The best marketing goes where the customers are, and if you’ve left the house at all in, say, the last five years, you know that everyone is on their phone. That’s a trend that shows no signs of reversing. A recent study found that almost three-quarters of internet users will go online solely through their smartphones by 2025, meaning that if you want to reach them you need to shift your resources toward the mobile market.
But mobile marketing is an art and science all its own – it's as different from brick-and-mortar marketing as Candy Crush is from chess. To succeed in the mobile space, you'll have to use marketing strategies that are specifically formulated for the medium and the unique preferences of mobile users. Here are four of the best mobile marketing strategies that you can use to reach people where they live today.
Mobile users spend 80% of their time using apps, so app-based marketing represents one of your most important marketing opportunities. If your business doesn't have its own dedicated app, you can still reach consumers through services like Google AdMob, which allows advertisers to place their ads within third-party apps. You can also use Facebook's Promoted Post ads, which appear within Facebook's mobile app as part of users' news feeds.
But marketing via your business's custom mobile app allows you to make contact with proven, loyal customers. For example, skin care giant Sephora used its app to dramatically expand consumer engagement by offering features like rewards programs and customized shopping experiences. It has harnessed artificial intelligence to allow consumers to test makeup products, and it leverages consumer data to steer users toward products that will likely appeal to them. In 2020, the possibilities of app-based marketing are limited only by your imagination.
Apps can foster an intimate and constantly evolving relationship with your customers, and predictive data technology can enable a hyperefficient shopping experience.
Your audience is largely limited to existing customers, so this method isn't optimal to bring in new users.
In-game mobile marketing
Technically, this falls in the category of general app-based marketing, but gaming is such a huge segment of the mobile market that it deserves its own category. One recent study estimated that gaming accounts for 43% of all smartphone use, with over 200 million gamers in the U.S. alone, 56% of whom play more than 10 times a week. That's a lot of potential eyeballs.
There are two main types of mobile ads: banner ads and video ads. Banner ads are pretty self-explanatory. We've all seen, and promptly closed, plenty of banner ads before. Gamers will see your ad during a loading screen or displayed during their game. They're a relatively low-effort, low-return form of marketing, though they do increase basic brand visibility.
Video ads, however, have proven to be a hugely successful form of in-game marketing, largely because they spur interactivity. Incentivized video entices consumers to watch an ad in return for rewards like in-game points or gear and has great conversion potential. Gamers have found the rewards irresistible, making incentivized video the gold standard of in-game marketing at the moment.
In-game marketing gets your ads in front of some of the most engaged, enthusiastic mobile users.
Gamers' receptivity to both banner ads and video ads have declined. One website estimated that you have a better chance of surviving a plane crash than clicking on a banner ad, and when it comes to video ads, the average attention span has gone from 15 seconds to a mere eight seconds.
Location-based marketing uses consumers’ past or present locations to give them tailored ads. The two most popular forms of location-based marketing involve geofencing and geotargeting.
Geofencing is used by companies like Facebook and Snapchat to push ads to consumers based on where they are at that moment. For example, if you're downtown, you might see an ad for a concert happening a few blocks away or for nearby bars and restaurants.
Geotargeting is similar, but is based on a consumer’s past location. Let's say a restaurant is running a holiday promotion. They can use geotargeted mobile marketing to push ads to everyone who's visited the restaurant over the past three months. Places like car dealerships or clothing stores can use a narrower time window for their geotargeting. If you're on the fence about that convertible or shearling coat you looked at earlier, an ad offering a discount could push you to complete the purchase.
Google My Business is an easy and arguably necessary way for your business to engage in some light location-based marketing. Google My Business allows you to upload a profile of your business so that when nearby users google businesses like yours, your business will come up. If you're a realtor for example, and someone wants to sell their home, you want them to find your Google My Business profile and choose you as their agent. This small move can pay big dividends: Experts say that 50% of consumers who search for nearby merchants (e.g., "shoe repair near me") end up visiting that same day.
Location-based marketing helps you target high-value consumers, and geotargeting especially is a great tool to close the deal.
Some consumers have expressed privacy concerns about location-based marketing, and studies have shown that consumers can be alienated by creepy ads that stalk them if it's done too aggressively.
Consumers today want their information fast, and QR (quick response) codes are one of the best ways to give them what they want. These scannable images can auto-dial your business’s number on a user's phone, start an app download, email them a receipt or menu or show your business's exact location.
Marketers are of two minds on how upfront businesses should be on what their QR codes actually do. Some believe you should take all the guesswork out of the interaction and tell the consumer exactly what the QR code contains, while others believe that an element of mystery can entice more users to scan a code, just to see what it contains.
Ultimately, marketers have found that consumers in the gaming space are more responsive to a surprise or mysterious QR code, while retail consumers prefer a more straightforward disclosure.
Fast and easy to implement, QR codes can pack a huge amount of information into one point of contact.
The use of QR codes has steeply declined in the U.S. and Europe, though they're still extremely popular in Japan and Asia, as Western consumers have developed a suspicion of QR codes. They can also be difficult to implement in the real world, as clear scan lines and unobstructed views can be difficult to come by in urban environments.
Mobile search ads
Mobile search ads are just the mobile equivalent of the Google ads we're all familiar with. They're ads that appear at the top of a user's search results, formatted so that they appear to be part of the results. Like desktop Google ads, mobile search ads have significant and quantifiable benefits.
If you organically rank at the top of Google searches for your keywords, that can bring in a massive amount of traffic. One study found that the top three positions in search results have click-through rates of 23%, 14% and 10%, respectively. With a mobile search ad, you essentially jump to the front of the line. Some advertisers have seen click-through rates as high as 16%, which outranks the second-place result. That's an exceptional return on investment.
Mobile search provides immediate, measurable results at a great value.
Online users have grown steadily more suspicious of ads, and if your website isn't optimized for mobile viewing, all that traffic will go to waste.
One thing is clear: Mobile is the future, as smartphones become ubiquitous and apps monopolize more and more of consumers' shrinking attention spans. But simply applying old marketing techniques to this new medium won't work. Ultimately, marketers need innovative, contemporary strategies for innovative, contemporary platforms.