Mobile: It’s Here, So What Do I Do About It?

As media professionals, we are tasked with identifying the “next big thing.” I don’t know about you, but for the last five years I have been told the trend would be mobile. In 2011, I think it’s safe to say this is true.

With increases in smartphone adoption and the mobile web predicted to surpass traditional desktop usage by 2014 (Morgan Stanley, April 2010), the truth is, consumers are already interacting with this form of media more often than most other mediums.

“So how do I implement mobile into my media strategy?”

Mobile is what I like to refer to as an omnipresent tactic. It can exist on its own, but is better playing an integrated role. The right approach for mobile is going to be completely based on the needs of your brand, but most importantly it must be relevant to the consumer experience.

Start With Your Consumer

Like any other form of media, the “what, why, how, and when” are still a valid aspect to your recommendation. However, there are a couple key differentiators for mobile that should play a role in determining the most appropriate use.

It is personal as much as it is social: A phone is one of the most personal devices a user owns. They are communicating with friends and family – it’s a portable connection point for their daily social interactions. If the consumer is engaging with a marketer in this space, they are expecting the brand to be sensitive to this, unobtrusive, and providing a benefit, so make it compelling.

It is an opportunity to provide immediate value: Aside from the fact that a person’s phone is always with them and accessible, the mobile phone provides the marketer a lot of information about a person. This means your marketing communication should reflect context, whether its data related to geography, interests, or search queries. Similar to display targeting, this allows a marketer to provide relevance and value to the user.

Consumers expectations are high: The user is looking for instant gratification, whether looking up a store location in Google Maps or looking for specials on Foursquare. Make the process simple for them; websites or banners that aren’t optimized or updated for mobile are extremely frustrating. With the appropriate mobile website, media units, and functionality, a user can access what they need and take action.

Be Prepared

There are several different platforms (smartphone, feature phone, etc.) and ways to market in mobile, apps, QR codes, SMS/MMS messaging, gaming, video, and search. Given each tactic warrants its own in-depth analysis, I’ll just provide a little advice on how to get started:

  1. Slow down! Structure a test and learn approach for ease of evaluation. Throwing a whole bunch of mobile programs at the wall and seeing what sticks does not aide in your sanity (or conclusive results).
  2. Identify the most appropriate solution based on your audience. As marketers, we spend months doing research for TV, print, and digital; the approach is the same here –check out the Mobile Marketing Association or Forrester research.
  3. Customize – capitalize on the immediacy of this format. Mobile provides an opportunity for offers and messaging specialized to a consumer’s immediate needs.
  4. Ensure the entire marketing experience is built to support mobile. Just being there can do more damage than good. These users are social and expressive – if your mobile assets do not support the vehicle, it is likely the user will be vocal about it.

We can’t kid ourselves – mobile has a long way to go in terms of standardization, tracking, and scale, but I expect mobile to advance at a faster pace than any other digital format. With the future of technology in this space, the capability for commerce through mobile will explode. The smartest marketers will embrace mobile for what it means to their business and their consumers today and prepare for the future. Stay flexible; change is coming rapidly!

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