Aged 59 and 56 respectively, my dad and mom are by no means Internet savvy as compared to the young generations, yet, they are undeniably considered receptive to this new concept of online communications, which is itself such fascinating news to me. It may sound a little odd at first but if looking in the context of a developing country, this definitely brings a whole new meaning to the Internet in Vietnam. Not until both of them owned smartphones and tablets, did I recognize their activeness on the Internet. Previously, my mom only knows how to call me via Skype and chat with me through Facebook Messenger, but now she brings her iPad with her everywhere to take photos, uploading them onto her wall and to keep in touch with me. On the other hand, my dad hardly contacted me through any types of online platforms except for calling me directly, now he is using Viber to call and message me (not to mention putting up his travelling photos on Facebook). Both are using their smartphones and iPads to read newspapers (and playing games!!!). My parents could be classified as “Baby Boomers” according to the consumer groups marketers were trying to label and categorize based on the years and environments they were brought up. Unsurprisingly, descriptions about those baby boomers are centered around pessimism and skepticism over media and institutions as a result of economic struggles, thus adoption of new technologies are quite often lagged behind1. To me, it was quite true but only until the technological booming of the 21st century, particularly with the introduction of Internet and smartphones. The convenience from smart devices have swept away all the initial cynicism, created more densely populated nodes of networked society with even old generation catching up with the Generation Alpha.
It has been predicted that 4.55 billion out of 7.1 billion world population will use mobile phone in 2014 with 1.75 million smartphone users, surpassing the 1 billion mark in 2012. By the end of the forecast period, smartphone penetration will reach somewhere near 50% of all the mobile phone users2. Together with the increased affordability of mobile broadband (3G/4G), these figures opened a new era of proactively targeting customers almost anytime and anywhere. The fact that mobile phones or other tablet devices have become increasingly inseparable to customers’ daily activities is perhaps the latest trend that any organizations can leverage on for their e-marketing mix.
The good news for many businesses is that mobiles and tablets have become favorite purchasing platforms for customers. Nielsen found out 87% of mobile owners use their devices to shop with both men and women equally active3. Thus, targeting customers on these preferred platforms is one of the strategic moves to fulfill marketing objectives, which often refer to specific increase in acquisitions/installations/sign-ups. M-commerce today accounts for a lion share in mobile markets and is expected to rise significantly.
Website adjustments and apps
The very first thing for mobile marketing is to make sure that the companies’ websites are compatible with smart gadgets. Technically, majority of websites should have mobile versions that can work well will all operating systems and clean interfaces that can support small screens. These mobile-friendly sites are necessary for businesses to facilitate access from users and clearly communicate their products or services. Users are on the go so catching their attention is way more difficult as compared to the already challenging desktop content. In addition, Internet speed is generally slower on mobile than on desktop so fast loading and neat interface are the most basic steps in building website for mobile marketing.
A survey in 2013 pointed out that 80% of mobile time was spent on apps4. Not just a mobile version but an app is a pivotal strategy that any companies should adopt in order to catch up with the changes in consumers’ behaviors. Now the doors to many businesses are shortened to just clicks away on users’ mobile screens. What’s more? Majority of users’ data, purchasing behaviors, unfinished purchases and so on can be captured and analyzed to create complete consumer profiles.
The skyrocketing growth in mobile content consumption has been an attractive signal for advertisers to spend more money on mobile advertising. Social networking and content sites are constantly adapted to boost its capacity of online space for ads with minimum interference into users’ experience.
BBC World News study showed that mobile ads are twice as effective as desktop among general population and four times more effective among affluent customers5. Likewise, in another research, consumers showed positive reactions with 80% downloading an app, 67% visiting the website, 52% visiting the store, 45% locating the advertiser on the map, 37% calling after seeing mobile ads. The results imply an increased acceptance towards mobile ads and an untapped opportunity for many advertisers6. In 2013, revenue from mobile ads went up by 105%, accounting for $18 billion in sales and it is predicted to continue growing, up 75% to $31.5 billion by the end of 2014. During the same period, marketers also increase more shares for mobile ads, expecting to make up one quarter of expanding total digital spend7.
With all the programming modified and sites restructured to accommodate more ad space, plus digital spend loosened, advertisers will undoubtedly enter the race for customers’ attention on mobiles and tablets, leaving many businesses with the question of “left behind.”
“95 out of 100 of your customers who have opted into your text messaging program OPEN and READ your mobile messages within 3 mins,” shared James Citron, CEO of Mogreet, on Forbes8. Considering the intimacy associated with mobile phone, text messaging is one of the fastest way to promote new products to customers, ensuring high opening rates for many marketing campaigns. The ubiquity of smartphones promises a diversity of messages that go beyond 160 characters, incorporating rich-media texts or many different marketing activities into the strategies.
The tactics mentioned above are definitely limited with regards to the unlimited possibilities of mobile marketing. Just like how feature phones have become an important aspect of daily interaction, smart gadgets will turn out to be the must-have items, embracing more types of online activities and communications for not only young people but also old generations. For any marketers, the focus should be always placed on constant changes of consumer behaviors on smart devices as well as continuous technological innovations going along with them.