Hearing that “now” is the time for mobile may remind one of the boy who cried wolf. For years, marketing experts have predicted the time for mobile was rapidly approaching, but to be perfectly honest, uptake has been slower than expected.
But finally there is ample evidence to suggest that 2013 really will be the defining year for the medium--thanks to mobile commerce. With retailers such as eBay forecasting mobile commerce volume to eclipse $20 billion in 2013, this year will be the time for m-commerce to move beyond a curiosity and into a regular habit for American consumers.
Our own research backs this up. Earlier this year, Intela polled 1,000 U.S. smartphone owners and found that 44 percent--almost one in two--are more likely to make a purchase on their phones compared to the same time last year. There is also a growing acceptance of mobile advertising. One in five Americans (21 percent) are now responsive to ads on their smartphones.
Interestingly, a key trigger to reaching people on the move is via email. In our poll, 36 percent of respondents said they are more likely to make a purchase from their smartphones after receiving an optimized email, while only one in 10 would respond the same way to display ads featured on social networks, such as Facebook, via mobile.
In addition, we found consumers to be confident about making purchases via their smartphones. The “iTunes effect” has conditioned them that it is easy, safe, and accessible to make regular micropayments for music or apps, with 35 percent of Americans comfortable doing so. However, this confidence is outgrowing the typical iTunes payment levels. Our research found that 56 percent of American smartphone owners are happy to spend more than $10 on their mobile phones, and 20 percent are willing to spend more than $100 in a single transaction.
Clearly, m-commerce success is inextricably linked to the impact and success of mobile advertising--and specifically its ability to drive purchases. Mobile advertising is now at least a defined part of any major consumer brand’s marketing activity, but the real issue is how to make sure this burgeoning market is delivering results and influencing real-world sales. A “spray-and-pray” approach does little to guarantee success or customer conversion. Any brand looking to invest in a mobile marketing campaign should consider factors such as targeting, rendering, life cycles, and behaviors to ensure that ads are more innovative and less annoying to consumers. That said, those messages must be sent in a timely, relevant, interesting way optimized for that person’s smartphone.
While m-commerce has, to date, been a small proportion of a major retailer’s total sales, the ubiquity of smartphones and the behavioral shift toward m-commerce presents one of the most profound opportunities for businesses since the dot-com boom to outmaneuver their competition and gain increased market share. Mobile marketing should be a critical element of the marketing mix for any brand looking to take advantage of the m-commerce boom–certainly all retail brands. For anyone making their mobile marketing debut in 2013, they must remember that the model represents minimal risk, but so much potential upside as long as the campaigns are specifically targeted, content-rich, and avoid being seen as intrusive.