Mobile is global. Everywhere on the planet companies and merchants are using mobile in new ways to market and drive results. Innovation and inspiration can be found at the fringe, and across the four corners of the globe. Keeping an open and curious mind is essential. Best practices, key learnings, and real-life experiences are all around us. The hard part is identifying what we can (and should) apply as we seek to supercharge our own mobile marketing strategies.
To start us on this journey I have collected ideas and insights from doers and movers. From C-Level execs and pioneers to brand marketers who are finding their way as they confront (and conquer) the challenges of mobile, their observations and accomplishments are the focus on my new book, Mobilized Marketing: Driving Sales, Engagement, and Loyalty Through Mobile Devices. http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118243269.html
It is estimated that the total number of global mobile subscribers will reach approximately 7 billion by 2015 and the penetration in Asia is expected to be 65 percent of the total. As we approach this milestone it's important to recognize that mobile (the technology) may well be mobile, but marketers still need to be aware of important regional differences.
What flies and why (and where)? Here are five tips based on the learnings documented in my book to provide a clearer idea of what is needed to market internationally (and successfully) via mobile.
1.) Consider each market individually: Some of us read books like Mobilized Marketing. Others attend conferences. Benjamin Gauthey, Microsoft’s digital marketing lead, Asia and Pacific, learns about mobile by visiting Starbucks, museums, parks, and trains in every city he goes. As a rule, Gauthey spends three or four hours per trip observing everyday wireless users.
He says Singapore is "extremely overwhelming" with mobile use the norm on trains where commuters play games and connect via WhatsApp, a cross-platform mobile messaging app that allows users to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. The mobile group messaging app from U.S.-based WhatsApp is clearly making (global) waves.
Gauthey has also found Korea to be home to high-definition video viewing of soap operas and YouTube video.
"Mobile has unique local context," he says. "One size does not fit all."
2.) Drop the thought that what happens in Asia spreads to all markets: Ride along in a train across South Korea and you're sure to see many commuters watching live television on their mobile devices. Through digital multimedia broadcasting, or DMB, mobile subscribers are able to watch news and sports feeds —supported by ads and 'commercials' — provided for free on DMB-capable devices from the country’s television broadcasters.
Mobile TV isn't coming. It's part of life. Surveys show the average viewing time among mobile users is approximately 15 minutes. Advertisers have taken consumer habits into account and produced 15- to 30-second commercials to fit the slot, as opposed to the minute-long spots that are typical for Korean television.
The U.S. is another story. Here everyone from ESPN to Verizon has tried to make mobile TV viewing our new on-the-go pastime. But it's a no-go — at least for now. Nielsen tells us http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/report-the-rise-of-smartpho... that less than 1 in 10 watched TV on their mobile devices in 2011. Hardly a crowd-pleaser.
Frank Barbieri, who first built mobile products for MSNBC in 1999, believes he knows why.
"I predicted a faster adoption of mobile viewing over the air," says Barbieri, who has led product initiatives at Microsoft, InfoSpace, Transpera, and now at YuMe in Silicon Valley. "We thought the handheld screen would be the next consuming screen for viewing content. I think that turned out to be wrong. People were not watching over the air."
Instead, people were buying content from iTunes (Apple’s content store) and putting it on their iPhone. Where are we now? Barbieri tells me apps may tip the scales. But right now applications "trend toward gaming, utility and social, and less toward consumption of long-form video content on mobile phones."
Why doesn't the South Korea model apply?
Barbieri points out that there are "particular quirks with the Korea experiment that aren’t necessarily true in North America." One is the commuter culture. "There’s a lot of downtime. North America is more car-based versus public transport." Second, live video mobile services are free. "We’ve never had that. It’s always been a subscription-based service. That has kept usage fairly low."
But the U.S. is moving more toward view on demand. "There is more interest in time shifting and sideloading the content (by transferring data between devices) versus watching over the air." Marketers thinking mobile TV are advised to take note.
3.) Leverage the convergence of mobile and social: Everywhere you look the increased use of social networks is on the rise. But the real growth is in our requirement to access these communities using our mobile devices. Social networking giants Twitter and Facebook report that users are twice as active on mobile as they are on PCs. As I have written before, the boundaries between mobile and social are blurring. Adapt your approaches to embrace this shift.
4.) Don’t forget feature phone users — ever: Feature phone users outnumber smartphone users by a ratio of nearly six-to-one. According to the annual mega-trends presentation by Mary Meeker, renowned industry analyst and partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), feature phones are not just in the majority. They are driving services innovation as people in emerging and developing markets use simple text messaging to improve their lives, conduct commerce, transfer money and even oversee elections. In the U.S., more than 70 percent of mobile subscribers text on a regular basis. In other parts of the world, the numbers are significantly higher.
This is why Coca-Cola — a global mega-brand —considers SMS to be an integral and essential element of its marketing programs and campaigns worldwide.
A review of Facebook’s worldwide mobile strategy reveals a sharp focus on feature phones. As the company works to increase from 425 million mobile users worldwide, it has struck sweetheart deals with carriers across the globe to provide users Facebook experiences on their feature phones that are similar in features and functionality to what Facebook delivers to us on smartphones and online.
The power and impact of feature phones is strong in India, a country that has a fervor for social networking. There are even feature phones retailing below $50 that have a Facebook button and come bundled with a first year of unlimited Facebook service for free. The takeaway: smartphones and tablets offer amazing opportunities, but the mass market is still about feature phones.
5.) Stay current: You would be hard-pressed to find an industry moving faster than mobile. In many ways, that is great for marketers. We have more ways to reach people on their most personal devices, mini-computers that they carry with them 24 hours a day. But behaviors and interests change fast. If you read something in 2011 and think you have this whole mobile thing down, don't bet on it. The winds of 2012 change may knock you over.
(article first appeared on mobilegroove.com http://www.mobilegroove.com/learning-from-leading-marketers-markets-to-map-mo...