Small screens increasingly equate to big business. 30 years ago, when mobile phones were still in their relative infancy and tended to be both expensive and as big as a rubber-bound brick, Vodafone predicted that the market would support around a million units. That’s not a million per month or per year or within a specific geographic market, but a million units in total. According to former Vodafone chief executive Sir Christopher Gent, BT estimated a market capacity of roughly half that.
Fast forward to 2016 and mobile phones are a daily part of life for a majority of the global population. According to a UN report, more people in the world have access to a mobile phone than have access to working toilet facilities. Six billion of the global population of seven-plus billion have access to mobile phones, and internet-enabled smartphones are becoming more and more widespread in both developed and developing markets. The range of tasks that people can now tackle on their phones would have amazed all but the most foresighted of industry leaders back in 1985, but it’s one of the original features – the ability to send and receive SMS text messages – that remains one of the most valuable for consumers and marketers alike.
The Importance of a Mobile Marketing Strategy
The rise of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices has presented a challenge and an opportunity that is almost as game-changing as the rise of the internet itself. According to a Deloitte report, more than 32 million smartphones are purchased in the UK every year, with a further 6 million being handed down. We also use them at every possible opportunity; two-thirds of smartphone users access their phones on public transport, 60% use them at work and almost half will check their phones while meeting a friend face-to-face. More than half (55%) check their phones within 15 minutes of waking and smartphone engagement is even higher for younger age groups.
With this ever-increasing level of contact and reliance, it’s clear that mobile has become an essential format for marketers to tap into. From SMS marketing to mobile-optimised search and apps that allow the customer to make a purchase or interact directly with a brand or business, mobile marketing provides a vital line of contact that reflects the way consumers live and communicate today.
Optimising Websites for Mobile
With more and more people accessing the internet via mobile devices, it’s essential that corporate websites are both accessible and functional on the smaller screen. Last year Google announced changes in its algorithm that effectively penalise websites that are not fully optimised for mobile in its search engine results pages. This makes mobile optimisation a must in terms of search engine optimisation (SEO), but consumers are also becoming increasingly demanding and expect any site they use to function well on handheld devices.
According to Wired.com nearly half (47%) of consumers expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less and 40% say they would abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. When it comes to e-commerce, almost four fifths (79%) who were dissatisfied with website performance said they would be less likely to buy from the same site again. Just over half (52%) said that fast page loading was important to their site loyalty.
It’s also important that a site or page displays correctly on whatever device it is being viewed from. Some designers still use a separate ‘.m’ domain to set up a mobile-only version of the main site to which the visitor is automatically redirected if they are using a smartphone. This can allow you to use elements for desktop websites that might not work on mobile but increasingly, designers are seeing responsive design as the way forward. This uses a single website that detects the device it is being viewed upon and automatically resizes and formats itself to suit.
The Value of SMS Marketing
Smartphones might allow marketers to bring social media, email and online advertising channels right into customers’ hands, but the humble SMS should not be overlooked.
According to Pew Research Center, text messaging is the single most accessed feature on smartphones in the US. 100% of users aged 18-29, 98% of those aged 30-49 and 92% of those aged 50-plus used the feature at least once over the course of 14 week-long surveys. This compared to 97% of 18-29 year olds, 90% of 30-49 year olds and 80% of 50-plus users who accessed the internet during the same periods. For email use it was 91% (18-29), 87% (30-49) and 87% (50-plus).
Far more importantly however, SMS messages tend to have a far better open and response rate. According to Adobe, commercial SMS messages have a huge 98% open rate, compared to just 20%-30% for email. What’s more, 90% of messages are read within three seconds. As well as being opened they’re less likely to be disregarded once they’ve been read. A Pure360 report quoted by Adobe found that almost a third (32%) of recipients responded to SMS offers, with ten times as many texted coupons being redeemed compared to traditional coupons.
That doesn’t mean that SMS marketing should always be used in isolation. SMS marketing can be used in conjunction with other channels and could, for example, provide links to your social media or main corporate website where customers can make a purchase, register or take some other action. Another study quoted by Adobe found that 29% of SMS marketing recipients clicked on links in the SMS messages they received and that 47% of those went on to make a purchase. That’s a conversion rate of almost 14%, a rate which even the most successful email campaigns would struggle to come close to.
A good mobile strategy should take different approaches and channels and incorporate them into a single joined-up approach. SMS marketing can be a vital part of the mobile machine and help you make that all-important connection.