Hello, robot: Why mobile marketing feels wrong so far

Is it just me or does this holiday season seem a bit quiet? Too quiet. It seems shoppers opted for a safer, digital shopping experience instead of the potentially lethal task of braving the riotous frenzy of Black Friday in America. It shouldn’t come as much of a shock that people are doing a lot more shopping on the Internet, specifically from their mobile devices. While the trend has been on the upswing throughout recent years, it is never clearer than during the holiday shopping season.

Last year’s cyber Monday spend topped out at $1.25 billion. This year’s number increased by 30.3 percent and not just because sales are extended all week. The growth was due in part to the efforts of mobile marketers this season. If you haven’t realized it already, marketers pull out all the stops for holiday shopping. You’ll see your Facebook and Twitter feeds swell with “promoted” posts. Don’t be surprised to see your pinboards blow up with branded content. Marketers will use all their resources to meet consumers where they spend more of their shopping time – on mobile devices. Mobile marketing is maturing and growing to meet the needs of the consumer. Promoting in the news feed landscape is important, but so are more traditional mobile marketing methods.

The push

This time of year, shoppers are likely to receive increasingly frequent texts from retailers as they promote their cyber deals. Any other time of year, this might be an annoying way to catch consumer attention, but in the frenzied landscape of post-Thanksgiving shopping, these texts actually give customers an edge to seize wildly discounted wares before they’re gone. The holiday shopping season reminds us mobile marketing is still a pretty effective way to net sales when used correctly. The medium is evolving and most marketers are moving the platform forward in a real way. Of course, where there is Neo, there is also Agent Smith. Rogue spammers often turn people off various types of mobile ads with their “by any means” tactics that ruin mobile experiences in the name of visibility or a slim shot at conversion. What’s the problem and how can we solve it?

Spam texting

The problem is, too many companies ruin a good thing when it comes to mobile marketing. Seedy companies who send millions of spam texts to randomized numbers leave shoppers with the feeling that any use of texting to communicate with mobile users will only be from companies who have little-to-no concern for their customer’s wants and needs. The texts feel like a privacy violation. Irrelevant, annoying, invasive — users don’t expect spam texts to provide useful, applicable information, so they’re less likely to trust other kinds of mobile marketing. The solution? Mobile marketing works when companies value what the user values: that means informing the mobile user about deals and savings relevant to their interests, projecting localized information applicable to their previous searches and interests on social media, targeting their preferences. Spam texts aren’t concerned with relevancy (whether or not the user is interested); the future for mobile marketing communication will value the user’s interests above all else.

Why search hasn’t worked

Search marketing for mobile users is a whole different animal than the marketing applicable for desktop or laptop users. When we search from desktops and laptops, we want as much information — local, national, universal — as possible. With mobile users, searching is different. We often want our results to gives us hyper-local, applicable results for that specific situation.

The good news: shorter query lengths and information specific to a locale works well for mobile searching and the experts are paying attention. Most mobile users are on the go; they want information specific to their needs and they want it fast. Marketers should focus on short copy, informative text and user-applicable information, like local stores, specials and GPS directions. Mobile technology changes quickly. To stay relevant, marketing should acclimate just as quickly.

Videos we don’t watch

Mobile users are dealing with roughly two-by-four inches of content space and they’re often using the Web for only brief stints of time. Size and time emphatically matter but they aren’t conducive to video marketing. Smartphones vary in size and speed, so it’s a gamble to believe users will witness the same quality of video each time. Content is king when it comes to mobile marketing and quick copy or audio will go further for successful branding.

As technology offers varying forms of mobile use, it’s important for companies to pay attention to how users are likely to use them and how marketing should shift depending on the mobile venue. And that’s the goal here: rather than attempting the most obvious, easiest method for communication and marketing with mobile users — spam texts, annoying videos — companies will have to get creative and play to the strategic advantages of mobile communication if they want to witness success in the future.