Ignore mobile marketing at your peril. That is the message coming loud and clear from multiple studies showing that more and more, we spend time on our phones that previously we would have spent watching television, reading newspapers, or listening to the radio.
Since 2010, mobile phone usage in the United States has more than quadrupled, with numbers rising from 62 million at the start of the decade to an estimated 257 million in 2019. And smartphones – phones which allow users to access the Internet – are leading the charge.
We have come to expect many things from our mobile phones. We take it as our due that the technology we now carry in our pockets, purses, wallets, or handbags will navigate us around strange cities, tell us what the weather is like, and keep us up to date with what is happening in the world.
But most importantly for businesses, we are relying on our mobile devices to tell us where to purchase goods and services.
If it’s on the Internet, we expect to find it on our phones
Think about the last time you traveled to a strange city and fancied a particular brand of food. Chances are, your first thought was to grab your phone, ask your host for the Wi-fi password, and then used a search engine to search for “best fill-in-the-blank restaurants near me.” After checking your whereabouts, your reliable search engine provided you with a list of fill-in-the-blank restaurants within walking or driving distance, and problem solved.
We check out our emails, we text or message people, and we browse social media, thanks to the marvels of this small but omnipresent device. Even in areas where there is limited mobile coverage, our network services are working hard to bring their services into remote or previously inaccessible areas. They recognize that not only are most of us using our mobile devices but that we also depend on them.
And nothing says “depend on” mobile phone services more than the complete taking for granted attitude we have come to adopt when considering what we can do on our smartphones. We use them for all those services we once used traditional print media for – namely, maps, phone numbers, information, who’s doing what, when is the game on, what is on sale at my favorite store, and so on. If it’s on the Internet, then we expect to find it on our phones, and if we can’t, we don’t bother with it.
In the market for a new outfit for an upcoming special event and in a hurry? Who has the time to go home, search through the newspaper, or coupons that may arrive in the mailbox? Far easier and more convenient, to access the same information on your phone, check out the results offered, and head for the store that your smartphone tells you is having a sale on this particular item. And it’s within X miles of your current location.
Are you starting to feel the inconvenient effects of seasonal hayfever? Grab your phone, research “hayfever medication,” and find out what drugstores in your vicinity carry that medication. Not just that, but also how much the medication costs, whether you need a prescription, or whether it’s available over the counter.
Of course, you couldn’t make any of these purchases without having access to your money or credit card. Fortunately, there’s even an app that allows you to scan your purchases and pay for them using your mobile phone.
Mobile marketing brings a laser focus to individuals needs
And mobile marketing benefits from its ability to target specific needs to individuals. Every time we use the Internet, we leave a digital fingerprint. The wise marketing manager will recognize the value in these fingerprints and use them to best advantage.
Think about the last time you searched for something online, then went to your preferred social media account service. Notice that the advertisements for the product you had just searched for are now more prominent? You indicated that you had a need, and with the help of some handy algorithms and keywords, your social media company tries to help you fulfill that need.
We already accept targeted marketing to a degree. Sales for stationery and school supplies always increase at the start of the school year. We expect that in the leadup to any relevant holiday season, marketers will target our desire for products associated with that holiday and promote these harder at those times.
So why not accept that thanks to the combination of technology, the ubiquity of the mobile phone, and the ease in which we can access the Internet pretty much anywhere, that mobile marketing is crucial for business today? Our customers can receive messages targeted to their specific needs and expressed desires at a time when they are most likely to need and take advantage of this information.
The quality of your message matters
But like any message, we need to make sure that our customers get the information they need when they need it and in a format that they can access with ease. No one wants to have to scroll through pages of irrelevant or misleading information or to click on a page that doesn’t load properly.
The quality of the message delivery is just as important as the actual message. If our customers can’t find the information about our services or have difficulty accessing it, they will shrug their shoulders and move on to the next supplier of that service. The downside of information availability is that if you don’t provide a good quality message, your customer knows that the next business probably will.
But wait, says the marketer who doesn’t want to use mobile phone technology. What about the laptop or iPad – why not target messages to these users? The answer is, of course, you can. As long as a mobile phone has most of the advantages of these devices, along with their greater portability and lower cost, why not concentrate on the device that an estimated 78% of Americans own?
If mobile technology is the food of marketing, mobile on, to paraphrase Shakespeare. The mobile phone, despite its name, is not leaving anytime soon, and neither is our dependence on it.