Rethinking Mobile Marketing: Evolving From The Device To The Experience

“Marketing” is a terrible word for the business of making connections. And in this age of cyber attacks, “mobile marketing” conjures up horrors of the ever more stealthy, privacy-invading, personal security invasions of the cyber netherworld. Further, any emphasis on activating the great power of individual “targeting” (another word that is better left to the realm of cyber warfare) only enhances this unsettling fear. 

The mobile platform plays a definitive role in meeting the needs of a modern moment—booking a car to the airport in under two minutes (Uber), finding the shortest drive time to catch a flight (Waze), checking in and tracking the flight status and gate (FlightAware), tweeting the latest stats from a conference (Twitter), or finding a legendary dive bar in a new city (UrbanDaddy). And perhaps close out the day listening to a Spotify playlist connected to the hotel room speakers or watching TV … on your computer. 



The mobile phone is the daily bread of survival in Asia and Africa for millions of people whose only access to banking is through SMS (M-PESA in Kenya) or whose only access to healthcare is through diagnostic tools on their phone (uChek in India). Through the entire spectrum from hyperactive, high-bandwidth modern life to disconnected device experiences, mobile plays a key role in enabling what I think are best described as “micro-engagements.”

The role of a mobile phone, computer, and TV is changing every year. Very soon the term “mobile marketing” will sound as quaint and outdated as “compact disc” or “prime-time television.” Instead, we’ll need to think in terms of whether a customer engagement is short or long, active or passive, or intrusive or embedded in an experience. And evolving a brand plan to go from a reach-and-frequency mind-set to the business of making connections and driving actions requires redefining and amplifying the role of micro-engagements in driving marketing strategy. 

Healthcare is an industry that is uniquely positioned to champion micro-engagements for the greater good. A starting point is to think of all the micro-engagements that could be useful to a potential customer. For a brand, it’s critical to be contextually useful—beyond simply creating a relevant message for the right target. 

Kids learning to apply sunscreen on a doll that turns red without it is a mobile experience—just not a mobile phone experience. Samsung’s Alzheimer’s app, called Backup Memory, enables the proximity-sensing Bluetooth devices of loved ones to trigger a memory bank of images and reinforce memories. It’s micro-engagement with a very different level of connection than a Samsung TV spot, though that, too, has its place in the marketing mix. 

Experiential marketing at its best is driven by a micro-engagement mind-set. “Mobile marketing” is dead, but mobile micro-engagements are just getting started, and their potential is unlimited.

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