Opinion: Why marketers need to get mobile


When I started in marketing nearly 30 years ago, my manager instructed me to “always go where the consumers are and get there first.” However, in today’s world, such a proposition is more complicated than ever as marketers try to master a wider array of media that is increasingly digital and, of course, more mobile.

What I find interesting is that consumers have been mobile savvy for quite some time and it is only now marketers are starting to consider mobile as a vehicle for stronger connection and growth. If our goal is to “go where the consumers are and get there first” then essentially, we are trailing far behind when it comes to mobile engagement.

eMarketer estimates that in 2012, U.S. consumers will spend an average 82 minutes per day on their mobile device, which is more than double from 2010. As consumers choose to spend more time with their mobile devices, it becomes paramount for brands to get going with mobile marketing. But why are some brands dragging their feet?

Simply put, many marketers are unsure how to harness the power of mobile. They know they need mobile. But the concept of mobile leading marketing efforts is still too unnerving and unfamiliar.

If I were to sum up the value of mobile to marketers it would be this: Nothing gets a marketer closer to consumers than mobile. Nothing.

By the end of the year, the number of mobile devices will exceed the number of people on Earth. And by 2016, there will be over 10 billion mobile devices, creating 10 billion opportunities for marketers to get closer to consumers. Marketers need to rethink the value of mobile marketing to put their brands in the hands of consumers.


Mobile has transitioned into a platform of NOW. Consumers want information now; they want to buy now; and they want to interact now. This concept of immediacy has transformed mobile into a tool of action and transaction in a single swipe, click, or tap.

Retailers are hugely impacted by mobile. With the holiday season approaching, many consumers will use their mobile devices to compare and purchase. eMarketer found that 41% of shoppers will use their mobile device to check Amazon for competitive pricing and 42% will check for sales prior to entering a store. Additionally, 21% are expected to use their smartphone for holiday purchases–nearly double from 2011. There is ample opportunity for brands to interact with mobile holiday shoppers from awareness to search and purchase.


The industry at large has been hard at work to provide irrefutable evidence of mobile’s effectiveness as a leading channel. From agencies to research firms, many have researched the value of mobile based on a “pound per pound” basis and discovered that mobile ads outperform other digital ads.

Marketing Evolution, a leader in marketing ROI measurement, conducted the first empirically based study on the optimization of the marketing mix with mobile. The “Mobile X% Solution” study found that by dedicating 7% of the annual marketing budget to mobile advertising, marketers would achieve “more bang for their buck.” In other words, better sales results for the same budget. Currently, most marketers invest less than 1% of their media budgets in mobile. A huge error when a number of brands like Coca-Cola, Mondelez International, P&G and many others are ramping up their mobile spend.

The IDC reported that by 2016 mobile advertising is expected to grow to $28.8 billion globally, a significant leap from $6 billion in 2011. Focusing on the U.S. alone, mobile advertising spend is expected to reach $14.8 billion by 2016, with mobile’s share of digital advertising climbing to 21% from 6%. Most believe that ads in context, often tied to location information, break through on mobile devices, making them outright more effective versus other digital channels.

As consumers elect mobile devices as their screen of choice, marketers will have to adjust their mix to invest more in mobile and less in other media channels.


There are brands and industries that have realized mobile’s power to transform their business and yield stronger consumer engagement.

Consider what’s happened in social media and how many users access Facebook and Pinterest on their mobile devices–easily more than half. Photo-sharing sites like Instagram are entirely mobile, whereas music provider Pandora boasts 75% of its activity from mobile devices.

Nike moved from selling sneakers to selling a lifestyle through mobile products like FuelBand and Nike+. Nike harnessed mobile to create an entirely new space for them to connect with consumers and engage in a contextually relevant environment. And while Nike has reaped the benefits, their competitors have yet to catch up and initiate a stronger mobile strategy.

Banking is another industry that has been transformed by mobile. Only a few years ago, banks encouraged their customers to come into the bank to interact with bankers and financial advisors. Now executives realize that consumer prefer the exact opposite–convenience and ease. You can deposit checks, check balances, and make payments through apps and fully functioning mobile websites. As reported by eMarketer, 90% of consumers used their mobile device to check their accounts and 48% downloaded a bank’s mobile app.

Mobile is not a trend that will disappear or diminish. It is a global movement that requires increased attention and budget allocation to fully realize the value it can offer marketers. None of us can afford to “wait and see” with mobile. Not for our brands, and not for our careers. There is deep divide today in marketing, those that are mobile savvy and those that are likely to retire soon.

We all strive to be in “arms reach of desire.” Today, at the end of that arm, between it and desire, is a mobile phone. It’s as close to our consumers as we can get. Go to where the consumers are and reimagine your marketing strategy with mobile leading the charge.

Greg Stuart is the Global CEO of the Mobile Marketing Association. He has spent 30 years spent predominantly in digital and mobile marketing and is an author and spokesperson on all things media. Follow him @gregstuartand @MMAglobal.