Yes, this is the year of mobile. You may have heard that last year was the year of mobile, or the year before that, but research is indicating that … drum roll please … 2013 really is the year of mobile.

You may already know that research conducted by the 60 Second Marketer indicates that there are more mobile phone owners than there are toothbrush owners. But what you might not realize is that, of the world’s 4 billion mobile phones, 27% are smartphones, and 75% are SMS enabled.

In the U.S., eMarketer recently noted that by 2016, 62% of the U.S. population would be on smartphones. And to top it all off, according to Cisco, by the end of this year there will be more mobile devices on Earth than people.

Needless to say, mobile isn’t going away anytime soon. With that in mind, here are the top five mistakes that you should avoid before you launch your next (or first) mobile marketing campaign:

Desktop and mobile are not created equal: One of the most easily avoidable mistakes is making sure that you are treating your desktop users and mobile users differently. What renders on your desktop is not going to necessarily render the same on a mobile device and vice versa.

There are still some major brands that continue to make this mistake and lead their consumers to the full version of their website on mobile devices. Loyal consumers may tolerate this and will continue “pinching-and-zooming” to get to the content they’re looking for, but others will quickly abandon the site.

According to stats by Compuware, 57 percent of consumer will not recommend a business with a poorly designed site and are more likely to visit a competitor’s site after a bad user experience.

A best practice is to make sure that you have both a desktop and mobile version of your site available. If you’re still not sure how much of your user base is using their mobile device to access your content, take a look at your website stats and keep in mind that it’s becoming more common for visitors to use their mobile devices to conduct local searches. In a Google and Mobile Marketing Association survey, 53% of American consumers used their smartphones to access search engines at least once a day.

When you think about the content of your mobile site, optimizing the pages also means taking a look at the content on your desktop site and prioritizing the most important information. Mobile content should be concise with important information above the fold.

Because mobile devices have smaller screens, seeing long forms or blocks and blocks of endless copy can hurt the user experience. Avoid having visitors click through multiple pages in the site.

Remember, you have seconds to capture the your mobile audiences’ attention. If you have a lot of content, think about shortening the copy and hiding elements that might not be pertinent to the mobile user.

If you have a form on your site, think about the information that is important to collect and try to find ways to simplify the process for your users. And, for the users who love lots and lots of content, it doesn’t hurt to keep a link to the full version of your site on your mobile page- just in case.

When designing for mobile, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Single-column layouts no wider than 500 to 600 pixels work best.
  • Keep messaging concise and place important elements above the fold.
  • Links and buttons should have a minimum target area of 44 × 44 pixels as this helps prevent accidentally clicking tiny links on touchscreens.

Avoid text spamming: On average, it may take 90 minutes to get a response to e-mail, but only 90 seconds to respond to a text message. Texts are often a great way to get an immediate reaction from your consumer, but just because you have your customer’s mobile phone number doesn’t mean you can automatically begin texting them.

Remember, you always need explicit permission to use your consumer’s number by having them to opt-in to your program. Text charges do apply and you don’t want to anger any of your user base in case they have pre-paid plans or limited text messages available. Many of the SMS platforms that exist today do have those regulations clearly defined to ensure your campaign is in line and provide solutions for single versus double opt-in processes.

You’ll also want to take some time to think about the goal of your SMS program and why your consumers would give you their permission to send them messaging. The most common method used today is to notify users of promotions or offers. 55 percent of consumers express an interest in mobile coupons, but only 10 percent of them have actually received one from a merchant.

Once you’ve got the user’s consent, keep your messages under 160 characters. Anything over that will break up the message into parts and depending on the type of device, your message might not render the way you’d like it to.

Also, remember that messages sent to your subscriber should tell them how they can opt-out of the program (e.g., “Reply STOP to no longer receive messages.”) It’s also a good idea to set the user’s expectations in how many messages they will receive. (e.g., “You will receive 3-5 messages a month.”) Depending on the platform you utilize, these safe guards may already be in place. 

Think local, think benefit: It’s predicted that mobile search will generate 27.8 billion more queries than desktop search by 2016, so you’ll want to ensure visibility in the space by making sure that your site can be found.

Considering that 47% of consumers use their smartphone to search for local information, structure your campaign to address that need. Whether its including directions to your nearest location, or using location-based marketing to reach consumers within a certain radius think about how you can leverage local marketing to retain your audience and reach out to new prospects.

Mobile devices with GPS capability are often being utilized while users are on the go. According the Pew Center, 74% of smartphone owners used their devices to get directions and other location-related information as of February 2012 — up from 55% last May.

Also, an estimated 33% of smartphone owners have shared their location with retailers by using the map feature on a retail app, via a check-in service. If you notice this activity happening, leverage it by offering discounts or offers for check-ins. Rewarding loyalty aids in your retention efforts and will likely lead to referrals of your business.

Using QR codes without direction: According to eMarketer, on average, 19% of US respondents (1 in 5) have scanned a QR Code, the sophisticated counterpart to a barcode. Forrester notes that the number of US mobile phone owners who have used 2D barcodes in the past 3 months increased from 1% in 2010 to 5% in 2011 and reached 15% among smartphone users.

Implementing QR codes can aid in broadening your customer base by providing additional information that you might not be able to include on an advertisement. Typically QR codes can be used for coupons, promotions, discounts, and to get more detailed information.

Given that your customers are technology savvy, QR codes can be used as a supplemental source of information and can be placed on printed materials. When scanned, the code will direct to a mobile site, so make sure that you’re making it clear what the benefit is from scanning your code. Will your customer receive a discount? Will it allow them to learn more about a product? Will it show them a video? Be clear on the benefit and make sure you’re including a call to action to scan.

If you’re just using a QR code for the sake of using it and directing them to your mobile site only, you’re likely going to see very limited engagement. Remember, it’s a way to get customers interested about what you offer, so present them with a benefit.

Building an app with no plan to promote (or just building it to have one): Just because everyone is doing isn’t an excuse that sat well with your parents, and it isn’t an excuse that will sit well as part of your marketing programs either.

Building an app is a costly venture. It takes time, effort, and money, so before you decide to create one for your business, think about the uses of the app. The iPhone App store had 775K apps available in January 2013, so you’ll need to think carefully through how and why users would want to download it.

An alternative to having an app is creating your mobile site with the look-and-feel of the app. This method provides you a way with giving your mobile users access to content without having to go through the extensive app development process.

If you do decide to venture into building an app, avoid alienating your customers by appealing to one type of device. A good place to start is iPhone and Android, but the only way to know for sure is to take a look at your website analytics to get a good gauge of the type of devices your audience is using.

Whether you create a mobile site with the look-and-feel of an app, or if you develop an app, don’t forget to promote it! Your consumer base won’t know it exists unless you tell them that it does, so make sure to leverage your existing channels to promote it.

As always, with any marketing venture, you want to be clear from the get-go about what you want to accomplish. Clearly defining goals for your next mobile marketing campaign will help you as you take the strides to understand what’s developing in the mobile market. It’ll also help make sure you don’t make rookie mistakes in your campaign will allow your program to evolve as the market continues to change.

To stay updated on all things mobile, stay tuned for more 60 Second Marketer blogs.

About the Author: May Advincula is a marketing enthusiast and graduate of the University of Georgia. She has worked on B2C campaigns for primarily service clients (healthcare, financial, and IT) and is currently looking for opportunities to continue to expand her knowledge of all things marketing in the Atlanta area. Connect on LinkedIn

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