Mobile buying is undergoing a steep climb in popularity — indeed, estimates suggest that it will account for 72.9% of all ecommerce sales by 2021. Anyone trying to promote their business online must factor this in or see the efficacy of their digital marketing dwindle to nothing.
Mobile ecommerce, though, has distinct benefits and challenges, and demands similarly distinct tactics. Think of the average smartphone user browsing stores in brief and sporadic intervals on their pocket-friendly touchscreen. Old-fashioned methods just don’t work in such a scenario.
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To keep up with changing trends, then, you need to find ways to market your store to mobile customers specifically — and the smarter you get with your tactics, the more opportunity you’ll have to stand out from your competition. Here are 6 ways to use mobile marketing to fuel the growth of your ecommerce business:
Launch a mobile app
Having a mobile app won’t inherently help you promote your store to unfamiliar prospective customers, but that goes for many of these tactics for one simple reason: the mobile experience is highly personalized, and the catch-all tactics (such as running PPC ads) are much too generic to suit this list. Notably, an app offers two things: expanded opportunities to reach existing customers (more on this next), and a fresh product to promote as a strength of your brand.
Ecommerce buying through a website is often fine, but having the option of buying through an app can make an online-only brand more appealing. Having an app makes a merchant feel more professional and reliable somehow, even if it broadly replicates what the website does.
Send vicinity-based push notifications
Push notifications are so powerful because they bypass a lot of the filters that tend to block other forms of communication (spam filters for email inboxes, for instance). When the average smartphone user installs an app on their phone, they grant it wide-ranging permissions, waiting to see how those permissions are used — if you’re delicate, they won’t revoke them.
What’s more, you can automate push notifications in various ways, and using location is very powerful. Suppose that you’re selling a range of beach products, for instance — if your app detects that a customer is at (or near) a beach, it can push a notification promoting the beach products with something enticing such as a modest discount to encourage a buy.
Run a chatbot
Stemming from a broader AI movement, chatbots are extremely efficient promotional tools, because one chatbot can scale to cater to numerous people without much difficulty, and they’ve become fairly decent at fielding ecommerce matters in the past five years. Set one up to integrate with your store and your social media channels, and you can allow any given customer to ask questions, place orders, and chase up support requests through one chat window.
One of the biggest reasons why chatbots are so useful for mobile marketing is that mobile ecommerce (and the research that goes along with it) takes place at all hours of the day. Unlike a traditional store, an ecommerce store has no opening hours, and anyone can place an order whenever they want — having a chatbot live 24/7 ensures that you’re covered.
Your chatbot can also offer exceptional personalization, which is particularly important if you sell to B2B customers: B2B buys are high-value propositions, so if you want to successfully market to existing customers, you need to cultivate unique user experiences. And since mobile ecommerce is an increasingly-large part of the B2B puzzle, it needs to be a top priority (distinct chatbot scripts for distinct customers can enhance UX on all devices).
Use QR codes in offline media
QR codes (QR being an abbreviation of “quick response”) have become quite popular since phone cameras became good enough to reliably discern them. A QR code will typically contain a URL, allowing a piece of offline promotion (a banner, for instance) to promote something online without needing the clunky step of the reader manually entering a web address.
Using QR codes to point back to your products, you can use a wide range of classic marketing options, such as leaflets or posters in windows. Provided your store runs on a mobile-targeted system, you should be able to find a QR plugin of some kind to generate your QR codes — after that, all you need to do is start distributing them.
Send promotional text messages
SMS messaging is somewhat old-fashioned now, and might seem obsolete to many, but it’s still extremely potent if used smartly. There are two big reasons for this: firstly, a basic phone signal can deliver an SMS message where modern data connections aren’t available, ensuring great coverage, and secondly, people use SMS messaging for chats with their families and friends.
Using geolocation (same as for the push notifications), you can send out relevant text messages to people much more likely to see and read them than they are to check their social media feeds or their email inboxes. It’s a simple but reliable tactic that’s woefully overlooked.
Create mobile-targeted landing pages
Making mobile-responsive (or even mobile-first) websites isn’t particularly unusual today, but creating landing pages specifically for mobile screens still is. This is going beyond mobile-first, taking it (from a practical standpoint) to mobile-exclusive — a landing page designed for mobile devices won’t look terrible on desktop computers, but it won’t look great. It’ll be built around massively simplified messages designed for maximum impact.
A mobile-targeted landing page (linked to through QR codes or even PPC ads) can be extensively enriched with features and functions that only work on mobile devices, and optimized for touchscreen controls. It isn’t advisable in general to think only about mobile screens, but provided you pick your spots carefully, you’ve a lot to gain from sometimes catering directly to smartphone users.
Each of these mobile marketing methods remains quite unusual, though the reasons vary. Some feel too new, or too old, while others are tricky for businesses without any technical knowledge to implement. This is a good thing for you. While your competitors are lagging behind, you can stride ahead and set a benchmark.
This article was written by Rodney, the editor at Ecommerce Platforms.