By Dr KF Lai, CEO of BuzzCity, a mobile media company

Digital marketing has become mainstream. Many decision makers view online marketing now as an advantage especially with many businesses depending on a particular web presence and viewing this medium as an essential part of their presence. However a traditional web presence is no longer enough especially with more consumers adopting mobile in their daily lives.

So why should your business consider mobile as part of your marketing strategy? A good reason is its reach. There are actually more active mobile phone subscriptions worldwide than toothbrush owners (5.4 billion vs. 4.2 billion). We know from the brands and agencies that we work with around the world that there is real value in mobile marketing and those who are taking advantage of it, or who do so in the future, stand to reap the benefits in this emerging area.

Agencies and advertisers certainly agree. MobileSQUARED’S latest report, Key Developments for Mobile Advertising 2011, predicts that almost 33 per cent of advertising agencies expect over 30 per cent of their clients’ campaigns to contain mobile, or an element of mobile, in 2011.

Developing specific content and campaigns for mobile can seem like a huge commitment to marketers however results from the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) show that mobile marketing budgets are due to increase by the greatest percentage, 124%, compared to other media.

The mobile consumer

Recent advances in mobile handset technology, coupled with the declining cost of internet access, have given millions of consumers an enticing new array of content and entertainment, and new ways of communicating and sharing information. This has led to an astonishing number of consumers relying on mobile. There are five times as many mobile phones as landlines. Of the billions of handsets in use, over 96% have at least a basic web browser and over 94% have a colour screen. The number of phones with a browser capable of rendering an HTML web page eclipses the total number of personal computers worldwide by three times.

In addition, demand for mobile content is at an all time high with digital content such as mp3s, videos, ringtones, games and applications, as well as product information on goods and services much sought after by consumers according to our Mobile Lifestyle Survey. This demand for content is matched by a demand for everyday mobile services (payment of parking fees and restaurant bills, buying groceries, and so on), with 45% asking for more integrated ecommerce solutions, over and above pure financial services.

Creating your strategy

So what should you take into consideration when developing a mobile marketing strategy?

1.Audience - It is important not to make assumptions when it comes to the target audience. Many people make the assumption that teens are the only audience that mobile may appeal to. As our Mobile Lifestyle Survey found recently the audience is actually predominantly male, aged between 18 — 45 yrs (86%). He is digitally savvy, and immersed in popular culture in all its forms — TV, music, film and fashion. He is highly social, and actively engaged in group-pursuits. He is not a teenager, rather an adult facing a number of crucial life milestones, from changing jobs, to buying a home or car, to starting a family.

2.The user experience — Mobile is different to any other forms of media and you need to understand the context in which your ads will appear in. Consumers are in a variety of modes when using their mobiles such as waiting (time-wasting / browsing), commuting (seeking entertainment and diversion), communicating (chatting or interacting with social media), or they are looking for something (maps, reference, phone numbers, contact details, etc). Mobile ads have to be designed accordingly and appear in a way that either complements these modes or contradicts them.

3.Scale — In the first quarter of 2011, more than 23 billion ad banners were delivered across our entire global network. Visit our campaign planner to help you plan your budgets more effectively for your next mobile marketing strategy.

4.Integration will pay off — All too often mobile is an afterthought. A phone is always in the consumers hands and usually always on. It is therefore important that mobile should be given more priority in the campaign from day one.

5.Test, test and test — It’s good to test several versions of your ad banner to ensure the best message that the market will respond to. For agencies working for large brands, ensure that you aren’t stuck with one version of the creative. We all know about slow approval cycles, so get your client's stamp of approval on at least four to five creatives before the campaign goes live. What is good is that running multiple versions of a campaign will not have any impact on your media costs as you can still set a daily advertising cap.

6.Use both banner and text ads - Many advertisers start out with text ads or graphic banners, rather than both. What they don’t realise is that by doing so, they halve their potential reach. Why not start with double the exposure?

7.Analysis — It’s important to understand how your campaign has performed as well as how you can optimise the campaign for future success.

Don’t be left behind

It is apparent that mobile is here to stay and there is a real opportunity for businesses to take advantage of this direct route to their audiences. A bold step is needed by marketers to evolve their strategies and move ahead with the times.

The future is mobile.

About BuzzCity

BuzzCity is a mobile media company offering brand owners and agencies access to a global advertising network on the mobile internet. The network is made up of publishers from across the world and BuzzCity’s own mobile media properties. As a leading international player, BuzzCity has developed in-depth knowledge of the mobile consumer and provides marketers with clear opportunities to reach this audience via its advertising and publisher programmes.
Additional information can be found at www.buzzcity.com.