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What is mobile marketing anyway?

4-minute read

We are roughly a decade into smartphone revolution where are our phones can not only make calls, but also take photos, send text messages and calculate the tip at dinner.

The old-school flip phone, the original BlackBerry and the iPhone started us down this path, and ever since marketers have been trying to find a way to sell stuff to people on those little screens. Now throw on top of that the double-digital annual growth in tablet sales and you have an insane number of screens being used.

The challenge? How do you make a connection with customers on devices that are really small and in and out of people’s hands dozens of times a day?

Over time technology has given us such things as mobile-adaptive websites, mobile apps, GPS locating, QR Codes, Bluetooth and near field communications (NFC). Each have presented opportunities and challenges for marketers.

Smartphones and tablets are everywhere and I do mean EVERYWHERE

The proliferation of the iPhone (which set the bar) and other smartphone devices means that there are lots of opportunities to connect to your customers. The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) has compiled several statistics that stand out (see them all here):

  • In 2013, 83% of Canadian households had an active cellphone, up from 78% in 2010. (Statistics Canada, Residential Telephone Service Survey 2014)
  • Wireless market sector revenues are the largest component (46%) of total telecommunications revenues. (CRTC, Communications Monitoring Report, 2013)
  • In Canada, mobile data traffic will grow 900% from 2013 to 2018, a compound annual growth rate of 54%. (Cisco, VNI Mobile Forecast Highlights, 2013-2018)
  • Smartphone penetration in Canada is now at 73%. (J.D. Power & Associates, Canadian Wireless Total Ownership Experience Study, 2014)

Those are some big numbers and on top of that we are not the highest users of this technology on the planet by a long shot. That’s crazy stuff!

What do your customers want?

People use their mobile devices for a wide variety of purposes such as getting directions, checking sports scores, using social media and even buying stuff.

The challenge for businesses is to figure out how best to serve your customers using these devices and then grow your reach to get more of these people’s attention. Understanding what they want from your business will help clarify the things you should be doing.

Do you need an actual mobile app or does your mobile-friendly website get the job done? (In my opinion there needs to be a very specific and clear business case to build an app because navigating the app market can be super-challenging. That could be a blog post of its own).

Regardless, knowing what will make a good information and/or buying experience for your customers will help you to focus on how best to attract and retain them.

What kind of mobile marketing should you do?

Mobile marketing can take a number of forms. Here are some of the more popular.

  • Search engine optimized (SEO) mobile-friendly websites
  • Company-specific mobile apps (i.e. iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows)
  • Mobile browser/mobile app display ads (i.e. banner ads)
  • Sponsored and/or organic social media posts
  • Mobile video ads/social posts (e.g. vine)
  • Targeted texts/emails
  • Location-based marketing (via Bluetooth or NFC)
  • QR Codes

Each of these tactics has pros and cons. It’s important for you to understand how they could help introduce your brand to new customers or enhance the experience of existing customers.

Are you intruding or helping?

Strategy plays a key role in what you should be doing with your mobile marketing dollars. In a recent article, e-Marketer posed the question Ever wonder why consumers don’t click on mobile ads? The top two responses were:

  1. Wasn’t interested in the offer
  2. Wasn’t relevant to me

You’re wasting your time and money if you don’t understand who your target customers are and what mobile tactics will resonate with them.

The bottom line

The business community is still trying to figure out how best to use mobile as a marketing engine.

As we can see from the stats above, the mobile marketplace will continue to experience exponential growth over the next decade and beyond.

You’ll be doing yourself a huge favour by educating yourself on how your customers interact with your business via smartphones and tablets and the different mobile marketing methods you can use to communicate with them.

Do you have questions about mobile marketing? Or, if you’ve tried it in your business, how’s it going? Leave your comment below.

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