There is no reason to question it anymore -- no reason to avoid investing. Mobile is the marketing and advertising kingpin of the very near future. With each passing day, the need for brands and marketers to improve, reinvent, or create their mobile web presence becomes more pertinent.
Nielsen predicts that by the end of 2011 smartphones will have attained more than 50 percent of the mobile phone market. One in five Americans already use a mobile device to access the internet on a daily basis, and mobile internet usage will surpass desktop usage within the next three years, according to Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker. If these astounding surges in usage are any indication of the power and value of the mobile channel, it's clear that a brand's mobile presence will soon be just as important, if not moreso, than its online website.
We live in the age of instant gratification. People want it now, and they will do whatever it takes to get it as conveniently and quickly as possible. If that means downloading an app, checking in, or paying an extra 50 cents to read The New York Times on the iPad instead of lugging around 50 pages of paper, then that's the direction they are likely to choose. It is no wonder why mobile advertising revenue is projected to skyrocket to about $24.1 billion by 2015, (much of that growth from Asia) according to Informa Telecoms & Media. More people are using the internet on their phones or tablets, and it is the job of the brand marketer to make that user experience engaging, crisp, and profitable.
"Mobile continues to prove that it is an effective advertising medium," said Joy Liuzzo, senior director of marketing and mobile research at InsightExpress in an interview with Mobile Marketer. "Far from being a one-trick pony, mobile is effective in rich environments like mobile video, minimal environments like SMS, and the area in between covered by mobile display. Add to this the findings that all verticals are seeing mobile impacts greater than online campaigns and the arguments for not adding mobile to a media plan fall away."
While some brands may get away with just transferring their traditional website's look, feel, and content to the mobile platform, other companies have utilized the technological advantages and specifications of the devices themselves to make their mobile websites stand out among the crowd. It is now up to the marketers to create another stream for providing value and customer satisfaction. And while apps can be a great option in the mobile age, they can sometimes fragment and separate established brands from their loyal customers.
For example, HBO's app has been panned by users for its lack of worthy videos, its functionality, and its overall lack of performance. While HBO's online site is beautifully designed, the limitations of the app can cause fleeting fans to doubt a brand's overall quality. Moreover, creating an app for your brand shouldn't conclude a brand's mobile creativity. A good mobile website should serve as a companion to an app and help keep a brand's natural form while honing in on the handheld device's numerous capabilities.
The mobile web difference
The mobile web has the ability to incorporate applications, social networking, downloadable additions, GPS, rich ads, and so many other tools; thus, the importance of optimizing your brand's mobile competence is incalculable. An engaging, thoughtful, and entertaining website or app can allow users to give more feedback, increase impulse purchases, and urge customers to come back for an altogether different, more convenient experience than they would receive on a personal computer or laptop. As brands and marketers try to get a firm hold in the mobile landscape, advertisers should also take note of how effective ads can be when it comes to mobile devices. For example, InsightExpress found in its research that mobile ad campaigns were four-and-a-half to five times more effective than online.
Mobile has the clear advantage over online when it comes to the amount of engagement people have with their devices and the environment the ads are being served in. With the number of brands creating mobile websites and apps growing each day, it will be more and more important for brands to utilize upcoming technologies and social integration to keep their brands afloat in the mobile market waters.
Here are six companies that use the mobile web smartly, creating an altogether different experience than traditional online by using the strengths that the mobile device has to offer. They have been separated into two categories, one for advocating user purchases and the other for overall content and efficiency.
Category 1: Purchase intensive
These web pages make the buying experience extremely straightforward.
Starbucks Coffee. The Seattle-based company has been one of the industry leaders in using mobile to spread its messages and promote its brand. While using geolocation sites like Foursquare and Facebook Places to reward customers who buy Starbucks products, the company' recently expanded the value of its app by allowing customers to pay for their drinks by waving their mobile phones over an in-store reader. By providing added convenience and utility to its mobile experience, Starbucks' mobile efforts are leading the pack, while making the case for a wallet-less future.
Dominoes Pizza. Of course ordering a pizza through a mobile phone should be a no-brainer. But Dominoes has gone beyond the simple store locator feature to simplify the ordering process to a few finger taps. Not only can customers save all their credit card information and track the progress of their pizza through their mobile app, but they can also receive personal SMS texts that offer special deals and promotions based on previous orders.
eBay. The popular online auction website is trying its hand at augmented reality, a term that will likely become part of the digital vernacular in the next few years. While its mobile web page is more or less an abbreviated version of its traditional website, eBay has relied heavily on apps to help optimize its presence within the mobile realm. By downloading the Junaio app along with the eBay app, customers can monitor their favorite eBay auctions in real time through their mobile phones. If you don't think that's cool, you might need to get your cool meter fixed.
Category 2: Brand quality
These brands have made their mobile websites and applications so seamless you might forget you're using a mobile device.
Facebook. As one of the most popular websites in America, Facebook scaled back its extensive traditional site and created a mobile site that displays the primary elements used by its consumers, making the mobile experience faster, easier to read, and easier to access than viewing its web experience on a mobile device. It also has more interactive and aesthetic apps for all of the major mobile brands. And the introduction of Facebook email and texting, which allows members to sign up for a separate email account that can be used to text friends or post on walls, makes the use of Facebook even more addicting than on the computer.
Yelp is a social website that allows users to rate and review local eateries from the convience of their phones or computers. Both the mobile website and the downloadable app combine social networking, location-based applications, and the love of eating almost flawlessly. With the apps addition of a Foursquare-like rewards system for check-ins and reviews, Yelp has managed to help bolster local business while spreading its brand all over the mobile world. Zagat what?
CBS/CBS News. With personalized weather updates and news alerts via email or text, CBS is putting the world of news in the palm of your hand. With available app downloads for most major cellphone brands, CBS allows its users to watch videos of breaking news stories or re-runs of Hawaii 5-0 directly from the app. The enlarged site buttons allow for easy navigation while adding to the overall refined look.
Osas Obaiza is an editorial intern at iMedia Connection.
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