Though they say nothing moves faster than light, it could be argued that if anything comes even remotely close to recreating its pace, advances in technology would be it. In the space of just a few decades we’ve moved from the invention of the telephone, the first television broadcast to the first dial up connection made in 1965, all with one simple aim in mind – to communicate.
But of all these communication methods over the years, perhaps none have been as successful as the mobile phone in connecting people regardless of location. From a business standpoint, this is important. To develop key marketing strategies, we need to understand how our competitors are interacting with our potential customers and learn what digital platforms our customers seek out when they are online.
It’s now thought that most digital media time is spent using mobile internet rather than logging in to a desktop (Marketing Land, 2016). This comes as no surprise when we consider that Ofcom has stated 93% of the UK population owns a mobile phone (Internet Retailing, 2017), so ensuring that our digital game is strong – particularly in mobile marketing is vital to develop long-term relationships with our audience.
A few years ago
It’s amazing to think that just a few years ago the mobile phone was nothing more than untapped marketing potential waiting to happen. Sure, savvy companies were beginning to realize the importance of contacting their customers on the go through phone calls, but they would still have to rely heavily on leads gained from traditional marketing techniques to target these people. But change was on the horizon. On 11th July, 2008 Apple released the iPhone 3G (App store, 2017) allowing customers the real possibility of information at their fingertips. Mobile web became the thing that every discerning customer wanted.
Apple’s iOS app store was launched at the same time, followed by Android’s ‘Android Market’ in October of the same year (later renamed Google Play store). This allowed users to download games and apps, but was very much in its infancy. In March 2009, there were just 2,300 apps available on the Android market (Wikipedia, 2017) and many of these were games or useful tools such as calculators and weather widgets as opposed to apps aimed at customers. Still, the technology was there through the Android software development kit (SDK) and Apple’s equivalent.
Fast-forward to today and you’ll find that apps are much more prominent. There are 500 million weekly visitors to the Apple app store (Techcrunch, 2017) with more than 180 billion apps downloaded from its interface. Google Play Store followed a similar pattern. Covering 145 countries, there are 2.7 million apps available to download, with 82 billion of them downloaded worldwide since its creation (Wikipedia, 2017). When first checked in 2009 there were just 2,300 apps, showing the massive growth of the mobile app market over the years. Many of these are created with B2C marketing in mind; restaurants offering discounts, apps to order taxis and homeware businesses taking advantage of phone camera technology to sell curtains have utilized mobile technical advances of the past decade to reach their audience in a subtle way.
The problem for marketers
Marketers have always sought out new advertising capabilities to target their audience. In days of old you would see newspaper advertisements for tinctures that claimed to cure all ills. These made way to radio advertisements, then television and finally web-based marketing techniques such as link building and content marketing became the communication method of choice.
On the flipside, the popularity of radio, TV and print advertisements has dwindled but they still have their place in the world of marketing. Digital marketing also plays a crucial role in many B2B and B2C marketing strategies. But with the dawning of the mobile revolution we’re at a crossroads when it comes to our marketing activities. Should we invest in mobile, or do we invest in our web activities?
We’re not here to tell you which would be best for you, after all each business needs a different approach to reach their target market. Instead, let’s look at the advantages (and disadvantages) of adding mobile marketing to your marketing strategy.
The good stuff
Have you ever sat down and thought about mobile phones? With GPS technology built in these are literally a tracking device, which might sound a bit sinister, but from a marketing point of view its a valuable tool that can help you target your customers at the right place at the right time.
Instead of focusing on widespread activities that connect with the masses, you can instead use location specific advertising through geo-fencing and push notifications. There are various uses for this, for example, setting up a geo-fence to communicate with potential targets when they leave a rival shop to remind them of your services or offering a discount code to previous customers of your restaurant when they pass you by.
Jamie Fuller is a digital marketing executive at AppInstitute. He spends his days building links, creating content, and drinking far too much coffee at one of the world’s leading DIY App Builders (over 70,000 apps built).