Commentary

3 Ways Mobile Marketing Will Evolve In 2016

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, February 5, 2016

As “Back to the Future” predicted, 2015 was a big year for technology. With smartwatches, self-tying sneakers and hoverboards finally becoming a reality, 2016 has a lot to live up to. But this year, we are going to see many mobile marketing technologies that used to be the express domain of Fortune 500 companies move into the mainstream. 

1. Geo-Fence Push Notifications

Geo-fencing notifications allow businesses to place a virtual perimeter around a physical space, which is then used to attract potential customers with push notifications and digital coupons. This enables advertisers to reach people at the most opportune times - when they are near a store - allowing them to act in the moment. According to GPShopper, this new tactic has a 30%-40% click through rate. 

The main reasons this is now becoming more accessible for SMBs is that the mobile app platforms on which it is used are more affordable. Nowadays, having a mobile app is as important as a Web site. Affordable DIY mobile app builders have made the use of mobile apps, and thus Push notifications, even more widespread. 

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Businesses can sneakily create "fences" around a competitor's store and send their offers to potential customers to encourage them to use their business instead. While ethically this may raise eyebrows, it offers a means of combating competition in a more subtle manner than standing outside a rival business handing out flyers. 

2. Mobile Loyalty Schemes 

Previously, this technology was only available to larger stores, due to the high costs involved in developing the app and backend systems. Now, SMBs can also offer mobile coupons and loyalty points to their customers. 

People love loyalty programs, but don't like carrying around bundles of cards, and with the size of the iPhone 6S plus, it's not a surprise that finding space in your pocket is becoming an issue!

Mobile loyalty schemes say goodbye to uncomfortably fumbling in handbags and wallets trying to find the relevant card. It lets businesses save money on printing cards, which people are prone to losing. 

For SMBs, these programs offer a way to stand out from the crowd, stay ahead of the competition, and open the door to more client-retailer communication during checkout. Ultimately, it can make customers feel more valued and that they are receiving a better deal. 

Until recently, to have a mobile loyalty program meant having your own branded app, which could cost anything from $7K to $40K, depending on the necessary functions required, putting it outside of the price range of many SMBs. Over the last year, the trend has really taken off, and providing digital coupons, stamp cards and accumulative points has proven to perform much better than traditional paper vouchers.

 3. Mobile Commerce 

Previously, only available to large brands that specialize in takeaway and home delivery, restaurants and takeaway businesses can now offer mobile app ordering under their own brand for as little at $35 a month, with no additional commission fees.

Aggregator services, such as Just Eat and HungryHouse, are fantastic for brand discovery, but when it comes to customer loyalty, retention and strengthening your own brand, developing your company’s own mobile app goes a long way. 

Branded apps give owners full control over their own brand, offer the ability to send clients geo-centric push notifications for promotions and store information. The apps also provide a more comprehensive overview of client analytics, and the potential to speed up customer checkout via in-app payment features. 

Mobile technology is rapidly changing buying behavior. While smartwatches are still new and fancy, in a few years they will be commonplace.

As more competitor brands emerge, functions and integration improve, and prices drop. Trends show that there is a universal swing toward ecommerce and mobile shopping.

SMBs need to jump on the bandwagon and take advantage of new mobile marketing technologies that are now within their price range— or be left in the dust by their competitors. 

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