When Alexander Graham Bell developed what became the first telephone, he probably did not imagine that by the 21st century, it would be used for more than just having conversations. People use their mobile phones for surfing the Internet, taking photographs and sending text messages. Marketers realize what powerful tools today’s smart phones are, and have begun targeting their messages to their users. Madalina Balaban, a blogger and social media expert, believes that marketers will further develop their techniques for reaching out to the public through mobile devices. She recently released a set of predictions of how businesses will use this technology to communicate in the coming year.
Balaban noted that optimizing websites for mobile phones will no longer be optional for companies. “Being on mobile is not a trend anymore, it’s a reality,” she said. “Marketers have this great opportunity to increase brand engagement and visibility through mobile platforms, and they should take advantage of it.” Balaban pointed out that the number of consumers shopping on their mobile devices has risen exponentially in the past several years. They are also using their smart phones to perform dozens of other activities online, such as playing games and social media sites. Businesses that do not optimize their website for mobile devices are missing out on a significant source of traffic and revenue.
The social media expert also believes that mobile device platforms give brands a chance to make an emotional connection with their customers. Balaban called it “a way to bring out their digital personality.” There is no single method for forging this relationship, she explained. “It is all about creating interactive and creative communication concepts, related to the brand,” Balaban remarked. “Promote your brand in an engaging way and make it useful for consumers. Being on mobile doesn’t mean anything, if your brand doesn’t offer relevant experiences for consumers.”
In order to create that emotional connection, brands must adopt a mobile strategy, said Balaban. “The most important part of a mobile marketing strategy is the focus on user experience,” she commented. “It should start with the idea of the interaction between the brand and consumers.” The interaction should be positive, and leave customers with a high opinion of the company. If an application or website is poorly designed and difficult to use, consumers will abandon it in favour of something simple that works efficiently. Balaban emphasized that after interacting with a brand through a mobile device, customers should have “a great and fun experience.”
Another trend Balaban sees in the mobile space is the rise of gamification. Gamification refers to the use of game mechanics and game design techniques in non-game contexts. It makes technology more engaging by turning boring tasks such as filling out surveys into games. Players are rewarded with virtual prizes, which they can sometimes redeem in the “real” world. “Gamification is just a way of saying, ‘My brand is creating this great environment for you to compete and play, in order to win prizes,’” Balaban remarked. Incorporating rewards into the mobile experience will help brands attract and retain customers.
Engaging customers also involves providing brief yet meaningful content. Balaban commented that people use their mobile devices when they are on the go, and they do not have time to read long, complex brand stories. Mobile marketing requires transmitting short messages that convey a stirring call to action. Balaban urged marketers to keep their content to the point; otherwise customers will overlook their advertisements.