When the smartphone era arrived, mobile marketing quickly became a growth strategy standard. By the end of 2019, there were 3.2 billion smartphone users, nearly half the global population, and 260 million in the U.S. alone. A 2019 eMarketer survey found that adults in the U.S. spend three hours and 43 minutes each day on mobile devices, more than they spend watching TV. How do marketers respond to this media shift? The answer: mobile marketing. Mobile marketing unleashes a whole new world for mobile advertising and enables a unique and personalized message for customers.
Below, we provide a mobile marketing guide. We’ll define mobile marketing, we’ll discuss the best ways to use mobile marketing and, finally, we’ll unlock the potential for you to become a mobile marketing professional yourself.
What is mobile marketing?
Mobile marketing is a multi-channel, digital marketing technique that aims to reach specific audiences on mobile devices. Activated through a variety of media, a mobile marketing strategy has the unprecedented power to connect with consumers at any time and provide them with personalized—and often time-sensitive—content concerning goods and services that pertain to their unique needs and interests. Mobile marketing is an important component of a company’s overall inbound and digital marketing strategy. The key focus in mobile marketing—as opposed to more general approaches to digital marketing—is that it specifically targets customers who access content through mobile devices.
How mobile marketing works
Individuals using smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices manage a wide range of activities, from playing games to making life-altering decisions such as: accepting interview invitations, selecting health coverage plans or signing documents to purchase a home. Where there was once a need for desktop computers, hardcopy documents and wet signatures, we can deliver the most complex transactions from a customer’s literal pocket. Companies take advantage of this level of consumer connectivity and create mobile campaigns that interact with specific target audiences through multiple digital marketing channels.
Why effective mobile marketing is key
Customers’ ever-rising standards for real-time engagement across multiple devices and digital channels encourage companies to manipulate data, seek new technologies and stretch limited marketing budgets to meet expectations. There is a clear demand for companies to adopt healthy mobile growth strategies, stemming from the increased use of mobile devices and the desire for personalized customer experiences.
Salesforce—one of the world’s leading CRM platforms—canvassed over 8,000 customers (consumers and business buyers) and 4,100 marketing leaders across the world to generate the State of the Connected Customer and State of Marketing reports in 2018. Both reports solidified that customer engagement is both the top marketing priority and top marketing challenge for businesses across all industries. Mobile-oriented marketing strategies are the best way to tackle this challenge. The data also revealed that high-performing marketers are more likely (than underperforming marketers) to dynamically coordinate multiple marketing channels.
The reports offer the following points which support the demand for mobile marketing:
Types of mobile marketing
Mobile marketing professionals deliver messages that are unique and personalized; they deliver content during a set time or while a person is in a specific location; they also implement interactive advertisements to grab the attention of a specific target audience. This is all achieved through different types of mobile marketing.
Below we’ll discuss various types of mobile marketing:
1) Search marketing
Search marketing definition
A form of mobile marketing that promotes websites and businesses by increasing visibility and achieving a higher search engine ranking.
Search marketing key features
Search engine mobile advertising is a powerful way to activate content and increase website traffic. Search marketing can also partner up with location-based marketing to create an even more personalized customer experience. Search marketing is divided into two primary categories: search engine optimization (SEO)—results in organic increases in traffic; and search engine marketing (SEM)—results in paid traffic increases.
SEO is a strategy that optimizes content such as blog posts and landing pages and increases a website’s search engine authority. According to Moz, there are seven steps to a successful SEO strategy:
(1) Ensure your site has adequate crawl accessibility.
(2) Develop valuable content that provides answers to a specific question
(3) Use target keywords
(4) Improve the user experience, such as increasing the load speed
(5) Establish content that other users will link and cite
(6) Create meaningful titles, URLs and descriptions to improve the click through rate (CTR)
(7) Stand out in search engine results pages (SERPs) with snippet/schema markups
SEM is a strategy that promotes websites and content through paid mobile advertising. SEM also increases visibility in SERPs and often incorporates a collaborative SEO strategy to achieve a higher search engine ranking. However, pages that rank within the first several listings on Google solely through paid advertisement will display a box that indicates the existence of a paid advertisement.
Search marketing examples
A customer types an inquiry into a search engine, like Google, Yahoo or Bing, to find the best barber shop in town. The customer comes across top-ranked content that is visible through either paid (SEM) or organic (SEO) channels. Based on this search, the customer makes an informed decision on where to get a haircut.
2. Social media marketing
Social media marketing definition
A form of mobile marketing that tailors unique content to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to promote a business.
Social media marketing key features
Social media marketing strategy varies depending on the platform, but is a valuable tool for overall business growth. Creating content on social media increases brand awareness and allows client relationship building, which increases lead conversions. One of the key marketing features of social media is its usership. Worldwide, there are 4.4 billion internet users and 3.5 billion people on social media.
Below are some of the most widely used social media platforms:
- Facebook: 2.4 billion users
- YouTube: 2 billion users
- WhatsApp: 1.6 billion users
- Facebook Messenger: 1.3 billion users
- WeChat: 1.1 billion users
- Instagram: 1 billion users
- Reddit: 330 million users
- Twitter: 330 million users
- Snapchat: 314 million users
- LinkedIn: 310 million users
- Pinterest: 300 million users
Maintaining social media accounts across multiple platforms allows businesses to increase the likelihood that a potential customer will be able to locate your information when searching for products and services. On your social media page, you can implement a social media marketing campaign, host contests and giveaways, and link back to your company’s main website.
Social media marketing examples
A customer follows a company’s Instagram page to keep an eye out for deals and coupons and encounters the company’s holiday giveaway. After clicking the URL for the company’s main webpage to get details about the giveaway, the customer winds up browsing newly released products and makes a purchase.
3. Email marketing
Email marketing definition
A form of mobile marketing that uses email to develop relationships with potential and current customers by providing valuable information or promoting products and services.
Email marketing key features
Email marketing is inexpensive and efficient, which makes it an excellent tool for maintaining a strong return on investment (ROI). Some brands are bringing in $44 for each dollar spent on email campaigns and email advertisements.
When it comes to mobile marketing, though, a company must also optimize its content for mobile viewing. Emails that display poorly will likely be deleted within three seconds, and half of all emails are opened on a mobile device. This statistic increases for certain industries, according to IBM’s 2018 Marketing Benchmark Report:
- Leisure, Sports & Recreation: 60 percent opened on mobile
- Lodging, Travel Agencies & Services: 55.6 percent opened on mobile
- Marketing & Advertisement: 54.7 percent opened on mobile
- Retail & Ecommerce: 53.7 percent opened on mobile
Luckily, most email service providers (ESPs) automatically format email content for optimal viewing on mobile devices. Even small businesses can keep up with corporate powerhouses with the use of reputable ESPs such as HubSpot, MailChimp and Benchmark.
Email marketing examples
A customer opens an email from a trusted company and finds a coupon that is straightforward and easy to read from a mobile device. The coupon can also be scanned directly from a mobile device and includes a mobile code that can be used for online purchases.
4. SMS and MMS marketing
SMS and MMS marketing definition
A form of mobile marketing that uses text or multimedia messages sent through mobile phones to provide valuable information and promote products and services.
SMS and MMS marketing key features
SMS (short message service) marketing launched in the early 2000s and was one of the first forms of mobile marketing. Used as part of either an inbound or outbound marketing strategy, companies obtain mobile phone numbers with the intention to build subscribers and strengthen customer loyalty.
Even with the development of in-app push notifications, mobile marketers continue to benefit from sending SMS text through mobile phones. SMS marketing is more strictly regulated, but this can often come in handy, especially when trying to reach audiences that are only connected to non-smartphone cellular devices. Salesforce reported that SMS has the potential to reach an open rate of 98 percent and a conversion rate of 45 percent.
Similar to SMS, MMS (multimedia message service) marketing is a mobile messaging service. However, the content sent through MMS is not as strictly regulated. Through MMS, users are allowed expanded media options including text, photo, video, audio or GIF. The benefit of MMS over SMS is that you can send branded content that is more engaging. The limitation is, of course, that the lack of regulation on MMS means that it won’t reach the large audience of SMS text.
Notably, 90 percent of SMS and MMS messages are opened within three minutes of being received. Therefore, this form of marketing serves as an easy, affordable and quick way to reach customers.
SMS and MMS marketing examples
After making an in-store purchase of a pastry from a local bakery with Apple Pay, a customer receives an SMS text message. The message provides a receipt of purchase and a link to a webpage where star rewards can be tracked and redeemed.
5. Push notification marketing
Push notification marketing definition
A form of mobile marketing that allows marketers to send notifications via smartphone about relevant events, products or services to customers through applications downloaded on a user’s mobile device.
Push notification marketing key features
Push notifications are commonly used to inform social media users that there is a message pending from a friend, follower or connection. Push notifications are also used to communicate transactional updates on the status of an in-app purchase. In terms of marketing strategy, though, push notifications serve as highly personalized content that provides customers with specific calls-to-action, promotional messages and reminders.
Push notifications are classified as either: mobile notifications, or browser notifications. Users easily recognize mobile notifications because a message will appear in some form—depending on the user’s notification settings—for applications downloaded on their phone. Browser notifications occur when a user gives a website permission to send browser alerts while on the site.
Push notification goals include:
- Providing the latest news
- Giving application updates, including new features
- Sending reminders for public or private events
- Initiating marketing campaigns
- Hosting a competition or giveaway
- Promoting sales
- Informing customers of new products and services
These unique strategies drive user engagement, maintain customer retention and direct customers back to a company’s website. Push notifications are controlled by Google API, so user information is safe. This is especially important for users using location features.
Push notification marketing examples
A customer allows push notifications on all ecommerce application downloads in order to receive the quickest updates on sales and discounts. Because of this, the customer is often able to purchase limited discounted items before they are sold out.
6. Location-based marketing
Location-based marketing definition
A form of mobile marketing that uses data from mobile devices to identify users’ current and past locations which translates into personalized and relevant content.
Location-based marketing key features
Similar to other inbound mobile marketing strategies which use predictive analytics, location-based marketing helps businesses understand customers’ wants and needs by evaluating their location habits. Location-based marketing is especially useful for businesses that maintain a storefront. The field is growing, with location-targeted mobile advertising spending expected to reach $38.7 billion by 2022. Location-based marketing can be achieved by using IP addresses, GPS coordinates, beacons and other location-focused technologies.
Here are some common location-based marketing methods:
- Geofencing: Marketers establish a virtual location or radius with the intention to send content that is based on users’ real-time location.
- Proximity: Using either geofencing or beacons, marketers use real-time location data to send alerts, advertisements or other relevant and pertinent content.
- Geotargeting: Marketers gather data on customers’ past locations and catalogue it as a user-preference. This increased knowledge allows marketers to build campaigns that target appropriate audiences.
- Geoconquesting: Marketers gather data on customers’ past visits to competitor stores and catalogue it as a user-preference.
Location-based marketing examples
A customer downloads a restaurant application. While shopping at the mall where the restaurant is located, the customer receives a notification from the restaurant’s application for a free appetizer with the purchase of an item from the main dinner menu. The customer wasn’t planning to eat at that restaurant, but does anyway because of the offer.
7. In-app marketing
In-app marketing definition
A form of mobile marketing that is designed for and displayed in mobile applications.
In-app marketing key features
In-app marketing is one of the most lucrative digital opportunities. With 175 billion applications downloaded each year, the average person uses nine applications daily and 30 applications monthly. Apple and Google applications earned a combined revenue of $71.3 billion in 2018, a 22.7 percent increase from 2017. Most application statistics are broken into gaming and non-gaming application categories, likely because 77 percent of all mobile application revenue is attributed to games.
Applications earn revenue from paid downloads, advertisements, affiliate contracts and in-app purchases. In-app purchases—which account for nearly half of all application revenue—are classified as:
- Consumable: A product that must be purchased repeatedly in order to continue use (e.g. extra lives in a game)
- Non-consumable: A product that only needs to be purchased once (e.g. downloadable content)
- Auto-renewable subscriptions: A product that allows continued access with a subscription that typically renews monthly or annually (e.g. annual membership to an electronic newspaper)
- Non-renewing subscriptions: A product that allows access for a limited period of time, typically for one month or one year, but will need manual renewal after the expiration date passes (e.g. three-month access educational content)
In-app marketing allows the highest level of real-time, personalized engagement and supports mobile application revenue by strengthening consumer relationships and increasing usage. No other form of mobile marketing provides a more intimate and immediate form of communication. In-app marketing focuses on customer retention and rewards because marketers assume the user is already a customer after downloading the company’s application.
In-app marketing examples
Starbucks encourages customers to purchase products through the Starbucks mobile application and, in doing so, expose customers to a star rewards program, exclusive offers and discounts and interactive games. In-app purchases are simple and convenient and there is an option to send paid gifts to other consumers.
Mobile marketing around the globe
Digital marketing allows businesses of any size to reach global audiences, but mobile marketing widens the reach even further. Nearly 70 percent of the world’s population owns a mobile phone. And as of 2018, an average of 57 percent of global internet users accessed the web from a mobile device.
Below is a chart outlining countries that primarily use mobile phones to access the internet. At 80 percent, Vietnam—with a population of 95.5 million and nearly 50 percent internet usage rate—almost exclusively accesses the internet via mobile device. It’s essential that marketers understand where consumers access content so it can be optimized appropriately.
Internet Use: Mobile vs. Desktop, by Country
|Country||Total Population**||Total Population Using Internet**||Total Population Using Mobile||Total Population Using Desktop||Percent Population Using Internet||Mobile*||Desktop*|
*From November 2018 to November 2019.
**As of 2018.
How to create a mobile marketing strategy
Advertisers reach consumers in more ways than ever before, and the demand for more content continues to increase, particularly in the areas of on-demand applications and video marketing. As user numbers continue to rise, so does the complexity of mobile marketing strategies. Effective mobile marketing strategies require strict collaboration across departments which paves the way for partners to implement the most disruptive mobile campaigns. It all comes down to asking how companies can most effectively reach customers.
Elements of an effective mobile marketing strategy
The most important elements of a mobile marketing strategy are customization and personalization. In digital marketing, brands must develop unique plans based on specific industries and target audiences.
A mobile marketing strategy begins with the following steps:
1. Create a buyer persona for mobile customers
Understanding your audience is arguably one of the most important steps in any mobile marketing strategy. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of a company’s typical customer. It includes profiles that may cover the following characteristics and traits:
- Background, goals and beliefs
- Occupation and salary
- Family life
- Recreational choices
- Favorite content type
- Preferred device for content
- Preferred device for purchases
- Typical internet behaviors
- Spending habits
Creating a buyer persona allows marketers to visualize who they are speaking to which allows them to create content that is most valuable for their target audience. Buyer personas are created by conducting market research and narrowing the most common details. A mobile marketing campaign should include a buyer persona line-up that represents a few of the most prevalent customers in the industry.
2. Set clear, attainable goals
Clearly defining what success will look like for your company is key to setting the standard for an effective mobile marketing strategy.
Begin to set clear, attainable goals by asking the following questions:
- What is our current mobile marketing effort? What have we tried in the past?
- Where have we found success and failure in our current and past mobile marketing initiatives?
- Why are we evaluating our mobile marketing strategy now?
- How do our newly established buyer personas fit within our mobile marketing strategy? How are they different? How are they similar?
- How are we communicating now with current customers via mobile?
- How can we optimize for our target locations?
Going through this exercise will provide clarity so your marketing team can focus on the desired end-result.
3. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs)
KPIs are metrics that are used to measure various parts of business operations. KPIs allow marketers to measure results of a campaign and determine if mobile marketing goals are being met. It’s important to collect the right data timely to ensure accurate and efficient data analysis. KPIs must be unique and act parallelly with a company’s goals, mission and vision. Therefore, it’s not appropriate to adopt uniform KPIs from another company.
KPIs are most effective when structured as follows:
- Teams across all departments have worked collaboratively to develop and finalize the KPIs; they’ve also been approved by senior management.
- KPIs are straightforward and easily accessible.
- KPIs can be measured and evaluated frequently to allow for real-time analysis and quick changes, as necessary.
Examples of KPIs include sales revenue, organic traffic, number of downloads, retention rate, cost per lead and much more.
4. Monitor metrics, and implement necessary changes
Using KPIs to monitor and measure the success of a mobile marketing strategy results in drastic improvements. Depending on the size of the company and seniority of the marketing team, understanding how to accurately group metrics in order to gain valuable insight may require time and experience. While learning the ropes, however, companies can adopt the use of AI tools such as Google Analytics or other performance monitoring tools.
Google Analytics is an excellent data science tool that streamlines mobile data analysis. It automatically allows users to group various mobile metrics like pageviews and bounce rates. This helps determine what is working in your mobile campaign, which target keywords or blog posts are driving traffic and how landing pages can be further optimized for mobile reading.
Performance monitoring tools automate data collection and organization. Typically, as is the case in using Google Analytics, users choose metrics and view results on a single correlation platform and dashboard. Users set the priority, so performance monitoring tools collect and analyze only the most business-critical insights. Application monitoring tools perform in the same way, but are most relevant in the analysis of mobile applications.
Creating a solid mobile marketing campaign
When creating a mobile marketing campaign, businesses shouldn’t lose sight of the most important elements of digital marketing: making incredible content that will drive organic growth; supporting the brand with social media; staying connected through email and push notifications; and maintaining consistency. While companies optimize for mobile use in a mobile marketing campaign, these principles still remain true.
In addition to optimizing content for mobile design, marketers should also cater to the following unique characteristics of mobile marketing:
Unique to mobile marketing campaigns is the use of Quick Response (QR) codes. QR codes are small, scannable barcodes that can be read with the camera on a mobile device. Once scanned, the code takes the user through a tracker that typically points to a website or application. Consumers may notice QR codes printed on business cards, flyers, instruction manuals, advertisements, presentation materials or virtually anything that can be scanned by a mobile device. An example of QR code placement includes a hotel concierge desk. Companies can include a QR code on pamphlets which point to a site that allows ticket purchases for that event or activity.
Mobile marketers need to understand what micro-moments are and how to prepare for them. Micro-moments represent everyday life situations when a person has a question and immediately grabs a mobile device to find the answer. This could include making a purchase, learning how to do something, researching or discovering something that was referred to the user by another individual. Mobile marketing strategies are tailored to meet the needs of micro-moments. For example, suppose after rocking an infant back to sleep for over an hour in the middle of the night, a parent searches for the phrase: “how to help my baby sleep at night.” Google generates content containing various suggestions, one being to swaddle the baby. A good mobile marketing campaign anticipates this micro-moment and makes it easy to instantly purchase highly recommended swaddling blankets.
Where to learn mobile marketing
If you’re interested in a digital marketing career or simply want to strengthen your mobile marketing skills, consider enrolling in a digital marketing master’s program. Digital competency and data analytics knowledge are in demand, and executives are currently battling a challenging gap in digital skills among today’s workforce. Skills that were once considered specializations are now recruitment norms. Think about how job seekers used to indicate “computer proficiency” as a notable skill on their resume. No one does this anymore because it’s assumed everyone can use a computer. It’s beginning to be expected that marketers know how to market on digital platforms.
Mobile marketing careers lead to a lucrative salary and requires individuals who are up for working in an ever-evolving data science landscape. Entering the world of mobile marketing necessitates a life of learning and consistent personal growth. A digital marketing master’s degree—such as the MS in Digital Marketing and Media offered online at the Katz School of Science and Health at Yeshiva University (YU)—sets the foundation for this endeavor so you are equipped to cultivate an exciting and engaging career.
The Katz School’s online MS in Digital Marketing and Media equips mobile marketing professionals with essential marketing, media, communication and data analytics skills to engage with digitally savvy consumers. The program is project-based and hands-on so graduate candidates are empowered to produce powerful results on the first day of their new career. Covering topics such as personalization, digital strategy, media buying and irresistible storytelling, the Katz School aims fill the digital skills gap and ultimately maximize global mobile strategy.
Continuing education is achieved by attending digital marketing conferences, mastering digital marketing tools and resources and networking with like-minded individuals who share common goals and dreams in the world of mobile AI and machine learning.
Here are some continuing education courses offered through Google and LinkedIn:
Here are some of the top-rated mobile marketing tools and resources in 2019:
- Branch: “Increase mobile revenue with enterprise-grade links built to acquire, engage, and measure across all devices, channels, and platforms”
- Braze (formerly Appboy): “Makes messages feel more like conversations between you and your customers across channels like push, email, in-app, and more”
- Buffer: “Build your audience and grow your brand on social media”
- CallFire: “Texting and calling solutions that help you reach more customers”
- EZ Texting: “The #1 SMS marketing software, setting the standard for business texting platforms”
- Facebook Mobile Ads: “Help you get more people to install and engage with your app”
- Facebook Pages Manager: “Helps admins connect with their audience and keep up with activity on multiple pages, all in one place”
- Google AdMob: “Makes earning revenue easy with in-app ads, actionable insights, and powerful, easy-to-use tools that grow your app business”
- Instagram Business: “Set up an Instagram Business Account to give people more information about your products, service or business”
- Iterable: “An integrated, cross-channel platform—built for marketers, trusted by engineers, designed with intelligence”
- SendinBlue: “Make your business take flight with the complete sales & marketing toolbox. Grow. Sell. Engage”
- SendPulse: “A multi-channel marketing platform that improves conversion rates by combining services”
- Shopify: “One platform with all the ecommerce and point of sale features you need to start, run, and grow your business”
- Skipio: “Automated conversations to inform, engage, convert, and retain”
- Twitter Business: “Plan your campaigns around these key dates and events”
- WhatsApp Business: “Built with the small business owner in mind. Create a catalog to showcase your products and services. Connect with your customers easily by using tools to automate, sort and quickly respond to messages”
- YouTube Studio: “Share your videos with friends, family, and the world”
Best mobile marketing practices
Effective mobile marketing strategies begin with solid buyer personas; clear, attainable goals; established KPIs and ongoing testing and evaluation. Mobile marketing strategies and campaigns become sustainable by establishing best practices and maintaining a strong focus on the end goal.
Consider the following best practices when developing a mobile marketing strategy:
Optimize social media marketing for mobile. Make sure all social media pages, links and landing pages are mobile-friendly. Use QR codes and SMS text to deliver easily accessible content via shortened URLs.
Focus on seamless multi-channel marketing. Create strategies to allow consumers to access the same content from multiple devices. Align behavioral data with the right device, service and product. Find any opportunity to make things easier and more convenient for the consumer.
Follow digital marketing trends. Chatbots? Voice search? AI, machine learning and data analytics? Keep yourself apprised of what’s coming down the innovative pipeline so you’re able to use the technology in your favor.
Study your audience. Creating buyer personas for the food industry as opposed to the gaming industry will be completely different exercises. Thus, ensuring a company has a clear understanding of its audience will set a mobile marketing strategy off on the right foot.
Establish an annual or quarterly benchmark report. Scheduled benchmark reports are beneficial for everyone involved. It helps inform customers and partners of the status of a company’s marketing efforts. It also helps business leaders stay focused and accountable.
Diversify your ideas and strategies. Reaching a larger audience across various platforms will improve the speed and quality of mobile campaign results. Stay on top of trends and be ready for market changes.
Strengthen your mobile marketing strategy at Yeshiva University
Aiming to keep up with the demands of mobile marketing is an exciting and challenging venture. The Katz School at YU provides graduate students with exceptional support while preserving the commitment to help grow the next generation of mobile marketers.
Graduate students complete the Katz School’s MS in Digital Marketing and Media entirely online. While access to educational resources is remote, YU’s advanced learning technology delivers lecture halls and office hours wherever students are located. Based in the heart of NYC, the Katz School connects students with industry experts, top researchers, and emerging entrepreneurs. The program is designed for aspiring marketers and young professionals working in marketing-related fields.
Reach out today to learn more about how YU’s online MS in Digital Marketing and Media will help kick-start your mobile marketing career.