Commentary

Five Mobile Trends for Marketing Success in 2012

It seems every year since about 2004 has been deemed “the year of mobile.” Well, 2011 may have actually lived up to the prediction. It’s undeniable that mobile has exploded. Consumers downloaded 1 billion mobile applications and generated mobile-commerce sales of nearly $6.7 billion -- not to mention that mobile’s ubiquity rose to all-time highs as 91 percent of Americans kept their mobile phones within reach 24/7.

For marketers, mobile ubiquity equals opportunity. Mobile is inherently intimate because it’s not only the most personal device consumers own -- it’s also their preferred communication method. Therefore, marketers are increasingly incorporating mobile into their marketing mix by leveraging it across existing marketing channels, deploying it at the heart of their overall marketing strategy to interact directly with consumers.

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Now that marketers are past the “year of mobile,” they must go beyond just scratching the surface. It’s important to think holistically about how mobile can impact their entire consumer journey to establish an ongoing dialogue -- and ultimately, customer loyalty. This means ensuring that marketers don’t deploy their mobile efforts in silos. In 2012, this will no doubt be a major focus as more brands come to recognize the full potential of mobile as an integral part of their marketing plans.

  1. Carrier messaging will change as functionality improves. The carriers know about all the free messaging applications available in the App Store. They have played with all of them and no doubt see carrier messaging declining. Carriers are in a classic innovator’s dilemma with messaging, and they know they have to innovate their SMS clients. The big question is -- will they? This will result in either new innovative features in SMS, or potentially in overly complicated features that could make Internet Protocol (IP) messaging even more attractive.
  2. IP messaging will become more reliable. The growth of smartphones and the quick, reliable Internet connections they provide have enabled IP-based messaging to gain traction among consumers. Although smartphones are becoming more reliable in delivering IP messages in a timely manner, there are still a few challenges ahead. One big advantage to IP messaging is the ability to send messages for free on cellular networks or the Internet via Wi-Fi. IP messaging will continue to gain reliability during the next year and will become a stronger substitute for carrier messaging such as SMS and MMS. 
  3. Email and social will play greater roles in messaging. In the past six months, mobile-email open rates have increased 34 percent, and nearly 40 percent of respondents in a study conducted by Spring Creek Group admitted to checking email via their phone before getting out of bed in the morning. Marketers can expect to see mobile messaging, email and social messaging intertwine. While a comprehensive approach to these growing channels is important, marketers must understand and be able to use each of these messaging channels separately -- as they are different, and therefore may require alternate strategies.
  4. As messaging options continue to diverge, channels through which messages are delivered (e.g., SMS, MMS, push) will have greater impacts. With IP messaging opening new direct channels for mobile phones, marketers delivering messages via SMS, MMS or push notifications must think about how each channel impacts the way messages are distributed, conveyed and received. For example, SMS delivers speed and importance, while other channels may deliver more personalized convenience. The success of a marketer’s message will evolve into a combination of what is said as well as how it’s said.   
  5. Mobile marketing will become more than just advertising -- engagement and transaction will be vital. It’s possible that the most effective way to use mobile phones for marketing is not through a 300x50-pixel banner ad on a weather app. While mobile advertising certainly creates value, mobile marketing should be more than just awareness -- it should engage people to drive transactions and establish loyalty. Deploying correct mobile tactics, marketers can leverage mobile relationship management and apply mobile touchpoints to lead consumers down the customer journey toward loyalty. Promoting engagement, marketers must make customers feel special and entice them with unique, highly targeted mobile campaigns. For mobile transactions, to see what the future of retail will hold, check out the Starbucks or Apple Store apps. These apps take purchase decisions out of the store and onto consumers’ phones. Building just mobile apps does not constitute a mobile strategy.

Mobile messaging will continue to evolve. If marketers can harness the power of mobile and activate it at the pulse of their marketing strategies, they can improve their chances of increasing engagement, sales and loyalty.

 

Alex Campbell is co-founder and CEO of Vibes, a Chicago-based mobile marketing and technology company. 

1 comment about "Five Mobile Trends for Marketing Success in 2012".
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  1. Juan Samuel from n/a, January 13, 2012 at 6:52 p.m.

    Lots of words here, though he said nothing.

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