Thanks to devices like the iPhone, BlackBerry, and now Android, mobile is no longer an afterthought in most marketing budgets, but a well-deserved line item. Be it through the skyrocketing number of iPhone and other Smartphone device sales or mindboggling downloads of applications — more than four billion on for the iPhone in less than two years — mobile is fast becoming a central channel for your customer engagement efforts.
Consumers drive rapid transition to smartphones
It used to be almost fashionable to criticize or dismiss marketers who were enthralled by the many features of smartphones – voice, SMS, MMS, content, commerce, email, mobile Web, applications, photography, video, location, games, maps, search, even a flashlight! And the list seems to grow every month. Those same critics say that smartphone subscribers are still a small slice of the mobile handset market — about 20 percent, inching towards 25 percent.
By 2013, predictions are that one out of two mobile phones in subscriber hands will be smartphones. Imagine the effect on Web usage, content consumption, search, store locating, shopping and buying, and, most important of all, advertising and marketing.
Mobile puts the “M” in multichannel marketing
An interesting fact is that marketers have been driving the push toward mobile advertising and marketing, more so than their agencies. Brands such as Coca-Cola, Domino’s Pizza, Burger King, Chipotle, General Motors, Ford, Procter & Gamble, Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, REI, Major League Baseball and the National Football League are all spending millions behind mobile advertising campaigns and programs that tie in with promotions and other multichannel efforts.
Where applicable, these brands are also building mobile commerce sites and applications, along with SMS-backed mobile loyalty programs that tie in with email and direct-mail CRM.
Mobile ad spending last year was estimated at $416 million by eMarketer. In another three years, that number is expected to cross $1.5 billion.
Consumer marketers know one thing for sure: Their audience is mobile, so they have to be mobile — communicating messages and offers, convincing subscribers or members to shop on phone or go to stores, online or call.
Mobile commerce will take off
We are very early on in the Mobile Commerce Era. But this aspect of mobile shows the most promise. While fewer than 100 retailers currently have mobile commerce sites or applications — where consumers can search, shop and buy — expect more to launch mobile initiatives.
Consumers are already conducting research on mobile before they walk into the store. Every retailer will need a mobile site or application within three years or they will risk losing business to their competitors.
Mobile commerce will revolutionize retail, perhaps even more than the Web did with ecommerce. Combining ease of purchase with location-awareness and ready access to information is the true promise of mobile commerce.
However, retailers will need to reassure consumers, customers and regulators that mobile transactions are secure. eBay has already paved the way — the auction platform last year closed $500 million in mobile commerce transactions. Projections for this year are $1.5 billion.
Mobile will force marketers to move beyond Web analytics
What the marketing and advertising industry has witnessed over the last 10 years with the use of leading Web analytic tools, key consumer engagement metrics and campaign management platforms will quickly expand to include a host of mobile channel metrics, tools and processes.
Marketers who have historically not done a good job of seamlessly integrating their Web channel analytics and consumer engagement insights with their multichannel marketing data will find themselves playing catch up. They will now have to contend with another new channel input with its unique sets of data management practices, technology, tools and processes.
About the Author:
Bill Harris is a Practice Leader in the Healthcare and Consumer Markets for SIGMA Marketing Group. Connect with Bill on , or follow him on .