Waiting for my computer to get fixed at a local electronics store recently, I killed time by wandering around and checking out the merchandise. Amidst a display of cool gadgets in the front of the store, I saw a box of SodaStream, a water-carbonating device. As I read the copy on the box, I got my first taste of how mobile phones are changing the world of marketing: The packaging invited me to whip out my smartphone and take a photo of a certain enclosed area, following which my phone would play a video of how the bubbly contraption worked.
In a flash, I understood how mobile devices take branding and marketing to a whole other level of business-consumer interaction.
Now I am the first to admit that I have been living under a mobile devices rock, out in the hi-tech desert somewhere. It was entirely intentional, mind you: In a world of incessant interaction, I like to have me a little peace & quiet, making a smartphone seem like a dumb idea. Any savvy entrepreneur, however, must renounce her Luddite ways sooner or later, so I recently kissed my dumb phone goodbye and caved to the 21st century inter-connected madness.
Seeking to better understand how mobile devices are game-changers for the world of business, and figuring I was not the only smartphone virgin out there, I decided to speak with a few leaders in the field of mobile marketing, to see what all the fuss is about and learn how to apply the knowledge to business management. Here is my takeaway of the 4 basic principles of a successful mobile marketing campaign:
Consumers are hooked up.
Raymond Kasbarian, CEO of Zypline, brought to my attention a 2013 report by the International Telecommunication Union, which states there are 6.8 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide. True, Kasbarian acknowledges, numerous people have multiple subscriptions, but that's still a whole heck of a lot of subscriptions, especially considering that there are 7.1 billion people total on this planet. In addition, according to Mary Meeker's 2013 Internet Trends Report, brought to my attention by Jack Philbin, co-founder and CEO of Vibes, the average smartphone user reaches for her device about 150 times per day.
In a word: Wow.
Consumers are looking for you. On their phones and tablets. Now.
According to a 2013 report by Forrester Research, 89 percent of consumers use a search engine on their mobile device -- which all goes to say, your content better be mobile-friendly, if you want said consumers to find and do business with you. "Companies should devise an approach to mobile that optimizes the mobile experience first, and then tie that mobile experience back to other platforms," advises Louis Gump, president and CEO of LSN Mobile.
To this end, says Shayan Naveed, brand strategist at Nine9Nine, make your website and other content responsive to mobile devices. "Responsive design means that the content is easily viewed on a consumer's device," he explains. Mike Wehrs, CEO and president of Scanbuy, agrees, adding that optimizing content for mobile devices means keeping in mind considerations such as bandwidth variance tolerance, battery usage, and total time to load over a mobile network under average conditions.
Among other important features, says Mandy McEwen, founder and CEO of Mod Girl Marketing, make sure that when your information is viewed, the viewer is able to call your company with the click of a button.
That one, I know, is a deal-breaker for me. In the short time I have zipped around California, using my smartphone, I have searched for umpteen restaurants associated with the word "organic," then called to see what percentage of their food was certified as such. If a search came up without a call button, that restaurant did not get my business.
Understand how consumers are using the medium.
Jeff Hasen, chief marketing officer of Mobivity, brought to my attention a Google report indicating that mobile search is significantly more action-oriented than search via PCs. Three out of four mobile searches, Hasen explains, trigger follow-up action -- whether additional research, a store visit, a phone call, or word-of-mouth communication.
When a consumer uses a mobile phone, adds Philbin, "the phone becomes a tool to solve a particular mission." Whether it is finding a product review or accessing a coupon, he says, it is the job of the marketer to understand both consumer needs and consumer use of the medium, so as to create a targeted and successful mobile marketing campaign.
Philbin gives the example of the mobile wallet, where consumers can store coupons on their smartphones. "Consumers no longer have to remember to bring their coupons and loyalty cards to their favorite retail stores," he emphasizes. "Instead, they can store them on their smartphones and be reminded of offers when they are near a store and when an offer is about to expire."
For reasons like these, experts agree, incentives for brand loyalty are paramount in the world of mobile marketing. "Loyalty to brands has never been more important," says Hasen. He cites a Yankee Group study, in which nearly half of mobile users decide where to shop or otherwise conduct business, "based on whether a business has a mobile loyalty club."
Integrate Your Marketing Platforms
Michael Becker, North American market development and strategic advisor for Somo, sums up the relationship between marketing platforms like this: "Mobile needs other media, and other media needs mobile." An effective mobile marketing campaign, experts agree, must take what Philbin calls a "holistic" approach, integrating seamless customer experiences across all available shopping channels -- whether email, internet, mobile, or in-store. Content must be viewed and perform equally well on all devices -- meaning that marketing strategists must have awareness and mastery of the nuances of, as well as understanding of how consumers engage with, each device.