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Mobile marketing is more than a trend these days. It’s an essential element to anyone pursuing the Dot Com lifestyle.

Why?

Well, how about the point that, anymore, it’s news if you meet someone who doesn’t have a smartphone.

Want to see upward mobility in mobile? Check this chart from eMarket.com:

mobile marketing trends

Clearly, we’ve had our mobile advertising big bang, so it’s time to hop on and ride it hard.

Industry trailblazers are setting an agenda for the mobile future and leading the way for the rest of the marketing world. Their advice — if we may borrow from hockey legend Wayne Gretzky:

“Skate to where the puck is going to be,
not where it’s already been.”

The advertising puck is careening towards mobile. It’s no longer a “nice to have” … it’s often at the core of everything, if not always first. It’s changed far more than consumer behavior, transcending its role as a connection and convergence device, and “impacting business through customer service, ecommerce, awareness and more,” says Jesse Missad, associate director of mobility at Starcom MediaVest Group.

He feels its importance to marketing cannot be overstated:

“We believe mobile will be part of every communications plan.”

Missad and other industry opinion leaders offer actionable insights and best practices to help you join the mobile marketing revolution, right here and right now.

1. Be Mobile-Centric

Smart brands and agencies put mobile at the center — and break out of the silos — with holistic approaches, says Paul Gelb, VP and Mobile Practice Lead at Razorfish. “Mobile’s unique characteristic as a device is that it is always on and with the consumer. So it can be integrated into and enhance other consumer touch points, including TV ads and brick-and-mortar locations. In the absence of another touch point, mobile interactions are part of a larger consumer journey. And, it is not just a single media channel. Mobile enables delivery of a wide variety of interactive paid, owned and earned experiences.”

Siloed organizations and marketing programs should be relegated to the past. While the phrase mobile first gets tossed around a lot, any doubt of mobile’s centrality can be assuaged by heeding Missad’s advice: “Reality calls for an integrated approach to mobility, not a separate strategy. Mobile is a full-funnel solution.”

2. Make a New Argument

Smart brands are no longer asking marketers to “justify an investment in mobile,” says Gelb. Rather, “they are looking for agencies that have a comprehensive understanding of the mobile space, including back-end tech, application and site design and development, media, search, ad creative and analytics.”

Chris Silva, an analyst with Altimeter Group, says, “Maturity is the right strategy for agencies. It’s no longer about ‘build the app and figure out what it does later’.” This may sound familiar to veterans of Web 1.0, when, for many brands, a forward-thinking online strategy amounted to building a really expensive website and seeing if people found it.

3. Keep an Open Mind

While Silva believes the “discoverability” challenges for apps make mobile advertising a better bet for brands, Missad has seen that apps, mobile ads, and sites can each play a key role in a campaign’s success. “It’s dependent on the KPI of the campaign and tailoring the right metric to the right goal,” he says.

Taking a step back, Gelb offers this useful viewpoint: Marketers can get too caught up in choosing from among an abundance of options at this dawning of the mobile age. While many of us believe that mobile has “changed everything,” he posits the one thing that “mobile hasn’t changed is the process for solving problems. Consistent success doesn’t begin with a technology. It comes from identifying actionable consumer insights, business objectives and the experiential message to communicate.”

4. Always Be Relevant

Mobile technology brings new possibilities to people’s lives and new opportunities for marketers to deliver engaging content, messages, value, and utility. While tablets are often a lean back medium used as a second screen while watching TV or for shopping from the sofa, true mobile experiences often find us focused on a specific task (say, looking for a restaurant nearby), attending to one specific piece of content (a page of restaurant reviews), and in a specific place (on the corner of 5th Avenue and Carroll Street). The possibilities brought forth from that type of data are powerful and simply astounding.

As Gelb says, “Mobile is the most self-aware technology and channel in history. One common thread across all best practices for mobile marketing is contextual relevance. Research reports and pilot case studies consistently show that performance increases exponentially by any and all metrics, when the media plan and ad creative leverage context to deliver a relevant experience.”

That kind of relevance is shown to perform. When marketers leverage contextual information, they are able to understand the wants and needs of consumers who are already in-market for a product or service and help to move an interested consumer further down the marketing funnel, explains Missad.

Thanks to mobile, we’re able to deliver content and advertising experiences that are truly in the interest of the consumer. As Gelb says, when advertising is contextually relevant, users in overwhelming numbers “report not only a positive impression of the ad they saw but also the concept of ad-supported media.”

5. Follow the Leaders

Our experts pointed to a variety of mobile approaches as “best in breed.” Silva called out apps that “enrich” the bottom line, like those used by Starbucks and others to enable transactions. He also likes “engage” apps used by companies such as Toyota to build brand goodwill, let potential buyers learn, and engage with content and information.

In his view, it’s important for marketers to consider that “it’s about mobility; mobile is guiding the consumer’s experience with content, brands, real-world, and community 24/7. Taking these experiences into account when deciding which tactics to pursue is key. Commerce apps are incredibly powerful for brands and generate deep loyalty from their target consumers through ongoing engagement (eg- Chase, American Airlines, Delta, Starwood and OpenTable). Campaign-specific initiatives are successful at generating awareness and eliciting a direct response.”

6. Be the Change

The industry hasn’t necessarily kept in step with the pace of change. Whether through initiatives by trade groups such as the IAB or MMA, or through the force of will of top agencies or brands, changes need to come.

“There is a serious lack of standardization. The industry needs to investigate mobile ad-serving solutions that draw us close to more accurate measurement and ROI numbers,” says Missad. He adds that while industry progress has been made through mobile ad-server development, publisher adoption of tags and attitudinal evaluation, “Measurement is simply not keeping up with consumer realities and the proliferation of technology.”

Positive industry change and development will be spurred most strongly by the shift of budgets into mobile, Gelb says. He feels that will be helped along by improved measurement and transparency across apps, sites and mobile devices. He also believes that increased uptake of second-screen technologies and campaigns — along with the coming ubiquity of mobile payments — will help to bring mobile to real maturity and truly make it part of a holistic marketing worldview.

Through the adoption of our experts’ advice and our collective efforts to drive progress and accelerate change, we can all work toward building an ideal mobile future.

So, as always, research your options in mobile and then take action. Find a platform that makes sense to you and learn how to utilize it. The sooner you get up to speed, the better you’ll be riding an ever-more-lucrative wave. And that’s a well-traveled route to the Dot Com lifestyle.

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