Is it essential for businesses to develop their own mobile marketing strategy?

From consumers to marketing directors, mobile is the word on everyone’s lips at the moment. And it’s not difficult to see why - it’s estimated that by 2014, mobile devices will have overtaken PCs. Mobile devices are not only more portable – they’re more personal and customisable too. Living in people’s pockets, they provide the ultimate communications platform. With mobile comes a wealth of almost limitless opportunity for brands to get straight to the heart of consumers and ultimately increase brand engagement.

But is developing a mobile marketing strategy worth the time, effort and investment for companies? Does mobile live up to the hype? How much impact can a killer app make?The Drum caught up with leading agencies in the world of app development and mobile strategy, posing a series of questions to discover just what it is that’s got people talking, and why developing such a strategy might not be just prudent – but actually essential for the future of your brand.Richard Carter, Digital Director, BolserAbsolutely, mobile marketing has been around for quite a while and is continuing to see massive growth. We started using SMS marketing over 5 years ago for our clients and the recent development of apps and mobile web is just a continuation of this.No two businesses are alike, nor are customers. The sooner you start developing a strategy, the sooner you can begin to learn what works for customers. It lets you gain intelligence and means you're able to develop and adapt your mobile approach.The days where businesses build an app because they simply wanted one or just to raise brand awareness are long gone, the app stores are just too overcrowded. Now an app needs to provide real value to customers and be of ongoing use otherwise it's a waste of time and money.Gemma Oversby, Head of Business Development, Storm IDMobile adoption is happening at such a furious pace that many, many businesses (and other organisations) will be caught with their trousers down. Do nothing and business owners will find their existing online offering increasingly inadequate; their marketing campaigns increasingly ineffective; and eventually the value of their brand and services eroded.If you are a business owner reading this and wondering whether you should think about a mobile marketing strategy ‘at some point’ please stop reading, have a stern chat to yourself in a private room, get yourself a mobile marketing strategy and start executing it!Ste Brennan, Code ComputerloveIt's essential that mobile is a priority in any digital marketing strategy. With mobile web access likely to exceed desktop web access in the near future and the rapid uptake of smartphones and data connectively, these reasons alone make mobile obvious. It's key for marketers to be aware of what mobile can offer and how mobile differs to traditional desktop marketing. It's important to be aware of context and to be clear in how people use their devices. What is essential is that mobile is only one part of a strategy. While it's right to prioritise mobile, it needs to fit in with all other aspects of digital marketing, whether that be desktop website, social, SEO, PPC etc. A mobile strategy should not exist in isolation.Sarat Pediredla, Partner, Hedgehog Lab/If you haven't developed your mobile marketing strategy yet, you are already 2 years late. It is essential that businesses start taking mobile as a serious channel and develop a distinct strategy for it rather than making mobile just a footnote in a larger digital strategy. With smart phones and tablets outstripping personal computers in numbers and growth, these will be the computing platforms of our future.Simon Jones, Head of Online, IntermarketingBusinesses must look at mobile as part of their overall marketing strategy and not just jump on the band wagon with apps. Optimising websites to work on mobile devices is one step. Certainly search on mobile devices is growing at a rapid rate so businesses need to think how they include this in their SEM strategy too. Howard Simms, Operations Director, ApadmiBusinesses need to be targeting mobile, there’s no doubt about it. Mobile is currently the fastest-growing channel of the marketing mix and ignore it at your peril. The ‘always on, always available’ essence of mobile means that if mobile marketing is done well, the rewards will be immense. If ignored, businesses will miss out on opportunities. As with any industry, anybody making steps into a new area would warrant advice and help from experts in that field.Ryan Hall, Joint Managing Director – Client Services & Experience Design, Nice AgencyIt is very important for brands to have an understanding of what mobile, as a channel, means to their business. The market is evolving and maturing very quickly – faster than the web ever did, which means that businesses must adapt to these changes in user behaviour.Brands must also adopt. It has been quoted that Internet usage on a mobile will outstrip that of a PC in the by 2013, meaning that mobile needs to be seriously considered and brands must adapt. For those who can get their mobile proposition, device strategy and cross screen experience right there is a great opportunity to monopolise and generate great results.Graeme Hastings, Creative Director, Science Creative LtdAs a consumer I expect to be able to engage with the brands and companies I use. I’ll give preference to those who offer me extra service or a convenient and feature rich user experience.Brand engagement rather than brand exposure is key.Steve Peters, Code ComputerloveYes. Eric Schmidt (Google/Facebook) has stated ‘‘If you don’t have a mobile strategy you don’t have a future strategy’. Traffic to your website via a mobile device is likely to overtake desktop traffic by the end of next year, with 41% of the population already with a smartphone. By next year that should be half of the population – and its growing. By 2020 there will be about 10bn mobile internet devices worldwide – 10 times the number of PCs currently in use. So now is the time to get planning. Look at your device profile in your Google analytics account to see what the increase in mobile device access has been and what content they are interested in – we are seeing some clients with up to 25% mobile traffic already – split 40% iPhone, 40% iPad and 20% android and others. This helps to define which handsets to focus on now, what the mobile version of your desktop site should contain, and what weight certain functions should have.For example there may be considerably more users accessing your contact details via a mobile device than the desktop; often because these users are on the move and perhaps looking to find your location whilst on the way. Make sure this is prominent within your site, with good use of mapping tools to help people find you. Mobile search is also an area of development. Spelling mistakes and shorter key-word combinations are more likely via a mobile search (incidentally, Google are seeing 15% of all searches via a mobile device and growing). Geo-location (showing things around me in my search results) and giving better rankings to mobile-optimised web pages will be an increasing trend within Google’s algorithm.Not only that, but dropping users into a mobile-friendly landing page has clear conversion benefits. We are seeing an uplift in conversion of 200% across some of our brands. Users are also using devices to compare prices whilst shopping – to see if they are getting value for money, or if it’s cheaper around the corner. 85% of shoppers expect to shop on their phones and want the experience to be as good or better than on a computer. That said just 12% of the top 500 online retailers have sites compatible with mobile browsers – so now is the time to act. The link between social media and mobile is also growing. 33% of Facebook usage is via a mobile device; 50% for Twitter updates. As customers become more social and lean ever more heavily on mobile recommendation so your brands mobile activity and reputation will be increasingly important. Starting your mobile strategy needn’t be daunting – start with the basics and get these right. Learn from your customers and think about ways to appropriately utilise emerging technologies and applications. But remember it’s just marketing – with new toys. You don’t have to play with them all.

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