Why mobile marketing is important

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Mobile is becoming the marketing topic of 2011. More and more people are discussing the topic in lectures, blogs and presentations. And we’re starting to see some first cases. However, there is still a lack of in-depth knowledge and too often mobile projects are ad hoc initiatives without strategic foundation.

For several years we have been told that mobile marketing is on our doorstep, but it never really got through. However, recent stats show that a shift is indeed taking place:

– By now, 4 billion people are using mobile devices worldwide. This is more than half of the world population. In comparison, there are ‘only’ 1.9 billion Internet connections worldwide.

– In India, there are more mobile phones than toilets (Source: UN report). Talking about the potential of the BRIC countries, this is quite relevant.

– According to the ‘mobile marketing association’, 85% of all phones shipped in 2011 will be smartphones, i.e. devices offering far more features compared to the previous generations of mobile phones.

– In 2013, mobile phones will supersede the PC as the most used Internet access device. (Gartner research)

– In 2014, mobile Internet access will rise to a 90% penetration. (Gartner research)

– According to Google’s ex-CEO, Eric Schmidt, adoption of the mobile web is growing 8 times faster compared to the first wave of PC internet adoption.

Impressive figures. In essence, it’s important to remember that we are shifting to a market full of smartphones in which the adoption of mobile Internet access is growing superfast.

This trend has a major impact on our behaviour. We are constantly connected with our mobile phones and therefore almost permanently ‘on-line’. Personally, I notice that I regularly send tweets while driving, I check e-mails whilst waiting in the supermarket, I check my latest Facebook messages between courses in restaurants, etc. It is becoming a habit and an addiction. One thing is certain: it is changing the way we live and work.


Do you remember the heated discussions about whether or not to buy a mobile phone? And who was willing to be reached all the time? Nowadays, pretty much everyone has a mobile phone, and it would be very hard to imagine our daily lives without it…

What’s more, a British study has shown that 53% of people become anxious without their mobile phone. There’s even name for that: Nomophobia (abbreviation for No Mobile Phone), which is described as a feeling of stress comparable to visiting the dentist.

Besides our keys and wallet, mobile phones have become our pocket companions. There is no communication device closer to us, literally everywhere we go. No need to tell you this creates interesting marketing opportunities.

The short YouTube movie below (a hit on the Internet) illustrates how obsessive we are using our mobile phones nowadays:


And it’s early days yet. The evolving mobile technology is offering more and more opportunities, which means we will use our mobile phones even more in the future. Predictions indicate that 4G users (successor of the 3G technology for mobile web access) will spend twice as much time on the web via their mobile phone compared to 3G surfers.

The arrival of new technologies, such as visual search for example, will also have a major impact. Just think of the possibilities of Google Goggles, at this moment in its infancy, but it shows what will be possible in the near future – and the opportunities it will bring for marketing:


The value of mobile devices can be summarized in ‘contact, convenience and entertainment’, which I explain as follows in collaboration with @eliasveris:


The mobile phone enables a constant and real-time connection with our friends and family. 90% of the time spent on mobile phones is social. And it’s not just ‘calling’. In 2010, Twitter saw a 347% growth in mobile users. And more than 200 million people are using Facebook on their mobiles. So we basically carry our ‘social graph’ in our pockets, thanks to the combination of mobile & social.


We are getting more and more used to quickly searching for information while on the move. If we need to locate a restaurant or just compare prices, our mobile phone is the ideal device. But also indoor, just think of the Nespresso Application, which enables clients to efficiently order from the on-line shop via the app.

Mobile commerce (currently valued at 15 billion dollars) will increase to no less than 215 billion dollars by 2015.

Mobile phones are making our lives much easier and more efficient, and they bring various other devices together into one multifunctional entity. It is our permanent photo and video camera, our alarm clock, our diary… you name it.

Here too, technology will offer more and more opportunities. Just think of augmented reality applications for example (still too much of a gimmick a while ago):



Anyone who ever played the Angry Birds game knows that mobile gaming is hot. ‘Angry birds’ has been downloaded 100 million times and has brought in more than 70 million dollars in revenue. Thousands of people are dragged into the game and spend hours every day launching birds into pigs.

@GeorgeBray: “Your mobile phone has more computing power than all of NASA in 1969. NASA launched a man to the moon. We launch a bird into pigs.â€

But it’s not just about gaming; listening to music and video sharing are also immensely popular on mobile devices. In 2013, video will account for 64% of all mobile traffic.

To wrap it up: mobile phones ensure that we will never be bored again…

Eric Schmidt summarises it as follows: ‘It’s a future where you don’t forget anything…In this new future you’re never lost… you’re never lonely…you’re never bored…you’re never out of ideas.’

All of this offers plenty of opportunities for marketing. Among marketers, we currently encounter two situations:

1. We do nothing!

Many marketers are too busy integrating social media and want to keep focus. This implies that mobile marketing is nowhere on the agenda. However, society is changing so fast that we have to respond faster and faster. There is no room for single focus anymore; you have to be super flexible to keep up with the ultra fast moving consumer.

Even though user numbers of particular channels (e.g. Foursquare) or certain devices (e.g. tablets) are still fairly low, as a marketer and as an organisation, it is essential to grasp opportunities.

2. We must create an app!

Marketers who are open to new opportunities and see the relevance of mobile marketing often ignore the basic principles and have just one thing in mind: we have to design an application for our brand.

Not the right approach either. After all, you don’t just create a TV ad just because television exists, right? It is important to approach mobile marketing from a strategic angle so that it can actually have impact.

Below you finda short guide with 7 concrete actions to get started:

1. Use a smartphone: This might sound obvious, but all too often we talk about things we don’t understand. Just think about how many people judge Twitter without ever having come near to a tweet. It is important to have personal experience of what is actually possible in order to be able to think about opportunities for your brand or organisation.

2. Build internal knowledge: Appoint someone within the organisation to follow up and to experiment with mobile marketing opportunities. Select someone who has affinity with the topic.

3. Research the mobile potential of your target group: Investigating your target group is an important step. State the current requirements and research the ‘mobile’ behaviour: To what extent have smartphones penetrated your target group, which types of devices are used most often (iPhone, Android, Blackberry…), which applications are being downloaded, what are they expecting from your brand, etc.

4. Get the basics right: More and more people are consuming mobile content, so it is important that your content is delivered in a mobile-friendly way. Just think of a mobile website, a mobile shop and also the design of your communication (e.g. e-mail) on mobile devices.

5. Set clear objectives: It is important to determine beforehand what you wish to achieve with your mobile strategy. Do you wish to increase awareness of your brand, boost your image, generate sales or trigger customer loyalty? Make clear choices that will form the basis for your mobile strategy.

6. Stay relevant and think about contact-convenience-entertainment: Reflect on how you can take advantage of the three principles of contact – convenience – entertainment, based on your brand values and your target group. Use them as a guide to translate your objectives into a relevant mobile proposition.

7. Measure and report: Even if they are experiments or pilot projects, it is extremely important to measure your actions and compare them to your objectives. Also ensure you measure the correct aspects. Research has shown that 26% of mobile apps are only used once. Therefore only measuring the downloads is not sufficient. Select the correct KPIs in order to make a sound evaluation.

The way most organisations are approaching mobile marketing is comparable to the way we approached social media 3-4 years ago, or even the Internet 15 years ago. No structural budgets are being released, no knowledge is being built up, and in most cases, there is no strategy or any clear objective.

Hopefully, this story will inspire you to make a start. In a next article, I will discuss the toolbox of mobile marketing. In the meantime, feel free share your opinions in the comments or via @dadovanpeteghemon Twitter. Good luck!