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Uniquely mobile


A 2015 article in Wired set out to show that, in the next two years, your smartphone might be the only computer you’ll need. Elsewhere in the media, it’s been noted that the iPhone 6 is a million times faster than the computers used to land on the moon in 1969.

It’s no wonder, then, that the small device most of us carry everywhere is every bit as important to today’s marketers as newspapers, television, radio and billboards were in their day. But don’t confuse mobile with other digital devices, such as your laptop or desktop. Mobile is a unique platform that provides its own wealth of capabilities and opportunities to marketers looking to extend their brand messages.

Giving mobile its due

Marketers tend to think of smartphones and tablets as merely another screen, albeit a smaller one. But mobile isn’t just another highway for digital traffic.

“What some marketers don’t understand is how distinct mobile is from other platforms,” says Eric Mugnier, one of three founding partners of London-based M&C Saatchi Mobile, the world’s first mobile-dedicated ad agency. “The space is very different. It’s not an extension of your other screens. It’s not a channel, it’s a platform.”

Marketing communications received on a smartphone or tablet are completely different from any other media vehicle, including computers, Mugnier says. Why? The top differentiator of mobile devices is also the most obvious: They are mobile.

Mindflash, a provider of an online employee and customer-training platform, discovered that mobile learners completed training courses in half the time of other users, says Donna Wells, the company’s CEO.

Of course they did. Their mobile devices were always with them, and they could complete their work as their day allowed. They were able to squeeze in study time during lunch, or while waiting for the bus. Mobile devices, in other words, are as mobile as your customers’ lives. And that creates opportunities that just aren’t available with other media. For example, if you put a digital car wash coupon in front of a prospect who is only a mile away from the sponsoring location, your odds of doing business just increased considerably.

Mobile is a one-of-a-kind platform, and marketers must treat it that way if they want to succeed at mobile marketing. Here are some tips to help your business get the most out of its mobile marketing efforts.


Tap into emotional connection

Your mobile device is your very personal connection to the outside world. In addition to taking it with you everywhere, you use your phone to place calls, exchange text messages, organize your schedule, check the weather, scan the news, listen to music, play games, buy products and even watch movies. And that’s barely scratching the surface. You don’t have that kind of connection with your television screen, and you’ve certainly never had it with your favorite newspaper or magazine.

As Mugnier says, “You might share your computer with a near-stranger, but you won’t share your phone.”

For marketers, this translates into a need for and receptivity to creatively designed, informative, interactive messaging that is tailored to individual consumers — or at least that appears to be. Success on mobile means forgoing generic marketing campaigns. Instead, look for ways to craft marketing messages using location data, consumer preferences and sales histories to provide a customized experience.

Respond to micro-moments

The term “micro-moments” refers to the daily activity we don’t pay much attention to, says Lew Sabbag, vice president of business development at marketing firm Tentacle360.

“These are the things you do without a whole lot of planning: fixing your car, getting a haircut, picking up a few groceries, finding an ATM,” says Sabbag. “And we use our phones to do it.”

Your potential customers are scrolling quickly for directions to your nearest location, searching for a coupon or checking prices, menu options or hours of service. This is the time to interact with them when they’re most in need of finding your services and are looking for help.

Create a seamless experience

No other marketing vehicle has the immediacy of the mobile device in your pocket or purse. You don’t have to remember to go online and check out that new restaurant once you get home — your reaction can fit the moment.

“It’s the bridge between other media, and the immediacy is entirely unique,” says Mugnier.

But that is only true if you make it easy for consumers to interact with you on mobile devices. Is your website optimized for mobile and simple for your smartphone-carrying customers to access on the run? Do you prominently display contact information, links and directions in mobile communications? Are you highlighting URLs in non-mobile media? All of these steps contribute to a more seamless experience for mobile consumers, making it easier for people to find you, and ultimately, respond to your marketing messages.

Follow the three-second rule

If you ask Google for a nearby restaurant, bowling alley, florist or car wash, you’ll get plenty of hits. It’s that element of choice that makes mobile consumers so picky.

“When you’re developing a mobile app or ad campaign, make sure you follow the three-second rule,” says Sabbag.

Three seconds is about how long a mobile user will wait for your content to do what it’s supposed to. Even though everything is faster in the mobile universe, mobile screens are small and the audio quality isn’t always crystal clear. If the Web page loads too slowly, or the content is confusing or irrelevant, the potential customer will move on to the next results page.

How can you make your three seconds count? Get. To. The. Point. Focus on developing mobile content that delivers relevant information quickly. Keep messages brief. Avoid jargon. And if you’re embedding video content, make it 30 seconds long, not three minutes.

Think mobile-first

It makes sense that young people are most knowledgeable and receptive audience for mobile marketing. Most of them have grown up with some form of mobile technology. They shop, order tickets, socialize, listen to music and do almost everything else they can with their smartphones or tablets. Mobile is an important part of their daily lives, and therefore, an invaluable platform for today’s marketers.

Just remember, success in mobile marketing requires companies to communicate and engage with consumers differently than they do on other platforms. Don’t make the mistake of thinking a marketing campaign that worked well for TV, print or online communications will be just as effective on mobile devices, Mugnier warns.

“Take a mobile-first approach,” he says.