Mobile Strategy 101

Mobile marketing is not just the future — it is now. China and India boast the largest mobile markets due to population, but the United States is a compelling third thanks to mobile market penetration — there are more mobile accounts in America than people. According to ComScore, Americans access the Internet more frequently with mobile devices than computers, and Pew Research has shown that four out of five mobile consumers shop on smartphones. About half of all retailers meet this market with a mobile platform, and those who do not will soon be left in the dust.

Point of sale is no longer solely in stores or on computers. It is anywhere, anytime. Three of four people use phones in the bathroom, and 20 percent have made a purchase while on the john, according to 11mark! Furthermore, Frost and Sullivan have reported that 90 percent of texts are read within seconds, while emails have dropped to only 22 percent.


How does one engage today’s consumers? For starters, have a mobile website. Create a modified version of an existing site specifically for a small touchscreen. Mobile devices can be automatically redirected.

Developing an app increases mobile opportunities since users interact with apps six times as often as mobile Internet, according to Nielsen. A native app is custom software that is downloaded, stored on a mobile device and able to use the device’s built-in functions such as the camera — much like installing and using a computer program.

Customers need not always be online, however, they must have smartphones with available memory and occasional online access to update. Native apps can also be made available in the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores, possibly making them easier to discover. While building from scratch can be costly, some online services can easily and affordably create limited-use apps using existing social media content.

A cloud app is similar except that the software is stored on an external server and therefore does not require a smartphone or available memory. Essentially a hybrid between a mobile website and a native app, it stores a temporary version on the device enabling offline browsing. However, Internet is required for interactive functions. These can be more expensive to create and maintain, but are always up-to-date and never deleted from a customer’s phone due to lack of memory. Moreover, they can also be accessed by feature phones (non-smartphones) that have Web access.

Regardless of platform, employing e-commerce such as PayPal is smart business. Closing sales on mobile devices reduces steps between promotions and sales, and one can easily entice consumers to “act now.” Time sensitive or “limited availability” promotions increase conversion of consumers to customers.


For consumers to engage with websites or apps, retailers must generally rely on them to take the initiative and “pull” information from the source. However, sophisticated smartphones down to the cheapest feature phones empower retailers to proactively reach customers by “pushing” promotions via text. While recipients must opt-in by texting a short code, according to Cisco, 80 percent of consumers want locally relevant promotions.

Imagine receiving a text saying, “Save 20 percent on a box of strings — today only. Click ‘Buy Now’ and pick up at your convenience.” Interested consumers instantly engage with the ad, purchase regardless of location and fetch the strings at the next lesson.

Geofencing services harness the power of customers’ location to engage them when best positioned to buy. According to GeoPerks, location-based promotions yield greater than 30 percent conversion, and, according to Cisco, 47 percent of mobile consumers prefer to receive deals only when physically close to a store.

By establishing a geofence — a perimeter using cellphone triangulation (three cell towers) or GPS with a predetermined radius of a few miles — retailers can automatically send texts when opt-in customers cross the fence. Consumers are more likely to capitalize on offers while driving by or perhaps dining at the restaurant next door — 62 percent prefer to save time while just 29 percent prioritize money, according to Pew Research.

Non-competing neighboring retailers can establish a geofence together to cross-promote their products and services. For example, an auto mechanic can send messages to customers: “Waiting for your car? Save 10 percent on an introductory music lesson next door. Inquire now, schedule at your convenience. Offer expires today.” The mechanic earns referral fees, the music store acquires new customers and consumers’ time is used wisely. It is entirely automated and everyone wins.

Employees and teachers who perform live can also generate new customers. The performer can promote the app and an incentive to the audience. Inspired fans opt-in and instantly receive an offer for a discount intro music lesson at the store — perhaps with that musician on stage.

Today’s retailers cannot afford to overlook a mobile strategy. The simplest point of entry is to create a basic app from social media using a free service, but adding e-commerce and text promotions puts a retailer on the mobile map.

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