By Mark Kersteen - June 24th, 2014

Recently, I was interviewed by our friends at MobileTechCreate. If you're interested in mobile (and how could you not be?), we highly suggest you give them a look. They rule. 

Mobile is always on my mind. It takes up more of my mental real estate with each passing day. I go to bed, I wake up, and I stumble onto something like this infographic that Kelsey Jones at SearchEngineJournal posted from WebDamSolutions on the state of the mobile landscape. I can’t be the only marketer who read that, sat up, and took (even more) notice. The stats tell quite a story: Americans spend 2 hours a day looking at their mobile screens, 57% of people will NOT recommend a company with a bad mobile website, and 85% of users prefer native mobile apps to mobile websites.

Think about that. If those three reasons don’t have you considering mobile-izing your marketing, I don’t imagine anything will.

And, from what I’ve seen, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I can’t speak for every marketer, not even close. But, I have witnessed a strong shift in the way many marketers think about reaching their customers. At the recent Incite Summit: West, customer-centricity was a major theme. Many of the biggest brands—from SAP and Old Navy to Yahoo and Facebook—touched on how new technology and mobile are helping them reach this goal. After all, it makes sense to go where your customers are going, and in many cases, they’re all over mobile.

However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do mobile marketing. Whether you’re just getting started or you live and breathe “mobile first,” the following examples and advice will help shape your mobile strategy.


Marketing executives say that “customer-centricity” will have the biggest impact on their role this year. Yet 92% of those we polled at Incite Marketing and Communications say they have work to do to get closer to their customers. Focusing on mobile is one way to take a big step towards your audience.

After all, the goal of mobile marketing is to reach customers at the right time with the most relevant offer. Isn’t that what customer-centricity is all about?

I spoke with Brent Cohler, Director of Mobile Product Marketing for SAP, who brought up an excellent example of mobile marketing done right.

La Société de Transport de Montreal (STM), the public transportation agency for Montreal, used mobile to reach and exceed their customer-centricity goals. Faced with the hefty remit of increasing ridership by 40 percent before 2020, STM went way beyond just printing new posters to attract their most underrepresented demographic: young people who prefer the freedom of their cars to public transportation.


STM worked with SAP to create Merci, an app targeting this younger demographic. It provides “instant gratification” for users, including alerts about delays using geo-location tools and the best times to arrive at a station to get a seat. Most innovatively, STM partnered with over 350 local merchants and thousands of events throughout Montreal to provide app users with relevant offers. These offers were not just based on an individual’s profile and preferences; they were geo-targeted and time-based. For example, they provide riders with, discounts on coffee on the way to the office, and happy-hour specials on the way home.

The results: in just the first six months of the pilot program, Merci’s 20,000 users spent more time on public transit, and 43 percent were using public transit for new reasons like going out on weekends, in addition to commuting during the week.

The takeaway here is that STM grabbed their low-hanging fruit by implementing a new strategy through mobile, reaching an untapped demographic. Equally important, they avoided the “bad apple” of inundating their users with offers they didn’t want or need.

I’ve seen many a marketer get tempted into taking the “If it works once, do it again (and again, and again)” approach. However, that’s… Well, that’s pretty much the exact opposite of customer-centricity.

Mobile Email Marketing

Yes, that’s correct. Good ol’ email marketing is still an important part of your marketing mix, even in the mobile universe. However, there is one big difference. 51% of email opens now happen on a mobile device.

Mobile Opens

And while it may not be as sexy as some of the other strategies you can implement through mobile, there is significant, low-hanging fruit for mobile email marketing: Responsive Email Design (RED).

RED deserves an entire how-to guide of its own, but it boils down to a collection of techniques, such as media queries, fluid grids, and fluid images. These aim to provide the optimal viewing experience across various platforms (thanks to Justine Jordan at litmus for the succinct definition). RED ensures that, regardless of what device or platform your customers use to read your email, it always looks as good you knew it could.

The bad apple in the bunch is that mangled, Frankenstein’s monster of an email that makes us cry a tiny bit inside when we find it abandoned in our inbox. Broken images, jagged columns, unreadable text. The person behind it undoubtedly had the rosiest intentions, but, alas, “The best laid plans of marketers and men…”

In part 2 of this article, we’ll examine additional low-hanging fruit, including how CMOs should think about their roles, Jose Cuervo and brand awareness, and how marketers can be TOO good at knowing their customers.

Have we whet your appetite for more on mobile marketing? We've got a whole panel on it at Incite East. Have a look. 

Photo by Fotolia.


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