How Mobile Marketing Works in 2019

May 23, 2019

Mobile marketing has become a key part of modern digital infrastructure. How does this industry operate in 2019, and what strategies are currently at play?

For almost two decades, tech experts claimed the future would be mobile. With an estimated 2.7 billion smartphone users around the world, it seems that future has finally arrived. Advertisers and marketers have clearly adapted to this new reality, seeking out new ways to turn traditional marketing strategies into effective mobile campaigns. Even major brands like Amazon have introduced customizable ad services that are gaining momentum in online and US retail spaces.

In 2019, mobile marketing has turned into a multi-channel discipline that supports massive segments of our online ecosystem. Yet, this future arrived so quickly that it can be challenging to explain or even grasp many of the seismic shifts this field experiences on an annual basis.

For that reason, it’s important to take a step back and broadly discuss mobile marketing in 2019, the various techniques at play, and the effectiveness of some prominent strategies.

In this new PostFunnel series, Nuts and Bolts, we’ll delve into the Martech world in 2019, trying to shed some light on main tools and best practices being used by you, our fellow marketers, in your day-to-day strategies. Every month, our experts will sink their teeth into another aspect of this fascinating field, with hope to inspire you to elevate your business through some smart marketing.

Check out our features section with special projects and articles for your reading pleasure.

What is mobile marketing?

As the term implies, mobile marketing is a technique where advertisers deliver communications to users via smartphones and tablets. As simple as that description sounds, mobile marketing encompasses a broad range of delivery channels including email, SMS messaging, push notifications, in-app advertising, QR codes, and many more.

Thanks to the prevalence and accessibility of today’s smartphones, mobile marketing has a higher potential to target specific audiences than perhaps any prior marketing discipline. Advertisers can deliver personalized messaging, deploy ads based on time of day or location, and design interactive ad formats that effectively engage specific demographics.

Why use mobile marketing?

Mobile phones are so globally ubiquitous that you’d be hard-pressed to find a more effective marketing platform. The overwhelming majority of adult populations worldwide own some kind of mobile device, while the global median for smartphone ownership is 43%. Customers use mobile devices to play games, watch movies, and communicate via social media — all fertile ground for marketing opportunities.

The significance of mobile devices is even higher in emerging economies, where cell phones have become the easiest method of gaining internet access. Meanwhile, in the developed world, the volume of online content accessed using smartphones has eclipsed traditional platforms such as desktop computers.

What is in-app mobile marketing?

In-app mobile marketing, sometimes referred to as app-based marketing, refers to the deployment of advertisements directly within an app itself. Since over 90% of time spent on smartphones is used to view apps, this is perhaps the most effective and cost-efficient marketing technique available to advertisers today.

The easiest way to deploy in-app marketing is through one of the titans of the mobile advertising space, namely Google’s AdMob or Facebook, or through a specialized in-app advertising network like Tapjoy. In order to monetize their apps, developers often integrate ad network SDKs that display ads when certain conditions are met. Some app publishers like Facebook even use Promoted Post services that seamlessly integrate ads into news feeds across all devices.

One important variant of in-app mobile marketing is in-game marketing, where advertisements are deployed directly within a mobile game. While there are certain ad formats and deployment considerations when delivering messaging to gaming audiences, marketing SDKs function in fairly similar ways to in-app mobile marketing on a technical level.

What is SMS mobile marketing?

SMS mobile marketing is the earliest form of the technique, first implemented when SMS and shortcodes launched in the early 2000s. It requires advertisers to obtain or capture mobile phone numbers and directly communicate with users via SMS messaging services. SMS mobile marketing can refer to both inbound marketing strategies for lead generation and outbound strategies to communicate promotions and events.

While SMS mobile marketing has been overshadowed by in-app advertising, it still remains a powerful strategy. On average, SMS marketing ads have a 98% open rate, a 45% conversion rate, and are typically read within three minutes of deployment. That makes it an impressively effective strategy for rapid engagement with a large volume of potential customers.

More importantly, SMS mobile marketing is widely used internationally, especially in regions like Europe and Southeast Asia. This broad reach is largely thanks to compatibility with non-smartphone cellular devices. SMS marketing is more strictly regulated than other marketing channels, but tends to benefit from having clearly defined best practices that are standardized through cellular carriers.

What are push notifications?

Push notifications are a type of message displayed on mobile devices by third-party apps that aren’t currently running. These notifications serve a variety of purposes, most commonly to inform users of incoming messages from social media apps. From a marketing perspective, push notifications are an ideal format for keeping users in the loop about new promotions or app features.

Above all else, the primary driver behind push notifications is customer retention. It’s easy for users to install and forget about an app, but push notifications let publishers and advertisers continue to communicate once the app is closed. Studies consistently show that push notifications can increase 90-day user retention from 3x to 10x depending on the effectiveness of your messaging.

What are QR codes?

QR codes are a type of matrix barcode that can be scanned by a mobile camera, usually activating a web link in the process. In mobile marketing, this allows advertisers to combine physical and digital marketing techniques by displaying QR codes in the real world. For example, a retail chain could place unique QR codes on receipts to link a customer’s online and offline identities, or a viral marketer might leave codes in public places as part of an augmented-reality game.

In the hands of mobile marketers, QR codes are unique tools that appeal to human curiosity can be placed anywhere, and are easy to track. Unfortunately, QR codes are also not as intuitive as other marketing strategies on this list, and tend to be used by a smaller subset of mobile users. That said, QR codes can be useful when deployed effectively, and are especially popular in regions like China.

What are mobile search ads?

Mobile search ads are standard search engine advertisements that are indexed and optimized for mobile devices. They can be displayed through a web page or search engine like Google, and typically integrate with smartphones to use features like “click to call.”

When search ads are optimized to match Google’s search interface, they have a higher chance of appearing when users search for related products or services on their mobile devices. Depending on the advertised business, a smartphone’s location service can also narrow down the search to relevant local companies. Google search ads can also feature a click-to-call button or click-to-install button as a call to action for your customers.

What are some mobile marketing best practices?

Always keep your audience in mind. A mobile marketing strategy that’s effective on social media won’t necessarily carry over to mobile games.

Be concise. Smartphones have limited screen space for deploying your message, and there are literally thousands of things users could do instead of viewing your ad. Get straight to the point, and give them a reason to engage with you.

Optimize websites for mobile devices. Much like our last point, transferring desktop-optimized web pages to mobile devices usually means your marketing efforts are lost to clutter and noise. Design mobile-specific versions of your sites that are optimized for on-the-go smartphone users, and build your marketing campaign around them.

Adopt multiple marketing strategies. There are many mobile marketing strategies available to advertisers in 2019. Don’t be afraid to experiment with models that show potential and reflect your brand.

Benchmark your results. Keep track of how users interact with each of your mobile marketing strategies. Follow conversion, retention, and engagement metrics to maximize your ROI.

Mobile marketing is a far more complicated field today than it was in 2000, but there are also far more ways to engage with your audience than ever before. By adopting the strategies listed above, your business will be well underway to expanding your reach across a variety of active channels.