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Mobile should enhance consumer experience, not interrupt

By Hjalmar Winbladh

Spending on mobile marketing is on the rise. Surprise, surprise. It is evident why everywhere you turn. We are all spending more time staring at our tiny mobile screens.

For marketers, this is a giant problem and, in turn, a wonderful opportunity.

Adds up
The biggest of those problems is that mobile advertising, as we know it today, sucks.

The flashy banner and display ads – even lots of search ads – just do not generate the same results as they did on desktop computers.

Nonetheless, this year spending on mobile marketing – including mobile advertising, mobile customer-relationship management and mobile direct-response marketing – will reach $10.46 billion, according to a new study by the Mobile Marketing Association done in partnership with IHS Global Insights.

By 2015, the study says, spending on mobile will approach $20 billion.

Mobile advertising accounts for the biggest share of total mobile marketing spending, at just under 50 percent of expenditures this year, or $4.87 billion – a share that is expected to hold pretty steady through 2015.

Some people in the industry think that number is super conservative, and that United States mobile ad spending could reach as much as $7.3 billion this year.

With high consumer engagement and sizable adverting budgets at work, there is no reason why marketers should not get some pretty amazing measureable return on that spend.

So, if old-school ad formats are not doing the job on mobile, what is a marketer to do?

Words’ worth
Sunil Gupta, head of the marketing unit at Harvard Business School, says the best way for marketers to communicate with consumers through mobile is with applications. Why? Because apps, which consume 82 percent of consumers’ mobile minutes, will trump traditional ads in part because consumers do not perceive them as advertising.

Instead of buying mini-banner advertisements, Mr. Gupta says marketers should be creating or using others’ apps that add value to consumers’ lives and enhance long-term engagement with their brands.

And, in my opinion, better yet if those apps can inconspicuously incorporate some means of amplifying word-of-mouth recommendations between friends.

This is what the industry is starting to call friend-to-friend marketing – where you leverage the millions of hours we all spend every day on social networks, and insert the brand in positive dialogue between people in a social graph.

And because of the social graph’s basic nature, this positive dialogue between people about the brand is, in turn, seen by their hundreds of mutual friends, adding even more value to the initial brand recommendation.

Who in marketing does not already know the value of word-of-mouth? If I tell one of my friends that Guess or Victoria’s Secret or Tommy Hilfiger is super cool, it is worth 20 times more than if one of those brands tells my friend directly.

Today, four-fifths of customers on social media find out about brands and products on social media through friends and family, while 36 percent find them through salespeople, according to a new study from Forrester Research.

The survey of sales professionals also found that content marketing helped sales representatives engage with customers, with one marketing manager noting that “the social posts that create the most engagement are the personal posts.”

SOCIAL MOBILE friend-to-friend marketing tools that are capable of changing the game already exist and are readily available. It just takes some guts and leadership to start using them, as seen daily from brands as diverse as H&M to Nike to Lancôme.

I think it is high time for mobile marketers who are responsible for driving traffic and sales to physical stores to stop dilly-dallying. Actually do something that your target consumers would appreciate – something as Harvard’s Mr. Gupta would say enhances the consumer experience instead of interrupting it.

Hjalmar Winbladh is founder/CEO of Wrapp, Stockholm, Sweden. Reach him at [email protected].