As anyone with a smartphone or tablet, or most likely smartphone and tablet, knows, mobile is where it’s at – for searching the web, using productivity, social, and entertainment apps, and even shopping on websites. In fact, according to a 2012 survey by IBM, m-commerce is up 24 percent and searching from mobile is up 13.2 percent from 2011. So how can brand marketers take advantage of the sweeping global adoption of mobile in the workplace? Let’s address both inside the organization and in the world of online marketing.
In the workplace, the BYOD (bring your own device) trend is forcing significant change in both IT management and policies as well as in the way content use is controlled within the organization. Companies need to rethink how sales and marketing materials will be developed to meet the needs of their mobile employees. Further, shared technologies such as printers, closed networks, and business productivity software must be interoperable to a multitude of devices and iOS. For companies that truly want to get in the mobile game in serving their employees, the opportunity to provide a company-branded productivity mobile app are certainly there. A company mobile app can be a great way to fast-track the use of company tools to drive efficiencies.
For consumer brands, the use of mobile for marketing today is crucial. There are mobile marketing opportunities via SMS, QR code technology, in-app advertising, and in social. Although smartphone and tablet sales and adoption worldwide doubles each year, SMS text messaging still, at least today, leads mobile marketing for consumer marketing. This is because SMS can be done in real time on events and is a short-code way to drive quick user action. Further, functional phones such as Nokia currently still hold first place on a global level for active use.
Any consumer-brand company should look to SMS opportunities as a part of their annual calendar of events and product campaigns/promotions. Targeted SMS campaigns can quickly get the campaign message into the hands of a target audience for immediate action. SMS campaigns coupled with a drive to social enable the campaign to go viral.
Integrating social and mobile is hugely important. The use of QR code technology, if used correctly (where users can see it and take action on an appropriate campaign), can drive direct social conversion from the device. Other opportunities to enable social engagement from mobile relate to mobile apps.
In-app advertising is one of the main revenue drives for new game publishers. This gives opportunities to B2C brands to get into mobile in an inexpensive way. Over 45 billion apps across the board were downloaded in 2012, according to IDG. When in-app ads in a targeted, popular marketplace are driven to direct “Like Us to Win”-type campaigns in social, big results happen. In-app ads can also be used to drive market research for new products and viral shares of contests. Just look at popular social and content-sharing apps like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Pandora, for example, which have targeted in-app advertising opportunities to reach and engage mobile users quickly and drive directly to social or on-site conversions.
For professional services companies, mobile technology is especially useful for delivering productivity and convenience of services. Just take a look at communication tools such as Intercall’s MobileMeet, which allows its customers of global web conferencing services to get connected to conference calls directly with no need to dial in; Bank of America’s mobile app for business customers, which enables direct deposit by phone scan; business direct customer service; and much more. There are millions of examples of mobile apps for business that deliver value to the end customer. These successful apps give the company an immediate benefit in customer retention and indirectly in new acquisition by the viral/word-of-mouth factor.
Should you develop your own mobile app? This is a question being asked by millions of businesses, both enterprise and small-to-medium-size business (SMB). You must understand the customer demand, the current competitive market for the related app, and the direct benefits to the organization. If you find via an assessment of your analytics that the majority of your web audience is searching for and traversing your site via mobile, that is one good reason. If your services or products require ongoing connectivity such as software as a service (SaaS), a social/community component, access to specific data, or real-time connectivity to a stream, then you may indeed require mobile app development. To take it a step further, you should analyze how your current content or service is being consumed , compared to that of market demand. By taking the time to analyze the demand for your content on-the-go and how it will equate into real value to the end user, you have a higher chance of success in the world of mobile app development for business. At the very least, your website should be developed for responsive design so that it can be viewed easily for user conversion on a mobile device.
Mobile is on the rise and not stopping anytime soon. In 2012, it was reported that the use of mobile for Internet access outpaced access from the desktop or laptop. This is only increasing. There is global customer demand for content delivery on mobile and no country is excluded. Just like industries have to be on board with social media in the right way to engage customers, so now do they need to have a solid mobile adoption plan that meets the needs of both internal and external customers.