Let's face it. Mobile devices have drastically shifted the online landscape to the point that in 2010 more than 50 percent of all Internet access was being done via handhelds of some sort. About 45 percent of mobile owners are using their devices to download social networking apps. In fact, 35 percent of Android and iPhone owners in the U.S. use apps such as Facebook before getting out of bed, according to a recent survey conducted by telecommunications equipment vendor Ericsson.
Several companies have a subdomain set up specifically for mobile phones. So, for example, when users type www.ESPN.com into a smartphone, the ESPN site actually figures out that they are visiting the site from a mobile device and redirects them to a subdomain. The user experience from the phone is different than the user experience at a computer. Diane Irvine, CEO of Seattle-based jewelry site Blue Nile, realized the importance of mobile delivery when her site made a $40,000 diamond sale via a mobile device in 2009. She soon learned that she needed to make her site more mobile-friendly for iPhone users. Last year, she introduced a mobile version of the Blue Nile site. Since the launch, Irvine says, "More than 20 percent of our shoppers are using the mobile site." The reason being is that it gives people the flexibility to shop wherever they are. "This will become the future of shopping," she adds.
There are now numerous mobile apps serving up informative tips, educational bits, or pure entertainment or gaming. Many companies are using mobile apps to boost brand awareness and affinity. Your business can, too. But you must have a thorough understanding of your audience. The best way to use apps is to create something that is both useful and valuable. More importantly, it should be functional. GateGuru is an app that is centered on location awareness, which airport retailers advertise on to drive users into stores, while Nestlé Purina's app provide a database of pet-friendly places around the country. Other apps make it easy to make purchases with a few clicks. For example, the ShopRite app allows customers to view and add weekly sales items to their shopping lists. And Starbucks' mobile app lets people make transactions directly with the wave of their smartphones, helping to drive sales.
Consider offering a free version of your app and then let users decide whether or not they are willing invest in a premium version with more features and content. Take for example the widely popular Angry Birds iPhone game. Its ongoing promotion was to offer a free version, while paid subscribers were given access to more challenging levels and other free add-ons.
A growing number of companies deliver coupons via mobile devices in an effort to appeal to consumers, many of whom would never think of clipping or carrying coupons. Sign up for Target's mobile coupons and you'll get money-saving offers on items delivered via text message to your Web-enabled phone with a link to a barcode and discount offers. To redeem, simply show your coupon bar codes to the cashier, who will scan them like a regular coupon. Bath and Body Works, Sephora, JCPenney, Kohl's, and Olive Garden also offer mobile coupons.
Location-based shopping coupons using mobile devices are gaining popularity. As mobile users become more acclimated to sharing their whereabouts via mobile devices, they're also are becoming more open to receiving ads and mobile coupons relevant to where they are at the moment, according to findings from JiWire's Mobile Audience Insights Report. In fact, more than 50 percent of respondents indicated that they wanted to receive location-specific advertising, with mobile coupons a more appealing incentive than check-ins. GPS and applications such as Google Maps ranked highest followed by Yelp, Facebook and Foursquare.
Mobile marketing presents a distinct and unique way to create interactive dialogues with customers. Mobile marketing requires matching the creative to the device's smaller screen size; designing messages that are short, instantly understood, and effective; and creating a call for action with minimal steps. Research indicates that mobile ads perform about five times better than Internet ads. The most common mobile ads are simple text links and display adds that are sold based on cost per clicks, cost per acquisition and cost per thousand. These ads are much like the paid search campaigns on Google, Bing or Yahoo! Use mobile marketing solutions to drive participation at exhibitions or to drive traffic to retail environments. If you have two seats left for a workshop or an event, you can send a message offering a discount. Make offers that are in tuned with the buying habits of the recipient.