Time spent on mobile, specifically on smartphones, will eclipse has eclipsed desktop/laptop use for people in the U.S. and parts of Europe. eMarketer is showing that ad spend is shifting as well and mobile will overcome desktop by 2017. They estimate that in 2014, desktop ad spend will grow .41 percent while mobile will grow 56 percent to about $15 billion.
And search and social have quickly become the best ways to reach mobile consumers at scale. Google still takes the lion’s share of mobile ad spend, but Facebook’s remarkable growth in 2013 has made them a clear leader as well. This becomes abundantly clear as 73 percent of daily Facebook users in Q4 2013 were on mobile.
If you’re running digital marketing programs or posting to Facebook, you’re a mobile marketer.
As a parent of girls ranging in age from 8 to 13, I’m lucky to see the next generation of digital natives grow up. Here’s my theory: Everyone – starting with toddlers playing with iPhones in the stroller while their parents eat lunch, to the wisest of elders – will be mobile-first. This means mobile will be the primary and most-used digital device we own. Wearables and smart devices like watches, glasses, and tennis rackets for example, will join the fun but our phones will be the hub of our digital existence.
How has marketing changed in a world where everyone is a smartphone super user?
Well, let’s start by taking a bird’s-eye view of the current mobile ecosystem through the lens of digital marketing.
As we see in the diagram above, there are many ways to reach mobile consumers today, but, there are only two places to drive them – to the mobile Web or in to apps. As we dive deeper, we see that with a few exceptions, most “delivery” options enable linking directly into an app or on to the mobile Web. Granted, there are nuances. For example, every social app contains a mobile Web browser, so we drive from app to mobile Web within an app – ugh. And is adding a pass from an email into Passbook an app delivery to app destination tactic or just cool functionality?
Additionally, our delivery options will expand – TV is just beginning to drive to mobile with hashtags and soon the link will be direct – but I don’t see destination options changing very much, for now.
Amid this chaos one thing becomes clear: mobile Web marketing is very different from mobile app marketing.
The Mysterious Mobile Web
For digital marketers who have been around for a while, we’ve lived in the desktop Web world where we used display, search, and email to drive to existing websites or microsites. We spent a lot of time optimizing our websites for conversion and our microsites for engagement. We also tuned our landing experiences for the channel – search traffic is different from display and email traffic and so are the native ad formats driving the traffic.
Luckily, we can treat mobile Web marketing similarly to traditional desktop. We can reach target audiences in a variety of mobile channels (social and search to start) and drive to mobile Web landing pages. We can then tune those pages for audience segments and ad creative and optimize the entire cycle for key actions and conversions. The broad reach-engage-convert model works well here.
Sadly, either ignoring mobile consumers or making our existing landing experiences work in mobile just isn’t enough. I love both of these brands and I’m so sorry for picking on them, but I easily found these two examples by scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed.
This is a great sponsored post with a big image and compelling offer but when I tap I’m dropped on a desktop landing page. Thinking through the mobile experience for considering a trip to Disneyland and easily enabling me to claim the offer would be far more compelling and effective.
Can you find the lemon tart in the mobile-optimized landing page? Find the tart!
I’m sure I could go into my email or search Google on my iPhone and quickly end up in similar places. I bring this to your attention, dear reader, not to embarrass or shame but to enlighten. If you or your team does this, you must stop. Every day you’re needlessly hurting your brand. With competitors a click away, you may be losing consumers as you’re trying to reach and engage them.
But I feel for you. The tools and expertise we have today can’t easily solve this challenge. And once we solve the agile landing experience challenges, there are many nuances to being successful across mobile channels, from Facebook and Twitter ad buying to SMS marketing and now beacons, oh my.
Mobile Apps Aren’t Built for Marketing
That’s a bold statement and I don’t want to rile my mobile app friends. It’s also not entirely true, but let me make the case.
Mobile apps are purposely built to provide value or entertainment or both. They are utilities or games, not agile and optimized marketing destinations, and when they’re built specifically for marketing they tend to fail. Do they provide utility “marketing”? Yes! But it’s not the type of marketing that digital marketers and their agencies do every day – it’s not reaching and converting high-value audiences.
That being said, there are some really compelling app marketing use cases emerging:
For retailers, creating shopping apps has become essential because their current e-commerce sites are not optimized (enabled isn’t enough) for mobile and if they’re going to make the mobile investment, apps make the most sense. If you generate revenue through your app, you better become an expert app marketer. That means both driving app installs and then driving app use and conversion. For retailers with apps, mobile marketing opportunities are everywhere, across all of the channels. Exciting.
It also turns out app marketing is similar to email marketing where a user has opted-in by installing the app and is now open to notifications and incentives for using the app. In this context, great companies like Urban Airship are starting to provide robust tools for mobile app CRM marketing, even integrating beacon data to build segments, which is awesome.
And speaking of beacons, early examples of how wearables, Internet of Things sensors, and Bluetooth LE nodes interact with apps to drive brand and business outcomes are very interesting as well. Here’s a simple example of how an app/beacon strategy could drive conversion and loyalty at a restaurant.
While both are compelling for different types of marketers driving different types of outcomes, app marketing is significantly different from traditional digital marketing, whereas mobile Web marketing is more similar. App marketing requires an app strategy and time and resources to build an install base/addressable market. Mobile Web advertising enables you to reach target audiences immediately with lightweight, agile content and utility and makes optimizing for a broader set of conversions easier. App marketing captures and engages high-value audiences/loyalists and gives them valuable tools and access to shopping at any time. And the connection with beacons and wearables will be huge. Mobile marketing is fascinating.
I obviously can’t touch on all the different opportunities for mobile Web and app marketing, but hopefully this basic framework helps you both understand the ecosystem and begin to develop strategies. Are you going to drive consumers to an app or do you need to engage and convert in a mobile Web landing experience? Answering this simple question at the outset should help get you on the right path. If you’re working on a desktop strategy, stop now and reset. You’re a mobile marketer now.