A1 Inbound Mobile Marketing


Part of a series of Top 10 Branding/Pre-Sales Mobile Marketing Strategies

Inbound Mobile Marketing refers to features, functions and content made available through a mobile website or mobile app. About 13 percent of all Internet traffic is now executed from a mobile device, but in some countries such as India, that number has surpassed 60 percent.[i]

Over 90 percent of brands now have their own mobile app, up from about 50 percent a year and a half ago.[ii] One research study suggests that U.S. consumers are now spending almost twice as much time on mobile apps than on the web. And the amount of time spent on mobile apps could soon surpass the amount of time spent watching TV.[iii] Forty-five billion apps were downloaded in 2012.[iv] Apple alone has surpassed 25 billion app downloads in 2012.[v]

But this doesn’t mean that apps are the only approach for reaching people on mobile devices. Creating a mobile website or mobile app both have merit since about the same proportion of people (50 percent) use their browser or apps.[vi] The advent of the HTML5 standard has really given a boost to providing functionality in any browser regardless of which mobile device your customers are using.[vii],[viii]

Experts suggest that there are pros and cons to both of these approaches and that the approach that makes sense for your organization will be determined by several factors: the target market you are trying to reach, user experience, which smartphone features you want to incorporate and whether or not monetization is a factor.[ix] In many instances, creating custom apps for different mobile platforms makes sense because of performance advantages and the ability to take advantage of built‑in features available on each platform.

But I believe the debate between whether to build a mobile app or a browser-based HTML5 website is now moot. Since 13 percent of all traffic is already coming from mobile devices and Forrester Research projects that number to surpass 20 percent in 2013, every company must now have a mobile-optimized HTML5 website.

Furthermore, given the importance of capturing real estate on these all-important new mobile platforms, building an app for all major platforms likely makes sense for every organization as well, since it opens up an entirely new channel to reach customers. The advent of middleware to enable developers to develop an app once and then immediately make it available on all major platforms has given this approach a boost.[x]

When first launching a mobile strategy, many companies are tempted to make all their products available via mobile. This strategy may be less than ideal due to the cumbersome navigation required to provide access to everything. As an alternative, companies could consider simply highlighting products and/or services more appealing to mobile users.

Target, a department store chain, has taken the approach of featuring select products on their mobile app based on the category, availability of discounts and user rankings. Target also decided to focus on other kinds of service offerings such as managing gift registries, buying gift cards and looking up store locations.[xi]

Creating a mobile strategy involves more than just building an app. Consider integrating your brand with other mobile apps or with mobile ad networks. For example, P&G supports a third-party app called Sit or Squat that can help people find the nearest public bathroom. And since P&G sells toilet paper under the brand name Charmin, the association with this fun app makes sense.[xii]

An important aspect of creating an effective inbound mobile marketing strategy is providing utility and convenience for your target audience in a way that is directly tied to your brand. In fact, 90 percent of consumers who have downloaded apps from large retailers rate them as “useful” or “very useful.”[xiii]

REI, a ski equipment manufacturer, created an app to provide customers with personalized Ski and Snow Reports. This provides great utility for skiers and paves the way for REI to hone in on target customers.[xiv] Domino’s app enables customers to track their pizza order using Domino’s Tracker, a great feature for those with hungry kids waiting for their dinner.[xv]

The Venetian and The Palazzo resorts in Las Vegas have enhanced the guest experience with their Pocket Concierge app which has a turn-by-turn navigation function to guide visitors to their hotel room as well as nearby stores, restaurants, restrooms, exits, ATMs, night clubs and other facilities.[xvi]

Purina’s Petometer app enables its target audience, pet owners, to set dog walk reminders, suggest dog exercises and track details about the walks with their pets. It even has a calendar to track grooming and vet appointments. Boondoggle’s Winter Wake‑Up app functions as an alarm clock, but with a unique twist. It monitors your local weather and if snowy or icy conditions occur during the night, the app actually wakes you up earlier to account for addition commute time.[xvii]

These apps all have one thing in common – they provide clear utility for target customers.[xviii] This is critical since 80 percent of apps never surpass 1,000 downloads and 26 percent of apps are opened once and then never opened again.[xix] Providing practical and helpful utility for customers should help overcome these dismal results.

Elmer’s Products sells school supplies to children and their parents. To provide utility, its first app simply helped customers decide which of its glues best suited the project at hand. Elmer’s then created a photo-sharing app called Elmer’s 1st Day to enable parents to store, format and create slideshows that capture the magic of their child’s first day back to school.[xx]

Enabling sharing via e‑mail and Facebook provides even more brand exposure, achieving top-of-mind brand awareness during the crucial back to school season. This is a clever strategy, since females, one of Elmer’s key target markets, rate photo-taking as their most important phone function. Teachers, another of Elmer’s target markets, can also use the app to share school photos with parents.[xxi]

The Nike+ Running app provides plenty of utility for runners: key statistics about progress, history of accomplishments, GPS‑enabled weather reports and access to music. A lot of consideration has gone into providing runners with everything they need to succeed. This has resulted in over seven million runners using this service, a competitive advantage and a market share increase for Nike.[xxii]

QR NIKE +Watch the Video: Mobile App Utility – Nike: The Nike+ Running App has several features that make it invaluable to runners.[xxiii] <goo.gl/FhFa0> (Duration: one minute)

Fancy Feast launched its new cat food line by immersing its brand in its prime target community – devoted pet owners. The MorningPurr alarm clock app lets cat lovers personalize it with an image of their cat and a recording of its meows to awaken them. This strategy works well, as most cat owners feed their cat first thing in the morning – an ideal time to reinforce the Fancy Feast brand.[xxiv]

In addition to creating a corporate mobile branded app for your organization, you could consider campaign-specific apps.[1] Craft brewer New Belgium created an app for its Joy Ride campaign where they gave away 2,500 bikes. To enter the contest, customers had to engage with its brand by taking a photo of a New Belgium product.

The app had a beer calculator that determined how many beers you earned based on how far you rode your bike and the BeerFinder then directed you to the nearest bar. To avoid its campaign apps from becoming obsolete, New Belgium combined all its campaign apps under a single app umbrella to increase the likelihood of long‑term usage.[xxv]

Creating apps to engage specific market segments for specific product offerings may also be compelling in some sectors. For example, many auto manufacturers are creating a separate custom app for each line of cars. For example, Audi has apps for its A6, A7 and A8 models and Mercedes-Benz has an app for each line as well.[xxvi]

Mobile Website/App Analytics

Analytics is one of the most important aspects of building an effective evolving mobile website and/or mobile app strategy. Imagine the ability to track every click, page view, app notification, app launch, download, order, pinch and zoom. Imagine what that might tell you about the effectiveness and usefulness of every page, paragraph, feature and attribute of your inbound marketing strategy. This would be more powerful than market research, since it is based on actual customer usage patterns. This provides tremendous value in determining what has worked, not worked and the best path forward. Technologies to achieve this goal already exist today – organizations should take advantage of them.[xxvii]

Value Proposition Tactical Tips

The success of your mobile app strategy will be determined by your ability to address three simple questions for your customers.

  1. How will it save me money?
  2. How will it save me time?
  3. What’s in it for me?

Inbound Mobile Marketing Best Practices

  •       Provide utility to your target market.
  •       Standardize the branding for your mobile-optimized site as “m.xyz.com” where xyz is your domain name. Alternatively, build intelligence into your site so that it can sense if someone accessing xyz.com is doing so from a mobile device, and automatically display a mobile-optimized site.
  •       Integrate smartphone features that will increase the usefulness of your app (e.g., GPS location, camera, accelerometer, etc.).
  •       Consider that most users are right-handed and therefore buttons such as buy and search may generate a better click rate if positioned on the lower right corner.
  •       Conduct user testing to determine if your website is easy to use or confusing, specifically for achieving certain user tasks.[xxviii],[xxix]
  •       Use tools such as heat maps to analyze and improve conversion rates, referrals, abandonment rates, etc.[xxx]
  •       Conduct A-B testing to determine which website designs are most effective.[xxxi]
  •       Conduct mobile app and website analytics to track user behavior and adjust your strategy accordingly.[xxxii]

QR MOBILE WEBSITE BEST PRATICESWatch the Video: Mobile Website Best Practices: Mobile Website Best Practices by Mobile Marketer.[xxxiii] <goo.gl/c5cJx> (Duration: three minutes)

QR GUIDE BY GOOGLEWatch the Video: Mobile Website Best Practices: Mobile Website Best Practices by Google.[xxxiv] <goo.gl/P3jK7> (Duration: 49 minutes)

Challenge Question

Mobile Utility Strategies: What features and functions could you provide via a mobile app or mobile website that would attract your target market, provide value and utility, have a positive impact on your brand and potentially move people through the sales cycle?


[1] For the remainder of this section I will refer generically to the term app, but the functionality discussed could be achieved either with an actual mobile app or a browser-based HTML5 website.


[i] Steven Musil. “Mobile Internet traffic gaining fast on desktop Internet traffic.” CNET. December 3, 2012. Accessed December 15, 2012. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57556943-93/mobile-internet-traffic-gaining-fast-on-desktop-internet-traffic/.

[ii] Jason Gurwin. “Building a Mobile App Is Not a Mobile Strategy.” Harvard Business Review. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/11/building.

[iii] Kim-Mai Cutler. “Time Spent In Mobile Apps Is Starting To Challenge Television, Flurry Says.” TechCrunch. December 5, 2012. Accessed December 8, 2012. http://techcrunch.com/2012/12/05/flurry-mobile-apps-television/.

[iv] Matt Holden. “Over 45 Billion Apps Downloaded This Year.” Online Casino Archives. September 17, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.onlinecasinoarchives.com/technology/2012/09/17/45-billion-apps-downloaded-year/.

[v] David Murphy. “Apple’s App Store Hits 25 Billion Downloads: How Many Per iPhone?” PCMAG.com. March 3, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2401122,00.asp.

[vi] “comScore Reports June 2012 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share.” comScore, Inc. August 1, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2012/8/comScore_Reports_June_2012_U.S._Mobile_Subscriber_Market_Share.

[vii] “HTML5.” Wikipedia. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML5.

[viii] “BII REPORT: HTML5 Is The Future Of Mobile Apps, But It Won’t Come Fast.” Business Insider. December 16, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.businessinsider.com/bii-report-html5-is-the-future-of-mobile-apps-but-it-wont-come-fast-2012-12.

[ix] Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry. “HTML5 Will Replace Native Apps – But It Will Take Longer Than You Think.” Business Insider. January 9, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-01-09/tech/30606532_1_android-app-store-html5.

[x] “IBM Worklight – Mobile Application Platform.” IBM Corporation. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www-01.ibm.com/software/mobile-solutions/worklight/.

[xi] Brendan Gibbons. “Mobile Commerce: Four Good Examples.” Practical Ecommerce. March 18, 2010. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/1740-Mobile-Commerce-Four-Good-Examples.

[xii] Jason Gurwin. “Building a Mobile App Is Not a Mobile Strategy.” Harvard Business Review. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/11/building.

[xiii] Bill Siwicki. “Shoppers would rather use smartphones to consult store associates, survey finds.” Internet Retailer. December 6, 2010. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.internetretailer.com/2010/12/06/shoppers-would-rather-use-smartphones-store-associates.

[xiv] Chantal Tode. “Nike+ expands mobile strategy with Android app.” Mobile Marketer. June 25, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/content/13173.html.

[xv] Rimma Kats. “Domino’s Pizza heats up mobile ordering space with Kindle Fire app.” Mobile Commerce Daily. July 16, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/2012/07/16/domino%E2%80%99s-pizza-heats-up-mobile-ordering-space-with-kindle-fire-app.

[xvi] Chantal Tode. “The Venetian, Palazzo launch on-site directions app to enhance visitor experience.” Mobile Commerce Daily. July 17, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/2012/07/17/the-venetian-palazzo-launch-on-site-directions-app-to-enhance-visitor-experience.

[xvii] “Boondoggle Winter Wake-up app Casemovie.” YouTube. Uploaded by BoondoggleAgency on December 14, 2011. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkThJFKL1pk.

[xviii] Rimma Kats. “Purina engages pet owners via interactive mobile app.” Mobile Marketer. June 10, 2011. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/content/10156.html.

[xix] “First Impressions Matter! 26% of Apps Downloaded in 2010 Were Used Just Once.” Localytics. January 31, 2011. Accessed February 1, 2013. http://www.localytics.com/blog/2011/first-impressions-matter-26-percent-of-apps-downloaded-used-just-once/.

[xx] “1st day, A Celebration of the 1st Day of School.” Elmer’s. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.the1stday.com.

[xxi] Chantal Tode. “Elmer’s creates photo-sharing app to drive engagement beyond back-to-school shopping.” Mobile Marketer. July 5, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/content/13243.html

[xxii] Chantal Tode. “Nike+ expands mobile strategy with Android app.” Mobile Marketer. June 25, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/content/13173.html.

[xxiii] “The New Nike+ Running App.” YouTube. Uploaded by insidenikerunning on June 26, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://goo.gl/FhFa0 or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46hEaFKa638.

[xxiv] Chantal Tode. “Fancy Feast supports new line launch with mobile app.” Mobile Marketer. June 27, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/content/13191.html.

[xxv] Lauren Johnson. “New Belgium Brewery taps mobile for social media engagement.” Mobile Marketer. June 5, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/content/12981.html.

[xxvi] Rachel Lamb. “Should luxury marketers develop an app-per-line experience?” Luxury Daily. July 5, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.luxurydaily.com/should-luxury-marketers-develop-an-app-per-line-experience/.

[xxvii] “Tealeaf CX Mobile – Discover What’s Working, What Isn’t, and Why.” Tealeaf, an IBM Company. Accessed February 1, 2013. http://www.tealeaf.com/products/mobile/cxmobile/index.php.

[xxviii] “UserTesting.com: Quick Tour.” YouTube. Uploaded by usertestingcom on March 12, 2012. Accessed February 1, 2013. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMyeAsHaq78.

[xxix] “cAPPtion: UsabilityHub Review.” YouTube. Uploaded by BarbaraEMac on June 9, 2011. Accessed February 1, 2013. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgb3TAZBxEA.

[xxx] “Crazy Egg Explainer Video.” YouTube. Uploaded by demoducky on February 13, 2012. Accessed February 1, 2013. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3f-2WG7ONc.

[xxxi] Optimizely A/B Testing Live Demo with Q&A.” YouTube. Uploaded by Optimizely on September 14, 2012. Accessed February 1, 2013. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHO8EOlNpjE.

[xxxii] “Tealeaf CX Mobile – Discover What’s Working, What Isn’t, and Why.” Tealeaf, an IBM Company. Accessed February 1, 2013. http://www.tealeaf.com/products/mobile/cxmobile/index.php.

[xxxiii] ”Making Mobile-Friendly Websites: Best Practices in Action.” YouTube. Uploaded by GoogleMobileAds on November 11, 2011. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://goo.gl/P3jK7 or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCDW55gjbPc.

[xxxiv] ”Making Mobile-Friendly Websites: Best Practices in Action.” YouTube. Uploaded by GoogleMobileAds on November 11, 2011. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://goo.gl/P3jK7 or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCDW55gjbPc.

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