Tablet use is growing among all demographics, but older generations of Americans are coming around more than expected.

Market research firm comScore reported in its most recent assessment of the mobile phone market that smartphone ownership in the United States has surpassed the 50 percent mark. While iPhones, BlackBerrys and devices running Google’s Android mobile operating system have maintained their rise, small business owners have to focus on the equally rapid ascent of tablets. A report from the Online Publishers Association found that 31 percent of adults in the U.S. currently own tablets, and, much like smartphones, the adoption rate for the devices shows no signs of slowing down.

For small business owners hoping to improve their web presence, the adoption of these devices means you need to make some changes and considerations to reach prospects no matter which devices they’re using.

In the past, the concept of mobile marketing likely seemed to be a major undertaking for small business owners, even those successfully using the web to drive traffic, leads and conversions. In the earliest stages of the mobile rise, SMBs looking to compete on mobile marketing probably found it necessary to invest in display ads, which are often expensive to create and aren’t particularly successful in terms of driving conversions. More than half of mobile users saying they don’t pay attention to display ads and 27 percent identify them as intrusive.

However, content marketing campaigns that leverage several different web channels have become increasingly valuable to SMBs eager to engage the growing pool of on-the-go web users. As more consumers purchase these mobile devices, their habits on them have shifted, and they’re accessing the websites of companies they’re interested in buying from more frequently.

Content marketing, SEO can drive traffic as mobile search spikes

A report from BIA/Kelsey found that mobile search is growing at a much higher rate than desktop search did at this stage in its lifecycle. With so many Americans using smartphones, and 90 percent of consumers starting purchase research with search, the popularity of mobile search to find information is growing exponentially.

According to the research, there will be more than 30.7 billion queries sent from mobile devices in 2012, compared to 61.6 billion searches that will be conducted from desktop and laptop computers by the end of the year. However, BIA/Kelsey found that mobile will likely surpass desktop search by 2015, when 85.9 billion queries will be sent from smartphones and tablets, compared to 84 billion expected from desktops and laptops.

In general, mobile devices are becoming all-purpose tools to find online information, and small businesses can leverage this trend by shifting their content marketing and SEO campaigns toward mobile search. This doesn’t require too much of a change, but making some small adjustments can help appeal to mobile search crawlers, which take users’ location into account. Consider:

  • Adding geo-modifiers to existing keywords
  • Using Insights for Search to find terms that draw more searches in specific neighborhoods
  • Writing content around local Twitter trends
  • Covering community topics relevant to your business
  • Placing an accurate street address prominently on your website

ContentLEAD recently reported that 70 percent of companies looking to improve their mobile marketing presence are focusing on creating strong mobile websites fully compatible with smartphones and tablets.

Moreover, the report from the OPA found that pull quote 94 percent of tablet users said they spend most of their time on the devices accessing high-quality, engaging content on the web. Small businesses’ news content marketing and SEO campaigns that have succeeded in driving traffic can do the same for mobile websites.

Google’s Pierre Far also discussed mobile SEO at the recent SMX Advanced conference in Seattle. According to Far, one of the best ways for an SMB to rank well on mobile SERPs is to create a website that functions the same on mobile devices as it does on other web access points.

Social content is increasingly popular among mobile audiences

According to comScore’s Mobile Subscriber report, 36 percent of all mobile phone users in the U.S. accessed a social network in June. With just more than 50 percent of mobile phone owners, it’s clear that a majority of web-connected device owners are turning to social networks on their handsets.

Tablet users are spending more time accessing engaging website content.

With Facebook and Twitter representing some of the most popular apps for all smartphone operating systems, encouraging prospects to follow your small business on Twitter can help drive access to your mobile website.

Having a robust, updated Facebook and Twitter marketing campaign can drive visibility on the mobile web with little additional investment and ensures that a target audience will be reached around the clock. Additionally, a report from AYTM Market Research found that a growing number of web users are turning to social networks to access news content. The report found that 20 percent of consumers looking for local news content find it through social networks – which might inspire SMBs to cover relevant local news issues and share fresh headlines on social sites.

Much like web marketing is becoming less about paying for ads and more about creating relevant content users will interact with organically, mobile marketing efforts must shift toward organic engagement. Your target audience is using social media to inform and entertain themselves on their laptops and their smartphones.

Prospects expect email marketing campaigns to be fresh and compatible on mobile devices

Much like mobile content consumption and social access, regularly checking emails from smartphones and tablets is an activity on the rise. OPA pegged tablet email access at 66 percent of all users, and a report from Knotice found that 27 percent of all emails are opened on some form of mobile device. Constant access to emails places more of a premium on fresh content. Business owners should be prepared to fuel their email marketing campaigns with timely updates.

SMBs using email marketing campaigns have cited the channel for increased conversions and an overall improved web presence. However, StrongMail noted that just 43 percent of those using email marketing have fully integrated it into their mobile strategy. The first step to mobile-friendly email campaigns is ensuring they can be opened without issue. That isn’t enough, though. The linked content that emails messages direct prospects to must also be accessible with the devices.

Thirty-two percent of respondents to StrongMail’s poll said they are actively working to optimize the landing pages on their websites for mobile access, while 22 percent regularly make adjustments to their mobile email template to ensure it operates properly.

In general, small business owners looking to attract their prospects – regardless of time of day or their locations – must ensure that each channel they pursue is optimized for mobile use. Americans are becoming increasingly web connected and active on several different internet access points. Making minor adjustments to your most successful campaigns can transform web marketing success into mobile marketing success without too many problems.