With 80% of global Internet users owning a smartphone and 47% owning tablets, we are now well past the tipping point of mobile device usage. In fact, 2014 marked the first time U.S. adults accessed the Internet more through mobile apps than they did through personal computers; over half of their Internet time (on average, 3 hours per day) is now spent using smartphones and tablets.
This presents a tremendous opportunity for brands to connect with consumers, but it is important to take the context of mobile device usage into account to ensure your mobile strategy succeeds. Smartphones in particular are incredibly personal devices—they enjoy space in our pockets and on our night stands, keeping us connected to friends and family via email, social networking, video and voice calls. They also provide high utility, allowing us to accomplish tasks and find information instantly, from any location at any time of day. It is critical to keep these usage habits and expectations in mind when developing your mobile strategy. Here are five ways to make your mobile marketing work harder.
1. Take advantage of mobile’s precise targeting ability. Digital media has given us sophisticated targeting options for years (demographic, behavioral, contextual), but mobile targeting ups the ante with its geographic precision. Serving ads and delivering experiences that are location-aware can really “wow” a consumer, and make things more convenient for them. We have had success using a technique called geo-fencing to serve mobile ads to people in the vicinity of our clients’ retail locations, providing messaging and offers that drive foot traffic. Similarly, we have used location services to dynamically generate mobile ads featuring territory-specific sales reps, complete with a head shot and a convenient click-to-call button.
2. Design experiences with small screens in mind. It is critical to use responsive design in this day and age, to ensure optimal viewing experiences regardless of screen size. While smartphone dimensions are increasing, they are still much smaller than a desktop, and rely on human fingers for touch-screen navigation. Don’t frustrate consumers by using painfully small text, images and buttons in your mobile executions, or cramming an entire desktop experience into the small screen. Also, there are several new ad formats that are optimized for mobile, like Facebook’s carousel ads which let viewers scroll to browse multiple images, and Snapchat’s vertical video ads, which have proven to have higher completion rates than horizontal mobile video ads.
3. Consider how your consumers are using mobile. As with any other channel, understanding your consumer’s mobile usage patterns is an important first step in devising a winning marketing strategy. In general, mobile app usage is still more common than mobile web usage, with the majority of that time going to social networking (Facebook), casual games, or other entertainment—not necessarily the best time to serve a marketing message.
Consider mobile behaviors, expectations, and context to identify opportunities to enhance, rather than interrupt, the experience. When we wanted to drive engagement with a client’s health plan members, we promoted a special offer via mobile but gave consumers the option to receive more information via email, so that they could peruse the details later when they were in the mind-set to read about health insurance. For one of our hospital clients, we learned that finding a doctor and looking up driving directions were the most common mobile use cases, so we made sure to optimize the mobile web experience for those two features.
4. Integrate your mobile efforts into your broader marketing mix. Some of the most effective mobile campaigns are ones that tightly integrate the mobile experience into other channels. People increasingly use mobile devices while watching television, to check email, peruse social media, and shop online. Many brands have tapped into this second-screen viewing phenomenon by including mobile calls-to-action in their television ads (Shazam to download this song, Like us on Facebook, tweet this hashtag now, etc.). We have also found success by synchronizing mobile and outdoor advertising, particularly transit placements in and around subways, buses and trains where you encounter a somewhat captive audience that is more inclined to read your article or watch a video while waiting for their ride.
5. Commit to regular measurement and optimization. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to mobile marketing, or any marketing for that matter. The best way to succeed is to agree on business objectives and success metrics before putting anything into market, and put the proper tools in place to measure performance on a regular basis. There is an array of measurement technologies available to track ad delivery, engagement, response and subsequent web traffic activity. Most major ad servers and site-side analytics packages like Google Analytics can help here, as well as mobile-specific solutions like Localytics. We have found the latter to be especially useful in evaluating mobile app deployments.
It’s an exciting time for mobile marketing, and the best way to master it is to get out there and see what works for your particular product category and consumer base. The opportunities for mobile marketing, mobile app development, and mobile web deployment are seemingly endless, and will become even more varied as wearable devices become mainstream. By keeping the form and context of these mobile experiences in mind, you will determine the best way to deliver brand value to your constituents, and maybe even surprise and delight them along the way.
This article originally appeared in Communication World Magazine.
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