In the U.S. today, industry studies show that 47.7 percent of mobile phone users are on a smartphone. This represents more than one-third of the population, and that number is forecasted to approach two-thirds by 2016.

Not surprisingly, mobile marketing and advertising are following suit, showing growth rates of 53 percent year-on-year in 2011 as the adoption of mobile technology empowers the growing “smartphone class” of consumers. So it’s alarming to see concurrent studies reveal that 79 percent of mobile advertisers don’t have a mobile-optimized website.

“While business need to get smart quickly about their mobile presence and promotions, they need to fight the trendy urge to just quickly grab the mobile ‘shiny object,’” says Kevin Hourigan, president and CEO of the Web design, development and online marketing agency Bayshore Solutions. “Smart and successful companies will take a strategic approach to incorporating mobile as an important element in their online marketing.”

Smart Business spoke with Hourigan about how to get the best business value and results when adding mobile to your marketing mix.

What are the strategic foundations for going mobile?

First and foremost, you need to have a solid core Web presence. Mobile is an advanced phase of a business website. Just whipping up a mobile site so you can check that off the list is short sighted and detrimental to effective integrated marketing.

Once your core website is functional, search optimized and effective, you can attach a mobile site to that asset in a mobile-optimized and mobile results-oriented manner. These can be developed quite effectively in tandem, but rarely will a shiny new mobile site make up for a shoddy main website.

In order to build the right mobile site for your business, you need to do your strategic homework up front. Simply resizing your website content for mobile screens is the classic wrong approach.

To build a mobile site correctly, you need to first analyze your target customers, their buying cycles and online interaction personas. You’ll find there will be distinct differences in the circumstances, priorities and information needs between your customers on a desktop computer versus those accessing your online brand through a mobile device. These strategic insights will lead you to very distinct tactical choices in keyword selection, user interface items and possibly even different conversion actions associated with your mobile Web presence.

Knowing what your customers are seeking in their mobile interactions will assist you in building a tailored and effective mobile experience for them — one that brings them more quickly to the business results you desire. Beyond the mobile site design, this guidance will positively influence your ongoing mobile marketing and ensure it complements and supports your other online and offline marketing initiatives.

What comes after building the mobile site?

Having a live and functional mobile website is the starting point, just as establishing a main business website is the beginning-point of marketing online. Next is developing the right mobile marketing strategy for your mobile site in order to generate the results you want.

Defining the desired result for a mobile customer is key. Depending on the profile of your mobile target customer, these results could be sales transactions, a request for quote or information, a phone call to your company or an appointment scheduled. Some organizations might even consider viewing a specific Web page, downloading a file or engaging with a mobile custom app as desired results of target customers’ mobile visits.

Aligning the metrics to track the correct results then developing a marketing strategy that drives desired mobile attention and action are the next steps. Studies show that customers on a mobile device tend to be in a later buying stage — narrowing choices, seeking price comparisons, or obtaining directions to get to a store compared with conducting initial general research about a product or service. It has also been shown that typical mobile customers are more heavily affected by local dynamics, such as where the closest solution is to getting what they need at that moment.

When you have a clear picture of your mobile customers’ situations and immediacy relative to your product or service, you can key in on different tactical elements of your online marketing to best reach and serve them. Keywords relevant to their situational mobile searches, ad placement on specific websites, local directory listings and enhancements, integration with social media profiles, platforms and custom apps are tactics that can be tailored to your mobile-specific marketing plan.

How does this all work together?

Although your business’ mobile website and marketing might have slightly different emphasis, metrics and content because of the focus on the mobile segment of your target audience, it is essential to make the connections between your mobile Web presence, your overall Web marketing and even your traditional marketing initiatives. Integrating campaigns and proper communications between those implementing them will promote consistency of messaging and quality of experience for your customers throughout all their touch points with your business — mobile, desktop and traditional.

Making the effort to strategically develop and connect marketing channels while ensuring best practices in mobile and all other marketing tactics is a distinguishing factor of successful businesses. A strategic approach, defined and aligned goals and the use of correct metrics to gauge performance will transform a simple mobile presence into a powerful marketing asset for your business.

Kevin Hourigan is the president and CEO of Bayshore Solutions. Reach him at (877) 535-4578 or www.BayshoreSolutions.com. For a snapshot of Bayshore Solutions Web marketing methodology, visit www.bayshoresolutions.com/about-bayshore-solutions/methodology.aspx.

Insights Web Design, Development & Internet Marketing is brought to you by Bayshore Solutions

Published in Florida

When Nokia implemented a mobile marketing campaign to customers in Australia, they did not take into account their users’ privacy from a legal or brand standpoint. The company’s tips for getting the most out of a phone qualified as spam-texting, and instead of boosting business, Nokia was fined $58,000 fine earlier this year and has suffered reduced sales in the region.

“There are laws going into place now more and more around what you can do in mobile marketing,” says J. Robert Kamal, president, CEO and founder of Kohorts IT, a mobile marketing services company headquartered in Brighton, Mich. “ And the biggest common pitfall we’ve seen is companies trying to do this on their own without any experience at all.”

Businesses are increasingly looking to mobile marketing campaigns as mobile usage continues to rise. In fact, mobile Internet access will surpass traditional PC access by 2013, according to Gartner Research.

But in order to take advantage of this new era of marketing, it is increasingly important for businesses to focus on compliance with privacy standards – those set by governments and by customer expectations.

Account for privacy laws

One of the most common mistakes companies make is to create national or even global mobile marketing campaigns based on the assumptions of their local laws, Kamal says. Identify the privacy laws for all regions your campaign will penetrate.

Privacy laws, including the proposed US Mobile Privacy Act, commonly focus on: what data you will be collecting via mobile devices, who will have access to it and what it will be used for.

“Additionally, the user must agree to the privacy policy before data’s gathered, with the opportunity to opt out,” Kamal says. “And you must clearly identify yourself as the marketer. If those things aren’t in place, than you could be putting yourself exposed to legal risk on future litigation.”

Do not share information with a party not listed in your privacy policy – a common pitfall in business.

“If you collect data on a marketing campaign that you did legitimately for one purpose with a customer, and then you took the data from that customer and sold it to another company, that’s a problem,” Kamal says.

In addition to maintaining users’ privacy, you need to respect it in your marketing techniques.

“Engaging in spamming on mobile devices, thinking that because they’re your current customer, it’s not really spamming, is not necessarily the case,” Kamal says. “Those laws differ from country to country.”

Know your brand

In addition to legal issues, spamming can damage your brand image. Think about how you want to portray your business to customers.

“Is your brand a high-quality, sort of expensive brand? If it is, a spam marketing campaign or a campaign that does not respect privacy might actually damage that brand image that you spent so much time building.” Kamal says. “Look at spammers as a sign of a lowbrow marketing campaign.”

Take time to “purpose build” your campaign, as opposed to developing and implementing a mobile marketing program as quickly as possible. Consider a mobile services company to help you do so if you’re new to the process.

“Put a little thought into who your target audience is, what would be effective to actually run the campaign and (what your) intended results are,” Kamal says. “That reduces the risks and a lot of heartache with the client.”

Target your approach

Considering those factors allows you to target your approach in order to market to people with a high redemption rate. Using demand-draw or opt-in methods attract a relevant audience, as opposed to forcing marketing on random prospects.

“You can probably find a list somewhere that might have some relevance to what you’re marketing, but in the end, you’re going to have a high failure rate with just sort of a spam marketing program,” Kamal says.

Users who find the information irrelevant can easily block future messages from your company, as well as all automated messages.

“It’s hard for users to disseminate the difference between a fraud message and a legitimate marketing message unless you are taking into account the user’s privacy,” Kamal says. “Marketing that shows up on someone’s mobile device that they weren’t expecting doesn’t have a high return.”

Utilize social media

Mobile marketing and social media are inherently tied, as mobile devices are now driving most social media, Kamal says. By combining social media and mobile techniques in your marketing campaign, you can more successfully foster demand-draw.

“Set up a contest on social media that maybe draws demand and gets your message across,” Kamal says. “Then people actually ask for your offering. … Those campaigns tend to have a much, much higher redemption rate than campaigns where you just spam users.”

Social media also gives you access to a wealth of information on people’s wants and needs, which you can use to identify prospects.

“You can send back a response to their (post about selling a car) on social media saying, ‘Hey, we have this offer. We’ll buy your car at Blue Book price … as part of a promotion,’” Kamal says. “Then you can embed in the message back – let’s say it’s Twitter – ‘Just text this message to get your coupon code and show up at the dealer and you’ll get your reward.’

“Customers look at … those kind of marketing campaigns as actually useful. Because at the end of the day, if you were gong to buy a car anyway or trade in a car anyway, if you could get $500 off just for going to one dealer versus the next, you wouldn’t see that as an inconvenience. Nor is it an invasion of your privacy.”

How to reach: KoHorts IT, 810-355-1400 or http://kohorts-it.com

Published in Detroit