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Mobile Is and Isn't

Posted 26 March 2015 4:30 PM by Scott Smith

What is “mobile?” This relatively new technology this is shaping our culture across all demographics today still has companies and senior leadership asking this question. 

As with any developing technology, mobile can be a strategic source of revenue and customer loyalty when used effectively. In order to guide mobile marketing programs towards success, we must first build the foundational framework to understand how it can be used to drive successful goals. 

I’ve worked in the mobile space for the past five years and have developed programs that have included consumer response technology (like QR codes and SMS/MMS), mobile web, apps, location based messaging (beacons and geo-fencing), media and more. Yet despite all this experience, when someone asks me, “What is mobile?” I still find it hard to give a direct answer. And I think that’s the point: There is no direct answer. Because there is really no limit to what mobile can be or how it can coexist with almost any program a brand is developing. So a better way to get the answer people ultimately seek is to add a second question: What isn’t mobile? 

How many times have you seen data coming from a highly respected source that has the asterisk next to the word mobile*? More likely than not, that means they have lumped tablet in with their reporting. Do you carry your tablet or a hybrid, like a Surface, with you on day-to-day basis? What about a laptop? I can carry that with me to and from work and while traveling, but is it considered “mobile”? 

If it were as easy as incorporating a few of the activities on this list into their existing plans and not doing others, all organizations would have sound cause to “do mobile.” However, I believe it is more than that. What you develop for smartphones must integrate with everything else you’re doing so that your customer can choose when and where to interact with your brand. In this way, mobile can decidedly be the omnichannel connector.

Mobile is:

  • Android, iOS, Microsoft Apps – Native and Hybrid
  • Mobile Web – adaptive, responsive (when appropriate), mobile specific
  • Email – Almost 50% of email is opened first on a smartphone
  • Messaging – SMS, MMS and App Push Messaging – “SMS text messages have a phenomenal open rate of 98%” (Read more)
  • Television and the “second screen” – SMS, URLs and sound recognition calls-to-action
  • Media banners and rich media 
  • Video – MMS, native video, social (see below)
  • In-store shopping and price comparisons
  • Geo-Fencing, Hyperlocal, beacon and other location-based messaging
  • Out-of-Home (OOH) calls-to-action with SMS, QR, Augmented Reality, Image Recognition, etc. 
  • Print (see OOH)
  • Social – Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, etc. all garner their highest views on smartphones
  • Search
  • Loyalty – Apps, SMS, connected data

This list could go on and on. Anything a user can do on his or her smartphone is “mobile.” With advancing technology and ceaseless imagination, we can connect with the user when, where, how and why the user wants. And it all starts with that miniature computer in a majority of pockets. “Among online adults, 80% now own a smartphone.”

Mobile isn’t:

  • Resizing an existing website to fit a small screen. Users will continue to use their smartphones in different ways than originally anticipated when the desktop version of the site was first conceived.
  • Tablet (period)
  • Using mobile media banners to drive to a non-mobilized site
  • m.dot sites (okay, technically it is, but your site will be severely downgraded by Google in the search results)

Mobile will continue to evolve so defining what it is will only provide us with a snapshot at this moment in time. To obtain the greatest decision power and return on our programs, we should leverage our knowledge of the lifetime of mobile use in marketing to understand what has and, more importantly, has not been successful. 

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