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Mobilizing for 2011 with a Mobile Marketing Strategy

Posted by Kent Lewis on December 31st, 2010 at 6:11 am

Since 2006, I’ve erroneously predicted the “Year of Mobile” was upon us. Rather than lose faith and look to another trend to promote, I do believe 2011 is truly going to be the Year of Mobile. For those of you that agree with the prediction that mobile marketing is finally here, I’ve outlined a few key areas on which to focus your efforts in 2011.

Mobilizing Your Website
As with any effective online marketing efforts, I believe your website should be the primary focus. Corporate marketers have a few options when it comes to “mobilizing” a website. The easiest and most cost-effective approach is to develop a mobile-friendly website, designed in CSS, with small screens as a consideration factor. The site renders nearly as well on a phone screen as a monitor, if designed correctly. The drawback is that mobile browsers are not as robust and do not typically support Flash or Javascript elements, but HTML 5 provides a viable alternative for interactivity. The alternative approach would be to build your corporate website on a mobile-friendly CMS platform – one that automatically generates a mobile version of your website. The benefit of this approach is that you don’t have to design the website specifically for mobile, as that will be handled by the CMS platform. The downside is that there are compromises and limitations of such platforms. If mobile is a core strategy for 2011, the ideal approach is to create a dedicated mobile website (m.companyname.com) with unique content and features your mobile audience will need or appreciate (i.e. contact information, driving directions for starters).

Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
While your corporate website should do the heavy lifting in terms of providing a resource for mobile-enabled audiences, there are third party local directories that are playing a larger role in mobile search. The content typically seen on a computer screen in local search results is going to power mobile search and other mobile applications in the future.  For starters, be sure to claim & optimize local listings on Google Places/Maps, Bing & Yahoo! Local and related local directories. Specifically, Google Places pages now offer click-to-call capability, which will be appealing to mobile users who are more likely to convert.

Mobile Advertising
While mobile advertising is in its infancy as an industry, it is growing quickly. The good news is that you can get started relatively quickly and easily with mobile advertising campaigns. For those of you with existing Google AdWords accounts, adding mobile is as easy as clicking a button. Beyond expanding your text and display ads to mobile searches, you can incorporate mobile-friendly capabilities like click-to-call and call tracking (via Google Voice) to measure effectiveness of mobile marketing efforts, without the need for third party technology.  If you’re looking for additional mobile advertising opportunities, consider testing mobile ad platforms like AdMob and mobile social advertising like 140 Proof for Twitter mobile applications. With a bit more time and resources, you can explore sponsorship opportunities within existing SMS, MMS and mobile apps. Last but not least, don’t forget to incorporate QR codes (customizable bar codes that embed a URL) into your print, and other display, advertising.

Location-Based Services (LBS)
Location-based services (LBS) are generating buzz and ridiculous valuations, but can also be powerful tools for engendering loyalty from your customers. Getting started is relatively simple: create and optimize business profiles on Foursquare, GoWalla, Yelp Mobile, Google Hotpot and Facebook Places. Don’t forget that these platforms are essentially virtual loyalty programs, which means they require a dedicated effort to maximize your marketing opportunities.

Email & SMS
SMS messaging is going to be the “new email” – in that your focus will be to collect phone numbers instead of (or in addition to) email addresses. As such, make sure your email platform is mobile-friendly. Confirm your outbound emails render well in mobile browsers and that you are collecting opt-in SMS information and developing an outbound marketing strategy specifically for text messaging. To take full advantage of SMS, consider investing in your own dedicated mobile platform.  Leverage existing mobile texting platforms (like MooText or MobileStorm) to create, manage and track mobile marketing campaigns. These platforms typically incorporate a mobile CRM (MCRM) to expand your customer insights and data into the mobile realm.

Mobile Apps
While mobile applications or “apps” are all the rage thanks to big consumer brands, Google and Apple, they may not be a good fit for your business. Before investing in development or licensing of an app, conduct thorough research into your target audiences’ usage of mobile. If you have critical mass, then ask pointed questions of your target audience about their needs and wants in regards to a mobile app. From there, you can get a bid against your specification from qualified vendors. Incidentally, research indicates mobile users prefer games, music and access to social networks as core elements of mobile apps.

Regardless of your marketing objectives, target audiences, budgets and available resources, there are at least six core strategies to consider when developing a mobile marketing strategy. Conduct the necessary research up front to minimize your investment and maximize your ROI. Don’t forget to develop KPIs, embed necessary analytics and start small with limited testing before committing significant resources. Like any marketing program, mobile requires a dedicated effort to be effective over the long haul.

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