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“Mobile has won” says Google’s Eric Schmidt – are you ready for a smartphone marketing future?

The move to a mobile-first marketing landscape means that CMOs need to address three new challenges quickly.


Laying out his predictions for 2014 in an interview for Bloomberg, Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt claims “mobile has won”. Clarifying this further, Schmidt believes that 2014 will be the year that mobile computing finally overtakes its deskbound counterparts. “The trend has been that mobile was winning. It’s now won,” he said.

Is Schmidt right?

The sales figures are clear. Smartphones and tablets are selling in much greater volumes than traditional desktop PCs. This is not to say that the PC is dead, but people are spending more time accessing web services and email via mobile devices.

“This year, 2014, we’ll probably see US smartphone penetration hit 75% (from 65% today). It’s possible that by next year at this time smartphone ownership will exceed 80% of US adults.”

Greg Sterling –

Smartphone marketing – what do you need to do?

The shift to a mobile-first computing landscape presents the CMO with several new challenges:

  • Creating content for display on devices with smaller screens and lower-specified hardware.
  • Delivering content that is timely and unobtrusive.
  • Utilizing location services to serve contextually-relevant information to customers.

Although some traditional email marketing techniques will still apply, these new challenges will force CMOs to reassess and refocus their campaigns.

1. Smartphone marketing design challenges

Although customers typically have 17” screens on their desks, smartphones and tablets offer considerably less real estate on which to display your message. Equally important is the “size” of the message – paradoxically, the increasing time spent on mobile devices coincides with a disinclination to read “too much” text on the smaller screen.

Your company website may also need adaptation to accommodate increased traffic from mobile devices. At the very least, careful consideration should be given to landing pages which are likely to be accessed by smartphone users.

Because of this, CMOs need to encourage their teams to adjust digital strategy to better accommodate the challenges of smartphone marketing:

  • Condensing messages and improving CTAs to make best use of limited screen real estate.
  • Ensuring email file sizes are optimized for transmission over slower cellular data networks.
  • Creating mobile-optimized landing pages for customers clicking through from messages read on their mobile device.

“41% of Europeans would either close or delete an email not optimized for mobile.”

Return Path research

2. When to deliver smartphone marketing messages

When marketers realized that most people read email while sitting in front of their computer at work, calculating the optimum time of day for delivery was relatively easy. The smartphone revolution has changed everything, however:

  • Users now access email regularly throughout the day.
  • The window of opportunity has lengthened considerably, starting earlier in the day and finishing later in the evening.

Because the move to mobile marketing has happened relatively quickly, statistics to show when to send are hard to come by. CMOs will need to ensure budget is set aside to facilitate testing so they can identify their own “sweet spot” for sending messages and having them read.

“88% of people check their email via a mobile phone daily.”

Return Path research

3. Smartphone marketing and location services

Relevance has always been key to successful marketing, and smartphones now offer another potential way to increase suitability: location services. Using the built-in GPS, and with the user’s permission, your business can send messages to the user’s handset based on his or her geographical location. This could be via providing discount vouchers as they pass your store, or advising them of current deals when they arrive in a specific town.

Taking full advantage of location services means looking beyond email marketing to consider using a custom smartphone app.

“Through owned apps, businesses are able to collect a large amount of data on consumers, in particular their location, using a smartphone’s GPS. As consumers grow more comfortable with using mobile devices for browsing and shopping, they have become more open to receiving messages from brands via their mobiles.”

Digital Marketing and Ecommerce Trends and Predictions for 2014 – Econsultancy

What do you need to do now?

The most pressing challenges for CMOs in the age of the mobile-first era are:

  • Adopt a mobile-first approach to email message design.
  • Implement a new A/B split testing regime to identify the best time to send messages to your mobile customers.
  • Increase relevance of messages by investing in location-aware marketing campaigns.

For further guidance on how to improve marketing campaign effectiveness, download our free eGuide: CMO’s quick reference: how to map the consumer buying process

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