Two years ago, Mary Meeker’s exhaustive Morgan Stanley study called the rise of the mobile Internet an “epic technology transformation” that happens every 10-15 years. Meeker identified the mobile market as being in the “early Innings,” but forecast that within five years there would be more users connecting to the Internet via mobile devices than by desktop PCs.
Today, as the number of mobile users continues to skyrocket, marketers are feeling the pressure to add a mobile element to their marketing mix. As eMarketer analyst Noah Elkin relates, mobile marketing is no longer a question of “if” but “when.”
And the stakes are high. As Confirmit‘s mobile marketing guide asserts, “Marketers need to quickly implement ways to serve their customers and audiences on the go or risk losing them to a competitor who has wholeheartedly embraced the mobile channel.”
Likewise, IBM’s “State of Marketing 2012” survey warns that “keeping pace with social and mobile proliferation is the biggest challenge marketers face.”
For email marketers, embracing new modes such as SMS text messaging presents a number of opportunities and challenges. As Lyris explains, SMS marketing gives email and online marketers the ability to refresh and augment their existing marketing programs. “Given the potential,” says Lyris, “savvy marketers will want to take advantage of the opportunity to fold SMS marketing into the mix.”
While studies show that marketers recognize the importance of mobile marketing, they also reveal that they are lagging in implementing mobile strategies. StrongMail’s “Mobile Marketing Survey 2012,” for example, found that while adoption is growing, a lack of strategy and resources remain the top challenges to implementing effective programs.
StrongMail found that about one-half of businesses conducting mobile marketing have achieved a basic level of integration between their email and mobile programs, with top areas of focus being mobile landing pages (32%), mobile phone number capture at email sign-up (25%), and mobile optimized email templates (22%).
However, the study found that more sophisticated tactics like leveraging mobile response data to optimize offers in email or other channels are used by only 29% of businesses engaged in mobile marketing.
Chief Marketer’s study found similar results. For example, the study found that only 25% of mobile marketers said they knew how their customers use mobile devices, and what devices they use, and could segment those users based on behavior and interests.
Calling mobile marketing the “new black” of marketing, Chief Marketer reported that mobile seems to be integrated into all types of campaigns and is being used more as a bridge and less as a channel on its own. However, this seems to be changing, the study showed, as more marketers move to deploy standalone mobile programs.
As experts relate, to fully realize the potential of mobile marketing requires a multifaceted and integrated approach, which includes deploying mobile marketing in direct and complementary ways. As eMarker analyst Elkin notes, “The future of mobile marketing is all about sophistication.”