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Why we care about mobile marketing: A guide for marketers

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Why we care about mobile marketing: A guide for marketers


Mobile marketing allows marketers to meet their customers where they are, which today is the default. The advent of mobile technologies like 5G is also allowing marketers to deliver, or conceive of experiences, that augment the experience. Mobile is a key component of cross-channel campaigns (TV, OOH, Print). Mobile also offers the possibility of precision location marketing for even better personalization.

Mobile marketing covers a wide variety of digital marketing tactics, technology, and strategies that focus on reaching people on their mobile devices (but mostly their smartphones). Mobile marketing is important because nearly 84% of the global population owns a smartphone. That’s 6.6 billion people.

The mobile web is also getting transformatively faster, with 5G quickly becoming the global wireless standard. 5G enables consumers to comfortably stream movies, connect to multiple devices, and makes mobile browsing comparable to desktop/laptop browsing.

In short, if you’re doing just about anything online, you’re already reaching mobile consumers. Mobile access to the web is ubiquitous. By posting content to social media platforms, optimising your website for Google, paying for digital ads, and using a mobile-friendly platform to build and manage your website, you’re participating in the mobile zeitgeist. 

But for mobile marketing to be effective, it needs to be strategic. This space is changing constantly. Understanding the basics is critical to the successful planning and execution of a mobile marketing campaign.

In this post, we’ll cover mobile marketing 101—what it is, why it’s important, and how marketing teams can accomplish it successfully. 

Key points covered include:

  • What is mobile marketing?
  • Popular mobile marketing techniques.
  • Why marketers should care about mobile marketing.
  • Tools and software that enable mobile marketing.
  • Who uses or works with mobile marketing tools?
  • Tips to get the best out of mobile campaigns.
  • How mobile marketing can help you succeed.

What is mobile marketing?

Mobile marketing involves creating marketing campaigns that specifically target consumers on mobile devices. As a component of digital marketing, mobile marketing employs many of the same tactics, but many mobile marketing approaches leverage the unique properties of mobile devices, particularly smartphones.

There are two primary ways mobile users get marketing messages and other content—over a cellular connection with 4G/5G technology or via a wireless internet connection (Wi-Fi). The latter method can include data charges, though most major mobile carriers offer the option of unlimited data plans. Mobile users can also connect their phones to Wi-Fi using Bluetooth tethering which allows devices to share an internet connection.

The mobile marketing ecosystem includes ads on mobile websites and apps but goes beyond the traditional digital marketing paradigms to exploit mobile-centric features like SMS, MMS, and proximity targeting. Below, we summarize the most common mobile marketing approaches.

7 common mobile marketing techniques:

Short message service (SMS) marketing 

SMS marketing is a text messaging strategy where businesses send text messages to customers on their mobile devices over a cellular network. Messages can be promotional, service-based, or transactional. For example, a local hair stylist might send information to their customers about a new service they’re rolling out, appointment reminders, or a request for feedback based on a recent visit. 

SMS can also be used by retailers to facilitate payments. Customers pay from their cellular-enabled device via text using technology like Podium Payments, a secure payment processing platform that facilitates text-to-pay transactions. 

Multimedia messaging service (MMS) 

As with SMS marketing, MMS marketing also uses a cellular network to send messages, but it includes multimedia content like images, video, and audio. MMS content is typically longer than SMS content (MMS can be up to 1600 characters versus 160 for SMS). Data charges can drive the cost of MMS marketing up since multimedia messages, by design, involve file attachments. They can also cost the consumer more money if they don’t have an unlimited texting plan. 

Mobile app marketing

People love their mobile apps. eMarketer estimates that US adults spend about 90% of their mobile usage time with apps versus mobile browsers. Display ads in apps manifest as image ads (e.g., banners), video newsfeed ads on social apps, Stories ads (which can include images, video, text, and interactive features,) and multimedia ads that interrupt you in the middle of your favorite mobile game. 

Location-based marketing

Location-based marketing delivers promotional messages to a consumer’s mobile device based on their past-or-present location. Location-based tactics like geofencing use a device’s GPS to determine a customer’s location in real time, then serve in-the-moment ads or content. 

The latter tactic involves targeting customers who are near a competitor’s physical location. The most infamous example of this is when Burger King’s app targeted people within a few hundred feet of a McDonald’s location, giving the lucky app users a coupon for a one-penny Whopper.

Proximity (beacon) marketing 

This is a mobile marketing tactic that uses beacons—small devices that transmit Bluetooth signals—to trigger ads, content, or alerts on a user’s smartphone. Beacons are physical gadgets tucked in unobtrusive places (e.g, behind walls, beneath shelves, within light fixtures, etc.) 

Let’s say, for example, that you have a coupon app installed on your phone and you walk past a store with an active sale. The app will send you an alert to let you know Store X is having a sale and you should drop in. There are several different beacon protocols including iBeacon for iOs users and Eddystone for Android.

Voice marketing

Voice marketing uses voice-enabled devices like smart speakers and voice assistants on mobile phones to market to your audience. It’s mobile marketing in the sense that it relies heavily on smartphone usage. (140 million adults in the US use voice assistants on their phones, according to data from Voicebot.ai.)

It’s also largely screenless, relying on audio versus visual elements to interact with customers. Voice marketing tactics include things like voice search optimization which helps surface content to people using voice assistants, voice-activated ordering à la Starbucks, and letting customers book a hotel room via their smart speaker. 

Quick-response barcodes

Quick-response (QR) barcodes are two-dimensional barcodes that can be scanned by mobile devices to access information or services. Although QR codes are associated with mobile marketing, they’re an effective way to engage customers across many offline and online channels. 

QR codes can be added to digital, video, and print ads to motivate customers to interact with a brand. For example, a retailer could connect a coupon to a QR code in a TV ad with the goal of motivating viewers to scan the code (and make a purchase using the coupon).

Why marketers should care about mobile marketing

Mobile marketing allows marketers to engage with their customers wherever they are—literally. The advent of mobile technologies like 5G also allows marketers to deliver, or conceive of, experiences that augment the physical environment. 

This is an incredibly immersive way to engage with consumers. For example, clothing retailer ASOS used augmented reality to digitally fit hundreds of designs onto models during the pandemic, successfully avoiding in-person fashion shows.

Mobile is a key component of cross-channel campaigns (TV, OOH, Print) and offers the possibility of precision location marketing for even better personalization.

One of the great things about mobile marketing is that it allows businesses to reach a wide audience. People use their mobile devices all the time in just about every situation. 

Here are some more compelling reasons why you should care about mobile marketing:

  • There are nearly 15 billion mobile devices in the world and that number is expected to reach over 18 billion by 2025.
  • At the start of 2021, 97% of Americans owned a cell phone of some kind, with 85% owning a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011, according to a Pew Research Center report.
  • Smartphone penetration is high across all ages and demographics. The devices are owned by 90% of US adults between 18 and 49, 83% of people between 50 and 64, and 61% of people 65 and over, according to the same Pew report.

Mobile marketing falls within the ecosystem of digital marketing. As such, it’s primarily marketers who use the tools involved with running mobile campaigns. This is a relatively new technology that’s been gaining traction in the last few years as mobile devices become more widespread. 

Retailers, grocery chains, restaurants, and travel/hospitality businesses are all using mobile technologies to transform the way they market to and interact with customers.  

Marketers need to stay particularly vigilant about the new developments in mobile technology so they remain competitive and understand how consumers use mobile devices (e.g., voice assistants for scheduling appointments, retail apps for curbside pickup at physical stores, etc.) 

As with any other digital strategy, mobile campaigns require planning, tracking, analysis, and reporting. However, there are a few extra steps involved in mobile campaigns due to the unique nature of mobile devices. Here are some things to consider to get the best out of mobile campaigns.

  1. Keep your mobile ads short and sweet. Concise copy is key on a tiny screen.
  2. Get personal with SMS marketing. Texting feels more intimate than other forms of communication, so take advantage of that closeness to forge relationships with your customers.
  3. Think outside the banner. Reimagine what a mobile ad can be and break out of the traditional banner format to stand out on small screens.
  4. Go local with geo-targeting. Mobile users are often searching for nearby businesses, so make sure your location services are up to scratch.
  5. Use push notifications sparingly. No one likes to be bombarded with messages. Only send push notifications when you have something relevant (and interesting) to say.

Mobile marketing software provides a wide range of capabilities for businesses looking to reach their mobile customers. These tools can be purchased as stand-alone technology or integrated with more advanced digital advertising platforms.

Commonly used mobile marketing software:

  • Mobile-focused platforms: Mobile advertising tools like AdMob and SMS marketing platforms like SlickText allow businesses to reach mobile users with targeted ads and messages.
  • Social media management software: Tools like SproutSocial and Hootsuite help businesses keep track of their mobile customer base and interact with them through mobile-friendly platforms like Facebook and Twitter. 
  • Loyalty program technology: In-app rewards programs give mobile users an incentive to keep using a particular app, keep shopping at a particular store, and refer friends and family to a business. Mobile push notifications built into loyalty apps alert customers about offers, content, and product updates. 
  • Marketing automation platforms and tools: Marketing automation platforms like Adobe Marketing Cloud and SharpSpring often have mobile marketing features built in. These include the ability to create mobile-focused ads, retarget mobile users, and track and analyze customer behavior on mobile devices. 

Many mobile marketing tools can be used together to create a comprehensive mobile marketing strategy, allowing businesses to provide a seamless customer experience across all channels. By reaching mobile customers through multiple channels and offering them valuable rewards, businesses can build long-term relationships with their mobile target audience.

How mobile marketing can help marketers succeed

We live in a mobile-first world where an increasing number of businesses are turning to mobile marketing to engage with existing customers and reach a wider audience. And it’s no wonder—mobile marketing offers several key advantages to traditional digital marketing, especially when it comes to reaching younger consumers like millennials and gen z. 

Mobile marketing can also be more effective than traditional digital campaigns in countries that rely more on phones than computers for internet access. If you’re looking for a way to reach a larger audience and grow your business, mobile marketing is worth considering.

Ways to learn more about mobile marketing

Digital users are moving increasingly toward mobile channels, so marketers need solutions and strategies to better engage with audiences.

Here are some helpful resources on mobile marketing:


About The Author

Jacqueline Dooley is a freelance B2B content writer and journalist covering martech industry news and trends. Since 2018, she’s worked with B2B-focused agencies, publications, and direct clients to create articles, blog posts, whitepapers, and eBooks. Prior to that, Dooley founded Twelve Thousand, LLC where she worked with clients to create, manage, and optimize paid search and social campaigns.



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Hootsuite joins TikTok’s Marketing Partner Program

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Hootsuite joins TikTok’s Marketing Partner Program


Today, social media management platform Hootsuite announced it has joined TikTok’s Marketing Partner Program. Through the partnership, Hootsuite has launched an integration that allows brands to manage, execute and optimize TikTok content at scale.

About 38.5% of  Hootsuite’s customers have planted a flag on TikTok, with the rest (around 63 %) planning to launch TikTock content some time this year, according to an internal Hootsuite study.

What it does. Hootsuite brand customers will be able to schedule and publish TikTok content within the Hootsuite platform. This will allow marketers the ease to manage TikTok alongside efforts on all other social media platforms in one place.

Read next: Ultimate guide to social media marketing

Marketers will also be able to moderate and engage with comments in real-time. They will also gain post-performance and user engagement insights informing future campaigns.

Educational resources. Additionally, Hootsuite is rolling out TikTok-related resources for marketers. They include:

  • A culture guide that highlights key TikTok trends, including sound, aesthetics, types of videos and slang;
  • A blog content series that promotes best practices on growing business and building customer relationships on TikTok;
  • Workshops and webinars to walk through video content development with social media marketers and
  • A newsletter that provides tips and highlights successful video efforts on TikTok.

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Why we care. TikTok isn’t only about reach. It’s also a place for authentic organic discovery and not just paid exposure for advertisers. With this added layer of realness comes a certain amount of risk for brands as they venture into uncharted territory. This Hootsuite partnership and rollout adds some needed structure and predictability to a brand’s debut on this rapidly growing social destination.


About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.



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The Ultimate Guide to Human Resources

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The Ultimate Guide to Human Resources


Remarkable Human Resources (HR) employees are critical at every company. They handle all employee relations so you can focus on your side of the business.

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Getting started with the Agile Marketing Navigator: Aligning on a Guidepoint

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Getting started with the Agile Marketing Navigator: Aligning on a Guidepoint


We recently introduced you to Agile Marketing Navigator, a flexible framework for navigating agile marketing for marketers, by marketers. We also held a Zoom meeting to discuss the Navigator with members of the agile marketing community.

The Navigator has four major components: Collaborative Planning Workshop, Launch Cycle, Key Practices and Roles. Within these categories, there are several sub-pieces for implementation. Over the next several weeks, we’ll dive into each piece and give you practical, actionable ways to use them at your company.

The collaborative planning workshop

To begin with, we’ll start at the top with the Collaborative Planning Workshop. The Collaborative Planning Workshop brings alignment to what the team is trying to achieve and empowers marketers to focus on customer value and business outcomes over activity and outputs. This session should happen quarterly or at the start of any large campaign or initiative.

Where most agile frameworks begin with the backlog of work for the team, we found it very important to start at a higher level and ensure alignment is happening between the agile marketing team and the key stakeholders asking for work from the team. 

One of the biggest challenges we’re addressing with the Collaborative Planning Workshop is the disconnect between the stakeholders who ask for work and the team on the hook for delivery. Way too often, the people setting the marketing strategy and the designers, copywriters, social media specialists and others don’t have a seat at the adult table. Work comes to them in the form of the creative brief via an electronic system, but there’s no conversation. They aren’t being treated like marketers but rather as producers of output. 

The Collaborative Planning Workshop is just what it says—a collaborative conversation where everyone is on an equal playing field and striving towards successful outcomes.


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The Guidepoint

This framework begins with everyone understanding the actual business reasons for success and alignment on a Guidepoint. Here’s how we define the Guidepoint in the Agile Marketing Navigator:

“The Guidepoint helps the team and stakeholders navigate what success looks like for an upcoming campaign or project. Stakeholders come to the workshop with a business goal for the organization. During the workshop, the group comes up with a short written description, called a Guidepoint, of what success looks like for this marketing initiative and how it aligns to the organization’s goals.”

The Guidepoint is the connective tissue that rolls upward and downward in the organization. It’s often the forgotten middle layer between what the stakeholder is on the hook for and the tactics executed by the marketing team to achieve success.

The Guidepoint aligns the agile marketing team and stakeholders on a shared purpose and creates a focus on the team’s outcomes. It also helps with prioritization, so work that’s not aligned gets a lower priority or isn’t done at all.

Read next: Freeing agile marketing from its software development roots

Here are a few example scenarios to get you started:

Industry: Healthcare

Business Goal: Acquire an additional 5,000 new patients during the first year after the grand opening of our new hospital.

Guidepoint: Create a campaign targeting elective surgery candidates that generates 1,500 leads that ultimately generate a higher than average conversion rate than the industry average.

Industry: Retail

Business Goal: Increase cart checkout dollar amounts by 10 percent over last year.

Guidepoint: Launch a campaign targeting suggestive add-on purchases, moving the average cart checkout price to $50.

Industry: Financial Services

Business Goal: Generate a 25% increase in our personal finance app downloads in 2022.

Guidepoint: Generate an average of 50 new downloads apps with an activation rate of 25%.

Ideally, you have an agile marketing team formed with a straight line to a stakeholder and business goals that need to be achieved, which makes it pretty easy to focus on a single Guidepoint at a time. 

However, many marketing teams haven’t streamlined this way and must support multiple lines of business at once. In those cases, we suggest no more than three Guidepoints at once for the team, or they’ll quickly lose focus. If this becomes problematic, the marketing owner on the team will need to work with key leaders to determine the most important business goals for the organization and prioritize them accordingly. Some teams have had great success determining percentages of time each stakeholder gets based on the business value of their line of business.

We can only succeed for a clear, focused outlook on what success looks like for the marketing team and the organization as a whole.


Many marketers struggle to apply agile marketing in a way that adds value to team members. Learn how to break that pattern in this free e-book, “MarTech’s Guide to agile marketing for teams”.

Click here to download!



Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Stacey knows what it’s like to be a marketer, after all, she’s one of the few agile coaches and trainers that got her start there. After graduating from journalism school, she worked as a content writer, strategist, director and adjunct marketing professor. She became passionate about agile as a better way to work in 2012 when she experimented with it for an ad agency client. Since then she has been a scrum master, agile coach and has helped with numerous agile transformations with teams across the globe. Stacey speaks at several agile conferences, has more certs to her name than she can remember and loves to practice agile at home with her family. As a lifelong Minnesotan, she recently relocated to North Carolina where she’s busy learning how to cook grits and say “y’all.”



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