What is Mobile Marketing? You Asked, We Answered 

Marketers are quick to recognize the opportunities presented by new consumer-facing products, resources, and technology. For them, whatever product they are currently promoting is always the right product, so they are always looking, instead, for ways in which to match it to the right consumer, in the right place, and at the right time.

From the early days of newspapers, magazines, and other publications, through to radio, television, sporting events, and more recently, the internet. This isn’t to say they fully embraced each of these marketing avenues from the very beginning, just that they had no difficulty doing so once they were able to identify potential opportunities in each.

Image: Maxim Ilyahov/Unsplash. 

And mobile marketing is no different: it took eight years from the introduction of text messaging before the first ad was shared via SMS, but only two years from that first ad to SMS becoming mass media.

But mobile technology has also advanced at a very rapid pace, making it important for marketers to not only embrace mobile marketing but also to closely monitor new developments and shifting trends so that their mobile marketing strategy can be adapted accordingly.

In this article, we will take a closer look at what mobile marketing is, why it’s important, best practices for mobile marketers and how to get the most out of your mobile marketing strategies.

What Is Mobile Marketing?

Mobile marketing is a marketing approach that sees brands and businesses using a variety of techniques to promote their business, brand, product, or service directly to mobile users. In the early days of mobile devices, mobile marketing was limited to SMS, and later MMS.

But as the technology has developed, and the reach and use of mobile phones have grown, mobile marketing has expanded to include email, mobile websites, voice calls, and more recently, mobile apps (with or without push notifications), social media, Quick Response (QR) code marketing, and chat apps.

And while the first SMS marketing ad was sent back in 2000, many of the newer strategies are less than a decade old, highlighting how quickly the technology is evolving.

We have also shifted from using mobile devices with a limited set of features to using smartphones that themselves are capable of more with each update, now also complemented by the addition of tablet devices, and smartwatches.

Why Is Mobile Marketing Important?

Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is mobile marketing?”, we can now look at why it’s such an important digital marketing strategy.

The second edition of Deloitte’s global mobile consumer trends survey in 2017 is our most recent insight into mobile consumer behaviour. The survey was compiled using responses from 53,000 people across 31 countries and five continents.

The survey found that more than 90 percent of the survey participants report owning a mobile phone, with more than 80 percent owning a smartphone. Therefore, mobile devices have incredible reach.

Mobile marketing isn’t limited to smartphone users, but smartphones give businesses more channels and opportunities for mobile marketing strategies than feature phones.

The same survey reveals that more than a third of consumers use their mobile devices within five minutes of waking up, and nearly half of them use their mobile phones for one reason or another at night.

Of course, this is not permission for you to send them mobile marketing messages at any time but serves to illustrate just how important mobile phones have become to consumers.

And while it would be expected that most mobile phone owners use or check their phone at least once every day, more than 20 percent of users admit to using their mobile device 50 or more times a day – roughly once every 20 minutes.

If we bounce back to our desire to reach the right consumer, in the right place, and at the right time, no other marketing platform comes close to competing with mobile phones.

Better yet, mobile marketing is one of the more cost-effective marketing strategies compared to radio or television adverts. Therefore, your SMS campaign will not only reach your customers in the palm of their hands but also save you money in the long run.

Why Does Mobile Marketing Remain so Popular?

An informal survey by Esendex at the start of 2018 found that more than 70 percent of respondents claim to read every text message they receive, with the highest rate in most countries being among users aged 18 to 34 years old.

Perhaps the top reason for all businesses to consider mobile marketing – aside from it being affordable, and therefore accessible to even small business owners – is the fact that it offers multi-channel reach for your customers.

In addition to being able to send out marketing text messages, you can also use a mobile app with push notifications, create a responsive website that is perfectly accessible on a mobile device, benefit from local search, use email marketing, use social media platforms, and chat apps.

You are able to reach your customers wherever they are, and they – in turn – are able to reach you wherever they are. Google’s “Mobile Path to Purchase” report might be five years old now, but the findings are no less applicable today:

  • Most consumers start researching new products or services on a smartphone, using a search engine such as Google.
  • They spend more than 15-hours a week researching on their phones, and visit mobile websites up to six times on average.
  • Almost three-quarters of mobile phone users searching for a business or service on their phone expect the business to be within five miles of their current location.
  • More than half of these customers want to make a purchase within an hour of researching products and services on their phones.
  • More than 90 percent of people who research a product or service on their mobile devices go on to complete a purchase, with most of these transactions happening in a physical store.

How to Create a Mobile Marketing Strategy

Understand Your Mobile Target Audience

As with any marketing strategy, effective mobile marketing begins with understanding your target audience. Except this time around you aren’t only interested in their general demographics and interests, you are also interested in what mobile marketing channels they are most likely to use, be exposed to, and react to.

Ideally, you would already have created buyer personas representing your customers and target audience for your other marketing activities, and assuming your audience hasn’t changed since you first created these, you can reuse them. However, you will need to do additional research to fill out each persona with:

  • The mobile channels or touch-points they use or are exposed to most often, and
  • Where each mobile user typically gets information from: how they research products and services, and how they use this to make purchasing decisions, and how they actually make the purchase, i.e. is it in-store, via e-commerce websites, or via mobile apps.

This will help you determine which mobile advertising channels to focus on, along with shaping:

  • The type of content you create, and
  • The channels you use to distribute the content, along with the tone of the content.

Remember, one size does not fit all. How you share content and marketing messages via a mobile app – and push notifications – will be quite different to doing it via text messaging, or even through social media, email messages, and your website.

Image: Firmbee/Unsplash.

Set out Goals for Your Mobile Marketing Campaign

The goals for your mobile marketing strategy need to feed into the goals for your business.

Remember that the primary goals for the business are achieved through smaller goals that are influenced by your marketing campaigns.

For example, your primary goal could be to grow sales by 6 percent, but to achieve that you may have identified that:

  • You need to build your brand so that customers identify you first whenever they think about your industry, rather than any of your competitors, or
  • You need to attract new customers who are either unaware of your brand, or haven’t had a compelling need to use your brand, or
  • You need to retain existing customers by improving your relationship with them, and strengthening the reason(s) for them to keep supporting you.

Your goal for your mobile marketing can’t be to grow sales by X percent since sales performance is influenced by many different factors in your business and the markets you operate in, making it almost impossible to attribute any overall sales growth to mobile marketing exclusively.

But when deciding what your goals for your mobile marketing strategy are going to be, you need to also consider what you already have in place:

  • Do you have a mobile-friendly website, and is it properly optimised to boost engagement with customers on mobile devices? A mobile-optimized website is one of the most important best practices when it comes to mobile marketing.
  • If you already use email marketing, are your outgoing messages optimized for mobile devices? Many mobile users view emails on their handheld devices exclusively, even if they have regular access to a desktop device.
  • Do you have a mobile app? Are you promoting it properly, and do you have a push notification strategy in place for your mobile app?
  • Are you currently sending out any text messages to your existing customer database?

Now, for each mobile marketing activity you already have in place, consider how well it is performing – is it achieving the results you wanted, and if so, are there opportunities to improve it?

Tip: Don’t implement new mobile marketing activities and goals if the ones you already have in place aren’t performing as well as they should. Instead, focus first on establishing if they are the right activities and goals for your business and audience, and then working on them so that they do deliver the results you want.

Create Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Your Mobile Marketing Campaign

What is mobile marketing if you can’t measure the performance of your efforts?

In a digital world, there are many different key performance indicators (KPIs) to consider and trying to track all of them is not an option for small businesses.

The previous point had you setting goals for your mobile marketing activities, and these will decide which KPIs to track for your mobile marketing strategy.

Primary KPIs would frequently include the following:

  • Cost Per Install (CPI) or Cost Per Acquisition (CPA): CPI is obviously reserved only for businesses with a mobile app and looks at the costs associated with getting users to install the app – primarily ad-related. CPA is better for measuring the performance of your other advertising campaigns that are meant to drive visitors to specific areas of your site, and perform specific actions: email marketing, drip campaigns, registering for an account, or even making a purchase. Both KPIs are about measuring the cost of acquiring users and/or customers.
  • Open, click-through, and conversion rates: These are measured specifically in relation to SMS and email marketing. The delivery rate is also important, but once that has been assessed, you need to look at how many people who actually received your marketing messages opened them, how many followed any of the links in the message, and finally, how many converted as a result of the message. For advertising campaigns, you would look at click-through and conversion rates, where conversion would either be a user converting to a lead (signing up for email marketing, etc.) or to a customer (buying a product or service offered by you).
  • Retention percentage and Daily/Monthly Active Users (DAU or MAU): Retention percentage applies to SMS and email marketing, and to mobile apps and looks at how many users opt-out, unsubscribe, or uninstall. DAU and MAU is less interested in how many users uninstall your app, and instead looks at how many of them use your app daily or monthly. The retention percentage for your app might be high, but it doesn’t mean too much if the customers who have your app installed aren’t using it regularly.
  • Revenue: Specifically, what impact are your mobile marketing activities having on overall revenue?

Image: Georgia de Lotz/Unsplash. 

Types of Mobile Marketing 

Mobile marketing comes in many different shapes and forms. The key is to choose the strategy best suited to your business and target audience.

Mobile search ads

These are ads that appear on web pages or apps and are viewed on smartphones and tablets.

This mobile marketing technique can be set up from ad network providers, such as Google Ads or AdMob.

These ads can appear on mobile search results or mobile optimized websites. You can modify them according to your campaign and they can be in text, video, click-to-call or app content formats.

SMS Marketing 

An SMS campaign is when marketers send short text messages to their client base. These messages mainly include promotions or upcoming special offers.

Although SMS campaigns are the oldest form of mobile marketing, it is still one of the most popular strategies because it is cost-effective and has an extremely high reach.

However, SMS marketing can be complicated because you need to obtain the phone numbers of clients you want to market to. Therefore, you need a database of individuals who have consented to let you send them texts.

Image: Adem AY/Unsplash. 

App-based marketing 

This marketing strategy involves pop-up ads appearing on mobile user’s apps.

This can include banner ads or videos with different marketing messages, from ad services to encouraging users to perform a particular action.

This form of marketing is particularly popular on gaming apps.

Location-based marketing

Location-based marketing uses a mobile device’s physical location to alert the user to a nearby promotion.

By using a person’s location data, marketers can reach potential customers based on their proximity to businesses and events happening in a particular mile radius.

Location-based marketing is only effective if a user downloads an app and agrees to share their mobile devices’ current location.

Therefore, it would be best practice to obtain users’ permissions before implementing this mobile marketing strategy.

Quick-Response (QR) code Marketing: 

QR codes are the newest kid on the mobile advertising block. Users scan the code with their mobile cameras and are immediately directed to your website.

QR codes are great because they promote interaction and engagement with users through their mobile devices.

Image: Markus Winkler/Unsplash.

Effective Mobile Marketing Tools

As a first time mobile marketer, you may not know where to begin designing your mobile marketing strategy. Luckily, these mobile marketing tools are here to help.

Google Marketing Platform

The Google Marketing Platform is a newly launched service from Google which makes it easier for businesses to access and activate various Google tools for growing a business online. For small businesses this includes:

  • Analytics
  • Data Studio
  • Optimize
  • Surveys
  • Tag Manager

Analytics is obviously the most important tool here, but there is also value for small business owners in Optimize, Surveys, and Tag Manager. At the very least you are going to be using Analytics to understand who your customers are, where they are, what they are doing on your website, and what device they are using to access your website.

Google rebranded AdWords to Google Ads in 2018; the same powerful tool that simplifies the entire process of creating online advertising campaigns, just with a new name. With Google Ads, you are able to set up ad campaigns, create the ads, control your ad spend, and view the results of any or all of your campaigns.

And with Google Ads, you don’t only get to advertise your business in search results, you can also create ads that run across all of Google’s other properties – including YouTube, Google Maps, and Google Play – and are displayed on Google partner sites, and in mobile apps that support in-app advertising.

This means that you can reach your customers with Google Ads on their mobile devices. Types of mobile ads can include text ads, image ads, mobile app promotion ads or click-to-call ads.

Mobile ads are a single solution that gives you an incredibly wide reach.


As great as Google Analytics is, especially as a business is just beginning to measure, understand, and act on a variety of customer-centric metrics, there will come a time when your business needs more insight into customer behaviour.

Mixpanel is a step up from Google Analytics, offering advanced analytics into user interaction with websites and mobile apps, and offering businesses better ways in which to engage with potential customers. These include more advanced methods of segmenting users, and tracking conversions.

With Mixpanel you aren’t only learning what works on your site or in your mobile app, but you are able to use these insights to improve your site, mobile app, and your mobile marketing strategy.


As the name suggests, Localytics is – at its core – also about analytics, but exclusively focused on rich analytics and insights into mobile app performance. If your business has a mobile app, they should also be using Localytics to discover everything from how users behave in your app, where they are coming from, where in your app they stall or stop using it, and even when users uninstall your app.

More than this, you are also able to perform multiple split tests to identify which in-app marketing strategy drives better results, along with actually managing in-app marketing, from remarketing through targeted ads, to push notifications, and the use of geofencing to reach customers with highly focused messages when they are close to your location, or that of a competitor.

AdMob by Google 

This is Google’s mobile ad network, and it’s designed to help you earn money from your apps.

AdMob can help you set up in-app ads and see valuable insights, and it also has a host of tools to grow your mobile app business.


If you don’t have a mobile app for your business yet or want to be able to reach customers who don’t have the app installed, traditional SMS marketing is still capable of delivering great results.

With BulkSMS you don’t need to resort to using different tools to send text messages to customers in different countries, the service is supported by more than 800 mobile networks in 200+ countries.

Although you don’t get to know much more than whether or not your SMS was delivered, you are able to personalise each message, schedule them, and recipients can also respond to your messages.

Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark is a family of products that make it easier for businesses to create stunning graphics, web stories, and video stories. You can create flyers, graphics for your website or for use in social media posts, along with a number of other different uses. With a paid account you can easily add your own branding, including colour palette, to each image and/or story, and have access to your own personal library of visual content across desktop and mobile devices.

It doesn’t replace the need for a professional designer for some projects, but it can make it much easier for businesses, especially small to medium businesses, to create some visual content independently, and without the need for a supersized marketing budget.


Buffer has been a long-time favourite for marketers who want to save time by scheduling social media posts in advance. With support for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram, you’re covered for all the top social media platforms.

The free plan does limit users to connecting only three accounts and scheduling up to 10 posts in advance, but with a paid account you can connect up to 150 different accounts, and schedule up to 2,000 posts.

Buffer has their own image creation tool – Pablo – which is included with all plans, along with a video and GIF uploader. Scheduling posts in advance is a great time-saver, but does require careful coordination to ensure the content is scheduled for the right time, and the right day – you’re unlikely to want to post a Christmas offer in March.

Implement, Measure, and Optimise For Mobile Marketing

Once you have researched your audience, established the types of mobile marketing strategies you are going to focus on, established goals for each of the mobile marketing channels or activities you are going to follow, and decided on the KPIs you are going to use for each, you need to finally implement your strategy, measure its impact on your business, and continuously optimise it.

You optimise based on your KPIs and your goals. Any poor KPIs need to be broken down to understand why performance is lacking, which then allows you to adjust the parts of your strategy that influence that KPI.

It’s not enough to simply say that SMS or email marketing is not working and to then drop this activity from your strategy, especially if your customer research suggested this is what most of your customers would respond to.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • Have you tried different subject lines and messages?
  • Is your message – and email – optimised for mobile, and is it going out at the right time?
  • Are the offers in your message compelling?
  • Have you tried A/B testing, with two or three different messages and/or offers being sent to different sets of customers?

Your mobile marketing strategy should be a living document that is regularly updated and adapted according to what works best for your specific industry and audience.

We hope that this guide will help you take advantage of the world of mobile marketing and turn clicks into revenue.

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