David Kirkpatrick

Mobile Marketing: A look ahead to 2012

December 8th, 2011

One benefit of being a MarketingSherpa reporter is I get to interview marketers from companies of all sizes and business sectors, and marketing industry experts for the case studies and how-to articles we publish in our newsletters.

This means I get to hear firsthand about what is working, and sometimes not working, from your marketing peers, and gain insight into some of the many topics that surround the marketing world. And I probably don’t need to tell you, there’s a lot of exciting things to learn about.

These interviews always have a specific purpose based on a story idea, but sometimes, like most interesting conversations, they veer off into areas that can’t be used for the story, but are just too interesting or valuable to not share with all of our readers.


A few mobile predictions for the next year

For instance, I recently spoke with Andrew Martin, Vice President, Metia, a digital marketing agency with multiple international offices, for an upcoming consumer marketing article. At one point, we took a little detour into what is going on in the mobile space and what marketers should be thinking about over the next year.

“I think mobile is obviously moving at a critical pace,” says Martin. “And it can often be daunting to try and keep up.”

He mentions one issue in the simple sheer number of mobile applications out there.

“I think the Apple App Store has over 400,000 applications. That makes it more and more difficult to differentiate yourself,” Martin explains.

And it’s not just applications.

Martin says, “A number of years ago, Nokia became the biggest camera manufacturer in the world, and that was an indication of where mobile would be going.”

He says this spread of cameras on phones served as one indication of how mobile devices are changing how people interact with everyday items, creating new marketing opportunities, and how “that convenience is a huge opportunity for brands and people.”

Martin adds that marketers should pay attention to technological changes with mobile, such as HTML5 and the attempt to get more consistency across different browsers and devices. He says many of his clients are interested in how these new mobile technologies can help them and are closely watching how Apple handles this push for more technology standardization.


Sites vs. apps

Going back to the point about just how many apps people now have to sort through and deal with, Martin says he finds mobile websites versus mobile applications interesting right now.

“How do companies think about the Web in a mobile sense?” he asks. “Sometimes consumers or potential customers can begin to feel a bit overloaded by the number of apps that are out there and how many there are to choose from.”

With that in mind, marketers are obviously going to be better served by thinking about mobile efforts strategically and not just jumping on the app bandwagon because everyone else is. You should work to provide value to your audience with the mobile experience. That might be best served by a mobile-optimized site, an app or even a combination of both.


Phones vs. tablets

One final point is not all mobile devices are alike. Particularly, there are two form factors – the smartphone with its small screen and the tablet with a larger screen. Your mobile website should be optimized for both devices, and if you have an app, you should also optimize it for each device.

Martin says a good way to maximize each form factor is design your mobile experience to work on the differently-sized devices in parallel.

“How do I use my iPhone as an input device and my iPad as a management device?” he asks.

He says this approach makes sense because you might want to allow mobile customers to enter information on the go when they only have a smartphone on them, but at the same time take advantage of the increased screen real estate of a tablet to make control and management mechanisms easier to handle.

One area Martin says to watch for this type of integration is the release of Windows 8.0 and how that platform communicates with Windows smartphones.

How are you approaching mobile marketing? Do you see any interesting trends coming up over the next twelve months?

Photo credit: ianfogg42


Related Resources:

What have you learned about mobile marketing in 2011? Share your insights for a chance to be published in the 2012 MarketingSherpa Wisdom Report

Get Started in Mobile Marketing: 4 Insights to Guide Your Strategy

Product Launches: How HotelTonight’s mobile app became the most downloaded app in its category in just one month

Mobile Marketing: How Redbox drove 1.5 million texts and added 200,000 mobile participants in 10 days

Mobile Marketing 101: Should you make the leap to a custom mobile site?

Mobile Marketing 101, Part 2: Ease of use and quality of content are key

Mobile Website Optimization: The growing impact of mobile search


David Kirkpatrick

About David Kirkpatrick

David is a reporter for MarketingSherpa and has over twenty years of experience in business journalism, marketing and corporate communications. His published work includes newspaper, magazine and online journalism; website content; full-length ghosted nonfiction; marketing content; and short fiction. He served as producer for the business research horizontal at the original Office.com, regularly reporting on the world of marketing; covered a beat for D/FW TechBiz, a member of the American City Business Journals family; and he provided daily reporting for multiple LocalBusiness.com cities. David’s other media and corporate clients include: USA Today, Oxford Intelligence, GMAC, AOL, Business Development Outlook and C-Level Media, among many others.

Categories: Mobile Tags: , , , , ,

  1. December 8th, 2011 at 16:28 | #1

    Great article, David. It’s important to look to mobile design and marketing in the next couple of years as it becomes as common as having a website. I’ve found the mobile website vs. app conversation especially interesting – at what point do you think your customers would prefer an app to a mobile site? Is an app worth it if it doesn’t provide other, exclusive content? What kind of content should be highlighted? All questions I look forward to answering!

  2. December 9th, 2011 at 15:02 | #2

    Bryn, thanks for the comment and you are correct — all those questions are very interesting. I’m looking forward to writing case studies next year on how different marketers answer them.

    One thing Andrew really emphasized during our talk was don’t create an app just for the sake of joining the app party. You really want to offer your customer/prospect/client something of value, be it content, tool, way to interact with you, or something else.

    This means you want to define and determine the value proposition of your app before deciding to launch it.


  3. December 12th, 2011 at 04:44 | #3

    David, I’m really looking forward to your case studies on apps vs. sites since I’m in this business and even if I have my bold views on the subject I’m more than interested in reading and knowing other experts view on this.
    Anyway, I strongly believe 90% of the current apps could (should?) be mobile websites – and be just as successful and useful.
    The basic idea is that an app is ideal when deep integration with the device hardware is required (need of the camera, access to contacts, graphically intensive): in all other cases a web app is a lot more effective, cheap and easy/fast to deploy, allowing also to be used by a much wider range of smartphones and phones – when designed correctly – at the same (much lower in most cases) price.
    What’s your idea on this?

  4. December 13th, 2011 at 10:33 | #4

    I’m just waiting for the wave of mania that will swarm from apps to mobile web sites on Facebook or something of that ilk. Everybody keeps wanting to believe that the company Web site is dead, but it will be there long past any apps and any social media sites.

  5. December 13th, 2011 at 15:40 | #5

    Great info on where mobile marketing is headed. As internet marketers, it’s always important to keep our eyes on the horizon. Thanks for the post!

  6. December 14th, 2011 at 12:45 | #6

    Everyone, thank you for the additional comments.

    Silvio, interesting take on mobile websites vs. apps and a good point on the fact mobile websites will likely reach a much larger range of devices with one marketing piece. I do think mobiles sites and apps both have their place and uses and one marketing challenge heading into 2012 will be finding out just what works and what doesn’t. One place to start might be understanding how your ideal customer want to/is willing to interact with you in the mobile space.

    Greg, people are still tolling the death knell of email, and it’s as strong as ever. I think the main thing with SEM, email, social, mobile, etc., is to understand each channel has its strengths and weaknesses and that all these digital pieces really work best together in tandem in many (maybe even most) cases.

    Emily, you are correct. To be an effective marketer, at least considering and understanding new channels is always going to be a best practice.

We no longer accept comments on the MarketingSherpa blog, but we'd love to hear what you've learned about customer-first marketing. Send us a Letter to the Editor to share your story.