Mobile Marketing: Understanding How People Use Smartphones

Understanding how people use smartphonesMobile is huge—and getting bigger by the day. You’ve likely implemented—or are at least planning—a mobile marketing strategy as part of your overall integrated marketing strategy. Right? And what’s even more critical is to understand which of your consumers are using mobile technology like smartphones, and even more importantly, how they’re using that technology to interact with others, consume content and even make purchase decisions.

My friend Tom Webster (who makes me laugh because he’s a goofball and swoon because he loves data even more than I do) is also someone who gets the importance of the mobile space. When I read his latest research report, The Smartphone Consumer 2012, well, I did a little happy dance. His follow-up to the report is certainly worth a read, too—it just might change the way you look at smartphones and how consumers are using them.

You may have heard marketers refer to smartphones as a “third” or “fourth” screen. Yet Tom makes a brilliant point: “When we talk about this or that medium as the ‘third’ or ‘fourth’ screen, we gloss over the fact that, for millions of Americans, mobile is the first screen. And even for those Americans who haven’t quite made that leap, mobile is the only screen when they are out of home. All of this requires a shift in your strategic thinking.”

For me, mobile is most definitely my first screen—and often my only screen. Are you nodding right here? If that’s the case for you, I imagine that’s the case for your customer and prospective customers, too.

If you’re in marketing, you might as well get that quote tattooed somewhere on your body so that it stays at the forefront of your mind. Think about your own smartphone use—if you’re anything like me, your phone is never far from your hand. And you probably spend more time collectively looking at your phone than you do your computer and television.

Sure, not everyone uses a mobile phone this much. But you can’t deny that smartphone ownership continues to grow—and that growth pattern is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. According to The Smartphone Consumer 2012, just about half of all Americans over the age of 12 who use a mobile device are using some kind of smartphone. That’s a big, big group—and the teenagers included in the research? They’re your future customers, so it pays to be tapped into what they’re doing and thinking so that you can proactively prepare your marketing strategy to reach that particular demographic.

Another interesting finding? Not only are smartphone users more likely than non-smartphone users to be active on social media sites (which makes perfect sense), smartphone users say that Facebook is most likely to influence their purchasing decisions when compared to other platforms. Here’s another marketing lesson: If you have a product to sell (and don’t we all?), are you on Facebook? Do you have a strategy in place to target and engage with your consumer base? They’re there—and if you’re not, you’re missing the boat. Big time. Oh, and by the way, having a Facebook strategy doesn’t mean spamming them with incessant sales pitches—but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.

The better you can understand your brand’s target audience, their behavior, their patterns, what they tell you that they need and what their pain points are, the more effectively you can reach them via your marketing strategy. This isn’t brain surgery—it’s Marketing 101. And this data from Tom’s report (as well as your own analytics data, which I know you’re paying close attention to) is evidence that the mobile space is most likely where a vast percentage of your target audience already are. How are you adapting your integrated marketing strategies to take that into consideration?

Image by philcampbell via Creative Commons

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