The impact of mobile on marketers
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The impact of mobile on marketers

If you’ve been working in the digital marketing arena for some time, you probably became tired of the repeated predictions of the imminent arrival of ‘The Year of Mobile’.

The earliest such proclamation I can recall came in 2008 when excitement about the arrival of the iPhone 3G heralded enthusiastic announcements that broadband was dead, followed by fervent calls for marketers to shift their focus towards our mobile computing future.

Of course, most of these fluffy declarations have since been proved hopelessly premature. While consumers have indeed flocked to acquire increasingly powerful mobile devices, few were ready to abandon well entrenched habits like using PCs. Societal change takes time and most of those early portable devices lacked sufficient features or battery life to make them a reliable partner for a full day of mobile browsing.

But times and technology move ever forwards. When Facebook recently announced its platform had served over one billion users in a single day, no-one was particularly surprised to learn that almost 90% of them did so using a mobile device. Even Google Search, surely a bastion of the trusty desktop computing we’ve grown up with, now receives more than half of all search queries from mobile devices. It seems we can finally lay the debate to rest: the mobile computing era is officially upon us and there’s no turning back. And the memories of our once static computing lives can be laid to rest, perhaps to be learned about with bemusement by our grandchildren in their school history lessons.

Which brings us to the a very pressing question: what are the implications for marketers in a future dominated by mobile living? To answer this, we need to invest time and energy to fully understand the new ways that our target customers now go about their daily lives. We need to know the types of devices they choose, how they use them and the things they love to do with them. We also need to re-imagine the role our brands and content may play in this evolving, always-on lifestyle. It’s easy to assume that everyone uses technology in similar ways — or, worse, the lazy marketer’s crime, the same way as we do — but few audience segments exhibit entirely consistent, homogeneous behaviours.

We also need to think more deeply about how emerging technologies will likely change customer behaviours and expectations in the near future. New device interfaces like voice control, near field communication and camera recognition create fresh experiential opportunities for brands.

And it’s only from this more enlightened start point that we can then begin the arduous task of developing future-proof marketing strategies that can ride on the crest of the mobile wave, not get dragged along beneath it. This is far from an easy task, but it is certainly an essential one for every marketer who wants their brand to remain relevant in a world irreversibly changed by technological progress.

Want to learn more on this topic? Take a look at our one-day Introduction to Mobile Marketing Strategy course, where you'll discover how to integrate mobile into the digital and traditional marketing mix. 

Allister Frost CIM Course Director
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