The 4 Biggest Opportunities for Mobile Marketers in 2014

Mobile phone usage has skyrocketed in recent years, presenting endless opportunities for businesses to reach their customers. A mobile device is often the very first thing a person sees in the morning, which can be the first entryway into the brand by both potential and existing customers.

As a marketer, it’s important to keep pace with consumer habits and offer unique experiences wherever your audience might be. According to Uberflip, only 25% of brands today have a mobile strategy, which certainly highlights an opportunity for your business to reach customers before the channel becomes saturated with other companies, advertising and chatter.

A survey of 167 mobile channel decision makers found that 63% cite customer engagement as the top priority of mobile in the coming months. The goal? To help build trust with consumers and remain relevant. What does your business cite as the biggest priority for mobile next year?

Here are my predictions on the biggest opportunities in mobile marketing for 2014:

1 Create Original Branded Mobile Apps

One of the most effective ways to continue to make an impact in 2014 with mobile consumers is by creating unique mobile apps for your business. Many companies have already created apps, which helps put them ahead of the curve. Custom branded apps will continue to be critical to engaging customers to help build trust with your company and give mobile users more confidence about spending money with your business.

According to a report by Localytics, news apps have a high retention rate, with 44% of surveyed users opening them often, followed by gaming, entertainment and sports apps with retention rates between 33% and 36%. Unfortunately lifestyle apps—which include e-commerce apps—have the worst user retention rates. Only 15% of users open those apps 11 times or more and 30% open them just once.

Try adding a layer of gamification to your mobile app to make it more enticing for users to interact with over time. According to eMarketer, 51.1% of U.S. mobile phone users today have played games, and continue to frequently, on their devices. By 2017, it’s predicted that up to 73.5% of mobile phone users will be gamers, highlighting how interested consumers are in gaming and why your business should introduce this functionality into your mobile app.

To help make your custom app a further success with users, it’s important to build a marketing strategy around it that helps drive traffic to the app. These apps can have a plethora of purposes, like driving customer engagement with a loyalty program, functioning as your mobile storefront, offering exclusive deals and more.

Some of the most noteworthy branded apps seeing success today include Sephora to Go, Starbucks and Cartwheel by Target. Each of these apps features a unique offering for its users like exclusive specials, gamification for returning visitors and a cohesive experience from the retail store to the online storefront.

2 Data-Driven Advertising at Scale

Digital media, as compared to traditional advertising, provides businesses with deeply detailed metrics to help better measure the success of a campaign. This paves the way to continued innovation in the mobile arena since initiatives are loaded with data points from previous actions in the mobile ecosystem.

This allows data-driven mobile advertising to reach precisely targeted audiences in real-time, making conversion more likely based on customer interests and preferences, wherever they may be active.

For instance, today 16.7% of mobile gaming revenue comes from advertising and it’s predicted that this percentage will continue to rise to 17.4% by 2015, says eMarketer. Advertising within a mobile game allows marketers to reach specific niche audiences with precision; analyzing data from their campaigns determines whether they successfully reached the target consumer and how much spend to allocate to these efforts in the future. With the rise of this data-driven advertising in mobile games, it appears to be working for many businesses.

Another example of this very specific targeting: TV advertising will continue to more closely sync with mobile advertising in 2014 by matching programming with advertisers on Twitter and other mobile ad networks. Tracking conversions, impressions, clickthrough rates and other key actions from these synced marketing campaigns on mobile will create a foundation for more successful initiatives that provide better value to customers for the long-term.

3 Reduced Constraints: Focus on a “Mobile First” Approach

The future of your business relies on your adoption of mobile across every touch point, which is why it’s time for any marketer who isn’t thinking “mobile first” to start mapping out a strategy today. According to eMarketer, with 74% of U.S. affluent smartphone owners using their phones to check the weather and 71% to send or receive email, is there a way your business can better integrate with these experiences?

Creating frictionless consumer mobile interaction should be the very first step of your “mobile first” strategy. All your web properties should be mobile-optimized with device-specific mobile versions or by utilizing responsive templates to ease any existing pain points in the customer shopping experience.

Next, it’s important to rethink how people pay on your website. Analyze what issues customers are having when checking out on mobile. If entering credit card information is presenting an issue, consider investing in technology that allows customers to scan their cards using their phone’s camera.

Incorporate real-time customer support—like LiveChat—on your mobile properties as well, to provide assistance at any point during the buying process. Finally, focus on the mobile needs of your employees in conjunction with your customers. Your workforce can make use of mobile applications and networks to communicate internally, as well as better assist customers as they shop at brick and mortar store locations.

Use the power of these devices to spur meaningful interactions and drive sales on mobile. Start planning for “mobile first” today before there’s too much to catch up on next year.

4 Leverage Mobile-centric Social Apps for Further Visibility

Instagram, Snapchat, Pheed, WeChat, WhatsApp and other mobile-focused social apps are growing their monthly active users at tremendous rates, which further solidifies consumer interest in communicating on these platforms and mobile devices in general.

These platforms allow users to communicate with text, images, video and other media in real-time on simple, visually appealing platforms. Take an active role in discovering how to best incorporate your marketing messaging into these platforms and other similar mobile-centric social apps that will continue to grow in popularity.

According to eMarketer, as of July 2013, 48% of affluent U.S. smartphone owners used their mobile devices to maintain a profile on a social networking site and 63% used them to take, send, receive or post pictures. The use of these social apps isn’t a trend; it represents some of the most common activity performed on mobile phones today. This data represents a monumental opportunity for businesses to get in front of their customers where they’re already active on mobile in a compelling way. It’s important to interact with your customers on your own mobile properties, as well as the other public channels or apps where your audience is active.

Social Networking and Messaging Services: Montly Active Users (millions)

Social Networking and Messaging Services: Montly Active Users (millions)

Image courtesy of Steve Tappin.

Looking at the increasing growth of channels, primarily in China, brands like Durex, Intel and Starbucks have set up branded environments on WeChat to share content that suits the habits of the platform’s users and the brand’s interest graph.

Starbucks specifically used the platform to create musical content based on customer feedback to help launch its new Refresha beverage. The campaign allowed fans to interact with the brand and receive a reward for their efforts, which incentivized 270,000 WeChat fans to participate in the Starbucks experience on their mobile phones.

Start strategizing today on how to emulate Starbucks’s success and the best ways to use these mobile platforms to connect with their growing user bases.

What opportunity in mobile marketing will your business focus on first in 2014? Are there other mobile trends we should have been considered for the upcoming year? Please share your thoughts and insights with @Adknowledge on Twitter.

About the Author

Brian Honigman

Brian Honigman is a marketing consultant, speaker and Adknowledge blog contributor. He has written for Forbes, The Huffington Post, Mashable, Entrepreneur and others. Follow him @BrianHonigman for his musings on the social web.