Yeah, you heard me. Kiss ‘em! Don’t get me wrong – I love apps. But, too many marketers are mistaking “There’s an app for that” for a true mobile marketing strategy.
The emergence and rapid adoption of apps have given mobile the attention that it deserves, but overall they’ve given marketers and brands the wrong impression when it comes to mobile strategy. Too many brands and companies are releasing apps with such severely limited usefulness that my fellow Clockworker (and Geek Girl) Meghan Wilker dubbed them “Lazy Apps” in a recent article by the Pioneer Press’s Alison Kaplan. In other words, many apps are being developed for the sake of having an app, not because they provide any actual value to the end user.
A mobile strategy is more than just an app in the iTunes store (sorry App World and Android Market, but you don’t have 100,000 apps yet) where there is a good chance that it won’t get noticed unless you are featured (and good luck with that). If it does get featured, then, “Congratulations! You have now reached less than 1% of your audience and probably even less of your target audience.” Why constrain your mobile campaign like that? Would you settle for less than 1% of your target audience for any other type of campaign?
In addition to fitting in to your larger, overall marketing strategy, your mobile approach needs to be well rounded. Beyond apps, your mobile tactics could include: a mobile web site, SMS or MMS, or QR codes (Which, okay, could point to your mobile app in the app store. Happy now?)
This is the number one thing you should be concerned with when it comes to your mobile strategy. A mobile website is a great way to give consumers more information and keep them engaged long after they may have tired of your mobile app. Mobile websites can help consumers make more informed decisions about your brand. Where is the nearest brick and mortar location? Where can I buy your products? Answering these questions while your consumers are out and about can often mean reaching them at the moment they are ready to make a purchase. “46% say mobiles give them important information on the go; many also like the ability to share content without needing a laptop or PC,” says BizReport.com.
SMS (Short Messaging Service)
SMS campaigns allow consumers to interact with your brand from their mobile device by sending keywords to shortcodes (like, texting VOTE to a particular number for an American Idol contestant). SMS allows people to vote, enter to win free stuff, and also allows for communication to go from brand to consumer. Once a consumer interacts with you via SMS, you can then use SMS to alert them about special offers, coupons or other marketing messages. This tactic is much more heavily used in Europe than it is here in North America, but it will be interesting to see how — and if — American consumers become more accustomed to being marketing to via SMS.
MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service)
MMS is going to be a powerful tool. I say “going to be” because not many brands have taken advantage of MMS yet and there is currently poor support for MMS on handsets. MMS can deliver a variety of multimedia messages like video, images and sound (which is a big advantage over SMS). Kellogg’s recently ran “The Big Bake” MMS campaign in Britain and Ireland. They encouraged people to take pictures of themselves cooking and enjoying the recipes, and submit the images via MMS to win an opportunity to be featured in a TV or print commercial.
QR codes are another great way to engage the consumer. Still relatively unused because of device limitations, QR codes can be printed out and scanned or on screen and scanned by a QR code reader to allow for users to gather more information or discover other pieces of your mobile campaign. (If you’re interested in more information about QR Codes, check out my earlier post QR Codes 101.)
The Big Picture
Even with these pieces in place, you also need to look at what is supporting your mobile campaign. A mobile campaign will not survive without the support of other elements like traditional media, and online marketing. How is your mobile strategy both supporting — and being supported by — your overall marketing plan?
The mobile medium is the most intimate: what other device is on a person or within arms reach all day; from the night stand in the morning, into the car, accompanying them to work, at the dinner table, watching prime time TV and back to the night stand. So don’t limit yourself to thinking only about apps.
“One-third of Americans (32%) have used a cell phone or Smartphone to access the internet for emailing, instant-messaging, or information-seeking, and on the typical day, nearly one-fifth (19%) of Americans use the internet on a mobile device,” says Pew Internet. Engage consumers in this medium with a broad campaign and your brand will accompany them all day, there is no other medium that gives you that kind opportunity.