It is time to dig deep in to your customers pockets, literally. In todays technology race, businesses need to become more proactive to engage with their audiences. There is a staggering increase in the rate at which users are now accessing information through their mobile phones and tablets. Reasons being, data plans are becoming faster and more affordable, smart phones are now more mainstream, and WIFI hotspots are on the rise. Another trend catalyst is the increased use of mobile applications that use geographic coordinates and location based services to present customized information. These factors are resulting in powerful shifts in how people research businesses and make their buying decisions.
It is therefore necessary for businesses to develop a mobile marketing strategy. However, with an overwhelming amount of information, businesses often get confused as to the route they need to take to be effective. Whether it is an App for a native platform (iPhone, iPad and Android devices) or a mobile website that is universally accessible, the decision mainly lies on the goal that you want to achieve. Sure, there is an “App for everything”, but developing an App for the sake of having an App is lame.
Keep in mind that your audience demands great usability and engagement through whatever platform you select. It is therefore crucial that you define your objectives clearly and derive key performance indicators that allow you to measure your returns.
Following are some key points to consider when developing an effective mobile marketing strategy:
- Define your goals
- Research and understand mobile platform limitations
- Identify user expectations
- Review your competition
- Establish key performance indicators and analytics to measure them
- Have a budget and timeline to execute your mobile marketing strategy
An App or a mobile website?
Native Apps are great for usability as they can allow functionality that is specific to the platform and device that a user is operating. The two major platforms are of course iOS (Apple) and Android (Google). A specialized skill-set is usually required for each platform but with developments in programming code (such as HMTL5), web-based apps are now becoming more common. The advantage of a web-based app is that you can deploy it independently from 3rd party marketplaces such as Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store, overriding any limitations and saving you on merchant fees in case you have a paid app. It is important to consider 3rd party marketplaces as great distribution channels for promoting your app.
Another option is to develop a “hybrid app” that makes use of web-based technologies and allows deployment to multiple marketplaces. Consider the advantages of all these options when planning your mobile marketing strategy. The main disadvantage is usually the increased cost and timeline if you plan on targeting multiple platforms.
A mobile website on the other hand provides a user friendly layout for browsing content on mobile devices. According to a recent study by pewresearch.org, 25% of people in the US use smart-phones as the only means of surfing the web. It is therefore important that your website design be responsive and fluid so that it can adapt to mobile devices.
Recently we helped several business launch a mobile website to engage more effectively with their audiences. DramaShare is a high traffic website that sells Christian Drama Scripts around the world. We recently redesigned the website and integrated a fully integrated e-commerce shopping cart that is mobile friendly to purchase scripts on the go. Bourgault Tillage Tools is another recent project that features a mobile website. Because they sell around the world and go to trade-shows, the mobile website is effective for presenting their product catalogue on the go.
Whichever route you choose, businesses need to go where their customers are, right in to their pockets!
This article was originally published in the August/September 2012 edition of Business View.