How To Charge Up Your Mobile Marketing Strategy

When was the last time you made a purchase using a mobile device? If you’re one of the 52 percent of internet users globally who makes purchases via mobile each month, then chances are it was recent. A large number of mobile technology experts predicted that mobile e-commerce (m-commerce) would explode in growth. The proliferation of mobile communication devices combined with on-the-go lifestyles made the predictions seem like moot points. However, it was not until 2015 when mobile e-commerce made its mark on the American economy. In 2015, mobile e-commerce sales nearly doubled the sales generated by mobile devices in 2014.

Several factors have played integral roles in ramping up mobile e-commerce sales during 2015. Larger screens, enhanced features, better purchasing experiences, and websites dedicated to selling products and services on mobile device platforms contributed to the explosive growth. eMarketer expects the trend to continue for years, with 2016 mobile e-commerce reaching more than $130 billion in sales. By the end of 2016, m-commerce accounted for more sales than all other types of retail e-commerce sales.

“The trajectory that we’ve seen over the last year was fundamentally different than in other years,” said Prama Bhatt, vice president of digital and e-commerce at Ulta Beauty. Additionally, Bob Sherwin, who directs the acquisition at e-commerce-bought furniture at Wayfair, reports a similar trend: “Over the past year, we’ve seen consumers’ willingness to purchase on mobile increase a lot, to the point where the share of transactions taking place on the smartphone has doubled since late 2014.”

The Devices Responsible for Mobile
E-Commerce Growth

The Devices

According to data collected by smartphone companies, most of the growth of mobile e-commerce comes from consumers using smartphone devices. Sales made from smartphones also doubled in 2015 to reach about $40 billion. eMarketer predicts smartphone purchases on m-commerce platforms should increase by more than $20 billion in 2017. By 2020, consumers using smartphones should generate about $130 billion in mobile e-commerce sales, which represents an annual growth rate of 18.3 percent.

Although consumers used tablets to generate 50.6 percent of mobile e-commerce sales in 2016, by the end of 2017 industry analysts expect smartphones to overtake tablets in retail m-commerce sales.  “Tablets are still growing but at a lesser extent than we’ve seen in the past,” said Marissa Tarleton, chief marketing officer of digital coupon marketplace RetailMeNot. “As we partner with our retailers, we’re optimizing for smartphones.”

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is we are at an e-commerce crossroad. When companies introduced mobile devices, customers mostly used them to make phone calls. Some of the more advanced mobile devices included data storage features, but that was about it for innovations. Fast forward to an era when data network capacities have skyrocketed, and we have more memory and processing power to handle digital transactions. Smartphones irrevocably changed the mobile phone industry by turning the convenient-to-use mobile devices into our companions. Increasingly more advanced smartphones act as our surrogate brain and remind us about appointments, connect us to people, and allow us quick access to information. Most importantly, smartphones and tablets have changed the way companies market products and services.

Mobile Marketing Has Changed Marketing

Savvy business operators understand the implications of the explosive growth of mobile e-commerce. Marketers should leverage different mobile tactics depending on the size and demographics of the audience they want to reach, as well as the types of messages they want to send. With all tactics, marketers need to respect the personal nature of mobile devices and prevent communication overload.

Mobile messaging via SMS and email has the most impact on mobile marketing. Messaging apps—relative newcomers that have gained popularity—offer more innovative and engaging outreach options. Emerging technologies, such as dynamic creative optimization, is breathing new life into mobile browser-based ad campaigns. In-app advertising can generate high engagement rates, especially with strategically embedded videos. Location-based apps generate additional data that improve targeting accuracies.

The Pros and Cons of Mobile Marketing

The Pros of Mobile Marketing

For a long time, e-marketing dominated e-commerce sales. However, with the introduction of new mobile technologies each year, mobile marketing has left e-marketing in the digital dust. Mobile marketing offers businesses several advantages that help increase sales and enhance productivity.

  • High Degree of Portability
    Before mobile device innovations, a vast majority of e-commerce sales went through desktop computers. This inhibited the growth of e-commerce because consumers had to sit next to a desktop computer to click the “Buy” icon. On the other hand, consumers typically always have their mobile devices on them. Consumers receive marketing messages in real time and act on the marketing messages in real time as well. Portability allows marketers to reach target markets instantly.
  • Accurate User Tracking
    Marketers have the ability to track user responses accurately. The instant access to consumers assists marketers in better understanding consumer behavior and thus, creates target marketing strategies that hit the mark. For years, e-marketing consisted of shotgun marketing tactics that marketers hoped would reach the right target audiences.
  • Direct Interaction
    Mobile platforms interact directly with consumers that use mobile devices to make product and service purchases. Personalized interactions increase the likelihood of consumers taking action in response to marketing messages. Mobile communication devices—especially smartphones—allow marketers to start verbal and digital dialogues. The personalization of marketing makes it much easier for marketers to send promotions and incentives over the phone.
  • Going Viral
    A marketer’s dream is to have marketing messages go viral. Consumers quickly share mobile content, including marketing messages that prompt immediate actions. Mobile device users constantly share positive messages by calling or texting friends and family members. Just think how quickly your company’s discounted offers travel in cyberspace.
  • Secure Mobile Payment
    Mobile e-commerce has benefited from the development of more secure payment platforms. Advanced mobile device systems include almost impossible to crack encryption that protects consumer information, such as credit card numbers. The development of secure mobile payment platforms means consumers can complete transactions during one mobile e-commerce session. We have moved passed the era of ordering products and services online from our smartphones, and then having to pay for the products and services in person.

Mobile marketing has barely scratched the surface of its potential. Many mobile device users have turned to microblogging platforms (such as Twitter), which gives marketers another way to reach consumers instantly through mobile communication devices.

The Cons of Mobile Marketing

At the beginning of 2017, the advantages of implementing mobile marketing strategies far outnumber the disadvantages of using the relatively new method of reaching consumers. The underlying problem of mobile marketing is the numerous ways of connecting consumers to mobile devices, with many of the methods lacking in accuracy. Popular methods, such as location-based audience targeting, communicate with users without being able to match consumers to their mobile devices. Targeting still involves plenty of guesswork, which mobile marketers have worked hard to reduce or even eliminate.

Here are some other disadvantages of mobile marketing:

  • Lack of Standards
    Unlike laptops and personal computers, mobile devices do not adhere to any physical or operating standards. Mobile devices, such as smartphones, come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. This means screen sizes vary as well. Mobile platforms also operate on different systems and browsers, which makes creating a uniform mobile marketing campaign for large target audiences difficult to accomplish.
  • Small Screens
    Despite the variance in mobile device screen sizes, the general rule is that most mobile devices include small navigation screens. In addition, mobile devices do not come with a mouse, which makes navigating the screens troublesome. Even mobile device touchscreens present navigation issues. Because of the difficulty of navigating mobile device screens, some consumers might choose to ignore targeted advertisements.
  • Privacy Concerns
    Yes, enhanced encryption has made mobile devices much more secure. However, mobile devices pale in comparison to the level of safety offered by desktop computers. Mobile marketers must also understand that consumers value their online privacy. You should only participate in promotional activities approved by consumers. A simple privacy statement that clearly demonstrates marketer intent should alleviate consumer privacy concerns.
  • Mobile Websites
    A growing number of marketers realize the importance of building e-commerce websites specifically for mobile devices. Marketers must optimize landing pages for mobile devices to ensure consumer connectivity. The last thing you want to happen is for consumers to hit a link located on one of your landing pages, and then the link takes them to an unrelated landing page.

How to Work Around the Cons

The few disadvantages of implementing mobile marketing strategies should not deter you from, as The Who sang, going mobile. In fact, marketers have ways to mitigate, if not eliminate, the negative aspects of mobile marketing.

Make Communication a Two-Way Street

Contemporary marketing is all about consumers sharing information about themselves. Because of instant access and the personalization of marketing messages, mobile marketing represents the most effective method for obtaining consumer information. That is if you treat mobile marketing in a non-aggressive manner. Most consumers worry about how marketers use personal data. Mobile marketers need to ask for consent from consumers to promote product and service offers. In return, consumers share information in real time that helps mobile marketers to sharpen messages.

Target Relevant Advertisements

The more aware mobile marketers are of the “How,” “Why,” and “What” that drives consumer behavior, the more likely mobile marketers are to find and convert ad-targeted consumers. Mobile marketing has transformed into what many marketing experts call “In the moment marketing.” This type of marketing requires you to adapt immediately to changing consumer preferences. For example, you send a text message to a group of regular customers that promotes an upcoming sales event. However, you discover many of the consumers on the list have suddenly changed preferences to another product style. Mobile marketers that want to seal the sales deal must adapt on the fly to accommodate changing consumer preferences.

Avoid Images

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but not in a mobile marketing strategy. In fact, avoid presenting images in mobile marketing messages. Mobile advertisements that include product images take much longer to download than mobile marketing ads that consist entirely of words. The best way to present images in your mobile marketing messages is to ask consumers to visit your business website by including the website URL in the marketing message.

How to Capture Leads Through Mobile Devices

The same landing page principles you apply to your primary website should also apply to your mobile device website. Ask for email addresses to send targeted mobile messages that promote products and services. Avoid using forms on mobile devices to prevent long downloads of your messages. The goal of mobile marketing is twofold: to generate sales through mobile devices and send consumers to your desktop friendly website.

The Large Crowd Effect

In a collaboration between the Sichuan University Business School in China, Temple University, and New York University, the Crowdedness effect was discovered. Researchers conducted a large-scale experiment on a crowded subway in China. As more people entered the subway, people were more likely to read and redeem product offers sent over mobile devices. The study confirmed that consumers prefer to access their mobile devices instead of interacting with people they do not know. Mobile devices represent our escape mechanism from the anxiety caused by large crowds of strangers. Most consumers that live in big cities experience 20 to 30 minutes of commute time each day. This gives mobile marketers plenty of time to figure out what consumers want and then send targeted marketing messages that lead to conversions.

Tips for Creating an Effective Mobile Marketing Strategy

The mobile device revolution has turned the most reluctant mobile marketers into avid fans. However, enthusiasm alone does not create highly effective mobile marketing strategies. Whether you want to sell more products or services, or simply get the word out about your brand, you need to implement several tips to connect with consumers.

You Must Meet Your Consumer Needs

Mobile marketing differs from traditional electronic marketing strategies. However, one thing remains the same: you must meet the needs of your target audience. The worst method for mobile marketing involves devising an app or message that does not address consumer needs. Walmart and Procter & Gamble worked together on a marketing effort that allowed consumers to use smartphones to scan products. After receiving confirmation of a product scan, the joint marketing program immediately completed the transaction by accessing consumer payment information on file. The two companies developed a delivery system that met the time-deprived lifestyles of their target audience.

Make it Easy for Consumers

Consumers that make purchases by using mobile devices are on the go. They do not have the time or attention span to decipher complicated marketing messages. Any message that you send must present clear information and allow consumers to navigate messages easily. You have about five seconds to make an impression on consumers that access your marketing messages through mobile devices. Make sure you use the short time wisely.

Reward Mobile Device Users

Product and service incentives are highly effective ways to engage mobile device users. Starbucks developed the model for creating a mobile device rewards program. The mobile payments and rewards program presented special promotions to customers that otherwise would never have learned about the money saving deals. Rewards programs do a great job of attracting customer prospects and then turning them into lifelong patrons of your business.

Create a Powerful Message

One constant remains for all types of marketing: Powerful marketing messages motivate consumers to take action. Whether you choose to fly a banner over a large stadium packed full of fans or send a brief message to a mobile device, the marketing message must inspire your target audience to take action. One of the most potent types of marketing messages is linking a product or service to a social cause. Another effective marketing message sent to mobile devices involves creating a message that is impossible to ignore. Think about the power conveyed by the classic Volkswagen QR code created from crates of lemons.

Location, Location, Location

GPS-based marketing campaigns allow mobile device marketers to take advantage of consumer locations. The Gap has sent offers to consumers to redeem an electronic code for free jeans just for checking in. Visa uses location-based tracking to target consumers with discounts redeemable at retailers that participate in the mobile marketing program. Geo-targeting through mobile devices has emerged as a long lasting mobile marketing strategy.

Full Funnel Analytics

Full-funnel analytics allow mobile marketers to attribute every consumer click accurately.  Far too many mobile marketers fail to use full-funnel analytics to evaluate mobile marketing strategies. Full-funnel analytics produces data that confirms which mobile advertisements generate the most click-throughs, as well as which high click-through ads translate into the most consumer transactions.

Business Insider Research and Mobile Marketing

Here are three primary conclusions of the report:

SMS and email produce the most extensive reach and highest adoption rates among mobile device users. Mobile messaging applications have closed the gap in popularity for targeting consumers. The more engaging and innovative the mobile marketing messages, the more likely consumers are to take action.

Emerging technologies that include dynamic creative optimization bolster the effectiveness of mobile browser-specific advertising campaigns. However, mobile marketers must be aware of the growth in consumer use of mobile ad blockers.

Mobile marketers should implement different marketing strategies that cater to varied consumer group sizes and demographics. More than ever, consumers want personalized marketing messages that reduce the anxiety caused by information overload.

Business Insider Research and Mobile Marketing

Here are three primary conclusions of the report:

SMS and email produce the most extensive reach and highest adoption rates among mobile device users. Mobile messaging applications have closed the gap in popularity for targeting consumers. The more engaging and innovative the mobile marketing messages, the more likely consumers are to take action.

Emerging technologies that include dynamic creative optimization bolster the effectiveness of mobile browser-specific advertising campaigns. However, mobile marketers must be aware of the growth in consumer use of mobile ad blockers.

Mobile marketers should implement different marketing strategies that cater to varied consumer group sizes and demographics. More than ever, consumers want personalized marketing messages that reduce the anxiety caused by information overload.

Conclusion: Mobile Marketing Trends for 2017

You do not need to review a research study to conclude that we constantly access our mobile devices. As the boom in mobile e-commerce has transformed online marketing, a rapidly growing number of consumers contact businesses via smartphones and other devices. The smartphone represents the only device that consumers use during every step of the purchasing process. From researching products to customizing services, mobile communication is what small businesses and large corporations need to focus on for increasing sales.

Now that you understand why mobile marketing should be a part of your marketing mix, what mobile marketing trends await you in 2017?

  • Easier, Faster, and More Secure Mobile Payments
    We have already discussed the growth of mobile payment platforms. In 2017, expect a record number of consumers to complete transactions via mobile devices. Make sure your business has the mobile payment tools to provide customers with easier, faster, and more secure payment methods. Instead of sending customers to another website to process payments, take advantage of consumer confidence in making payments through tablets and smartphones.
  • Mobile Search Capability Boosts Google Rankings
    One of the most important emerging trends in mobile marketing in 2017 involves mobile searches. Your e-commerce site must respond to customer interactions, which means your website automatically adjusts to the devices used to access your online store. If consumers cannot download your website because the page is too large or the download speed is too slow, you risk dropping in Google’s search engine results. Another factor to consider is identifying the keywords mobile device users type into the major search engines. After you discover the search questions asked by consumers, you can fine-tune the content solutions that answer customer questions.
  • Mobile Exclusive Social Networking
    Social media networks have come close to rivaling organic website traffic for businesses and organizations. Websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram should play an integral role in your mobile marketing strategy. Many mobile marketing experts expect 2017 to be the year when social media overtakes organic websites in terms of hits. Remember not to post the same content on every social media network that you engage customers. The fastest way to lose social media subscribers and hence, potential customers, is presenting redundant information that provides consumers with little if any value.
  • More Mobile Apps than Ever
    This mobile marketing trend for 2017 might prompt a “Tell me something I don’t know” from marketers. Results from a Gallup poll released recently demonstrate that nearly three-quarters of Americans check their phones at least once per hour. The vast majority of the time they use apps to check text and phone messages as well as access mobile e-commerce platforms. Mobile application development does not cost a lot of money, and the return on investment more than pays for what you spend to enhance engagement with your customers.

The explosion in mobile e-commerce websites remains the most important reason why mobile marketing should be a part of your marketing mix. However, as the trends begin to change, you can expect mobile marketing to be much more than just a part of your marketing mix. You can expect mobile marketing to be your most important marketing strategy.

E-commerce targeting is particularly helpful when attempting to re-target customers. An abundance of data is readily available to target specific audiences and enhance conversions within that space. Most business owners are aware of Google Analytics and use it for in-depth search analytics, real-time web traffic, and user behavior/intentions, but they might not be utilizing the e-commerce tracking function. To enable e-commerce tracking, simply log into your Analytics account and click on the “Admin” tab in the upper right corner of the page. In the third column on the right side, you’ll see the “e-commerce” tab. Click on that tab and toggle the options to enable e-commerce tracking. You’ll have to embed the e-commerce command into the Analytics code before it takes effect. Enabling e-commerce tracking on your website will give you access to priceless customer data. Use those findings to optimize your website to create an unparalleled customer experience.

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