Daniel Burstein

Mobile Marketing: 6 mobile marketing challenges every marketer faces

February 5th, 2013

In the MarketingSherpa Mobile Marketing Benchmark Report, we asked marketers about their challenges …

Q: Which barriers exist to overcoming your organization’s top challenges?

The MarketingSherpa community members shared their insights based on this data, which I hope you find helpful …



Challenge #1: Mobile site or mobile app?

“Strategy and staffing are (not surprising) linked. The resources required to fund a well-researched and well-structured mobile marketing strategy – or even a mobile strategy at large to address the primary question: mobile site or mobile app – are the very same resources necessary to staff such an initiative,” said Aaron Orendorff, Copywriter, Content Strategist & Project Manager, CREO Agency.

“Ambiguity over the unique opportunities and behaviors of mobile consumers and a lack of ‘playing the long game’ (i.e., looking to the future) are the primary offenders. The ‘giants’ are waking up –  some more slowly than others– and devoting internal resources much more readily. Just look at Google’s HowToGoMo.com.

“Answering the mobile site vs. mobile app question is simple,” claimed Curt Prins, Mobile Strategist, PoliMobile.

“Start by creating a mobile site or optimizing your existing site for mobile users. Incorporate other tools like SMS and mobile ads gradually. And then you can graduate to a mobile app if your users, and not management, ask for one,” Curt concluded.

As with any business decision, don’t try to keep up with the Joneses (“But, Mooooooom … Billy’s CMO let him create a super cool app, why can’t we?”). Take a step back, and make sure you have a strategic approach to your mobile marketing efforts.


Challenge #2: Mobile content delivery

“Optimizing the way content is delivered and consumed via mobile involves more than just making it fit a smaller screen (i.e., responsive design). eMarketer ran an article earlier in 2012 regarding mobile ‘snacking,’ which seems to be a common term now,” Aaron said.

“The article focused on both the increasing brevity and frequency of mobile ‘consumption’ as opposed to the PC. The point they make is similar to the point most content creators make when talking about Web-based communication: keep it short, scannable and simple. Mobile just makes it more so.”


Challenge #3: Understanding how your audience consumes content

“If we look at mobile like we look at every other marketing tactic or campaign, we miss the big opportunity. Mobile is an integrated part of every person’s daily life and business,” said Jeff Wilson, CEO, The Art of Acquisition.

He continues, “It is the critical conduit through which all communication flows, and it’s with them everywhere and at all times. It requires a new perspective and far more respect by marketers and C-suite alike in order to realize its potential for driving business and connecting to customers.”

“Take the state of mobile content as an example,” Jeff says. “We push the same content through mobile that we do through other channels without the vaguest understanding of how people consume content via mobile. Do they read, do they listen or do they watch? Has anyone asked that question when it comes to content?”

Indeed, when it comes to any content you produce, you need a process for evaluating content channels. Mobile is no exception.


Challenge #4: Responsive email design

Aaron raised a few excellent points about mobile — something every marketer should think about. If you’re keeping score at home, feel free to add your own experiences in the comment section of this MarketingSherpa blog post, as well.

“First, I’d love to know if there’s a good resource for optimizing mobile email or if mobile promotion should just focus on social, SMS and Push Notifications. Is there such a thing as responsive email design?” Aaron asked.

“I think optimization lies in a better understanding of customer needs and preferences,” Jeff said. “Use of social, SMS, Push and email are all based on preferences which changes according to the different work and life situations a person is involved in each day. At anytime, those all might work or might not. Relevant timing is everything. ‘Simpler is always better’ is another quality rule to follow.”

Regarding responsive email design, or emails designed to be optimized for a variety of operating systems, we found from an, admittedly very limited, poll of MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2012 attendees that only 13% were engaged in responsive email design.


Challenge #5: Frequency of mobile contact

“Given how transitory mobile content is, does that mean mobile users are willing to put up with being contacted more regularly?” Aaron asked.

“The answer is yes and no in my experience. This goes more to value, relevance and quality of content. What I also found interesting was the format of content which many times made for higher consumption,” Jeff shared.

“For example, I helped several clients turn their more lengthy articles and whitepapers into cheap and cheerful podcasts that customers could listen to on their daily commute. The customer would either use it on the train via mobile devices or sync it with in-car audio systems while driving. More interesting was the number of senior executives that responded to this medium over reading. The secret was we made it so much easier for customers to consume through any medium, anywhere, anytime,” Jeff said.

Aaron asks an excellent question, but I want to back it up a bit to consider another factor. Before you can learn what works in terms of frequency, you have to make sure you have the ability to measure. You have to crawl before you can walk.

Many marketers aren’t there yet. For example, 33% of marketers don’t know the mobile clickthrough rate of an email offer.


Challenge #6: Mobile apps and content marketing

“How [are] free apps meant to raise brand awareness or add real-life value fit into a ‘content marketing’ campaign?” Aaron wondered.

“I would put myself in the customer’s shoes and ask, ‘Is using this app going to make my life/work better, easier, faster or more enjoyable?’ As brands, we often think we are adding value, but many times it is so skewed in our favor the result is the opposite of what we had envisioned,” Jeff said.

“For its role, content needs to be highly adaptive so it can work in any medium, from events, to print, to mobile, social and Web. That’s simply becoming a best practice for the enterprise and will help immensely in supporting ‘content standards’ across silos.”

To build on what Jeff is saying, free apps in and of themselves are not a content marketing strategy. With so much competition out there for eyeballs, you have to make sure you’re not only creating an app that truly has value, but also has a marketing plan for your apps. You must also promote them as you would a paid product, if you really want them to be successful.

For the questions Aaron raises, there is no one right answer. But these, dear marketers, are the challenges you face as we move, or are thrust into, an era where mobile computing increasingly changes the way our prospects interact with our marketing, our products and each other.

For a chance to see your own advice published, sign up for the free MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week newsletter and add your actionable tips and join the conversation in the MarketingSherpa LinkedIn Group about a chart that piques your interest.


Related Resources:

Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted (Via The New Yorker)

Mobile Marketing: 31% of marketers don’t know their mobile email open rate

Mobile Marketing: 50% of marketers do not know how many customers interact with their local mobile marketing

Mobile Marketing: Providing relevant content dynamically

Daniel Burstein

About Daniel Burstein

Daniel Burstein, Senior Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS. Daniel oversees all content and marketing coming from the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa brands while helping to shape the editorial direction for MECLABS – digging for actionable information while serving as an advocate for the audience. Daniel is also a speaker and moderator at live events and on webinars. Previously, he was the main writer powering MarketingExperiments publishing engine – from Web clinics to Research Journals to the blog. Prior to joining the team, Daniel was Vice President of MindPulse Communications – a boutique communications consultancy specializing in IT clients such as IBM, VMware, and BEA Systems. Daniel has 18 years of experience in copywriting, editing, internal communications, sales enablement and field marketing communications.

Categories: Mobile Tags: , , , ,

  1. February 5th, 2013 at 10:03 | #1

    We have just started with Google’s HowToGoMo.com, pretty satisfied with it. Now the next step is to optimize content for mobile. Companies, large and small just need to take that first step and have a mobile presence.

  2. February 6th, 2013 at 11:34 | #2

    I personally think this is the most relevant part…
    Challenge #3: Understanding how your audience consumes content

    The context of use is key. Items of secondary relevance on desktop can be more relevant to mobile users and should therefore be made more prominent.

    You mention mobile websites or mobile apps, but you do not mention responsive websites. An app can be very expensive and not always the right choice.

  3. September 20th, 2013 at 07:53 | #3

    Nice post!!!! Mobile marketing is really a very effective trend for marketing of a business, but yes you are right. We have to face many challenges in this process so, in my opinion it would be better to take help from professional service providers or to have a deep knowledge about mobile marketing.

  4. October 7th, 2013 at 06:51 | #4

    Mobile marketing has proven to have enormous viral benefits. When a marketing message is sent, users will often share your offer with friends and family, and also spread the word on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. This can create huge response rates and enhance your brand recognition with no extra effort. Mobile marketing is especially helpful for smaller companies who do not have marketing or an advertising team. SMS allows the company to do direct marketing in a fast, basic, and efficient manner.

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