Mobile Marketing Guide: Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore it

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If you’re looking to deepen your customer loyalty, gain new leads, or increase conversions, the potential of mobile marketing is too big to ignore.

Consumers expect to be able to engage with your brand on all devices.

And it’s true, while it doesn’t make sense for every business to build a mobile app, every business should have a mobile marketing strategy.

In this article, we breakdown mobile marketing, exploring statistic on how consumers use mobile, what they expect from you, and why you must have a mobile strategy. Using this data, we’ll provide a clear guide on how you can develop your own mobile marketing strategy.

Mobile Marketing Guide Table of Contents

Click a button to transport yourself to that section:

What is Mobile Marketing?

Among the vast array of information on mobile marketing, there are a few variations on what the definition is.

Varnali and Toker’s definition states mobile marketing is a set of practices enabling organizations to communicate and engage with their audience in an interactive and relevant manner through any mobile device or network.

However…

Some scholars (Scharl, Dickinger and Murphy, 2005), believe mobile marketing is using a wireless medium to provide consumers with time and location-sensitive, personalised information promoting goods, services and ideas.

Here’s my definition:

A multi-channel, digital marketing strategy specifically engineered to target audiences on their smartphones, tablets, and/or other mobile devices.

And guess what?

71% of marketers believe mobile marketing is core to their business.

Let’s find out why…

Why You Can't Ignore Mobile Marketing

Let’s start by taking a look at how often (and how much) consumers are using their mobile devices:

Mobile Usage Statistics

  • In 2018, US adults are expected to spend on average 3 hours and 22 minutes on non-voice mobile media.
  • 80% of internet users own a smartphone.
  • 80% of social media usage is done on a smartphone.
  • 48% of millennials exclusively use their mobile device to view video.
  • 79% of people use their smartphone for reading email (higher than those who use it for phone calls).
  • It’s predicted, in 2018, 8 in 10 email users will access their email exclusively from their mobile devices.
  • Pinterest is the most popular mobile social network. 64% of its referred traffic comes from smartphones or tablets.
  • Over 50% of users grab their smartphone immediately after waking up.
  • Users are spending, on average, 69% of their media time on their smartphone.
  • Nearly 60% of all online searches are carried out on mobile devices.

We can both see people are spending a lot of time perusing the internet on their mobile devices. But, what are they actually saying?

What Mobile Users (Consumers) Are Saying

  • 57% of users say they wouldn’t recommend a business with a poorly-designed mobile website.
  • 83% of mobile users say a seamless experience across all devices is very important.
  • 91% of mobile users say access to content is very important.
  • 55% of consumers aged 56-57 will never read email on their mobile first; whereas this number is only 18% of people aged 19-34.
  • 70% of consumers say they will delete emails immediately if they don’t render well on their mobile device.
  • 88% of consumers who search for a local business on a mobile device say they will call or go to the business within 24 hours.
  • 40% of mobile users say they will abandon a site if it does not load in 3 seconds.
  • 89% of consumers say they’re likely to recommend a brand after a positive experience on a mobile
  • 40% of users say they will go to the competitor after a bad mobile experience.
  • More than 90% of B2B buyers reporting a superior mobile experience say they are likely to buy again from the same vendor compared with only about 50% of those reporting a poor mobile experience

With consumers placing more and more importance on mobile-friendly interactions, what are other marketers doing as a result?

What Marketers are Doing as a Result

And it’s not just marketers who’ve reacted to mobile usage becoming more popular.

Google are also implementing their Mobile-First index in 2018. We’ll go into more detail on this in the next section on how you can develop your own mobile marketing strategy.

Guide to Developing Your Own Mobile Marketing Strategy

It’s absolutely clear:

Mobile is changing the way your audience engage with your brand and product/service. Therefore, developing a mobile marketing strategy that’s aligned with your goals and external market conditions is vital.

Let’s take a look at how you can develop your own mobile marketing strategy:

Step 1: Set Your Goals

Just like any other marketing campaign, you need to set clear goals and objectives in order to measure its success. Some examples include:

  • New lead generation
  • Customer retention
  • Generate X number of sales
  • Distribute X amount of coupons
  • Enhance brand engagement

There’s no right or wrong answer here. Your goals totally depend on what you want to achieve. Once you’ve decided, you can use the following to help shape your mobile marketing campaign.

Step 2: Research Your Market

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Just because certain mobile campaigns worked well for others, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. You need to research your own target audience and determine the best way to engage your audience.

Now, you can check out these articles on market research and creating buyer personas for detailed research techniques.

But, to kick start your research, you can focus on analytics in order to see how existing users are interacting with your brand through mobile.

You’re able to gain some great insights using the follow analytics:

Page Visits/Views

This includes entry page visits, total visits, total page views, pages per visit, average duration, single page visit.

These simple analytics can give you a general understanding on the health of your business. You can find this data using Google Analytics, where you can further segment this data into devices (smartphone, tablet, and desktop).

You’ll gain insights on the volume and quality of your interaction across different devices, so you can identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities and threats.

Geographical Locations

Including home and abroad, this data can give you an understanding of the makeup of your audience. And you show you opportunities to enhance your international vision or location-based marketing through the use of mobile.

On-Site

With a focus on user experience, look to see how current users are interacting with your website on mobile devices.

Traffic Referrals

Check out who’s linking to your current content. This can provide you with opportunities to reach out to other companies to build strategic relationships.

Platforms

What platforms do your current/target audience use? This can be a great way to evaluate where you’re currently focusing your mobile marketing and decide if you’re active on the right platforms.

Activity

Finding out when your audience is most active can tell you what times might be best to send promotional offers, push notifications, and emails etc.

Competitor Analysis

You need to be ethical, so you should only be using publicly available information when carrying out competitor analysis.

Having said that, there are some key areas you should focus on:

  • Platforms they focus on
  • What keywords they rank for
  • Have they optimized for desktop and mobile indexing?
  • Does their USP change depending on mobile or desktop?
  • Content marketing: what topics are they focusing on?
  • What content has been optimized for mobile?

Conducting competitor analysis can potentially uncover gaps and opportunities you could exploit, and help you work out how you can stand out from the crowd.

Bottom Line on Research

Mobile research needs to be treated like any other technology used to interact with prospects and customers. You want to impress existing customers, and at the same time, entice new leads through your mobile marketing.

Therefore, this research is the most vital stage.

Your aim to should be to discover what opportunities exist within your market that will resonate with your audience and potential customers.

Step 3: Optimize Your Site for Mobile

This could be included in “Mobile Marketing Strategies” below, however, I believe this is so vital, it can’t be skipped.

Why?

Because in 2018, Google are going to be rolling out their Mobile-First Index.

What’s the Mobile-First Index?

It’s Google’s next stage in prioritising mobile on the internet. Google knows more people are searching using a mobile, but at the same time, too many websites still provide an inferior mobile user experience.

Before, the desktop version of your website was the priority–now it’s mobile.

Hence the name ‘Mobile-First Index.’

It’s all about UX (User Experience). If you have a responsive site, it’s unlikely you’ll experience a huge shift. Because the content on desktop and mobile will generally be the same.

However, if you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you could see drop in rankings.

How to Prepare Your Site for Mobile-First Index

Here’s the truth:

You may not have to do anything to your site in relation to the Mobile-First Index. However, there are some areas you can focus on to avoid the biggest problems.

Speed-up Loading Times

Site speed has always been an important part of SEO and user-experience.

But, even more so for mobile:

Google says that 53% of mobile users will leave a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load.

Therefore, here’s what you want to do:

Head over to Google’s PageSpeed Insights, enter your URL, and click analyze to check your website. You’ll then get suggestions on how you can improve.

The downside to this is it can get a bit technical, so you may need to find help from a developer.

I also recommend you check out AMP.

The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project is an open source organization aiming to improve mobile experience.

It enables you to create websites and ads that are fast, clean, and are high-performing across devices and distribution platforms.

Managing Your Content

Can users access the same content on mobile and desktop? Remember, Google and users want a seamless experience across all platforms.

Hiding content on your mobile site or removing it to improve the design can no longer be done. You need to have the same content accessible from any device.

Now, this can lead to a lot of challenges.

I suggest you take a look at Search Engine Watch. It offers some excellent examples of websites that could be a risk of negative effects due to this issue.

I also recommend you use the Screaming Frog crawler to identify any gaps in your mobile and desktop content. And if you’re not particularly confident in doing this, use Moz’s awesome guide to help you.

Here are some more tips you can follow to ensure your content is mobile-friendly/optimized:

Don’t Use Flash – Apple killed flash on mobile, so a lot of mobile user can’t see flash. Instead, use HTML5 or Java.

Think About Text Size, Tap Target etc. – Accidently hitting a button when navigating on a mobile size is guaranteed to ruin your experience.

So make sure you consider making your site finger-friendly by leaving enough padding. Again with text, you don’t want your user to have to zoom in to read. Check out this guide here on mobile-friendly designs.

The average width of an adult thumb is 1 inch (2.5 cm), which converts to 72 pixels.

Use Drop-Down Menus and Accordion – As long as the content loads when the page first loads, Google will not punish you for ‘hiding’ content in an accordion or drop-down menu.

For example, if a block of text is pushing down your products on an ecommerce store, or doesn’t quite fit the design. Consider ‘hiding’ it in an accordion.

Desktop Version

Mobile Version

Think Twice When Using Pop-ups – There’s no denying it, a poorly timed and placed pop-up is annoying. However, if you rely on lead generation, it’s a crucial part of the UX. The key is to understand the user’s journey and display a pop-up when it makes sense.

Really Focus on UX

Take a look at your website on mobile, and really think about how easy it is to use.

Look at Unrivaled Reviews site:

Desktop Version

Mobile Version

Using their mobile site is just as easy as their desktop site. It’s a seamless experience.

When you look at your site, ask yourself these questions:

  • How easy is it to find information that people are likely to be looking for?
  • What does the navigation look like?
  • How easy is the check-out process?
  • How do I navigate back to where I have just come from?
  • How easy is it to close pop-ups?
  • How big is my font on mobile?
  • Where are your contact details? How easy are they to find?

Optimizing your website for mobile is a must in my opinion. And is vital to having a strong mobile marketing campaign. If you’re going to be targeting users through mobile, what are the chances they’ll user your site on a mobile?

And remember, what I keep coming back to: users want a seamless experience. What’s the point in targeting someone through mobile, only for them to get to your site and find it difficult to use on the device they’ve been targeted on? It’s silly.

Optimize your site for mobile.

Step 4: Mobile Marketing Strategies

There’s a healthy variety of mobile marketing strategies for you to try. However, just because one worked for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for you. What’s important, is that you decide based on your audience research.

Let’s go through some of the different types of mobile marketing strategies.

App-Based Marketing

Now, this could be through the use of your own app, or, if creating a app is not in your budget, you can use services like Google AdMob. This type of service allows you to create mobile ads that’ll appear within their-party apps.

You can also target apps like Facebook, creating mobile ads using their Promoted Post.

In-Game Mobile Marketing

Like app-based marketing, you can create mobile ads that’ll appear within third-party mobile games. For example, your ads could appear as banner pop-ups, full-page image ads, or video ads between loading screens.

QR Codes

Your users scans the code with their smartphone, where it’s translated into actionable information, like a text message or webpage.

QR Codes can be integrated into just about any type of printed materials, including:

  • Conference/Event Displays
  • Print Advertisements
  • Business Cards
  • Brochures, Posters and Flyers
  • Postcards and Mailers

Once a QR code is scanned the encoded information can be used to automatically trigger a range of actions on the user’s device, including:

  • View a Mobile Website or Landing Page
  • Dial Telephone Number
  • Send a Text Message
  • Send an Email
  • View a Message or Special Offer
  • Download Contact Details (VCARD)
  • View a Google Maps Location
  • View a Social Media Profile

You can use Kaywa to generate QR codes.

Location-Based Mobile Marketing

Location-based mobile ads are ads that appear on mobile devices based upon a user’s location relative to a specific area or business.

Mobile location-based advertising is a complex system. They require many parameters, and you need to leverage different information for reaching your target group efficiently. Some of the practices used are:

Hyper-Contextual Targeting:

Used to drive purchase intent, it uses hyper-local data to deliver contextual messages to your audience.

For example, if there has been a lot of burglaries in a certain area, a home security company could set up an ad to target prospects within a 5 mile radius. The ad could include some kind of tap-to-call button to get leads.

Geo-Aware Targeting:

This technique uses real-time locations data (supplied by the mobile provider) to display mobile ads to a potential customer who’s close to a certain location.

For example, if your target audience is a lover of brownies, you can remind them you baked brownies and it’s just round the corner. The purpose it to bring them to your store and make a purchase.

You could even push the ad out during lunch breaks (hyper-contextual). But, you would need a clear understanding of your target audience’s behavior and when they’d be more likely to purchase a brownie.

Place-Based Targeting:

This method uses a certain area or location during a specific timeframe.

For example, during a popular movie screening, you could advertise giveaways or special promotions to the fans. You’re able to take advantage of technology like iBeacons to determine when your audience receives your ad. For example, once they check-in at the cinema, they can receive a special coupon or special promotion.

Geo-Fencing:

Lets you target users within a predefined area based on latitude and longitude. Essentially, it’s a virtual fence, hence geo-fencing, used to five foot traffic to your store.

Often used in shopping malls, where you likely have a lot of competitors, geo-fencing ads lets you target people in order to drive them to your store. It’s best to make your message relevant, for example, offer a limited-time offer of 10% of lunch.

Geo-Conquesting:

This strategy aims to target users when they’re physically in or around your competitor’s store.

It’s fairly new, and it usually used by companies in financial services/insurance, telecommunication, and restaurants. The aim is to leverage users current location and external cues (like time and state of mind), to create highly relevant ads to convert your competitor’s customers to yours.

Push Notifications

Acquiring users takes time and money. You work hard for them.

According to a study by Localytics, 52% of smartphone users have push enabled on their devices. And these notifications can be used to benefit your business because they’re a follow-up to user acquisition–making sure your marketing dollars stretch further.

However, there is a fine line with push notifications. 50% of people find them annoying; the other 50% find them useful.

Localytics’ study found that users primarily want personalization from push notifications.

For a more detailed explanation, you can read their excellent article here.

Mobile Search Ads

These are basic Google search ads built for mobile, often featuring extra add-on extensions like click-to-call or maps.

They can be very powerful:

88% of clicks on mobile search ads are incremental to organic clicks. In other words, these clicks would not have been replaced by organic clicks, if the search ads were paused.

This means mobile ads have an significant impact and are complementary to organic search results.

The key here is to optimize your ads for mobile. Now, there’s no magic switch you can flick to make everything run perfectly. Instead, you need to try a combination of things to help personalize and optimize your ad for mobile.

Having said that, here are some tips you should consider.

Make it Mobile Specific – If you want a specific text ad to only show for searches on mobile devices, make sure to check the box for mobile under “Device preference.”

Use Mobile Specific Ad Copy – Research user intent on mobile devices and tailor your copy to appeal to the mobile users mindset.

Think Two Click Ahead – This comes back to having a mobile-friendly site. If your ad send your lead to a site not optimized for mobile, they’ll leave. Remember, seamless experience.

Mobile Ad Extensions – Use the mobile specific ad extensions and scheduling to your advantage. For example, schedule your click to call extension to only appear during business hours.

SMS Mobile Marketing

Considers one of the more direct and personal forms of marketing, you send text to users who have opted-in to receive them.

It’s true, consumers rarely receive texts from businesses and the cost is pennies per text messages, especially if purchased in bulk as a business it’s important you do your due diligence before jumping in.

How will you collected mobile numbers?

Most people view their mobile number as sacred, so it may be hard to get people to give it to you. They’re going to have to really trust you.

This means you have to be clear your going to be sending them ads through SMS messaging. TheBalance recommends you follow these guidelines:

  • Guideline 1: Infrequent messaging, perhaps once a month, no more than two times a month.
  • Guideline 2: Offers will be exclusively for customers that share their cell phone number with you.
  • Guideline 3: SMS will be used to send them premium notices such as an order coming in, an appointment reminder or an upcoming service date.

Whatever you decide to do, keep a copy of their permission to market to them via SMS, if you run into problems you will be glad that you did.

Have Measures in Place

SMS campaigns can be a little tricky because there are laws you must follow. So make sure you consult an attorney to ensure you fulfil all your legal obligations before starting.

Here is a quick overview of what you need to stick to:

  • Opt-In Only: You must get consent from someone before sending SMS ads
  • Opt-Out: Every message must include an unsubscribe option that immediately stops them from receiving messages.
  • Costs: If your customer doesn’t have unlimited text messaging plans, they could suffer costs from your messages if it puts them over their limit. Make them aware additional fees may apply if they don’t have an unlimited SMS package.

Which Mobile Marketing Strategy is the Best?

The best one is the one that works for you. Like I mentioned before, the only way is to base your approach on your audience research.

Use this research to determine what mobile marketing strategies will resonate best with your audience.

But, don’t just stick to one.

Your customers live a multi-channel lifestyle.

Therefore, you should aim to combine many mobile marketing methods to create a multi-channel campaign.

Step 5: Test

Just like any other campaign, test all the variable elements.

Including user glow, carrier, responses, data capturing, load testing, offline vs. online, etc.

Testing will allow you to find errors before launch and perfect your system. And once you’ve launched, don’t stop testing.

Taking push notifications as an example, you might want to test different times. Sending at 5pm could be better than sending at 3pm. My point is, you don’t know if you don’t test.

Examples of Successful Mobile Marketing Strategies

Let’s take a look at some awesome examples of mobile marketing campaigns to help wet your appetite and gain some inspiration for your own campaign.

RedBox: 10 Days of Deals

Using the SMS method, RedBox ran a 10-day long campaign requiring customer to send a text message with a specific word. In return, they were entered into a competition with a chance to win discounts between 10 cents and $1.50 when they placed their next DVD rental order with RedBox.

The result?

They generated close to 1.5million text messages from around 400,000 customers.

Nivea Sun Protection Track your Kids App

This one is outstanding, however, it wasn’t purely mobile. Nivea combined mobile with print.

Here’s what they did:

The print ad in magazines had a detachable ‘protect strip’ to put on a child’s arm when at the beach. The parent then downloads their app, which communicates with the bracelet, telling the parent if their child has wandered outside of a dedicated area set by the parent.

Instead of pitching their product, Nivea gave their target audience something genuinely useful–extra protection for their child.

It was a huge PR success. The ads were featured in 10 press articles and 40 digital ones, it generated buzz, won awards, and help build brand loyalty.

Ikea Catalogue App

The main thing I love about this campaign, was it utilises the unique properties of mobiles. It just would not have worked on a desktop.

The app used AR (Augmented Reality) to transform a catalogue into an interactive platform. It allows you to virtually place certain products (like chairs) in your room by using your devices camera with an overlaying image of the product.

A creative and fun approach, the app for 6.2million installs and users spent on average 8 minutes on the app.

In my opinion, this app was created from excellent market research. I’d imagine the opportunity to see exactly how a product looks in your home before buying it breaks down a lot of barriers when making purchases decisions.

Bitcoin Billionaire Ad Integration

Bitcoin Billionaire is a mobile game where players can build a virtual bitcoin empire. However, this isn’t about the game, but the genius way they integrated ads.

Rather than having banner ads, which are very easy for users to ignore, or annoying pop-ups that ruin user experience, they integrated the ads into the gameplay.

They gave the user an option to get in-game advantages in return for watching ads–increasing the engagement and click through rates.

Mobile Marketing Best Practises: What We’ve Learned

As we move further into the age of mobile marketing, it can be both exciting and overwhelming when you think about the potential.

I’d argue, it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or who your customers are–mobile marketing can work for your business.

However, if you don’t follow the best practices and do your research, you’ll likely fail:

Nearly three-fourths (74%) of online consumers get frustrated with Websites when content (e.g., offers, ads, promotions) appears that has nothing to do with their interests.

So based on what we’ve learned, what are the best practises for mobile marketing?

Be Clear and Concise: The majority of mobile devices have small screens, so used words sparingly. Keep things clear and simple.

Optimize for Local: Keep in mind, 1 in 3 mobile searches have local intent. Local mobile marketing should be aligned with your user’s queries.

Think About Your Audience: I know I keep repeating it, but it’s so important. Your mobile marketing should be tailored to your audience. If they’re gamers, wouldn’t it make more sense to target them on mobile games? I don’t know, I haven’t done the research.

Experiment: There’s a lot of room for experimentation with mobile marketing. Don’t be afraid to try a few, test out new tactics and run multi-channel campaigns.

And the one thing all successful mobile marketing campaigns have…

…their primary purpose is to engage users, leaving them feeling happy with their brand, rather than annoyed or frustrated their day has been interrupted by an intrusive ad.

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