Mobile Marketing Means Much More Than Apps

Most marketers are rushing to deliver mobile apps, but the mobile Web remains one of the most effective channels for sales and customer engagements.

Mobile marketing apps
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People spend more time on their mobile devices than they do in front of their television sets, yet mobile is not as powerful an advertising medium -- at least, not yet. Mobile apps rather than the mobile Web might seem to be a better way for companies to reach customers, but the vast majority of mobile traffic and shopping doesn't come through apps.

These insights offer only a taste of a Forrester’s recent findings on mobile app marketing trends. It's vital marketers understand mobile trends when placing bets: Should you dedicate development dollars to a bunch of mobile apps or a single one? When riding the coattails of popular apps, should you tie services or drive app installs? And, more importantly, how can you seize what Forrester calls the mobile moment?

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Playing the mobile app game isn't easy. For starters, Forrester says the average U.S. and U.K. mobile user has 24 apps on their device but spends more than 80 percent of his or her time on only five of them -- mostly messaging and social media, not so much gaming. Some vendor apps such as Starbucks and Nike+ Training Club do well, but the vast majority falls by the wayside.

Knowledge Is Mobile Power

Armed with this knowledge, what should marketers do?

"Forget about systematically introducing a new app for every new product or main promotional campaign you launch," says Forrester analyst Thomas Husson in the 2015 Mobile App Marketing Trends report. "Instead, focus on specific app features that drive engagement and fulfill a tangible need for users -- serving them in context

in their mobile moments of need -- and, ideally, be the first app to do so."

Since only a handful of apps land on that precious mobile real estate known as the home screen, marketers might be better off advertising or partnering with one of them. Forrester says apps with huge reach will morph into open marketing platforms. (Think: Uber integrating into Google Maps.)

One of the great myths is that mobile apps rack up sales. Sure, apps can lead to upselling, cross-selling and contextual-pricing opportunities, but marketing goals need to go beyond monetization, Forrester says. A mobile app can be the engine that drives traditional marketing benefits, such as higher customer satisfaction and greater brand awareness.

[ Related: Proximity-Based Advertising Closer Than You Think ]

In marketing's rush to mobile apps, they often forget about the mobile Web. But the mobile Web remains one of the most powerful channels for sales and customer engagements and should play a role in the overall mobile marketing strategy. Unfortunately, nearly half of marketers don't have differentiated strategies for their mobile app and mobile website, Forrester says.

Living in the Mobile Moment

Marketing in the brave new world of mobility requires marketers to be on their toes. That's because the environment is always shifting. This year alone, Forrester predicts everything from app unbundling to app deep-linking to app retargeting shaking up the landscape.

While mobile marketing can seem overwhelming at times, marketers can find solace knowing that the goal is still the same: seizing the mobile moment.

"You can deliver value to customers by serving them in their micro-moments, whenever they have only a few seconds to check information or access services," Husson says.

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