It is no secret that mobile devices like tablets and smartphones have become ubiquitous in the last decade. Ever since the introduction of the first iPhone, the whole online consumer experience has changed. More and more people are now using their mobile devices to visit websites, watch video content, shop online and more.
As a result, mobile marketing has become a major trend in recent years. In some ways, it is the next evolution of online marketing. In the same way that search and social media changed how companies advertise online, mobile marketing is already leading the next evolution. While some businesses and companies fight and resist, change is inevitable.
In order to survive the transition to a mobile marketing-dominated digital world in the future, you have to understand why it is so important.
The online experience is shaped by the devices people use to access the internet. Different devices have different capabilities, screen sizes and limitations that shape something as simple as how a website is made. If a web presence can't accurately display and function on a specific device, that person is likely to move on to something else. This is disastrous in terms of effective marketing.
Mobile devices have become more and more popular over the past decade when it comes to accessing the internet. In fact, it isn't a stretch to say that mobile technology is reshaping everything web designers and online marketers thought they knew about the online experience. This is a bold claim that statistics easily back up.
In 2017, there were more than 3.5 billion unique mobile internet users online. That is half of the world's population using the internet through a mobile device. Typical users spend up to 70% of their time browsing the internet on a smartphone compared to other devices like desktops, laptops and even tablets. Since mobile consumption is increasing, the popularity of the mobile browsing experience is undeniable and unavoidable.
It is impossible to ignore the growing popularity of mobile devices for internet access if you want to market effectively. Audience sizes alone are influenced by the devices people use to get online. If more people are turning to their smartphones and tablets to browse online, this means audience numbers on traditional platforms like desktops and laptops are shrinking.
This has led to the "mobile first" design philosophy. Instead of trying to make something like a typical website work for a smartphone, web and graphic designers start with the mobile device. Textual content is crafted to be readable on small screens. Images and video content have to properly scale in size. Even the overall function of a website such as the navigation has to use the built-in capabilities of smart devices like touch, GPS, accelerometers and more.
Beyond being necessary to change with the times, the growing popularity of mobile devices has created new possibilities in terms of marketing. Now, it is easier to create and deliver new types of engaging, interactive advertising content that can be more effective than typical text, images and even video.
Native advertising through branded mobile apps is one such area of opportunity. Now, companies can create their own apps customers and potential clients can download to simplify the shopping experience. Need a burrito from Chipotle? Download the app, put in your order and wait to pick it up. This type of convenience alone can put a company above its competition.
Other companies are also exploring the different types of content and functionality they can deliver to their target audiences. Virtual reality and augmented reality are two new areas that hold some promise for future advertising. Companies may be able to create unique ads, interact with customers in a virtual environment or even change the customer shopping experience through these emerging technologies.
As with anything in the marketing world, mobile marketing may just be a passing fad. Technology and user habits ultimately shape what is popular and trendy in advertising. While the popularity of mobile devices will continue to grow for the foreseeable future, there is no guarantee this is the end form of marketing businesses can use with guaranteed success. Like with any trend, the future of mobile marketing is difficult to predict. If user consumption habits continue to favor mobile devices, and companies continue to cater to these preferences, it is a good bet mobile marketing will continue to rise in popularity.
Despite an uncertain future, it is safe to say that mobile marketing isn't going anywhere for now. For organic and traditional marketing, with more people buying and using mobile devices, the necessity and potential for mobile marketing will continue to grow. This means that the immediate success for a business relies on how well they can adapt their overall marketing to the mobile platform. As more and more customers move towards a mobile shopping experience, those businesses that really strive to meet the demand will come out on top.
What does this actually look like? Starting in 2018, there are two major steps all businesses–large and small–can take. The first is playing catch up. If a business’s web presence isn’t mobile-friendly, they risk losing potential customers. In order to have a presence that people can see on phones and tablets, the website itself needs to be designed with an eye on mobility. The design and look of a website needs to be responsive and utilize the unique smart features of these devices.
Second, businesses need to create some space for trial and error. Much like other marketing trends such as content and native marketing, there is no golden rule for making mobile marketing a success. What works for one business can be completely wrong for another. As a result, the best approach is to see what mobile marketing tactics may work for each specific business. When you try out new technology like augmented or virtual reality, mistakes will be made.
Think of it this way: This year will be the time to figure out how to make mobile marketing work for you.