Mobile marketing is a major factor in online success.
From the sheer number of mobile devices out there to Google’s decision to move to a mobile-first index, it’s become critical that brands adapt their marketing strategies to account for the smaller screen.
In this article, I’ll explore 22 mobile marketing strategies, as well as provide some examples of brands that are really killing it on this front.
Mobile is about as personal as it gets.
Phones spend the day in someone’s pocket. They’re the first thing we see in the morning and the last thing we see before falling asleep.
For marketers, this intimacy presents an opportunity to connect with an audience in more ways than ever before.
However, getting your strategy right involves a lot more than simply optimizing your website for mobile.
Marketers must get creative about how they reach their audience, engage with them, and yes, optimize the mobile experience.
1. Be Sure Your Site Passes the Mobile-Friendly Test
Before you dive into your mobile marketing strategy, you’ll need to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly.
Like the Page Speed Insights test, Google’s mobile-friendly test allows users to enter a URL to see how their page scores.
Though there are several elements that come into play when it comes to preparing for the mobile-first future, mobile-friendliness is one of the most important ways to determine if your website is accessible to mobile users. A site might have a responsive interface and fast-loading pages but still fail to provide a great experience on mobile.
2. Identify Your Mobile Audience
Aside from getting a mobile-friendliness score, it’s also a smart idea to find out who your mobile users are. How does your audience break down by device? How about by channel?
More people use their phones to check social media channels than they do to visit websites.
But, it’s worth pointing out that if you have an engaged social following on mobile, there’s an opportunity to connect with these users by promoting loyalty programs, SMS campaigns, social shopping, etc.
That said, the first step in figuring out which mobile strategies to use is determining which will align with your customer personas. Start by answering the following questions:
- Which mobile touch-points make sense for your target market?
- What kind of content will you create?
- Where does your audience spend time online?
- How do they find information?
- What applications does your customer use?
Beyond doing some mobile persona building, you’ll want to look at how you’re currently approaching mobile. For example, are you using responsive design in your emails? Do you have an app or use push notifications? If so, how are these efforts performing?
3. Set Measurable Goals for Mobile Marketing
New to mobile marketing? If so, you’ll want to create a set of goals that will help you measure your success. Without the right goals in place, you may end up with a fragmented marketing strategy where mobile, social, and desktop don’t quite come together in a unified customer experience.
Mobile marketing can help you get in front of a highly-targeted, high-intent audience, but you still need to set goals and identify the KPIs that prove you’re on track to reach them. Goals may include things like driving conversions, increasing brand awareness, or generating leads, just like you would with Google Ads or Paid Social.
For example, if you’re hoping to grow your list of SMS subscribers, track metrics like new opt-ins and unsubscribe rates. Or, if you’re hoping to increase the number of mobile conversions, start by optimizing various points of conversion and measuring improvement.
4. Use Mobile-Specific Tools
When considering how to approach your mobile marketing strategy on the whole, think about building it around mobile-centric tools. This means embracing features like GPS, QR codes, and click-to-call functionality.
The point is to address the needs of smartphone users in a way you won’t find with marketing strategies built for the desktop.
That said, if you’re thinking of adopting new technology to give your mobile marketing strategy a boost, make sure it aligns with your audience.
5. Make Sure Your Content is Built for the Small Screen
Sure, Netflix lets you watch movies on your phone, but is it the best way to view a piece of two-hour content? Not so much. Think about the medium. When people are out and about, they’re likely not going to want to read a 3,000-word article with an endless scroll.
When you’re creating a mobile content strategy, keep the medium in mind. Videos should be a few minutes, tops, perfect for catching someone on their break or while they wait in line for a coffee.
Written content should also embrace brevity. Instead of writing long paragraphs, embrace bullet points and bold, eye-catching headings. Use numbered lists, images, and plenty of white space so readers can easily scan your site to find the information they need.
This extends to headlines as well. Whether you’re writing an article headline or email subject line, you have to account for a smaller screen, which means fewer characters for you to play with. Keep your headlines short, to the point, and persuasive enough to earn a click.
6. Use Big, Tappable Buttons to Drive Action
Any marketing article will talk about the importance of CTAs. They need to stand out, drive action with “power” words, and ideally, look like a button so people instinctively click.
With mobile, size is a big deal, too. To optimize your CTAs, increase the size of your most important conversion points. You want to make it easy for people to buy, subscribe, or sign up using their thumbs.
Here’s a great example from Evernote. Its mobile site features a big, can’t-miss “Sign Up For Free” button.
7. Make Sure Google My Business is Updated
A large share of all voice searches are conducted by searchers on the go as they search for directions or businesses nearby.
Those results are pulled based on a business’s Google My Business profile. As such, keeping yours updated and accurate ensures that the right information is pulled for searchers at the right time.
And, GMB is designed to help local businesses gain more visibility. Google aims to deliver fast results that help users find what they’re looking for by keeping them in the SERPs for added convenience.
For marketers, GMB entries might not always lead to clicks and conversions, but they help consumers find you out in the wild.
To optimize for all those “near me” searches, you’ll want to make sure that you check that the following information is up-to-date:
- Business Name
- Phone Number
- Business Category
Beyond making sure your NAP (name, address, phone number) info is correct, you’ll want to add images and videos to your GMB page and get some reviews. As of 2017, Moz reported that reviews account for roughly 13% of Google’s local ranking factors and go a long way in building trust among potential customers.
Think about it this way: when was the last time you chose a restaurant with zero reviews over another with hundreds of glowing recommendations?
8. Use Structured Markup to Connect with Local Mobile Users
If you have a physical location, optimizing for local SEO is one of the best ways to capture those “near me” searches. As such, you’ll want to add location schema to your website to improve your appearance in local search.
This is useful because brands can highlight key details like contact information, business hours, calendar events, or the ability to book a reservation or an appointment directly from Google.
All of those essential details included in your GMB profile can be marked up, bringing more functionality to the SERP experience and reducing the need for searchers to click through to your website.
9. Get Hyper-Local with Your Targeting
Hyperlocal marketing is a targeting method designed to reach customers within a super-specific area. We’re talking a matter of blocks or even just around the corner.
Hyperlocal targeting has risen alongside the popularity of “near me” searches and Google’s increasingly in-depth Maps feature.
While we’re used to thinking about how we might expand our reach to a larger, global audience, hyperlocal’s geographically-limited approach aims to drive nearby mobile users to action in real-time.
For example, you might use this approach to send a special offer to social media followers if they happen to be within walking distance of your storefront.
10. Optimize for Voice
Voice, local, and mobile SEO are all closely linked.
Most voice-based queries come from mobile users seeking quick answers on the go. Maybe they’re in an unfamiliar part of town and need directions or a restaurant recommendation.
Voice is changing SEO. We’ve long been conditioned to target keywords that mirror the way people type, not how people talk. Today, marketers are better off incorporating long-tail keywords that read more like complete sentences than fragments.
While this should seem intuitive, it’s worth pointing out that people type using as few words as possible to perform a search. On the flipside, we tend to talk to our digital assistants like a friend (albeit, one we boss around).
I’ll also mention this; the Google Assistant tends to read the position zero results out loud when answering voice-based queries. So, marketers need to respond by creating engaging, concise content that mirrors searcher intent.
Tools like Answer the Public or Google’s “people also ask” are particularly useful for finding the questions people are asking. Once you’ve identified some winners, use them in your H2 tags and answer them in the body.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can optimize for voice, check out my guide to voice search SEO.
11. Use Click-to-Call and Click-to-Text
Click-to-call or text alone isn’t exactly a marketing strategy. However, this small but important detail gives users the ability to get in touch more easily.
Often brands do really well when it comes to creating mobile-friendly websites, but they end up missing a key pain point. People don’t have the time or patience to copy phone numbers from your site or fill out a form from their phones.
By taking the simple step to create clickable contact links, you make it easier for potential customers to get in touch.
12. Augmented Reality
Though the Pokemon GO fad has lost steam since its 2016 debut, augmented reality (AR) continues to grow, particularly within the mobile marketing space.
AR has huge potential to increase ROI, spanning multiple use cases that range from healthcare and education to e-commerce and entertainment.
Examples include apps that shoppers try on clothing or makeup from the comfort of home or helping people imagine how furniture might look in their home before they buy.
It’s also worth noting that you can still use AR even if you don’t have a mobile app. Facebook Messenger introduced an AR tool for business users last year, allowing brands to bring AR stickers and overlays into the Messenger ecosystem.
13. Vertical Video
We reportedly hold our phones vertically about 94% of the time, which makes sense given that phones are naturally oriented that way. Perhaps it’s due to the rise of live content and mobile video or the fact that tilting our phones to watch a video kind of sucks.
In any case, the rise of vertical video proves that we’re adapting to the mobile-first ecosystem. Brands can capitalize on vertical by running Stories Ads on Instagram or embracing channels like IGTV and Snapchat to reach mobile viewers.
Podcasts are hot right now, but they might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think “mobile marketing.” And, sure, it’s worth pointing out that podcasts are still relatively new as a marketing channel.
But because they are largely downloaded and listened to on mobile devices, they fit neatly into a brand’s mobile marketing strategy.
Content marketing is all about sharing knowledge in a compelling way, and podcasting is the perfect way to share your long-form ideas with a mobile audience that can download episodes from a wide range of platforms–Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, as well as your website and social media channels.
Consider hosting a weekly or biweekly podcast to keep your audience informed and entertained. Your approach will depend on your business, but as is the case with in-depth written content, the aim is to become a go-to expert in your field.
A few examples of brands doing podcasting well:
- Sephora: Sephora’s #LIPSTORIES podcast is about more than selling makeup. The brand partnered with Girlboss Radio to deliver a six-part series focused on interviewing female founders and creators from companies like REVOLVE and Flywheel.
- McDonald’s: McDonald’s created a podcast as a way to apologize for the Szechuan Sauce fiasco from a few years back. Aptly named, The Sauce, the podcast follows a “Serial” type format detailing the disaster. Jano Cabrera, SVP of Corporate Relations told AdWeek, the reason for the podcast was, McDonald’s wanted to apologize and acknowledge their mistake in a creative, transparent way.
- Slack: Slack has been podcasting for a while. They’ve put together a few podcasts, 2016’s Slack Variety Pack, as well as the more recent, The Customer Success Podcast. Slack’s approach is similar to Sephora’s–the productivity brand interviews founders and thought leaders from different companies, but they take things a step further by adding a how-to element into the fold. You’ll find topics like “How to Create an Effective Customer Journey Map” or “How IBM Leads with Customer Success” which offer some actionable insights to listeners.
- GE: GE’s approach is a bit different. In 2015, the brand debuted a podcast called The Message, along with a branded network, GE Podcast Theater. GE has shied away from simply hosting their own content, instead, partnering with Vox Media and NY Times VR in a sponsorship capacity. In all, the effect is similar to your average unbranded podcast that plays ads from HelloFresh or Bombas Socks.
Now, these guys are BIG brands. However, the beauty of podcasting is, you need little more than great content and a handful of recording tools.
Keep in mind, if you plan on making podcasting a part of your mobile marketing strategy, you need to approach it as a relationship-building tool like the brands we’ve mentioned above.
Interviews tend to work well here, so it may be worthwhile to start reaching out to industry contacts and colleagues to help out.
15. Live Mobile Videos
Most social platforms now have a broadcast feature that allows users to post live content in front of their brand, and apparently, audiences are eating it up.
According to Single Grain, 80% of consumers would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a blog post. Additionally, 82% of that same group said they prefer live video to standard social posts.
And, because of their live nature, these types of videos are especially well-suited for a mobile audience, as they’re able to catch user’s while they’re on-the-go.
Types of content well-suited for “live” include:
- Behind the scenes
- Q&A sessions
As mentioned, just about all of the social channels offer a live component these days—which brings us to this question, which channels make the most sense for live streaming?
The channel depends on where your customers hang out online and whether they view your brand in a professional context or a personal one. Facebook Live caters to the largest audience of the bunch, whereas Instagram Stories and Snapchat are ideal for B2C brands trying to reach a younger, visually-oriented audience.
A few examples of where brands are using live content to connect with audiences:
- Experian uses live videos to host a weekly Q&A, #creditchat on Twitter, which covers topics like student loans, debt, and credit.
- General Motors took to Facebook Live to announce the arrival of the Chevy Bolt EV.
- IMPACT runs regular Website Throwdowns on YouTube Live–a live website critique anyone can submit to.
The key thing to remember is that regardless of the channel, Live content must be engaging and provide something of value to the audience. The IMPACT example might focus on one website each throwdown, but they use the critique as a learning experience for anyone who tunes in.
16. User-Generated Campaigns
User-generated content is a great way to boost your social media presence without having to hire additional marketers or work with an outsourced team. Plus, it’s perfect for mobile–users already have a content-making machine at their disposal at any given moment.
But, UGC is about more than passing the buck to your audience. Done right, UGC is perfect for increasing mobile engagement, building trust, and growing an audience. Plus, it’s cheaper than paying an influencer.
It’s well-documented that people trust word of mouth recommendations from friends, family, and internet strangers more than from brands themselves. UGC takes the authenticity of a personal recommendation and gives it a strong visual appeal. According to AdWeek, 85% of users view UGC as more influential than photos and videos from the brand.
Top examples come from a diverse range of brands, including:
- Aerie–Aerie has become the face of body positivity with its pledge to stop retouching photos a few years back. Today, the brand’s #AerieReal UGC campaign donates $1 to the National Eating Disorder Association every time someone uploads an unedited bathing shoot photo.
- The UPS Store–The UPS Store does a nice job showcasing small business owners using the hashtag #TheUPSStoreCustomer. The lesson here is that even though UPS might not be the most visually enticing brand, they turn the focus toward their customers and their creative snaps.
- Wayfair-–Wayfair’s #wayfairathome gives users the chance to show purchases in action. It serves as design inspiration for customers seeking home decor ideas, as well as a chance for customers to show off their creativity. Wayfair even goes the extra mile and tags some of the ‘better’ submissions, giving Instagrammers an opportunity to grow their audience, as well.
- IBM–While IBM doesn’t explicitly ask users to share UGC, they do reshare content their audiences sends to them. Featured users sometimes amass thousands of likes and shares on Instagram, which provides an incentive for others to submit their best shots.
17. Mobile Loyalty Program
Today’s customer can easily find something newer and better if your brand doesn’t give them a reason to come back. That means you need to work hard to keep people interested and satisfied for the long haul.
Bringing a few perks to your mobile experience can further enhance loyalty.
Incentivize your customers to return by offering special offers such as birthday discounts or redeemable points. You might also offer non-monetary rewards like access to VIP content or some other special privilege.
Consider a brand like Starbucks, the gold standard when it comes to successful mobile rewards programs. Perks include the ability to order ahead and skip the line, which is perfectly for those Unicorn Frappuccino fans who don’t have a lot of time on their hands.
Another example is Domino’s Pizza’s Piece of the Pie program. Since rolling out the points-based loyalty app, the chain now takes about 65% of its orders digitally.
What’s great about mobile loyalty programs is, brands can use them to deliver personalized content that targets specific segments. Send push notifications to share special offers, custom birthday greetings, or a reminder that they’re one coffee, pizza, whatever away from getting something for free.
Local businesses can drive even more value by using geo-targeting and behavioral segmentation tactics to influence buyer behavior by reaching out at the right time.
18. Expand Mobile Payment Options
On Facebook and Instagram, brands can drive conversions by bringing the checkout process to social, allowing users to shop and check out within a couple of clicks.
Shopping on Instagram is relatively straightforward. The Help Center Outlines a few ways to connect your catalog—and if you’re a Shopify or BigCommerce user, it comes down to simply installing a line or two of code.
While Instagram checkout is currently in closed beta, you can add shoppable tags to your in-feed posts and Stories.
For brick and mortar stores and eateries, you could offer the option to order and pay through mobile. McDonald’s, Starbucks, Panera, and others have added this function to their apps to cater to busy customers who would rather skip the line.
Finally, regardless of how (or where) you approach mobile shopping, you should include a wide range of payment options.
This includes the default credit card options, as well as Amazon, PayPal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay. These alternative options give users the ability to pay by entering their passcode or FaceID, which means faster checkout for customers and fewer instances of fraud for companies.
19. Use App Actions to Boost Your Mobile Marketing Strategy
We’ve looked at Google’s App Actions in the past, finding that Google’s answer to Alexa’s Skills seems poised to take a large share of the voice search space.
App Actions made their debut at last year’s Google I/O. Since then, they have been expanding to include features like built-in intents and niche-specific categories like finance and banking, health and fitness, rideshare, and food delivery.
The new intents aim to help developers integrate their mobile apps with Google Assistant for cross-platform customer experience. According to Google, built-in intents extend an app’s functionality to the Assistant.
Actions are best suited for brands that already have a successful mobile app or chatbot—and the ability to turn its core features into a voice-activated experience.
20. Try Running a WiFi Campaign
For brick and mortars from coffee shops to restaurants and grocery stores, WiFi is an amenity that makes a big difference to mobile users.
But, WiFi isn’t just a convenience for customers. It’s also an opportunity to grow your email in exchange for internet access.
Here’s an example we found via Active Campaign. The offer is clear—enter your email to connect—and there’s a disclaimer that lets people know that they are consenting to receive marketing offers.
In this case, the restaurant might use future visits to trigger email messaging or connect with customers they haven’t seen in a while. It’s worth pointing out that today’s customer expects WiFi availability, so they’ll likely have no problem handing over their contact information in exchange for access.
If you don’t have a physical location, another way you can use WiFi in your mobile marketing strategy is by advertising on WiFi hotspots.
21. Offer Mobile-Friendly Support
Make it easy for customers to ask questions and submit support tickets on the go. Give customers the opportunity to seek support through your social media channels by commenting or sending a direct message. Not only is social media support useful easy on your customers, it’s a great way to collect feedback without much effort.
Additionally, if you have the resources, social-based customer support may be a great place to introduce a Facebook Messenger Bot, which can act as a second net during off-hours.
22. Give Text Marketing Campaigns a Chance
Not long ago, text-based campaigns were considered passe.
But marketers are realizing that texting is one of the fastest ways to connect with mobile users, with higher opens and click-throughs than email.
SMS and MMS give marketers a way to connect with users quickly through short, timely messages.
For those who don’t know, MMS (multimedia) is similar to SMS, but messages can include GIFs, videos, audio, and photos, offering more branding opportunities for companies.
SMS messages are text-only, and you’ll need to say what you need to say in 160 characters or less. MMS messages don’t come with character limits, though you should still aim to keep messages short and sweet for best results.
Like push notifications and Facebook Messenger updates, MMS and SMS are permission-based. Meaning, your subscribers need to actively opt-in to receive messages from your business.
Grow your subscriber list by including the opt-in on your Facebook page, Instagram account, in email newsletters, on your website, and anywhere else people interact with your brand.
You’ll also want to make sure you follow a few best practices, to ensure that you deliver the best possible experience to your audience.
- Set Expectations–Let subscribers know how often you plan on sending messages and what kind of content they should expect to find inside.
- Make Sure Subscribers Can Respond–Give users a way to respond to messages–this could be as simple as asking them to text “HELP” to the shortcode, if needed.
- Give Users an Out–You’ll also want to include the option to unsubscribe. The simplest way to do this is by including “text STOP to unsubscribe” in your messages.
Wrapping Up Mobile Marketing Strategies
The rise of mobile has transformed the face of marketing forever. Marketers now have more opportunities than ever to engage with their audience in a personalized, relevant way.
Whether you’re working on implementing any of the strategies above or have your sights set on another creative way to embrace mobile, make sure you start your mobile marketing strategy with a strong foundation. This means passing the mobile-friendliness test, optimizing for voice and local, and most importantly, understanding your audience.