In the next two years, Mobithinking tells us one billion people will have accessed the internet using a mobile device. And in the U.S., 25% of people have abandoned the laptop for exclusive use of mobile devices. Aside from the astounding growth of mobile in the U.S., many countries are witnessing people purchase smartphones first, bypassing PC ownership as their first means of internet connectivity.

So how do inbound marketers leverage the power of the mobile device to provide a personalized experience for the user while not intruding in their day-to-day lives? The answer lies in not thinking of the mobile device as another PC, but rather another limb for your busy, active customers and prospects. Here is a comprehensive list of great tips and tricks every marketer should know to master mobile marketing.

Get Started

  • Identify your mobile users. See if site visitors are indeed using mobile devices to visit your site and what devices they are using most frequently. Knowing the devices used to visit your site most frequently, such as an iPad, Android, Blackberry, or iPhone, will help you prioritize optimization efforts toward those devices.
  • Set measurable and realistic goals. If you’re just getting started with mobile marketing, this will help you determine if your tactics are working. For example, if you’re looking to start an SMS campaign, a good first goal would be to build your opt-in database. If you’d like to optimize your site for mobile, consider starting with the content assets that drive the most leads to your site as a way to dip your toe in the mobile waters.
  • Create a test base. Identify some loyal customers on which to test new mobile campaigns. Mobile requires customization, and a short test phase in which users can give you feedback will help catch glitches and create a better user experience before a large-scale rollout.

Understand Mobile's Limitations

  • Customize for mobile, not desktops. While mobile devices have capabilities beyond the desktop computer, also keep in mind their limitations when designing a mobile site or app. Create content and designs for a small screen, no mouse, and a device on which extensive typing is unwieldy.
  • Don't require users to sit through renderings of large images. Not only can it be expensive depending on their data plan, but it can also waste their time and will probably result in site abandonment.
  • Create short forms. You can ask users to fill out forms, but pare down the fields as much as possible. Typing on a smartphone is a nuisance at best and difficult at worst, so shortened forms and those with prefilled options the user can scroll through are ideal.
  • Don't hide content behind multiple clicks. If a user would click three times to get to it on their desktop, they might only put up with two clicks on a mobile device before giving up.

mobile marketing with foursquareLeverage Mobile's Capabilities

  • Use features specific to mobile devices. Take advantage of all the great features of today's mobile devices when thinking of mobile marketing campaigns. For example, you can use GPS to let users check in at your establishment (you can even provide a reward for those who do), offer click-to-call functionality, and provide QR codes that lead to a targeted landing page. These features make for great mobile marketing because they address the needs of mobile users in a way traditional internet marketing cannot.
  • Create content tailored to small screens. Shorter content that is formatted in bite size chunks is ideal for the mobile experience. Be succinct, and utilize bold headings, bullet points, and numbered lists to break up longer paragraphs and make it easy for the reader to find what he needs.

Make Your Email Marketing Mobile-Friendly

  • Create plain text and HTML email versions. Some email clients will default to plain text and give readers the option to show pictures, while others will load pictures automatically. Be prepared by ensuring your emails render quickly and clearly in either scenario.
  • Write descriptive alt text. Alt text, or alternative text, is the text that displays in lieu of an image when graphics can't render. If your email header is an image with a generic name, change the alt text to something that relates to the subject of the email.
  • Craft a crystal clear subject line. When mobile users have a few minutes to check their email, they commonly divide their inbox into three categories: "read now," "delete," and "save for later." With a vague subject line, you're sure to end up in the "delete" category. Create a clear subject line to get your email read immediately, or at least starred for later.
  • Be an identifiable sender. However your reader is most likely to know you, identify yourself as such in the sender field. This will help alleviate any confusion that would otherwise put you in their trash bin.

Integrate Mobile With Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

  • Integrate mobile campaigns with your CRM. As with any other campaign, you can and should track and nurture leads that come through mobile campaigns.
  • Use mobile to move leads through your funnel. They've opted in to your campaign or pulled up your site, so they're already interested in you. Take advantage of that knowledge by providing content and a user experience tailored to their needs on a mobile device. For example, those in retail or ecommerce can optimize online checkout for mobile and provide easy access to reviews. B2B marketers can let users register for and listen to webinars on their mobile devices.
  • Include calls-to-action. Mobile browsing should be more streamlined than desktop browsing, but calls-to-action are still a must. Compile the CTAs you're using across all marketing campaigns, and select those that make sense to use in your mobile campaigns to create a congruent user experience.
  • Integrate paid search. Your mobile marketing strategy can include a paid search component by posting Google Mobile ads through your AdWords account. Be sure to use strong calls-to-action tailored to your mobile searchers.

Customize the Mobile Experience

  • Use both mobile apps and mobile sites. There's much debate around whether mobile apps are better than mobile sites, but there's room for both. Think of mobile sites as a way to reach a wider audience and bring in people through the top of your funnel, and use mobile apps as a way to increase engagement among people in the middle of your funnel. Use your mobile site to encourage readers to download your mobile app.
  • mobile marketing for ipadsDevelop an iPad app. The iPad floats somewhere between the PC and a mobile device. If you find tons of users are using an iPad to access your site, develop an app for them that is more robust than what you might offer someone on a smartphone.
  • Test different devices and browsers. Just like you test your site in multiple browsers and check how emails render in multiple email clients, test your mobile campaigns on multiple devices and in multiple browsers to ensure the experience is consistent throughout.
  • Create content that addresses the needs of mobile users. If you have a storefront and directions, then click-to-call functionality is important. If you sell products, make it easy to find a coupon code. Mobile users know what they are looking for, so anticipate those needs when creating content. And if you aren't a mind reader...ask them!

Leverage SMS

  • Use SMS for voting and polls. SMS stands for short message service (AKA text messaging), and it's an easy way to receive feedback and increase engagement. Let people vote or fill out a poll that helps you improve your service offerings.
  • Get a short code. You know those screens that say "Text 12345 for your 10% off coupon"? That sequence of numbers is called a short code. Get your own short code for use in SMS marketing campaigns.
  • Use SMS for alerts. If you don't think the short code campaigns are up your alley, you can still use SMS for customer alerts. Give people the option to sign up for an alert when a product on backorder is available, or to receive a reminder when the webcast they signed up for is broadcasting.

Be Legit

  • Opt in mobile marketingMake opting out easy. Be as legit with mobile marketing campaigns as you are with everything else. If you’re doing SMS or MMS, make it clear how to opt out and if any rates may apply if the user engages in your campaign. 
  • Be secure with user data. If users are submitting sensitive information over their mobile device such as credit card information, email address, or physical address, ensure you’ve taken precautions to protect that data from unauthorized use or distribution. You can learn more about protecting user information as it relates to mobile marketing in the MMA Guidelines.
  • Make terms and conditions clearly visible. If a user has to agree to terms and conditions before participating in a mobile marketing program, ensure it's easy for them to understand what those are. It is also illegal to automatically check that box for them, so there's extra incentive to make the legalese crystal clear.

Implement Your Mobile Marketing

  • Let people choose to use mobile browsing. There are some sites that have optimized for mobile, but the functionality we know and love from a desktop browsing session hasn't made the cut. Make sure you give your users the option to switch to back and forth from mobile browsing so they can get back to a more familiar format if they feel confused or limited by their options.
  • Train employees on mobile functionality. If other employees will be interacting with users of your mobile site, mobile app, or SMS campaigns, ensure they understand the campaigns so they can answer questions and understand their value proposition.

While it's clear mobile marketing is gaining traction, it is still a relatively new phenomenon, even in the fast-paced marketing world. Continue monitoring what works and what doesn't, and refine best practices for this exciting new medium.

Have you experimented with mobile marketing? Share your experiences below!

Image credit: daryl_mitchell, dnfisher, ecastro, Wesley Fryer

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Originally published Nov 15, 2011 11:30:00 AM, updated August 09 2017


Mobile Marketing