Mobile Tactics for a Social World

If you're a digital integrated marketing professional who isn't thinking 50 percent mobile deployment, then you are already behind the curve. Anything less and you’re acting like that last printer in town who refuses to utilize InDesign because he’s absolutely certain Quark will finally version out a better product.

I get it. There are only so many hours in the day. And thinking about or learning about ONE more thing means taking time away from the “important things.”

But let's face it – everyone and their mother's brother walks around with a smart phone these days. Find me the marketing guy who is dead set on catering to the non-smart-phone audience, and I’ll show you the one guy in the room with a flip phone in his pocket.

Don’t listen to him. He needs to slip into his Member’s Only jacket and drive a Taurus to happy hour at Bennigan’s.

You can hang out with me at the microbrew bar while I get you on the fast track to all things social and mobile.

I won’t get into the specifics of the applications, or the strategies and tactics you should use around your campaigns. This is a simple outline with enough information to make you sound like the smartest person in the room during your next concept meeting.

You can thank me later. I like Threadless.com T-shirts. I'm an XL.

If you click away from this cheat sheet with just one piece of meaningful information locked in for future reference, it’s this: Mobile is mobile.

“Ah, yes, Justice. NOW we see why your services are in such high demand …”

But seriously – you might be surprised how many people overlook the simple attributes that make the mobile platform so conducive to marketing. The most important thing to remember is that the users are MOBILE.

Think about how you can differentiate what you’re already doing with the knowledge that users are not bound geographically. For example: Rewards or referral programs can leverage the user’s transient status as she moves into proximity of a favorite retail store or coffee shop. You dig?

Paid mobile advertising:

Yep, this is pretty much what you would think. Just like you have online media placement for primary digital brands, you have the same thing in a mobile capacity as well. Brands such as Google, CNN and ESPN have standard ad networks in which you can buy mobile advertising.

Depending on the nature of your audience, you may also want to look at the healthy array of smaller, independent publications such as Gawker, Huffington Post and so on. I also suggest that you look at “blog ad" networks; the audience is highly focused, and typically extremely loyal.

Game/app in-content engagement:

There are plenty of digital firms capable of building a customized game for you or your client. But when you talk about gaming, there are several different levels of “game mechanics.” You have signature games such as “Angry Birds” or “Words with Friends.” But “in-content” engagement can happen at an affiliate level, impression level or as a fully branded game in its totality.

User-generated content deployment:

You can find this from just about any application running a contest or seeking to gain fans for its digital assets. This can be something such as the Pinterest “Pin it to Win It,” or Instagram’s photo-of-the-day contests. These are just a couple examples of large online brands advocating audience content creation.

Custom IP tools:

We can pretty much shoot the moon within this category. If you have the money, a digital firm or integrated marketing agency can create just about anything your heart desires. There is a lot of custom-created intellectual property coming from the B2B space, and acting as internal components to business processes. Look for large corporations and brands to streamline redundant tasks or hone interdepartmental communications by developing their own custom tools.

Rewards and referral incentives:

Most activity in this category migrates from existing online applications. If a travel agent or hotelier recruits you for a rewards program on their website, the integration extends to their mobile applications well. As I mentioned above, think about how you can make a rewards program unique with the knowledge that the user is more than likely traveling or vacationing.

Mobile app development requires you to be a bit assumptive in your prototyping. But always keep the user in mind. Think about how a stranger will react to your design. In the long run, only post-release testing and optimization will further refine the effectiveness of your program.

Gamification, score/rank incentives:

I've talked a lot about gamification in previous posts. The most important thing you can keep in mind when constructing a mobile environment with gamification elements is how to make it addictive. People like to win. People like to brag. People especially like to win and then brag to their social graph. It's up to you to figure out a way to leverage this competitive commonality in order to maximize effectiveness.

Web–based mobile content and applications:

The definition of web-based mobile content is simply that you've constructed a design and layout that functions within the browser, and not as a standalone application based on the phone's operating system. Therefore, you can accomplish most goals with a web-based application. You may find, however, that your audience has an affinity for a particular operating system. Within that OS, you may find tools and functionality that cannot be replicated, and therefore you would want to create a custom solution. 

Mobile optimized e-mail marketing:

The trend in all website and interactive design is to use “responsive” layouts, coding, and user interface scenarios. The same can be said for e-mail. A standard e-mail template that is 600 pixels wide is not appropriate for a mobile user. Therefore, savvy marketers will construct responsive e-mail scenarios for mobile deployment. Expect those e-mails to integrate within the functionality of the phone’s tools in order to further explore the content and messaging of the e-mail.

SMS list development and appointment:

SMS, or “short message service,” is the text messaging portion of most common smart phones. Just as you develop e-mail lists of loyal customers, you should also collect cell-phone numbers to construct SMS lists. This will be incredibly useful for brands that have audiences requiring strict calendars and scheduling. Don’t forget that you can notify this community pre, during and post within a campaign.

IOS and android mobile applications:

Just as outlined with web-based mobile content applications, these solutions are bound by the smart phone's operating system. I would recommend that you do a great deal of due diligence prior to implementing an application specific to an operating system. Analyze your audience’s technological aptitude, and their affinity to a particular smart phone and version, in order to determine how robust your application should be. Remember that even though you can build something ultra-cool, it won’t be utilized if it confuses your audience.

Social sharing integration:

Content-creation applications such as Instagram and Path allow you to distribute that content to social channels, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr. And as we all look for new ways to connect to our user’s social channels, we also need to be mindful of their interest in doing so. Is your mobile marketing a private or personal experience? Perhaps it's more of a B2B model, and it requires high security due to its content. All these factors need to be taken into account when determining if social integration is appropriate.

Proximity and location-based marketing:

One of the keystones of smart-phone marketing is that you can utilize it based on your GPS coordinates. Therefore your phone serves you the appropriate location-based information based on your position. When CMO's and integrated marketers fight for mindshare of consumers, much of the availability comes from the “consideration set.”

What is the consideration set?

When I go to a destination such as a restaurant, and I’m utilizing a proximity-based marketing tool such as Foursquare, Gowalla or Yelp, I can learn about other deals or specials based on proximity. Even though I had my heart set on the particular restaurant, I might be swayed by a compelling offer from a restaurant adjacent to my first choice. 

This “digital haggling” is the future of micro-commerce. Think of entering the mall and not simply shopping for a product, but hunting for deals. Multiply that by targeted profiles of your interests, brand affinities and buying behaviors, and you have a compelled buyer.

So the next time you get into a conversation with your CMO and you throw in a line item for mobile development, you can serve up a hard bitch-slap of options.

As always, I would love to hear your feedback. Let me know if I missed anything.

Lastly, if you're a mobile application developer/designer, please feel free to send me samples of your work. I would love to have you in my network.

Thanks!