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Reflections on mobile marketing

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It has a nice alliterative sound, and it’s perceived by many marketers to be the hottest channel with which to reach target audiences. Since the arrival of the first iPhone in early 2007, smart phones have rapidly multiplied and seen broad adoption across all demographics. Now, tablet sales are booming. According to a new market report from Transparency Market Research, global tablet sales reached 67 million units in 2011 and are expected to grow 38.8% annually to 248.6 million by the end of 2015. Due to their relatively low cost, ease of use, outstanding graphic quality and functionality, tablets have surpassed desktop sales. New uses and versions of tablets and smart phones will continue to evolve and improve mobile capabilities.

Allocating the majority of a company’s marketing budget to its Web presence still makes sense, but the focus is starting to change toward the untethered customer … even in B2B marketing. Using innovative tools and technologies to engage, entertain and encourage interaction is turning what used to be more narrowly defined as social marketing, as delivered via mobile devices, into an indispensable part of the larger integrated marketing plan.

Aberdeen Group, a firm that analyzes the social marketing initiatives of top B2B companies recently found that the best B2B companies generate an average of 17% of their leads from social media, which is about 230% more marketing-generated leads than other B2B companies (5%).

Success stories in consumer-focused social and mobile media strategies are plentiful, but an increasing number of B2B companies understand the intrinsic value of reaching current and potential customers on the move, and are investing in this channel to establish and maintain relationships.

One good example is American Express OPEN, the company’s division dedicated to helping small-business owners succeed. Its OPEN Forum provides business advice and insight via a social site with frequently updated content, a large collection of apps, videos and resources.
Forrester Research predicts that the number of mobile Internet users will grow at an average of 9% year-over-year for the next five years. Brands are moving well beyond experimenting with awareness to all sorts of engagement. In many cases customers are moving faster than companies in this space and brands have to play catch-up with mobile’s emerging roles.

Here are some statistics from Mobile Marketer that clearly demonstrate its effectiveness:

  • 70% of all mobile searches result in action within one hour.
  • 90% of all mobile searches lead to action of some type; over half lead to purchase.
  • 74% of smartphone users use their phone to help with buying decisions.

On the flip side, some marketing experts write that mobile ads are often annoying and irrelevant to the end user. One report from Deloitte declared that about 88% of mobile phone owners in the U.K. ignore mobile ads!

Ultimately, like online banner advertising, which has only relatively recently gained wider adoption rates, mobile marketing will continue to be refined and improved. Savvy B2B marketers are advised to stay abreast of developments in this space just like our consumer marketing friends and continually seek to provide what is most useful and relevant to their customers.

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