Blog post

Mobile Marketing Grows Up

By Jake Sorofman | March 03, 2015 | 1 Comment

digital marketing

Have you noticed that mobile marketing has become less of a thing?

A couple years ago, this technique often felt like the digital equivalent of the guy in the inflatable suit waving you in for a Sunday sale on mattresses.

Sure, you may honk and wave back. You may even laugh. But you’re probably not going in for a look.

Neither targeted nor tasteful, this outmoded approach to mobile marketing was mostly flash, sizzle, and, if you ask me, far too many calories burned for far too little in return.

For the most part, little more than a few parlor tricks and tacky roadside acts.

That’s why mobile marketing has always made me a bit uneasy. Not unlike Las Vegas, theme parks and toothy politicians, to me, it always felt like it was trying too hard. Just a little too breathless in its promises, a little too anxious in its pleas for my participation. I rarely felt it had my needs in mind.

In weaker moments, I submitted to the seductive call, opting in to prove myself wrong. But, far more often than not, my hesitations were affirmed by empty promises and overreaching solicitations.

But that was then. This is now. Mobile marketing has grown up.

In becoming less of a thing, mobile marketing has started to deliver real, honest to goodness value.

Gone is the pursuit of shiny objects, and the checking of boxes to assuage some anxious executive with the unblinking assurances that Yes, we certainly do have a mobile strategy. Gone are the QR codes to nowhere, the mobile apps of unknown purpose and the push messages of uncertain provenance.

For the most part, anyway, the practice of mobile marketing has matured.

In place of yesterday’s ticky-tacky tactics is a more purposeful, more subdued approach to mobile.

As a technique, by virtue of being less of a thing, it’s by no means less important than it used to be; in fact, just the contrary: It’s just dutifully playing the supporting role it was always meant to play.

Marketers are building the foundations for responsive websites. They’re investing in apps when and only if these apps serve some valued and validated purpose—and never simply to have an app.

They’re starting with a clear view of the customer—personas and journey maps that illuminate the moments on the decision journey and over the course of lifetime relationship where mobile tactics and mobile services create real value—for the customer first, for the brand second.

That’s not to say that mobile marketing—or marketing itself—is somehow relieved of the burden of driving business results. Of course, that’s hardly the case. The best mobile strategies—like the best marketing strategies—are found at the intersection of mutual benefit.

One of my favorite examples of this dynamic at play is the Transit Authority for the City of Montreal, which has partnered with local businesses to deliver special offers to commuters who use public transit. This loyalty program for the public good gets cars off the roads, while driving demand for local merchants. During peak periods, the Transit Authority delivers location-based promotions to get commuters off the trains and off the buses and into the cafes and the restaurants.

What’s intriguing about this example is how seamlessly it’s serving both constituents. And the power it provides to both create demand—and, perhaps even more interestingly, to shape demand to optimally utilize available capacity.

Driving mobile marketing maturity is the recognition that mobile, as much or perhaps even more than any other digital marketing technique, depends on a contract of trust between the brand and the customer.

This contract begins with an understanding of what your customer values—and then defining your mobile scenarios accordingly. Anything less are just a few parlor tricks or a tacky roadside attraction.

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1 Comment

  • Andrew (@mccauley_andrew) says:

    Hi Jake – Great post. It seems that mobile marketing is maturing right along with the more general category of digital marketing. Along those lines, how would you characterize the increase of mobile payment apps like at Starbucks or Wendy’s or even the more general ApplePay? Is this a sign of mobile marketing maturing or does this actually fall in a different emerging area of Digital (or Mobile) Commerce?