On a planet with about seven billion people, 2011 saw an astonishing 5.3 billion mobile subscriptions, about 77 percent of the total population. It is no wonder that mobile ad spending worldwide is predicted to top out at $3.3 billion by the end of 2011, and jump to $20.6 billion by 2015. Much of this advertising will be driven by search ads and local ads. Given those statistics, one cannot ignore the opportunity to tap that "connected" community through mobile marketing. I have put together some of the trends we have seen and may see in the coming year for this channel of opportunity.
Trend 1: Ad spending to reach the mobile segments will continue to rise. Google will likely continue to be the leader in ad revenue, but look for other marketing avenues. Bing could take a bigger share of the advertising pie as well, with more and more search apps being installed on phones and devices utilizing Bing.
Trend 2: For the time being, m-Commerce (or mobile ecommerce) has been primarily an extension of a brand's current online store. Look for this trend to shift a bit, as it becomes easier to make purchases through more mobile friendly site versions, and possibly the use of mobile-only offers. We are already starting to see barcode scanner apps evolve to not only provide additional shopping related information such as price, distance to store, etc., but they are now beginning to include "buy it now" or "add to cart" functionality on the spot. Scan it, compare it, buy it at the best price, and pick it up at the store.
Trend 3: Look for those barcode scanner type apps to evolve even further in the coming year. This could result in some very healthy competition among retailers, not to mention the possible greater risk for losing a customer to a competitor. Imagine this: You walk into a local store, find the item you wanted, scan it with your smartphone barcode reader, find the same product less than a mile away at another store, and for a better price. You buy it by clicking a button on your mobile phone and entering your payment information. The store puts the item on hold for you to pickup. What happens next? You leave the store you originally walked into, only to end up at their competitor down the road, and leave with the item in hand. Expect to see this trend offset with more and more price match guarantees.
Trend 4: Location-based mobile marketing will gain steam. Imagine being able to automatically market to a potential consumer that is in the local area of your brick and mortar store. It is not only a reality to some degree, but is a primary driver of what occurs with apps such as Foursquare and Facebook Places. Take it a step further and consider this: A potential customer performs a search from their mobile device for a product that you offer. In return, they get a listing of stores in their immediate vicinity that have that very product in stock. The advertising is based on GPS position of the potential customer, in relation to the location of your store at a specific time. This type of search ability will grow, and if you do not take advantage of mobile marketing based on location, you will be left out, only to see your competitors reap the rewards.
Trend 5: Smartphone users are on the rise and are projected to reach 73.3 million by the end of 2011. At that rate, smartphone owners will account for around 23 percent of the mobile user population. It is estimated that by 2015 they could very well represent 43 percent or more. Look for potential customers to become more engaged in 2012, as the smartphone segment continues to grow. They are going to expect better, more intuitive mobile versions of websites that allow them to easily shop and find the items they seek.
Trend 6: Social networking continues its dominance among mobile users. More and more users are frequenting social networking apps such as Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare. In fact, a 2010 Keynote / Adobe survey of mobile users asked what their favorite mobile activity was, and 76 percent listed social networking.
Nielsen listed mobile social networking as the fastest growing consumer mobile app category in 2010, and that trend has continued in 2011. Many of these social networking sites are becoming portals for users accessing the Internet, much like search engines were when they arrived on the scene with the advent of the Internet. Mass amounts of messaging and email traffic, videos, photos, games and commerce are exchanged every minute using these tools. If not already doing so, marketers need to begin to think about reaching out to this channel, and increasing their exposure time at every possible opportunity.
Trend 7: Optimizing websites for mobile platforms is a reality. No longer is it good enough to consider a well-optimized site (non-mobile version) the end all, to be all. With the demands mobile is presenting to everyone, consideration needs to be given to continual optimization of a mobile site that aims for increases in speed, image rendering, and accessibility. Onsite usability and traditional search engine optimization rules should apply.
What mobile has in store for us in the coming year is anyone's guess. It is clear, however, that it is shaping up for staggering, possibly record breaking growth once again, that simply cannot be ignored if you are to stay competitive.
Eric Leuenberger is an ecommerce conversion marketing expert and author of a leading Ecommerce blog at www.TheEcommerceExpert.com. He coaches store owners using his online coaching system, EcommerceAmplifier.com, teaching how to increase website sales using his proven six step process. Contact Eric at 1-866-602-2673.
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