These days the buzz about mobile marketing is deafening. Seems like every vendor, blogger and geek next door is suggesting you take your business mobile. They’re correct. You should.
But if you’re the type that likes cold numbers to back up these warm-blooded pitches, I’ve compiled the very latest Stat Pack from the most respected research firms and analysts to push you over the edge. Happy number crunching!
The Mobile Phone is King
Today, 87 percent of Americans have mobile phones. It’s their #1 most-used technology device, with 73 percent saying so vs. only 58 percent saying it’s their desktop PC. An amazing 25 percent of all U.S. households have ditched their landlines for the joys of only one bill from a carrier.
Contrary to those wonderful iPhone ads, only 17 percent have any type of smartphone. That number was 11 percent in 2009, so it’s changing quickly. Because of this growth, or perhaps driving it (or both!), unlimited data plans grew by 57 percent to 24 percent of all mobile subscribers.
What are consumers doing with their mobile phones?
The phone stopped being used just for calls years ago, but I bet you’ll be surprised to learn that 72 percent of mobile subscribers send or receive 664 texts per month vs. making or receiving only 176 phone calls. That’s a whopping 1.8 trillion texts projected to be sent in 2010.
If you’re a parent of a teenager and want to talk to him/her, you know texting is your weapon of choice. So you probably won’t be surprised to learn that teens top all mobile users with 3,339 texts per month. But I bet you will be surprised to learn that even Early Boomers (45-54) are texting fiends, sending or receiving 272 per month. So it was inevitable that texting has taken a bite out of phone calls -- adults are now making 25 percent fewer calls vs. three years ago.
Texting’s ubiquity is why, in part, I respectfully disagree with John Jantsch in his post 5 Trends That Will Shape Small Business in 2011. Texting is by far the #1 way consumers want to receive coupons.10 Like email, it’s simple and opt-in. Indeed, it’s likely the #1 method of mobile marketing in use by small businesses today, though I can’t find a study to conclusively prove this.
And yet, phone use goes well beyond texting these days. Consumers are using their phone to:
Unsurprisingly, age plays a big role in what you’ll do on your phone. For example, 60 percent more Gen Yers (18-28 years old) consume social media on their phones then all mobile users (41 vs. 25 percent) – and such use grew a whopping 80 percent in the last year. Gen Y also surfs the mobile Web one third more then everyone else (55 vs 42 percent).
The March of Mobile Marketing
The convenience of clipping and carrying a coupon on your phone is instinctively undeniable. That’s why almost 70 million mobile coupons worth $2.4 billion are expected to be redeemed in 2013, up from only 200,000 coupons in 2009.
Whether it’s a coupon or an ad, getting value from local businesses through your phone is becoming much more accepted than even a couple of years ago. Sixty three percent of consumers saying they’re either “very comfortable” or “getting used” to seeing ads on them.
However, all isn’t sunshine for providers of mobile marketing, since very few small businesses have tried mobile marketing. Small business owners cite lack of time to figure out a new technology (44 percent), perceived expense (30 percent), and lack of understanding of how to start (30 percent) as the primary barriers to using mobile marketing. Mobile marketing providers evidently need to work harder to simplify their offerings and pricing plans for the time-strapped and non-technical small business owner.
What about Location-Based Marketing?
These days, there’s a lot of noise about the growth of location-based marketing services. From practically zero dollars in 2009, location-based marketing is projected to grow to $6 billion by 2015. Mike Boland makes an interesting observation that with all the growth, it will still be a mere 1.4 percent sliver of the over $145 billion spent on local advertising in 2014.
Despite this noise, I think it’s too early to hop on this bandwagon because so few consumers are using these services. While this will change rapidly over the next few years, panelists at the recent Location-Based Marketing Summit would seem to agree, noting that 80 percent of consumers haven’t even heard of the term “Location-Based Service.”
That’s not to say there’s no bright spots worth paying attention to. Some fast food joints are seeing 65 percent redemption rates from new “geo-fencing” services that mark a business’ territory and push ads when a user crosses that boundary (with the user’s permission).
Google just enhanced an existing feature in its AdWords product, enabling searching consumers to see how far away a local business is from their location. And Facebook’s new Places Pages jumped into the game, allowing consumers to check-in to their favorite places -- a sure bet to win mainstream adoption given its 150 million U.S. users.
The ubiquity and amazing usefulness of mobile phones is hard to ignore. If you’re not thinking of the phone as a way to grow your business, you should start now.
Read the full article by Paul Rosenfeld at American Express' OPEN Forum.