Jason Falls: Five mobile marketing must-dos for every business

MobileCommerceCoverAccording to Morgan Stanley, more than 90 percent of Americans have their smart phone within reach at all times. Comscore’s recent Mobile App Report claims smartphones and tablets account for 60 percent of all digital media time spent in this country.

If you didn’t think the mobile imperative was upon your business, think again.

That’s what Tim Hayden, co-author of the forthcoming book “The Mobile Commerce Revolution: Business Success in a Wireless World (Que, 2014), says. Hayden and co-author Tom Webster will speak at the Louisville Digital Association’s Digital Media Summit on Thursday, Oct. 16, at Bellarmine University’s Frazier Hall.

“We’re over the hump now,” Hayden explains. “Over 50 percent of emails consumed are now read on a phone rather than a desktop computer. The mobile revolution has happened. It’s here. And as a business, you’d better be ready.”

Hayden, who formerly led mobile strategy for Edelman North America and now consults with major brands on mobile strategy, offers up five must-dos for every business — small or large — to ensure your customers are served well.

“These five focus areas will ensure you can meet consumer needs. Of course, you still have to be a good all-around business, but to ensure you’re on the right path for mobile, these will help you.”

Hayden’s tips are:

Tim Hayden. Photo courtesy of the LDA

Tim Hayden. Photo courtesy of the LDA

Know Why Responsive Design Is Imperative

Ensuring your company’s website has a responsive design — that it conforms to the size screen and displays optimally, not just as a very small version of the desktop browser version — has been batted around as a recommendation for a few years now. But it’s not just about making sure people can read your site on a smart phone.

“Google’s search algorithm will penalize you for not having a site that resolves well on a mobile device,” Hayden says. “Independent analysts have confirmed this. You don’t rank as well on regular desktop search and you may not rank at all on mobile search.”

So it’s not just about preventing the pinch and scroll for consumers, but also about getting traffic in the first place.

Email Is An Invitation To Activate

Everything we’ve learned about sending newsletters, coupons and offers essentially goes out the window, according to Hayden. Now, people have less time, patience and real estate to deal with when reading your emails. That forces you to be creative with how you use email marketing, but Hayden says most businesses miss the easy shift in thinking.

“Think about all the utility wrapped up in that device,” he says. “You can use an email to have them click and open a map showing them where your location is. You can have them answer a question, click to download a virtual coupon, opt into location-based text alerts when they’re near you. Instead of thinking they’ll read a 300-word email or scan through a 1,000-word newsletter, think of one, quick, simple action that you can have them use their phone to do that leads them closer to you.”

Hayden says mobile email, which is now more than half of all email, is all about convenience and brevity. Give them one or two things to do — right now — that make their experience with your brand better.

Mobile Commerce Is Coming, And Fast

“For the last two, three years, all I’ve heard is that people aren’t buying from smartphones,” Hayden reports. “And that’s true. But that’s about to change, and fast. Apple Pay, launched last week with the new iPhone 6, puts a virtual wallet on your phone. And Apple went and got the banks and a lot of brands together to make buying with Apple Pay very real.”

Hayden says Apple and other virtual wallets like PayPal’s, which is incentivizing companies to allow consumers to pay with their system, are going to put consumers on the fast track to pay with their device. And that will put your business on the fast track to accept mobile payments or perish at the unmet demand of consumers.

“Look at what Amazon Prime and Starbucks Mobile have done,” Hayden says. “They’ve made it feasible for you to order what you want with one click, and even before you get to the store to pick it up. That consumer expectation will extend beyond the big consumer brands very quickly. You’ll need to be ready to meet it.”

Every Device Is A Camera

With a smartphone-armed audience, Hayden says, you have a new reality. Every customer is armed with an 8-megapixel camera connected to at least a 4G Internet connection. That means your brand, like it or not, needs to look fantastic.

“How are you capitalizing on how your brand can be photogenic?” he asks. “By creating a visually compelling experience or content, you’re arming your customers to show people — not just tell them — how awesome, or awful, you are.”

Visual storytelling, according to Hayden, is “swallowing social media.” Understanding how to translate your customer’s experience into images is an untapped opportunity for most companies.

Don’t Forget, It’s Still A Phone

At the end of the day, the smartphone isn’t just smart. It’s also a phone. Yet many brands and businesses forget that sometimes the customer just wants to use it as it was intended.

“More often than not, when someone is on your website or your app on a smartphone for more than a couple of minutes, they’re looking for the one thing most people don’t provide there: their phone number,” Hayden says. “Equip your mobile sites and apps with the ability for people to just call if they need directions, help or want to buy from a human being. All the technology and utility in the world goes out the window if you can’t just be there for the customer, so be there for the customer.”

Hayden says it’s not just about routing a button to activate a phone call on the phone, either.

LDA Summit“Make sure someone is there to answer the call, too,” he laughs.

Hayden and Webster will discuss mobile commerce and marketing in more depth at the LDA Digital Media Summit next month. The one-day conference at Bellarmine’s Frazier Hall is the Louisville Digital Association’s annual fundraiser. Hayden and Webster will join keynote speaker Rick Murray (former president of Edelman Digital and Edelman Midwest) and a full roster of digital marketing and social media experts for the event.

Tickets for the Summit are $129 for LDA members and $179 for non-members. The price includes the full-day event plus breakfast and lunch. Tickets can be purchased at the LDA Digital Media Summit event page at http://bit.ly/ldasummit2014. The full day’s agenda is available here.