The 5 Fundamental Pillars of Mobile Marketing for 2014
by Cheryl Conner for Forbes

As we get close to the end of 2013, advertisers are getting ready for the holiday shopping season and making predictions for 2014. It’s no surprise that marketers are increasingly turning their attention (and funds) to mobile marketing. In Cheryl Conner’s article, we learn mobile subscribers worldwide will reach 7.0 billion by the end of 2013, 7.5 billion by the end of 2014, and 8.5 billion by the end of 2016.

Mobile is the new frontier. A solid plan is a necessity as mobile increasingly becomes the primary point of engagement with consumers. Says Conner:

“However, when it comes to marketing through (and to) mobile devices, the Wild West still prevails. Many businesses are still struggling to find their footing in this brave new arena in a way that serves their unique brand and style.”

Though there is no magic solution, the following five fundamentals are a good starting point for mobile marketing strategy.

  1. A unique, branded mobile app
  2. Redeemable deals
  3. Event notification
  4. Loyalty
  5. Customer referrals

A unique app is a chance to share relevant information interactively with a consistent brand voice and style. The value of mobile marketing is its ability to be proactive and personal, allowing brands to build relationships with the customer. Though mobile enabled web sites are an important entry point into mobile marketing, they are inherently passive. The customer is depended on to remember and visit the website regularly. Make it easy for a consumer to engage with your brand by offering a user-friendly app.

Everyone loves a good deal. This isn’t news. Making deals directly redeemable from a mobile device? That changes everything. It provides marketers with the ability to track the precise effectiveness of each deal and gather data from the moment of delivery to actual redemption.

Through mobile marketing you can target the right audience for each of your events and promote it effectively. Mobile platforms provide a seamless way for customers to RSVP and start conversations with their social networks.

Loyalty programs and customer referrals are closely linked and natural fits for mobile devices. By offering a mobile loyalty program you eliminate the hassle of losing a loyalty card and make it easier for your customer to track their progress. Referral programs are also a natural fit for mobile devices – it’s readily available and uses contact information already stored in the phone.

Imagine the possibilities: Holiday shoppers waiting in line with nothing to look at but a poster highlighting the benefits of your app, including coupons redeemable from their phone. And, through the app, they can also sign up for your loyalty program to get instant savings at the register. Add the ability to RSVP for your New Year’s Eve sales event and get them sharing that information with their friends. Strong mobile marketing helps take advantage of an in-store, captive audience and maximizes your interactions.

French fry joint lures customers through Facebook
by Bryan Borzykowski for CNNMoney

Though not quite as catchy, this article could be titled “How a small business with no marketing budget used mobile and social strategies to generate $28 million in sales”.

Ryan Smolkin, founder of Smoke’s Poutinerie, launched with $400,000 and spent none of it on advertising. Instead he invested his time – five hours a night for the first six months – on Facebook inviting friends of friends to like the restaurant’s page. Five hundred people accepted and the lines started to get longer at his restaurant. Smolkin then added a Twitter account.

The momentum kept growing and word-of-mouth created more fans. By posting at least once a day about food and sports, with some news from the restaurants, Smolkin was able to connect with his target audience. Growing his fan base slowly and organically through relevant content led to 17,500 Facebook likes and 14,000 Twitter followers in just five years. Writes Borzykowski:

“Smolkin attributes his success to the fact that he “keeps it real.” He and his team know the company’s target market, they don’t outsource the work and, most importantly, they have a ton of fun.”

By providing unique content – like pictures from the first wedding they catered – Smoke’s Poutinerie has created passionate brand ambassadors. The initial investment of time in mobile-friendly social media paid off, with interest.

At Sephora, Mobile-First Means ‘Connecting’ the Customer’s Experiences
by Rimma Kats for eMarketer

Bigger businesses are adapting for the coming changes and incorporating mobile marketing as well. Sephora’s Director of Mobile & Digital Store Marketing, Johnna Marcus, shares her company’s strategy to stay relevant in a digital marketplace.

First and foremost, Marcus believes you have to change how you think of mobile. So much more than a phone, mobile is the primary internet device, available 24/7, that’s “fundamentally a multitasking device”. Says Marcus:

“Internet research from last year said 55% of people in the US use their mobile device to access the internet – that’s not surprising – but 31% of those use it exclusively […] It’s not just thinking of mobile as sort of an augment, but really building things out to be mobile-first and be mobile-primary.”

Research also shows that 80% of consumers are using their phones in-store for some purpose. Perhaps a Sephora customer is checking a YouTube how-to video to be sure she gets the right products, or browsing a Pinterest board for the exact shade of nail polish she pinned earlier. If Sephora has implemented mobile marketing correctly, she might be checking her loyalty program progress with the Sephora app. Mobile is the glue that seamlessly connects consumers to the brand, both online and in-store.

Retailers Hope to Bag Rivals’ Customers on Twitter
By Christopher Heine for Adweek

Christopher Heine examines the practice of “conquesting” and its evolution. Google conquesting has been the traditional ecommerce poaching practice – marketers buy ads targeted at consumers searching for other brands’ products. With the rise of mobile and real-time marketing, Twitter conquesting is the logical next step. Notes Heine:

“Per industry sources, last year Walmart was hugely successful in exploiting competitors’ problems like product availability or delivery deadline issues. The retail giant tweeted at consumers who had such issues with other retailers. Walmart’s Twitter Elves, the firm’s dedicated customer team on the social site, seemingly found the consumers by searching on the platform before pushing a counteroffer.”

While cutthroat, such tactics are fair game. And it doesn’t necessarily reflect badly on a brand. Consumers are unlikely to care who answers their tweeted complaint, as long as it’s done in a timely and helpful manner.

Real-time conquesting isn’t without risks. If you tweet that you have a product when your competitor has run out, you had better have it. Otherwise you anger a customer who has already shown a tendency to speak out through social media and provide perfect material for your irritated competitor to attack. Real-time conquesting plays out on a very public stage, unlike the Google practice which targeted users in a vacuum.

The iPad launch from last month gives a glimpse into poaching via Promoted Tweets – Samsung, Nokia and Microsoft bought up many around the Apple tablet debut. Nokia scored the highest, per data firm Mashwork, with the most retweets, favorites, and replies in a matter of hours.

Brands are using social media more competitively and intelligently. As mobile continues to grow, real-time marketing is a tempting new tool.