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Apps World

Back to Basics: Beginner’s Guide to Reaching Customers via Mobile

Almost everyone seems to own an internet-enabled smartphone these days, with millions of people owning more than one mobile device, including additional smartphones or tablet computers. Given the ubiquity of smartphones and Internet on the move, mobile marketing is of increasing importance.

Mobile marketing allows companies to tap into a much wider audience, but it is also important to remember that mobile works quite differently when compared to more traditional forms of media. Most importantly, mobile users tend to have shorter attention spans, not least because viewing content on the small screen of a mobile device can be especially tiresome if the content is not optimised to be viewed on such a device.

Yet what if you feel like you’ve just arrived mid-way through the mobile marketing conversation and need to strip it back to the basics? Companies need to realise that mobile marketing is about an integrated approach.

 Mobile Apps

There are countless apps available for either of the major mobile platforms, with the Google Play Store providing more than 1.3 million apps and games to choose from. Many of these apps are supported by advertising, including free trial and demonstration versions of apps and games. Most mobile users rarely, if ever, purchase apps or upgrade to registered versions, so developers are often largely supported by in-app advertising, and companies can take advantage of this by having their own ads appear in relevant apps.

Additionally, you may also want to create your own app to allow people to interact with your various online or offline services more effectively from a mobile device. An app tends to be greatly superior than a mobile-friendly website for certain tasks, such as online shopping or account management. After all, if you've ever used both the Facebook mobile website and the Facebook app, you'll no doubt have found that the latter is far more responsive and easier to use than opening up your browser and navigating to the website itself.

 Mobile Websites

The important of having a mobile-friendly website cannot be understated. As anyone who has ever used a mobile device knows, trying to work with a website that has been designed exclusively for the big screen is usually a very frustrating experience with a smartphone. The way we browse the Internet from mobile devices is very different, not least because of the far smaller screens, touchscreen input, and in most cases, the far lower resolution. All websites should offer a satisfactory browsing experience across the full range of Internet-enabled devices.

By far the easiest way to make your website more suitable for mobile users is to use a responsive design whereby the website automatically scales to the size of the screen that it's being displayed on, rearranging elements as necessary. However, if you rely heavily on interaction with your website via mobile devices, it often pays to have a completely separate mobile-optimised version of your website that loads automatically when a mobile device is detected. A mobile website affords you far greater control over creating an optimal browsing and navigation experience.

 QR Codes

A QR code is a type of bar code that most mobile phones and smartphones can read and decipher using the built-in camera. The codes appear as small squares consisting of black and white patterns, that while completely unintelligible to people, they are more easily scanned and read by electronic devices than text is. You'll notice QR codes in a wide range of printed media including magazine advertisements and posters. They are typically used to encode information such as Web addresses, discount codes or text.

Short for Quick Response, QR codes allow mobile users to instantly scan a code so that they can instantly visit a website without having to open their mobile browser and manually enter the full address. For example, once your phone scans a QR code on a movie poster, you'll likely be taken directly to the movie trailer or website. It costs marketers nothing to accompany their printed advertisements with a QR code, since there are many free code generators online. However, it is wise to keep the original contents within a 300-character limit to ensure compatibility.

Text Messaging

Many of us use the SMS service on a daily basis, and absolutely every mobile phone supports SMS. Marketing your products via SMS allows you to reach out to almost everyone who has even the most basic mobile phone, but it is also easy to end up being intrusive with your marketing methods. SMS marketing presents a great deal of potential, but it is not particularly easy to get right, not least because you have to deal with a small character limit, and you don't want to end up annoying your audience by sending them unsolicited messages.

With the limited amount of text space in SMS messages, you'll need to stick to the point and avoid using overly descriptive language. For this reason, one marketing SMS should only focus on promoting a single product, service or special offer. Even more importantly, your message should be actionable. After all, most recipients will read the SMS as soon as it arrives in their inbox, unlike an email. Time your messages carefully, and while there are no set-in-stone rules, people are most likely to respond during evenings and weekends.

 Multimedia Messaging

The multimedia messaging service (MMS) has been around for almost as long as SMS, but since it was never meant to be a marketing tool, it has not been very popular in the commercial world. Now largely obsolete, rich media messaging (RMM) is set to revolutionise mobile messaging to the point that it may one day largely replace email on mobile devices. Rich media messaging allows you to send out full-screen messages complete with visual content in a manner similar to a webpage, and like SMS messages, recipients usually view them instantly.

Presenting the potential to drastically change direct marketing communication via mobile, RMM allows you to fit a lot more valuable content into a message. RMM also offers a greater reach than mobile email and Internet due to the fact that it does not depend on either. Instead, RMM uses the SMS service, allowing you to reach out to smartphone users and other mobile users who do not tend to use mobile Internet while they're on the move. In fact, according to Marketing Land, RMM enjoys a 35% response rate compared to just 2% for email.

 Mobile Mail

You might be put off mobile email marketing by the aforementioned statistic, but whichever way you look at it, email remains one of the cheapest and easiest forms of advertising, and as such, it should not be neglected. Any business should already have an email marketing strategy in place for the sake of desktop and laptop users. After all, most of us still regularly check our emails, and email remains the preferred way to keep in touch, particularly in professional and commercial spheres. When conducting your email marketing campaign, it pays to consider mobile too.

As is the case with websites, email newsletters should also be optimised for viewing on the small screen, and by using a responsive design, you can appeal to your mobile readers without a whole lot of extra work. In fact, there's nothing wrong with sending out the same email to your mobile users as you do to everyone else, though it pays to segment your audience based on factors such as past purchases and demographics to ensure that the right content gets to the right people in order to increase your response rate.

By marketing through mobile channels, you'll be able to enjoy a much wider reach, but it is also important to make mobile marketing work together with other areas of your marketing strategy. Mobile should be taken into account with every aspect of your marketing campaign from designing and building your website to delivering content, engaging customers through social media and even printed media.