaigns worked well, and which fell short of your goals.

2. Optimise Your Website For Mobile Usage

Your traditional website should be optimized for mobile users because they often check your site for information, comparisons and deals. With mobile sites, upload speed counts. Be sure yours uploads in 5 seconds or less, and be sure it includes very specific calls to action. Using a promo code helps you track purchases and peak usage times, information that’s extremely helpful for future campaigns.

3. Optimise Your Email Marketing

Since email is the most utilised function on mobile devices now, having a clear strategy to gain sales via email marketing is important. Catchy subject lines work well as well as a clear call to action.

4. Search And Find Efforts

Mobile search engines are just as important as the traditional search engine, because that’s where your consumer often begins looking for you. Test your keywords and marketing copy to assure they find you when they’re looking.

5. The Rotary Dial Isn’t Dead!

While we enjoy using mobile phones for other purposes, don’t overlook the power of inviting your customer to call. Be sure your phone number is included both on your mobile site and via mobile search, and be sure they receive pleasant service over the phone.

Check out a mobile marketing strategy to see what it can do for your sales. With higher conversion rates and lower implementation costs, they can be useful for everything from promoting sales to reminding customers to replace their air filters or get a tire change.