As I write this, it’s evening in the hotel lobby after a long project presentation. I’m getting hungry but also a little tired. My lazy repetitive memory is locked on a ‘Rolex’ (egg wrap) but I know I gotta keep away from those — had too many lately. A few years ago, that meant a mediocre meal at the hotel restaurant. Or perhaps I’d ask the hotel concierge for a quick nearby recommendation, if I wanted some fresh air and a short walk. If I was feeling adventurous, I’d probably search online sites like TripAdvisor’s or Yellow and then use Google Maps to find something nearby.
But I don’t do any of these things anymore. Now I pull out my Samsung, fire up the Jumia Foods (former Hello Foods) application, and gaze on a listing of nearby restaurants, complete with information about how far away each one is from me. I can see reviews that people have left about the different choices. I can even see if any of my friends are there right now.
The incredible growth of browser-equipped mobile devices like Androids, iPhones, and iPads means that people like me can now look for products and services while we are on the road.
Indeed, in mobile-centric markets like Africa and Asia, mobile Internet connections are more widely used than standard computer connections to the web, since mobiles are what people can afford and since wireless infrastructure is more reliable than landlines. Even in Japan, a land connected by a last-mile optical fiber network that puts the United States to shame, mobile rules because online prime time is the two or more hours daily people spend riding trains.
According to Statistica, the number of smartphone users is forecast to grow from 2.1 billion in 2016 to around 2.5 billion in 2019, with smartphone penetration rates increasing as well. Just over 36 percent of the world’s population was projected to use a smartphone by 2018, up from about 10 percent in 2011. It’s not just creaky old technology either; some 150 countries offer high-speed 3G service. Dignight reports on Jumia’s 2017 white paper that says mobile purchases account for 69% of all total orders in Uganda. And recently Airtel Uganda announced countrywide coverage of 4G network. These Internet access patterns have massive implications for all kinds of businesses worldwide.
The ability to contact consumers at the precise moment they’re near you and ready to buy exactly what you sell will transform how you market to them. And the use of mobile marketing reaches all levels of society, not just those who choose mobile because phones are cheaper than computers.
A Forbes-Google study called “The Untethered Executive: Business Information in the Age of Mobility” reports that more than half of senior executives say that their mobile device is now their primary communications tool. Executives are making purchases on their mobile devices, too. Nearly two-thirds indicated they’re comfortable making a business purchase on their mobile, and more than half would rather make a business purchase on the mobile web than by phone.
Someone would argue that those findings don’t apply to Uganda but I would ask them to consider the last time they purchased something or ate at a restaurant they didn’t first search for and read about on social media or Google on their mobiles. As long as you own a mobile phone, then you’re an online mobile content consumer.
All sorts of people purchase products while going about their day. Rather than having to make a trip across town, a busy mom might use her Android to consume online content while waiting to pick up the kids at swimming practice.
“It is clear that we’ve come to a point of no return in the impact and uptake of mobile devices, and yet still most businesses struggle with the social mobile marketing decisions,” says Ritah Ryabonye. Ritah is Mobile Marketing senior consultant at Smart Marketing Agency, a new travel marketing consultancy in Uganda. “Real-time decisions, instant mobile commercial transactions, and anywhere-everywhere collaboration is happening all around us now”
As people use mobile web browsers on their iPhones, Androids, or other devices, it is important that your website be mobile friendly — displaying content quickly and optimizing it for viewing on smaller screens. Many websites still don’t have a mobile-friendly architecture, so those organizations miss out on opportunities to sell to the many people now accessing their sites from wireless mobile devices.
“It is important to make sure the mobile content loads quickly,” says Omara Tony, SEO Expert at Smart Marketing Agency, a new travel marketing company that’s just opened office in Uganda. “People accessing your site with mobile devices are doing so wirelessly, and it’s costing them money in their data bundles (Embees). You want the website to load quickly for them. And they’ve got a much smaller screen. We’re almost back to the days of the early web, when smaller, ‘lightweight’ pages were better.”
Tony says that designing pages for mobile display requires rethinking the sort of content you offer. “You should display the most crucial information that you would think someone coming in through a mobile device would want,” he says. “It might be the menu if you’re a restaurant, or it might be the booking number. In Uganda over 33 percent of Jumia users have made a purchase using a smartphone — according to 2017 Jumia white paper. If you use Google AdWords you can now target mobile users directly and place a clickable phone number in the ad so they simply call through to your business, bypassing your website entirely. We had an eCommerce client that used this method and had an amazing result.”
As you’re developing mobile marketing content for mobile devices, remember that search engines now consider Mobile UX first in ranking your website. That means there are implications for the search engine optimization strategies that will get your site ranked highly.
Early 2018 Google announced from their Webmaster blog the launch of Mobile First Indexing. To recap, “Our crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have typically used the desktop version of a page’s content, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version is vastly different from the mobile version. Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.” ~ Google.
For effective mobile marketing for your small business website, make sure that Google understands where your mobile content is by setting up what they call a site map for mobile users. If you use a WordPress CMS, install Yoast Plugin (free) that can create sitemaps automatically. And if the site is about a local business, you need to use geographic descriptors. For instance, many buyers just type ‘shoes’ into Mobile Google, and quite often they will get Google Places information in the results. That’s because Google has made an assessment that people want that information locally or close to them, or they want a business that services their particular area.”
Here’re a few things you can do right now:
The challenge is to understand this new mobile marketing landscape so you can get your business into the mix at that precise moment of decision. I chose to work with experts and it was the right decision for me. Don’t miss out on opportunities to sell to the many people now accessing sites and searching for products and services like yours from wireless devices.
Something you may enjoy: Is Your Website a Marketing Hub or Brochure?
Because buyers use their mobiles to search for products and services in the time of need (like I do when I’m hungry on the road), you’ve got an opportunity to move them from being a one-time looker to a long-term fan. The challenge is to create a compelling reason for somebody to want further contact with your company into the future — beyond the initial moment they find you on their mobile.
You want to use mobile to capture and build your audience as quickly as possible, because people have the ability to do data input on the fly and the ability to act. The faster you can get someone to act on their initial curiosity by using a mobile application that’s related to your marketing, the more likely it is that you’re going to be able to kick off a relationship with a customer.
One way that companies can engage consumers quickly is by deploying SMS (short message service) codes. In Uganda, SMS was first popularized by television shows like Coca Cola Pop Stars, which let viewers vote for their favorite singing contestant during live broadcasts by sending a text message. This same strategy is used by marketers to develop point-of-sale sign-up systems.
If you listen to FM radio, there’s a good chance that some of the major shows offer a way for listeners to text their dedications and requests to a short code [special telephone numbers that are significantly shorter than full telephone numbers for use on mobiles] and get them aired live on radio. You want to capture people when they’re in the moment, especially if it’s a radio show or shopping experience, where you can help satisfy a customer. You want to take advantage of that warm feeling right then and there to capture them.
A supermarket could have the person at the register say something like ‘Hey, text your email address to us and you’ll get 20 percent off your next purchase.’ Well, you’re in the moment, you’ve got your purchase, and you say ‘Okay, I’m going to do it, because I want 20 percent off next time.’”
Companies are beginning to experiment with capturing signups using mobile applications in addition to SMS. Marketers like this approach because it can be free, whereas SMS services require them to pay a fee to the telecom provider.
Imagine being at a boutique restaurant, and there’s a tent card on the table that says, ‘Get 5 percent off your check if you visit our Facebook fan page and become a fan.’
Well, right there on the fan page is a button to enroll in the restaurant’s mailing list, and all it requires is one click to sign up. You tap your mobile phone once, and it says ‘Congratulations, you’re on the mailing list.’ There’s no data entered and nothing to miskey, which is especially important when dealing with tiny mobile keyboards. Within two taps, you’re on the company’s mailing list, and it’s all done using the social data you’ve already entered into Facebook. The restaurant can get extremely rapid intake of data and build a customer list just by using the features that are already present in many of the platforms.
Increasingly, we’re seeing users turn to their mobile devices for quick, in-the-moment advice, help or information. Instead of spending huge amounts of clock time researching a topic or issue in depth, they’re more likely to take immediate action, and to expect on-the-go answers.
Consider a user who performs a mobile search query like, “How often should I deworm my 12 year old?” clearly wants one accurate, bite-sized piece of information in that moment. They don’t want graphs, videos, charts or an in-depth comparison of various deworming pills.
Google calls these “micro-moments”. They have identified four types of micro-moments that business owners should be aware of:
In order to optimize for these moments, small business marketers need to anticipate ahead of time what their customers are likely to need, then create mobile marketing content that perfectly fulfills those search queries. That mobile content then needs to be available instantly, in bite-sized pieces – so mobile phone users can easily find and use it while on the go.
Smartphones have changed the online marketing game as quickly as smartphone technology changes, so too does our mobile marketing strategies. As you can see, the mobile marketing trends worth embracing focus primarily on improving the convenience of finding and engaging with brands through a mobile device. They also move away from some of the previous mobile marketing methods consumers use to find annoying and invasive.
If there’s one main thing to take away from all this narrative, it’s that ‘Mobile is just a marketing channel’. What we’re talking about here is remarkably serving our customer. If they want us to reach them on mobile, that’s where we should go. If they want to use mobile devices differently, then we marketers must make that adjustment. And if their behaviors on mobile change, then we must adapt right alongside them.
What mobile marketing strategies do you use? Which ones do you find most effective? Share with me below! I’m always excited to hear from you guys.