With the New Year in full swing, so too is the debate about what will be hot… or not… in 2011. To be sure, there has never been a better time for the consumer and retailer to connect via mobile technology.
To offer my two cents, here are 10 of my favourite predictions for the future of mobile marketing.
1. The mobile site will become the new website
Gartner predicts that in three years, more people will access the internet through their mobile phones than through their PCs.
More than 50% of consumers are unlikely to return to your website if they have a poor mobile experience, and 40% will go to a competitor’s site instead.1
Most retailers are going to be better off focusing on a mobile website first instead of a Smartphone application. A mobile website is well-suited for mobile shopping, is typically less expensive to develop, and can reach more end users with one site than multiple applications. Gartner estimates that over 85% of handsets shipped globally in 2011 will include a mobile browser.
With mobile web traffic having grown 500% in the last two years2, having a mobile site is now a necessity.
2. Shoppers will increasingly favour technology over human interaction
As mobile internet speeds catch up to consumer demand, it will be faster to scan a barcode or check a mobile website for product information than it will be to ask a shop owner.
Beyond actually purchasing goods through mobile, studies show that the most popular in-store mobile activities include competitive price shopping, checking inventory, shopping list/basket management, and getting directions to local retailers.
3. Mobile commerce will come of age
Consumers are spending more than five hours a week on the mobile web and companies like Amazon and eBay are generating over $US 1billion in sales through their mobile channels.
Reaching customers through traditional channels only is becoming increasingly difficult. Launching a mobile website offers a much higher return on investment than opening a new bricks-and-mortar store with overheads, staff costs and inventory.
4. Mobile coupons will be more relevant
A quarter of shoppers believe that receiving specials and promotions such as coupons would be an important use for their mobile phone when shopping.3
The future of mobile marketing is all about one-to-one communication and as retailers embrace this more personalised approach, mobile coupons will be viewed less as advertising material and more as a value add to their shopping experience.
5. SMS will go beyond marketing
The use of SMS as a mobile marketing tactic will proliferate further into customer service and customer lifecycle management as well.
This is already evident with companies and organisations using SMS to remind customers in advance of appointments and banks advising customers when they reach their overdraft limits.
2ergo’s clients have also used text messaging to gather instant feedback through SMS surveys, as well as offering self-help menu trees that direct users to the information they need through a few simple SMS Q&A’s.
SMS is often seen as being much less intrusive and more convenient than a phone call.
6. Retailers will capitalise on mobile at every stage of the customer lifecycle
Mobile can be strategically used to acquire new customers, service existing customers, drive repeat business and strengthen customer loyalty.
Of course, retail marketers should not think of mobile marketing in a silo. It should be integrated with existing marketing strategies and campaigns.
7. Smartphone apps will enable enhanced location awareness
By the end of 2011, over 75% of devices shipped in mature markets will include a GPS, and others will use Wi-Fi and cell ID systems to identify location.4 The widespread use of these location-aware handsets will enable retailers to reap the benefits of tracking and targeting customers based on their locations.
More retailers will turn to platform-specific Smartphone apps to deliver enhanced experiences and push marketing communications such as coupons and offers that are based on the customer’s current location and personal preferences.
8. QR Codes will make offline marketing mobile
Expect QR (Quick Response) Codes to play a big role in the future of retail of the future, due to the inherent ability to serve up rich content to people on the go.
The QR Code is a two-dimensional barcode (readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with cameras and Smartphones) connecting the physical world with digital content. The code can be encoded with a mobile URL, text or any other data or action.
QR Codes will increasingly be placed in traditional print advertising such as billboards, signs, T-shirts, receipts and even paper cups. With the snap of their camera-equipped phone, consumers will connect from an offline medium to a mobile or digital medium such as a mobile site, image or video clip. They can also be encoded to send a coupon or an SMS to your phone.
9. Small retailers will be able to do mobile
Cost-effective “software as a service” mobile marketing tools are coming to market and will bring mobile within reach for the small retailer. Features and programs such as location recognition services, m-commerce and SMS-based couponing will allow small retailers to compete head-to-head with their larger competitors for consumers’ loyalty and wallet.
10. Most effective campaigns will be multi-channel
The word is getting out that multi-channel shoppers tend to purchase more.5
Retailers must engage consumers with consistent, rich experiences across all channels to maintain and grow revenue. For marketers to most effectively discover the key insights into customer behavior they will need to take into account various elements including web and mobile analytics, customer relationship management, social networks tracking, and e-commerce platforms.
So, as I step away from my crystal ball, it’s time for you to look toward the future. Will 2011 be a big year for mobile? “It is decidedly so.”