Procter & Gamble should be kicking itself for not developing a mobile operating system when it had the chance: More people worldwide own mobile phones than toothbrushes. Get ready for a tsunami of mobile marketing and commerce to crash on the shores of retail.
The beauty of mobile devices from a marketing perspective is that you can reach consumers at a more personal level – right in their pockets. The Holy Grail of marketers used to be a home telephone number and address. Direct mail and telemarketing, despite being some of the most hated forms of advertising, are historically effective. Now mobile takes marketers closer to consumers than direct mail ever will.
But mobile isn't just one marketing channel. It's several. Think about how you use your smartphone. You use apps, you search the Net, you visit websites. You text friends and family.
“The challenge for global brands in mobile is finding relevancy to the various activities a consumer may be performing at any given time. The misconception is that mobile is a new marketing channel, when in reality it is several new channels, all with vastly different implications for brand marketers,” said Jeff Peden, CEO of Boston-based local advertising startup Crave Labs.
The trend toward mobile marketing and commerce is significant, and it's only going to grow. According to research firm Deloitte, 19% of merchants said they plan to invest $100,000 or more on mobile platforms. The money will go toward building apps, delivering through the various marketing channels that mobile affords and providing services for other businesses. About 22.5% of businesses are seeing the most traction in business-to-business mobile solutions while 33.7% are gaining mobile momentum in the business-to-consumer sector. Overall, 37% of enterprise companies have seen significant impact on their top and bottom line revenue through mobile.
Reaching consumers is a big part of the game, but it is only a start. The goal is to generate transactions. This is where relevance comes in. How do marketers achieve relevance through mobile?
“Tying into the context of the consumer (location, time of day, et cetera) improves relevancy in these cases," Peden said. "In the case of search, brands should be directing consumers to the closest place of action, turning that immediate local intent into a physical transaction. In other modes, such as gaming or video, the content of an ad has to be just as rich and compelling as the app in which it's running."
These observations aren't just theoretical. Nearly 29% of consumers who research a product in a retail location through a smartphone end up purchasing that product online. Mobile commerce is expected to be a $163 billion market by 2015. Companies that focus on mobile solutions for consumers will reap the greatest reward. Procter & Gamble could sell more toothbrushes if it used a location-aware price comparison app for shopping lists. Amazon has been a leader in price-comparison shopping and its strength in m-commerce should only grow as the ecosystem expands and smartphone users come to rely on their devices' in-store utility.
The infographic below, courtesy of Deloitte, serves as a rough map to the biggest m-commerce opportunities for developers, brands and retailers.