"This is the year that mobile marketing explodes" is one of those predictions that ends up in every look-ahead news story come January -- yet the promised market explosion hasn't quite happened. However, I'll go out on a limb and say that 2011 is the year that two key mobile trends will converge: Consumers have embraced smartphones, using them for everything from shopping to social networking; and mobile technology has become scalable and sophisticated enough to offer critical opportunities for marketers to reach their audiences.
Mobile has finally reached that tipping point where marketers can reach out to consumers via mobile, and consumers are ready to be reached. But if you are hell-bent on mobile marketing, you need a plan -- don't just plunge in without taking stock of your goals, the wants and needs of your target audiences, and the assets you have on hand. Here's a framework to ensure your mobile strategies match up with your overall marketing program.
Identify Your Mobile Marketing Goals
Are you going for branding impact, or is direct-response marketing more in line with your needs? What's the end goal for your mobile program? Do you have the staff, budget and time to carry out your plan and can you get more - more time, money and people - if you need them? How will you measure results? Make sure you can answer all of these questions before you commit yourself to a mobile marketing initiative.
Understand How your Audience Uses Mobile
Maybe they're primarily BlackBerry users whose mobile use revolves around the office -maybe they're tweens with Android phones who live for photo and texting apps. Know how your audience fits within the mobile mix before you hit them up with marketing messages.
Uncover Your Assets
Have you already developed apps for other purposes - ones that could easily be repurposed for mobile? Is there content on your current site that's mobile-friendly? Are you creating content for social networks that would work well in mobile environments? Are you working with real-world stores or channel partners who can share assets or help create content? Dig deep to find out what you have on hand.
Bone Up On Best Practices
The limited screen real estate and varying data speeds for mobile means your marketing campaigns may not work the way they do on the computer screen. Do your messages and programs translate effectively to the mobile environment? Is your audience getting value from your mobile campaign that they can't get from another delivery method, such as information while they're on the run, or coupons they can redeem instantly in a store? Make sure your mobile marketing effort takes into account the benefits and drawbacks to get the most out of your program.
Discover Opportunities Using Research
Dive into data to find out precisely how your target consumers are using their mobile devices and the apps they favor - and what your competition is up to. Know how the people you need to reach play games, text and shop via mobile devices. It's helpful to know what their favorite sites are, when they're online, and how much they're spending. Study not just competitors that are active in mobile in your industry, but also brands outside of your industry doing mobile right. Glean from them whatever insights you can apply to your own campaign.
Now that mobile marketing is gaining traction, a mobile strategy has become a must-have instead of a nice-to-have component of your overall marketing program. Demystify the process of going mobile by studying your targets and how they're navigating the mobile world - that way you can bring them rich mobile experiences they'll remember and return to.
Read more about how to stay on top of the mobile explosion by downloading 360i's Mobile Marketing Playbook (http://blog.360i.com/pov/mobile-marketing-playbook).