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May 7, 2013

Five Mobile Marketing Strategies: Prepare for the mCommerce Revolution

Mobile devices are steadily gathering more market value and the latest estimates published by eMarketer indicate consumer trends will continue to strengthen. Last year, eCommerce sales made using Smartphones and tablets increased by 11 percent in the United States, and the market share is predicted to grow by a further 15 percent in 2013.

According to sales figures, there are more people with Smartphone and tablet subscriptions than there are people living on the planet. I can’t give you a precise figure of mobile device owners, but we’re talking billions. If you haven’t already, it makes sense that you start looking at ways of tapping into the mCommerce revolution. Below are a few pointers to get you started.

Design a mobile website

The first hurdle for marketers going mobile is designing a website that is compatible with a handheld device. Smaller screens limit your advertising landscape and the way in which visitors navigate your website is very different to using a mouse controlled cursor on their PC or laptop.

Fortunately, there a number of affordable and easy-to-use website creation software packages that enable you to redesign your online store to fit a mobile platform. To give it a whirl, try Doodlekit, a free tool, albeit with limited capabilities. Once you recognize the benefits, however, you will be more prepared to invest in such a software packages for between $60 and $150.

Voice ads

Voice ads are a very new idea so you might want to test the water before jumping on this particular boat. On April 1, Nuance Communications launched an app which allows marketers to speak to prospects by using the communication capabilities of modern day Smartphones.

In reality it’s one step removed from cold calling, but better than radio or video in that the voice ads allow the recipient to respond. The voice app takes advantage of the few seconds marketers have to grab attention and research shows that people have a stronger emotional connection through conversation than they do watching video.

Mobile coupons 

Sending coupons and discount eCards to mobile users is perhaps the most obvious of the five choices because the concept is not really any different to physical coupons you cut out of a magazine. But now Smartphones are equipped with NFC technology and mobile device users can use their handheld as a digital wallet. The process is very simple.

Send mobile device owners a digital coupon featuring a special offer. These coupons have a barcode that when scanned from the mobile device in your store will automatically deduct the fee electronically from the customer’s online “eWallet” account. There is no need for money to change hands.

Apple is expected to develop a Passbook app when they release iOS7 later this year making in-store purchases using mobile phones, safer, easier and more convenient for consumers. Advanced eWallet software is also being developed for Android and Microsoft platforms and is likely to become the method of choice for consumers in the very near future.

Location based marketing

GPS software is another way marketers can take advantage of modern day mobile technology to tempt shoppers into your store. There are various apps available that focus on location–based marketing, the most effective of which uses GPS data to identify when a prospect is near your store.

If you have had previous permission from a customer to store their contact details in your system, the location-based marketing software will send them a text message you have pre-determined, enabling you to target the right customers at the right time.

Some unscrupulous marketers have used GPS technology in a cut-throat fashion to literally hijack customers from rival stores. Meat Pack, a trendy Guatemalan shoe store, used a geo-location tool to identify and contact Facebook friends with a cut-price deal whenever they walked into a rival shop.

Be social 

You can’t go mobile without being social these days. A joint study conducted by IDC with Facebook found that 61 percent of mobile device owners use their Smartphones and tablets on a daily basis to access their social media accounts. If you are not actively engaging in social media marketing you are missing a huge potential for success in the mobile revolution.

The beauty of social media networks is their versatility because you can use them to analyze your audience, engage customers, share information about your brand and products and, as explained above, tap into the geo-location of your Facebook friends. You can even make your website easier to access by integrating a Facebook login.

Mobile marketing is making a steady impression on the online retail market, but with advancements in mobile technology and the subsequent availability of convenient apps, mCommerce is expected to experience rapid growth over the next couple of years. If you are not ready for when the wave hits, your online business could get swept away.

Richard Oldale is a freelance writer and SEO expert. With a vision for the future of online marketing he founded johnaudreyjones_productions to provide SMEs with proven SEO and social marketing strategies that will improve their online reputation in the short-term and retain it in the long-term. To find out more visit his website.