Push Clients Out of the Gate With Mobile, Before It's Too Late

Companies Baffled by How to Begin Can Best Start by Updating an Existing Project

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Who can argue any more about the significance of mobile? It's big, and we all know it's big. Given the media hype , and the abundance of case studies on successful mobile marketing programs, you might conclude that every client and agency is a master of the mobile universe.

Surprisingly, that 's not the case. Based on questions from the audience at a BtoB Forum on Mobile Marketing in New York City, where I spoke recently, plenty of people are struggling to integrate mobile into marketing programs. The Association of Strategic Marketing reports that 58% of companies it surveyed do not even have a mobile strategy. The number one reason why: they're not sure how to get started.

That statistic is hard to believe when you consider the size of the mobile advertising market and its phenomenal growth, but it points to a perceptual gap between companies leading the way on mobile and many thousands of others going nowhere with it. On one side of the gap, we see billions of dollars spent on mobile advertising, not to mention the amazing personal mobile experiences that most of us are having on a daily basis, whether we're shopping or using social networks. On the other side are companies without mobile sites who still have not made mobile part of their marketing discipline.

Closing this gap sounds like an agency opportunity to me. Several years ago, many of us faced a similar challenge with social media, as companies wrestled with what the new technology meant for them. It took some proselytizing, lots of case studies and an army of gurus, and today it is virtually a given that a company must be active on social networks. We seem to be starting on a similar journey with mobile.

To be clear, just because someone can access your Facebook page on a smart phone doesn't mean you have a mobile strategy. A true strategy means creating a mobile experience at every stage of a campaign and at every level of customer engagement.

In the spirit of getting started, here are four steps to help launch a client on the path toward mobile. I'm assuming that the company completely understands the need for a mobile website experience.

  • Start with outbound communications, where it's likely that consumers will be receiving your message on a mobile device. Specifically, optimize e-mail for mobile. Research shows that consumers who have a bad experience with e-mail on a mobile device will not view that message again on a desktop computer or laptop.

  • Create mobile pathways at every stage of your campaigns. You'd be surprised how many companies produce mobile advertising campaigns and then do not extend the mobile experience to landing pages and micro sites, where customers can interact. The same point applies for lead generation and customer acquisition initiatives. If you want to collect data on consumer preferences, you need to design forms that work on a mobile device.
  • Review your existing content – video and pdfs –- and find the right pieces to optimize for mobile. The conventional wisdom is that content should be packaged in "snackable" form, with consumers being given a pathway to get the long-form version if they want it.
  • Not everyone agrees, but I think the best way to get started with mobile is to work within existing campaigns. Take your most important marketing campaign and include one mobile component that is fully integrated. Ultimately, you want mobile to be as much a part of your marketing as social media or any other aspect of digital.

Above all, to quote Matt Magee, one of the digital strategists at PJA Advertising, "Think big. Start small. Work fast." It's OK to be slow out of the gate, but playing catch-up is a thankless job for agencies and clients alike.

Phil Johnson is CEO of PJA Advertising & Marketing with offices in Cambridge and San Francisco. Follow Phil on Twitter: @philjohnson.
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