"Marketers: Start your engines." That's the call many marketing professionals have taken to heart in the past several months or so as they add a mobile component to their marketing mix. That being said, some have been more successful than others at taking their marketing show "on the road" and leveraging all that mobile marketing has to offer.
The key, experts say, is in understanding the fundamental differences between your inbound marketing program for the desktop environment and reaching those consumers that have been set free by taking their devices with them everywhere.
Here are 7 indications your mobile marketing program may suck (and what you can do to fix it):
1. Your Marketing Approach Isn't Local
Whether your business has one location or five -- or 500 -- you can't fail to understand that despite being able to hold the entire world in the palms of their hands, mobile consumers are by and large concerned with the here—right here—and the now—right now. They want a latte, a haircut, or some sushi, but they only care about what’s nearby. Where the nearest café resides is important, not where there are 500 stores in the entire chain. If your mobile marketing isn’t taking into account the importance of location ("We have a latte with your name on it just two blocks from here”), your mobile strategy is falling short of what it could be.
2. Your Mobile Efforts Are Not Sociable
As important as social media activities are for your regular inbound marketing efforts, they are even more critical in your mobile marketing program. For mobile consumers, it’s not just what they’re doing that’s important, but where, with whom, and when. If your mobile presence isn’t set up to make it easy for them to share their experience with friends via Facebook, Twitter, or location-based services such as Foursquare, your mobile strategy is flagging.
Make sure your mobile presence is optimized for social media; claim your business’ locations where appropriate, and monitor the conversations to be able to quickly address negative comments while rewarding those evangelizing your brand.
3. You Don't Give Your Customers What They Want
You give your customers what YOU want. A mobile consumer is a breed apart. True, they share needs and wants with their office- or home-based counterparts, or even themselves, but when they are in 'mobile mode,' those needs and wants change. As a marketer, it’s up to you to understand them in the context of a mobile experience.
Your customer has different wants coming from, or going to, a client meeting at 10 a.m. than if they were deskbound at the same time of day.
By taking the time to understand how your customers operate in mobile mode—whether that’s by thinking it through from their perspective or, better yet, conducting research and surveys—you ensure your mobile strategy is properly focused.
4. You're Looking at the Wrong Metrics
One of the biggest boons for marketers in the mobile space is the abundance of metrics available for analysis. The other side of the coin is that there are so many metrics to choose from, and it’s easy to focus on the wrong ones when analyzing how effectively your mobile strategy is performing.
In a desktop setting, for example, just tracking how many visitors your inbound marketing is attracting and where they go once there is important in and of itself. In a mobile environment, you have to track not only how many visitors come to the mobile site, but also how many leave it and go to your desktop site, indicating something is lacking in the mobile version.
5. Your Team Doesn't "Get It"
It’s challenging enough that many of your customers need education on your mobile offerings; if your staff isn't properly trained and well-versed, they are unable to explain the benefits of your mobile channel to customers and will consequently prevent you from maximizing your investment in mobile marketing.
With mobile phone market penetration at nearly 100 percent, and smartphone marketing penetration rapidly approaching 50 percent, virtually everyone is a potential beneficiary of your mobile marketing. That means everyone in your organization should understand your mobile marketing offerings and strategy so they can share it with everyone in their life—friends, family, business associates—anyone who could use your goods and services.
6. Your Website Is Not Mobile-Optimized
If you have never viewed a desktop website on a smartphone, try it; it can be excruciating.
Pages load slowly, once-familiar buttons are now off-page and out of sight, and copy needed to intelligently and coherently comprehend the message are off-screen. Is that what you want for your customers, especially after making the effort to entice them to visit you via mobile? Not likely.
If your website is not optimized for mobile users, your mobile strategy is seriously failing. Be sure your web pages are designed for a small screen, images render quickly on the devices your customers use most, buttons for buying and/or sharing are easily found, and landing pages are quickly filled out with minimal typing.
7. You're App-solutely Wrong!
Mobile apps are all the rage. There are a more than 1 million apps now, which (in 2011) were downloaded about 18 billion times. Still, marketers must ask themselves, “Do we need an app?” and if so, “Which type of app is best for us?”
If you’ve determined your customers will benefit from an app, make sure your app does what they want and need it to do in a mobile context. Make sure your app works on the devices your customers are most likely to use, and it remains compatible as the devices evolve over time.
Main Mobile Marketing Takeaway
Many great innovators believe that if you’re not failing from time to time, then you’re not trying hard enough. This is fair, but as rapidly as mobile technologies evolve, mobile marketers can’t afford to fail often; the collateral damage accumulates quickly, and it’s often impossible to undo it.
Yes, a car and an airplane are both means of motorized transportation. But a plane is not simply a car with wings. Likewise, desktop marketing and mobile marketing, while they serve similar purposes, each require a different approach based on how your customers will use them.