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Why we care about mobile marketing: A guide for marketers

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Mobile marketing allows marketers to meet their customers where they are, which today is the default. The advent of mobile technologies like 5G is also allowing marketers to deliver, or conceive of experiences, that augment the experience. Mobile is a key component of cross-channel campaigns (TV, OOH, Print). Mobile also offers the possibility of precision location marketing for even better personalization.

Mobile marketing covers a wide variety of digital marketing tactics, technology, and strategies that focus on reaching people on their mobile devices (but mostly their smartphones). Mobile marketing is important because nearly 84% of the global population owns a smartphone. That’s 6.6 billion people.

The mobile web is also getting transformatively faster, with 5G quickly becoming the global wireless standard. 5G enables consumers to comfortably stream movies, connect to multiple devices, and makes mobile browsing comparable to desktop/laptop browsing.

In short, if you’re doing just about anything online, you’re already reaching mobile consumers. Mobile access to the web is ubiquitous. By posting content to social media platforms, optimising your website for Google, paying for digital ads, and using a mobile-friendly platform to build and manage your website, you’re participating in the mobile zeitgeist. 

But for mobile marketing to be effective, it needs to be strategic. This space is changing constantly. Understanding the basics is critical to the successful planning and execution of a mobile marketing campaign.

In this post, we’ll cover mobile marketing 101—what it is, why it’s important, and how marketing teams can accomplish it successfully. 

Key points covered include:

  • What is mobile marketing?
  • Popular mobile marketing techniques.
  • Why marketers should care about mobile marketing.
  • Tools and software that enable mobile marketing.
  • Who uses or works with mobile marketing tools?
  • Tips to get the best out of mobile campaigns.
  • How mobile marketing can help you succeed.
Why we care about mobile marketing A guide for marketers

What is mobile marketing?

Mobile marketing involves creating marketing campaigns that specifically target consumers on mobile devices. As a component of digital marketing, mobile marketing employs many of the same tactics, but many mobile marketing approaches leverage the unique properties of mobile devices, particularly smartphones.

There are two primary ways mobile users get marketing messages and other content—over a cellular connection with 4G/5G technology or via a wireless internet connection (Wi-Fi). The latter method can include data charges, though most major mobile carriers offer the option of unlimited data plans. Mobile users can also connect their phones to Wi-Fi using Bluetooth tethering which allows devices to share an internet connection.

The mobile marketing ecosystem includes ads on mobile websites and apps but goes beyond the traditional digital marketing paradigms to exploit mobile-centric features like SMS, MMS, and proximity targeting. Below, we summarize the most common mobile marketing approaches.

7 common mobile marketing techniques:

Short message service (SMS) marketing 

SMS marketing is a text messaging strategy where businesses send text messages to customers on their mobile devices over a cellular network. Messages can be promotional, service-based, or transactional. For example, a local hair stylist might send information to their customers about a new service they’re rolling out, appointment reminders, or a request for feedback based on a recent visit. 

SMS can also be used by retailers to facilitate payments. Customers pay from their cellular-enabled device via text using technology like Podium Payments, a secure payment processing platform that facilitates text-to-pay transactions. 

Multimedia messaging service (MMS) 

As with SMS marketing, MMS marketing also uses a cellular network to send messages, but it includes multimedia content like images, video, and audio. MMS content is typically longer than SMS content (MMS can be up to 1600 characters versus 160 for SMS). Data charges can drive the cost of MMS marketing up since multimedia messages, by design, involve file attachments. They can also cost the consumer more money if they don’t have an unlimited texting plan. 

Mobile app marketing

People love their mobile apps. eMarketer estimates that US adults spend about 90% of their mobile usage time with apps versus mobile browsers. Display ads in apps manifest as image ads (e.g., banners), video newsfeed ads on social apps, Stories ads (which can include images, video, text, and interactive features,) and multimedia ads that interrupt you in the middle of your favorite mobile game. 

Location-based marketing

Location-based marketing delivers promotional messages to a consumer’s mobile device based on their past-or-present location. Location-based tactics like geofencing use a device’s GPS to determine a customer’s location in real time, then serve in-the-moment ads or content. 

The latter tactic involves targeting customers who are near a competitor’s physical location. The most infamous example of this is when Burger King’s app targeted people within a few hundred feet of a McDonald’s location, giving the lucky app users a coupon for a one-penny Whopper.

Proximity (beacon) marketing 

This is a mobile marketing tactic that uses beacons—small devices that transmit Bluetooth signals—to trigger ads, content, or alerts on a user’s smartphone. Beacons are physical gadgets tucked in unobtrusive places (e.g, behind walls, beneath shelves, within light fixtures, etc.) 

Let’s say, for example, that you have a coupon app installed on your phone and you walk past a store with an active sale. The app will send you an alert to let you know Store X is having a sale and you should drop in. There are several different beacon protocols including iBeacon for iOs users and Eddystone for Android.

Voice marketing

Voice marketing uses voice-enabled devices like smart speakers and voice assistants on mobile phones to market to your audience. It’s mobile marketing in the sense that it relies heavily on smartphone usage. (140 million adults in the US use voice assistants on their phones, according to data from Voicebot.ai.)

It’s also largely screenless, relying on audio versus visual elements to interact with customers. Voice marketing tactics include things like voice search optimization which helps surface content to people using voice assistants, voice-activated ordering à la Starbucks, and letting customers book a hotel room via their smart speaker. 

Quick-response barcodes

Quick-response (QR) barcodes are two-dimensional barcodes that can be scanned by mobile devices to access information or services. Although QR codes are associated with mobile marketing, they’re an effective way to engage customers across many offline and online channels. 

QR codes can be added to digital, video, and print ads to motivate customers to interact with a brand. For example, a retailer could connect a coupon to a QR code in a TV ad with the goal of motivating viewers to scan the code (and make a purchase using the coupon).

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Why marketers should care about mobile marketing

Mobile marketing allows marketers to engage with their customers wherever they are—literally. The advent of mobile technologies like 5G also allows marketers to deliver, or conceive of, experiences that augment the physical environment. 

This is an incredibly immersive way to engage with consumers. For example, clothing retailer ASOS used augmented reality to digitally fit hundreds of designs onto models during the pandemic, successfully avoiding in-person fashion shows.

Mobile is a key component of cross-channel campaigns (TV, OOH, Print) and offers the possibility of precision location marketing for even better personalization.

One of the great things about mobile marketing is that it allows businesses to reach a wide audience. People use their mobile devices all the time in just about every situation. 

Here are some more compelling reasons why you should care about mobile marketing:

  • There are nearly 15 billion mobile devices in the world and that number is expected to reach over 18 billion by 2025.
  • At the start of 2021, 97% of Americans owned a cell phone of some kind, with 85% owning a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011, according to a Pew Research Center report.
  • Smartphone penetration is high across all ages and demographics. The devices are owned by 90% of US adults between 18 and 49, 83% of people between 50 and 64, and 61% of people 65 and over, according to the same Pew report.

Mobile marketing falls within the ecosystem of digital marketing. As such, it’s primarily marketers who use the tools involved with running mobile campaigns. This is a relatively new technology that’s been gaining traction in the last few years as mobile devices become more widespread. 

Retailers, grocery chains, restaurants, and travel/hospitality businesses are all using mobile technologies to transform the way they market to and interact with customers.  

Marketers need to stay particularly vigilant about the new developments in mobile technology so they remain competitive and understand how consumers use mobile devices (e.g., voice assistants for scheduling appointments, retail apps for curbside pickup at physical stores, etc.) 

As with any other digital strategy, mobile campaigns require planning, tracking, analysis, and reporting. However, there are a few extra steps involved in mobile campaigns due to the unique nature of mobile devices. Here are some things to consider to get the best out of mobile campaigns.

  1. Keep your mobile ads short and sweet. Concise copy is key on a tiny screen.
  2. Get personal with SMS marketing. Texting feels more intimate than other forms of communication, so take advantage of that closeness to forge relationships with your customers.
  3. Think outside the banner. Reimagine what a mobile ad can be and break out of the traditional banner format to stand out on small screens.
  4. Go local with geo-targeting. Mobile users are often searching for nearby businesses, so make sure your location services are up to scratch.
  5. Use push notifications sparingly. No one likes to be bombarded with messages. Only send push notifications when you have something relevant (and interesting) to say.

Mobile marketing software provides a wide range of capabilities for businesses looking to reach their mobile customers. These tools can be purchased as stand-alone technology or integrated with more advanced digital advertising platforms.

Commonly used mobile marketing software:

  • Mobile-focused platforms: Mobile advertising tools like AdMob and SMS marketing platforms like SlickText allow businesses to reach mobile users with targeted ads and messages.
  • Social media management software: Tools like SproutSocial and Hootsuite help businesses keep track of their mobile customer base and interact with them through mobile-friendly platforms like Facebook and Twitter. 
  • Loyalty program technology: In-app rewards programs give mobile users an incentive to keep using a particular app, keep shopping at a particular store, and refer friends and family to a business. Mobile push notifications built into loyalty apps alert customers about offers, content, and product updates. 
  • Marketing automation platforms and tools: Marketing automation platforms like Adobe Marketing Cloud and SharpSpring often have mobile marketing features built in. These include the ability to create mobile-focused ads, retarget mobile users, and track and analyze customer behavior on mobile devices. 

Many mobile marketing tools can be used together to create a comprehensive mobile marketing strategy, allowing businesses to provide a seamless customer experience across all channels. By reaching mobile customers through multiple channels and offering them valuable rewards, businesses can build long-term relationships with their mobile target audience.

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How mobile marketing can help marketers succeed

We live in a mobile-first world where an increasing number of businesses are turning to mobile marketing to engage with existing customers and reach a wider audience. And it’s no wonder—mobile marketing offers several key advantages to traditional digital marketing, especially when it comes to reaching younger consumers like millennials and gen z. 

Mobile marketing can also be more effective than traditional digital campaigns in countries that rely more on phones than computers for internet access. If you’re looking for a way to reach a larger audience and grow your business, mobile marketing is worth considering.

Ways to learn more about mobile marketing

Digital users are moving increasingly toward mobile channels, so marketers need solutions and strategies to better engage with audiences.

Here are some helpful resources on mobile marketing:


About The Author

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Jacqueline Dooley is a freelance B2B content writer and journalist covering martech industry news and trends. Since 2018, she’s worked with B2B-focused agencies, publications, and direct clients to create articles, blog posts, whitepapers, and eBooks. Prior to that, Dooley founded Twelve Thousand, LLC where she worked with clients to create, manage, and optimize paid search and social campaigns.

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

Here’s a challenge: search “SEO RFP” on Google. Click on the results, and tell me how similar they are.

We did the same thing every other SEO does: We asked, “What words are thematically relevant?” Which themes have my competitors missed?” How can I put them in?” AND “How can I do everything just slightly better than they can?”

Then they do the same, and it becomes a cycle of beating mediocre content with slightly less mediocre content.

When I looked at our high-ranking content, I felt uncomfortable. Yes, it ranked, but it wasn’t overly helpful compared to everything else that ranked.

Ranking isn’t the job to be done; it is just a proxy.

Why would a high-ranking keyword make me feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that the whole freaking job to be done? Not for me. The job to be done is to help educate people, and ranking is a byproduct of doing that well.

I looked at our own content, and I put myself in the seat of a searcher, not an SEO; I looked at the top four rankings and decided that our content felt easy, almost ChatGPT-ish. It was predictable, it was repeatable, and it lacked hot takes and spicy punches.

So, I removed 80% of the content and replaced it with the 38 questions I would ask if I was hiring an SEO. I’m a 25-year SME, and I know what I would be looking for in these turbulent times. I wanted to write the questions that didn’t exist on anything ranking in the top ten. This was a risk, why? Because, semantically, I was going against what Google was likely expecting to see on this topic. This is when Mike King told me about information gain. Google will give you a boost in ranking signals if you bring it new info. Maybe breaking out of the sea of sameness + some social signals could be a key factor in improving rankings on top of doing the traditional SEO work.

What’s worth more?

Ten visits to my SEO RFP post from people to my content via a private procurement WhatsApp group or LinkedIn group?

One hundred people to the same content from search?

I had to make a call, and I was willing to lose rankings (that were getting low traffic but highly valued traffic) to write something that when people read it, they thought enough about it to share it in emails, groups, etc.

SME as the unlock to standout content?

I literally just asked myself, “Wil, what would you ask yourself if you were hiring an SEO company? Then I riffed for 6—8 hours and had tons of chats with ChatGPT. I was asking ChatGPT to get me thinking differently. Things like, “what would create the most value?” I never constrained myself to “what is the search volume,” I started with the riffs.

If I was going to lose my rankings, I had to socially promote it so people knew it existed. That was an unlock, too, if you go this route. It’s work, you are now going to rely on spikes from social, so having a reason to update it and put it back in social is very important.

Most of my “followers” aren’t looking for SEO services as they are digital marketers themselves. So I didn’t expect this post to take off HUGLEY, but given the content, I was shocked at how well it did and how much engagement it got from real actual people.

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

Writing a book is a gargantuan task, and reaching the finish line is a feat equal to summiting a mountain.

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Being position-less secures a marketer’s position for a lifetime

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Optimove Positionless Marketer Optimove

On March 20, 2024, the Position-less Marketer was introduced on MarTech.org and my keynote address at Optimove’s user conference.

Since that initial announcement, we have introduced the term “Position-less Marketer” to hundreds of leading marketing executives and learned that readers and the audience interpreted it in several ways. This article will document a few of those interpretations and clarify what “position-less” means regarding marketing prowess.

As a reminder, data analytics and AI, integrated marketing platforms, automation and more make the Position-less Marketer possible. Plus, new generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Canna-GPT, Github, Copilot and DALL-E offer human access to powerful new capabilities that generate computer code, images, songs and videos, respectively, with human guidance.

Position-less Marketer does not mean a marketer without a role; quite the opposite

Speaking with a senior-level marketer at a global retailer, their first interpretation may be a marketer without a role/position. This was a first-glance definition from more than 60% of the marketers who first heard the term. But on hearing the story and relating it to “be position-less” in other professions, including music and sports, most understood it as a multidimensional marketer — or, as we noted, realizing your multipotentiality. 

One executive said, phrasing position-less in a way that clarified it for me was “unlocking your multidimensionality.” She said, “I like this phrase immensely.” In reality, the word we used was “multipotentiality,” and the fact that she landed on multidimensionality is correct. As we noted, you can do more than one thing.

The other 40% of marketing executives did think of the “Position-less Marketer” as a marketing professional who is not confined or defined by traditional marketing roles or boundaries. In that sense, they are not focused only on branding or digital marketing; instead, they are versatile and agile enough to adjust to the new conditions created by the tools that new technology has to offer. As a result, the Position-less Marketer should be comfortable working across channels, platforms and strategies, integrating different approaches to achieve marketing goals effectively.

Navigating the spectrum: Balancing specialization and Position-less Marketing

Some of the most in-depth feedback came from data analytic experts from consulting firms and Chief Marketing Officers who took a more holistic view.

Most discussions of the “Position-less Marketer” concept began with a nuanced perspective on the dichotomy between entrepreneurial companies and large enterprises.

They noted that entrepreneurial companies are agile and innovative, but lack scalability and efficiency. Conversely, large enterprises excel at execution but struggle with innovation due to rigid processes.

Drawing parallels, many related this to marketing functionality, with specialists excelling in their domain, but needing a more holistic perspective and Position-less Marketers having a broader understanding but needing deep expertise.

Some argued that neither extreme is ideal and emphasized the importance of balancing specialization and generalization based on the company’s growth stage and competitive landscape.

They highlight the need for leaders to protect processes while fostering innovation, citing Steve Jobs’ approach of creating separate teams to drive innovation within Apple. They stress the significance of breaking down silos and encouraging collaboration across functions, even if it means challenging existing paradigms.

Ultimately, these experts recommended adopting a Position-less Marketing approach as a competitive advantage in today’s landscape, where tight specialization is common. They suggest that by connecting dots across different functions, companies can offer unique value to customers. However, they caution against viewing generalization as an absolute solution, emphasizing the importance of context and competitive positioning.

These marketing leaders advocate for a balanced marketing approach that leverages specialization and generalization to drive innovation and competitive advantage while acknowledging the need to adapt strategies based on industry dynamics and competitive positioning.

Be position-less, but not too position-less — realize your multipotentiality

This supports what was noted in the March 20th article: to be position-less, but not too position-less. When we realize our multipotentiality and multidimensionality, we excel as humans. AI becomes an augmentation.

But just because you can individually execute on all cylinders in marketing and perform data analytics, writing, graphics and more from your desktop does not mean you should.

Learn when being position-less is best for the organization and when it isn’t. Just because you can write copy with ChatGPT does not mean you will write with the same skill and finesse as a professional copywriter. So be position-less, but not too position-less.

Position-less vs. being pigeonholed

At the same time, if you are a manager, do not pigeonhole people. Let them spread their wings using today’s latest AI tools for human augmentation.

For managers, finding the right balance between guiding marketing pros to be position-less and, at other times, holding their position as specialists and bringing in specialists from different marketing disciplines will take a lot of work. We are at the beginning of this new era. However, working toward the right balance is a step forward in a new world where humans and AI work hand-in-hand to optimize marketing teams.

We are at a pivot point for the marketing profession. Those who can be position-less and managers who can optimize teams with flawless position-less execution will secure their position for a lifetime.

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