What Is Mobile Marketing?

Mobile marketing is any advertising activity that promotes products and services via mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones. It makes use of features of modern mobile technology, including location services, to tailor marketing campaigns based on an individual's location.

Mobile marketing is a way in which technology can be used to create personalized promotion of goods or services to a user who is constantly connected to a network.

Key Takeaways

  • Mobile marketing is an advertising activity that uses mobile devices, such as text promos and apps via push notifications. 
  • Mobile marketing audiences are grouped by behaviors and not by demographics. 
  • Mobile marketing is a subset of mobile advertising. 
  • Marketing faces privacy issues related to data collection. 
  • Mobile marketing is much more affordable than traditional marketing on television and radio.

How Mobile Marketing Works

Mobile marketing may include promotions sent through SMS text messaging, MMS multimedia messaging, through downloaded apps using push notifications, through in-app or in-game marketing, through mobile websites, or by using a mobile device to scan QR codes.

Proximity systems and location-based services can alert users based on geographic location or proximity to a service provider.

Mobile marketing is an indispensable tool for companies large and small as mobile devices have become ubiquitous. The key players in the space are the brands (and companies that they represent through advertising), and service providers that enable mobile advertising.

Mobile advertising targets audiences not so much by demographics but by behaviors (though demography plays a part, such as the fact that iPad users tend to be older and wealthier).

One notable behavior in the mobile marketing space known as "snacking," which is when mobile device users check in to media or messaging for brief periods. Seeking instant gratification equates to more points of contact for marketers.

In mobile marketing, the device (especially screen size) does make a difference; users of smartphones and iPad tablets react differently to mobile marketing.

For example, smartphone users tend to find informative content to be the most relevant, yet iPad users tend to be captivated by interactive advertising that features rich media presentations with eye-catching imagery (the message of the content is a secondary concern).

Mobile Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing

Unlike traditional marketing efforts, mobile marketing takes advantage of the fact that many users of mobile devices carry them around wherever they go. As a result, location-based services can collect customer data and then offer coupons, deals, or promotions based on their proximity to a store or a place frequently visited by the consumer. 

These marketing campaigns can be more targeted and specific to the individual user, and should, therefore, be more effective for the company doing the marketing. One example may be a marketing campaign that sends food-related coupons to a customer any time they come within half a mile of a specific supermarket.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Mobile Marketing

Advantages

In regards to online related advertising, mobile marketing is much easier to access. You don't need high-level technology or significant technical experience to get started. It's also easier to measure the success of mobile marketing campaigns.

71%

Percentage of marketers that believe mobile marketing is core to their business.

Mobile marketing is also extremely cost-effective. There are a variety of options to choose from for any budget and the impact it can have when compared to the cost is significant. In a common comparison, social media ads are much cheaper than purchasing ad space for radio or television.

Customers can also be reached in real-time with mobile marketing no matter where they are. Radio or television marketing only works when a customer is in front of the television or has the radio on.

Disadvantages

There are privacy issues concerning how the data collected by mobile devices are used and whether or not companies have the right to collect such data without explicit consent. Such data can be used for identity theft or to send spam if it falls into the wrong hands due to data theft or poor security of the information. Also, the tracking of an individual's locations and movements may be considered crossing the line by some.

A particular drawback of mobile marketing is that it has the potential of increasing costs for the user. For example, if a campaign directs a user to a video that requires a significant amount of data and the user does not have an unlimited data plan, it may eat into their monthly data allowance or result in charges if they go over their allotment.

Mobile marketing also needs to be perfect from the start. As users have smaller attention spans and a variety of companies competing for their attention, a poor mobile marketing plan will fail to grasp a user's attention and possibly lose their interest forever. For this reason, a mobile marketing plan does not have room to be less than perfect.

Pros
  • Easy to set up and monitor

  • Cost-effective

  • Real-time access to potential customers

Cons
  • Data privacy concerns

  • Possible increased data costs for the user

  • Little room for error

How Do You Start a Mobile Marketing Business?

Set Up a Mobile Website

People use their smartphones for almost everything these days and so it's important that your website is formatted correctly for viewing on a smartphone. If you have an existing website, many companies offer automated systems that convert your existing website for viewing on a mobile platform. WordPress and GoDaddy are two great examples of companies that do this.

Other companies also create a completely new version of your website just for viewing on a mobile device, commonly known as plug-and-play platforms. Another alternative if you are comfortable with writing computer code is adding a line of code on your website that is able to determine the screen size of the device being used and adjusts the site accordingly.

Set Up Your Business on Location-Based Platforms

Setting up your business on the various location-based platforms, such as Foursquare, Gowalla, and Facebook Places is a good way to make your business available to a wider range of people and to start running mobile ad campaigns. Foursquare has been a pioneer in this respect, where companies can run various promotions, such as offering discounts for meeting a certain number of visits or "check-ins" on the app.

Dive Deeper

To get a real feel and understanding of mobile ad marketing you need to fully immerse yourself in the experience. Start using location-based platforms wherever you go, check-in, use the various apps available for paying in restaurants or grocers, check out ads, perform various voice searches, all to get a feel of how people might use their mobile devices for consumer transactions. This can help you to design your mobile ad campaigns more efficiently.

Start a Mobile Ad Campaign

Once your website is set up for mobile device viewing and you've understood how the mobile ad marketing world works, it's time to set one up for your business. Mobil ad campaigns are a crucial element for businesses to get viewership. If you have a skateboard shop in the neighborhood and someone searches "best skateboard shops near me" you want to make sure that your business pops up in their search.

There are a variety of ways that mobile ad marketing campaigns can be paid for. These include flat fees for running an ad for a certain period of time, or on a cost-per-click basis, a cost-per-thousand basis, or a cost-per-acquisition basis. Facebook, Google, Apple, Instagram, and other social platforms all offer the ability to start your own mobile marketing campaign.

Utilize QR Codes

QR codes, which are square bar codes containing information, can be placed in a variety of locations, and once scanned by a phone's camera, direct a user to a website that can show a business's website, promotions, or other important information. They're a simple and easy way to make your business known.

Examples of Mobile Marketing

Samsung

For the release of its Galaxy S6 phone, Samsung worked with Indian tech company InMobi to develop interactive ads. These ads created a personalized real-time battery identification mobile ad unit that displayed the product and service to a user with a demo on their phone when their battery levels were low. The mobile ad highlighted the new phone's "super fast charging capability" right when their battery was low, enticing them to upgrade to the new phone.

Pond's

Pond's is another company that partnered with InMobi. Pond's created an ad for one of their acne products that was interactive in that when a person looked at their phone, the camera would capture their features and highlight acne-prone areas. The ad didn't require any software to be downloaded or for the user to visit any other site.

Ruffles

Ruffles witnessed declining sales in Brazil and decided to target teenagers with interactive ads. It created a mobile reality game called AmiGo. The user saw what the game showed them while their friends saw what the user's camera showed them. Friends would see Ruffle chips surrounding the user and they could send voice commands to their friend on where they can grab the chips. The more chips collected the more points the user would receive. Ruffles ranked the highest-scoring users on its social media accounts.

Nissan

Nissan created the "Evil Snowmen" ad for its Rogue SUV. The ad was a video where its Rogue SUV fought a gang of snowmen. The ad also contained hotspots on the screen that users could touch to learn more about the SUV's features. Other hotspots also provided weather and snow safety advice.

Mobile Marketing FAQs

What Are Mobile Marketing Tools?

Mobile marketing tools are digital marketing strategies that companies use to reach their target audience through a variety of channels that are available on smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices. These can include ads placed on social media, such as Twitter and Instagram, or pop-up ads on browsers.

What Are Some Free Mobile Marketing Tools?

Some free mobile marketing tools include AppsFlyer, Insider, Branch, and CleverTap. These types of software usually provide no fee service for limited features while advanced features usually require payment. Regardless, they are a good way to get started without having to commit funds and see what works for you.

What Are the Top Mobile Marketing Apps?

The top mobile marketing apps include Facebook Pages, WhatsApp Business, YouTube Studio, Instagram Business, and Twitter for Business.

How Much Does Mobile Marketing Cost?

The cost of mobile marketing varies depending on the platform used and the length of time the ad is run for. However, mobile marketing is extremely affordable, usually costing a few dollars for an ad to run for a few days.

The Bottom Line

Mobile marketing is an affordable way to reach your target audience via smartphones, tablets, or other digital devices, where people spend the majority of their time in today's world. Mobile marketing is low-cost and can be targeted based on a variety of inputs from the company.