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Can We Clarify The Word 'Mobile'?

In a digital marketing survey we send to brand marketers and agencies, we ask for the topics they’re most interested in right now. Mobile is consistently the most popular subject with this audience, and that makes sense to me. I see a huge number of blogs and articles on search, advertising, and commerce for mobile everyday. However, the question gnawing at my brain is, have we spelled out the meaning of “mobile”? 

Mobile has become a broad term that refers to any device with the ability to connect to the Internet and move on the go with the user. While the term mobile is used quite often to describe both smartphones and tablets, it is important that we understand the various ways in which moms — and all consumers — use these devices. Let’s consider how moms use smartphones and tablets:   

Moms use smartphones to: 

  • Look up directions to a specific location
  • Check and update social media
  • Research products and information on the go 

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Moms have their smartphones with them almost constantly. However, most often they use them when they’re between locations, such as waiting to pick up their kids or in line at the store.
Moms use tablets to:

  • Browse information and content
  • Make a purchase
  • Watch streaming video or play games 

The majority of tablet usage is done at home (usually while watching TV), often replacing the laptop, and offers the ideal space for more relaxed entertainment like browsing product websites or watching videos.  

For marketers to reach moms on mobile devices successfully, they must understand the different use cases of these devices. From email marketing to e-commerce to advertising, the strategy changes knowing that mom pulls out her smartphone for coupons in the grocery store and her tablet on the couch to browse for birthday party decorations.

For example, moms tend to “window shop” from their smartphone: they compare prices, look for product reviews, and seek out coupons and deals. However, only 39% of consumers make purchases on their smartphone, compared to 63% who make a purchase from their tablet. Knowing this behavior, marketers will want to focus on converting moms to purchase from their smartphones through coupons and deals that encourage them to buy right now. 

Tablets, on the other hand, act as a second screen to the television. Moms browse their tablet from the couch while the TV is on in the background. This pits the tablet against the television and makes brand advertising a key element of a marketer’s strategy on tablets. Brands should compete for mom’s attention on the tablet by creating an engaging brand experience through content or advertising. About one-quarter of people click on tablet ads, which is more than double the number of smartphone owners who click on ads. 

Strategies around tablet and smartphone engagement are in their infancy, but it’s critical for marketers to understand what this new mobile world entails in order to make the most of it. Once brands have a clear view of how and when their consumers interact with their content from each device, they can craft a mobile strategy that reaches moms at the appropriate time on the appropriate device.

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