To say that mobile marketing is exploding is an understatement. With consumers and businesses alike utilizing their devices for everything from playing a game to making major business purchases, marketers cannot ignore that mobile has to be a part of their plans and budget. Mobile is not only a different animal than traditional forms of marketing, but also than it's older digital sibling. The game has changed once again, so we've created a guide to help you navigate the waters ahead.
Mobile marketing is advertising via cell phone, smartphone, tablet, or any other such device connected wirelessly to the Internet. Unlike traditional mass marketing, mobile marketing is most likely to be user-initiated; consequently, you are already targeting an audience interested in and predisposed to buy your products and services.
Another unique characteristic of mobile marketing is that it targets consumers based not only on their personal buying patterns and interest profiles, but also their geographic location. Thus, diners interested in Indian cuisine can receive an alert whenever they are near an Indian restaurant when it's time for lunch or dinner.
Fast Stats on the Mobile Market
The mobile audience will include an estimated 196 million smartphone users in the U.S. by 2016. According to local marketing experts BIA/Kelsey, while most local commerce is conducted offline, it is greatly influenced by online searching and ad messaging.
According to the Google/Nielsen Mobile Search Moments study, only 17 percent of mobile searches are conducted on the go; 77 percent take place at work or at home. While the ability to target users while they are on the go is important -- shopping and food-related queries are twice as likely from inside a store than anywhere else -- the overriding opportunity is tapping into a sizeable audience that increasingly relies on a mobile device versus a PC to search.
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According to mobiThinking, typical consumer mobile usage averages nearly three hours a day, versus just a little over two hours daily on a PC.
Seven Channels for Mobile Marketing
A mobile marketing strategy is tailored -- in terms of both content and the underlying software programming -- to fit the capabilities and limitations of the typical mobile device. Here's a quick guide to the capabilities available to the mobile marketer. It's not just one channel -- it's a whole array of location-based marketing opportunities.
1. SMS (Short Message Service), aka Text Messaging
While limited to 160 alphanumeric characters only (no images or graphics), the advantage of SMS is that it can be sent to cell phones that lack more sophisticated smartphone capabilities. While the text limit might seem constricting, it ensures content is concise. Additional text-messaging advantages over email and other social media include:
- Has nearly a 100 percent open rate
- A significant 45% of SMS campaigns generate a successful ROI, reaching over 50% when combined with other popular channels
- Easy opt-in and opt-out boosts subscriber satisfaction
- Is not currently subject to filtering for spam
2. MMS (Multimedia Message Service)
MMS is text messaging that can also contain images, video, and audio sent to smartphones, tablets, and other MMS capable devices. Despite the large capacity, it doesn't cost any more to send than SMS. In addition to being able to send more attention-getting marketing communications akin to broadcast commercials, according to Outspoken, the key advantages of MMS include:
- 15 percent average click-through rate (CTR)
- Much more likely to be shared over social media than SMS
- 20 percent increase in opt-ins over SMS
3. Mobile Subscription Services and Push Notifications
Although available on the original BlackBerry phone, the introduction of the 2009 iPhone popularized push notification for consumers, and now it's a common feature of any mobile device.
Push services allow the user to subscribe to a news service or other third-party channel to receive notifications of key updates. Usually the point is to prompt the user to open an application or go to the provider to receive more detail. You could, for example, announce a sale for the next two hours only, or notify subscribers when a particular product is newly restocked or a promotional event is held.
Location and proximity technologies make push notifications all the more effective as they combine a sense of urgency (the sale is on now for a limited time) with convenience (the store is right where you are).
Example: Rue La La is a membership-only flash sales ecommerce site. Thanks in part to push notifications, it expects to generate more than half of its estimated $400 million in annual sales from mobile devices.
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4. Marketing with Mobile Apps
If there's an app for that, there's also a marketing opportunity for that. An app for your business or a specific product or service is a virtual gateway to increase sales, particularly if it can process credit card transactions. The app can both make it easy to purchase -- and provide content to promote -- your products and services. Apps can also serve as market research tools.
Example: Dragonfly Shops & Gardens used social media mobile app Foursquare, which allows users to "check in" with their location, to determine that 41 percent of check-ins came from men, despite the fact that its customer base is overwhelming female. According to shop co-owner Beth Davidson, "the men who come with their wives or girlfriends are starting to check in. About two or three months ago, we started running Foursquare check-in specials for newbies, and we've seen a lot of activity."
5. Mobile Game Marketing
Advertising in the form of a video game is as old as video games themselves. Until fairly recently, the development costs of mobile advergaming was thought to outweigh the potential benefits. But as the costs for app development have declined and the penetration rate of mobile gaming has increased, marketing through mobile games is growing.
Example: The Chipotle Scarecrow campaign included a gaming app that became one of the top 15 free iOS apps and achieved 250,000 downloads within the first four days of release (and about a million users in six months). Companies with the budget to develop a high-quality game could achieve similar results.
6. Mobile Display Advertising
This is online advertising adapted to the mobile platform, e.g., banners or ads displayed on the websites. Mobile banners are charged to advertisers in the same way as any Internet placement:
- Number of views (pay per impression)
- Whether users click on the ad (pay per click or PPC)
A recent study conducted by the BBC World News indicates that mobile advertising worldwide is twice as effective as PC-based advertising, and up to four times more effective among affluent consumers.
Example: Search marketing expert Giselle Abramovich reports that the Hair Club for Men found that mobile display advertising was more cost effective than mobile search advertising, reducing the company's cost-per-click by 72%
7. Mobile Marketing with QR Codes
Quick Response Codes (QR codes) are two-dimensional patterns made up of square dots scattered in a unique matrix on a white background. A mobile device user can easily scan a QR code in a brochure, display, or other marketing collateral to view a website, download information, or send a message.
While there is some debate about the merits of putting an ugly graphic on an otherwise attractive marketing piece, consumers are increasingly aware of how to use it. The number of scans has grown considerably, with an increase of 13 million scans in 2013 over 2012.
An effective mobile marketing campaign combines elements of these seven messaging channels to:
- Get the target audience to do something: purchase a product, go to a website, enter a drawing
- Build a community: encourage "remarketing" to other social media sites and create buzz about your company, products, and services
- Provide easy redemption: get a discount, join a buyer's club, register for special offers quickly and easily
- Track consumer behavior: collect marketing data about consumer purchases and patterns