Mobile marketing strategies: Are consumers way ahead of businesses?

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The way in which we surf the Internet is changing at the speed of light thanks to the mobile devices that enable us to be always connected. The technological structure is ready, consumers are ready, but marketing strategies still have to be adapted to the new reality.

The World Mobile Congress which is taking place from February 27 to March 1 has brought together more than 1400 exhibitors who, during its four day duration, are unveiling the latest technology in a sector that is no longer news, and has transformed itself into an inescapable reality. The official launch of Windows Phone 8, and the presentation of new devices by the big players in the industry such as LG, Nokia and Huawei are just some of the principal new attractions on show at this edition of MWC.

The recent Google book, Winning The Zero Moment of Truth: ZMOT, analyses how the web has changed consumer behaviour, and how this obliges businesses to come up with new strategies to reach users right at the moment when they are making a purchase decision. The browser giant assures that currently two thirds of the world’s population have a mobile phone, and that in 2020, five billion people will be connected to the web and ten million will have mobile devices.

But going beyond these figures, what about the facts? What happens at that crucial moment when the user picks up his or her smartphone or tablet and enters an online application? According to data released by the Barcelona Go Mobile project, 44% of mobile phone users in Spain have a smartphone, and one in four use them to make purchases online.

But, of the total number of internet users who enter a site using their mobile, 61% don’t return. This is due to the fact that just 10% of Spanish companies have adapted their sites for adequate use with mobile devices. This shows that while online consumer behaviour has radically changed, businesses don’t always have the sufficient dynamism to follow the pace of change. There is an enormous challenge that is at the same time an opportunity: to reach the growing number of consumers who are opting for new channels of connection and interaction.

A question of backing mobile connectivity

The situation is clear, mobile phones are changing consumerism and if businesses don’t adapt to change, they may find themselves outside of the new environment which is determining the way consumers make purchase decisions. The numbers and statistics demonstrate the ‘noise’ that new web use is making between companies and consumers.

Let’s look at the figures. A recent Adobe study revealed that consumers who use mobile devices to shop on the Internet spend more than those who do so using PCs. According to the report, tablet users spend on average $123 per purchase while desktop users spend $105. How is this explained? The answer is simple, the same survey shows that tablet users have above-average incomes: 29% earn more than $75,000 a year.

In addition, users choose to use mobile devices to make purchases online because they are simple to use, accessible and are literally always within hands reach. For those who doubt this, a new figure offered by Google is conclusive: two thirds of the world’s population sleep with their mobile phone by their sides, which means that they are next to a device 24 hours a day.

Add to this the fact that Internet users who look for information using their mobile devices demonstrate clearer and more direct purchase intentions. According to Microsoft, while 70% of searches carried out on PCs are closed in a week, in the case of mobile searches the lapse of time is reduced to a little more than an hour. What’s more, 74% of users make purchases based on their mobile device searches.

Now is the moment

Mobiles have formed a part of users’ lives to a degree that perhaps no other device has ever achieved. Consumers use their smartphones and their tablets while they are at home, in the street, at work or even in the bathroom. Many of them use them to search for information about a product at the same time as they are looking at it in the store. Others, for example, search online for a place to eat while walking the streets of a city they don’t know. The results they find at that moment are vital to deciding on a purchase, and in this way mobile surfing has become a crucial factor in the success not just of traditional stores but also of those with an Internet focus.

In these circumstances it is clear that surfers don’t use their smartphones just for leisure and pleasure, they do so with specified objectives that can be transformed into income for a business.

Therefore, today brands have a unique opportunity to respond to the wishes and demands of consumers at the exact moment that they are defined. The choice is simple: a business can either opt to have a mobile device presence, and reach users at the crucial moment when they are deciding on a purchase, or they can ignore the new channel and lose an enormous opportunity to boost sales.

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