Mobiles are widely used to buy and sell all kinds of products and services in the present technological age. All business transactions that are electronically carried out with the help of mobiles phones or any other handheld devices are referred to as m-commerce (“Mobile Commerce”, 2016). M-commerce has emerged to be a huge contributor to marketing as the number of mobile users had increased dramatically (Balasubramanian , Peterson & Jarvenpaa, 2002). Business of all sizes are focusing on devising marketing strategies that would enable them to reach out to the mobile devices of online mobile users and advertise their products. In this paper I would be discussing different aspects of mobile marketing in detail.
Infrastructure for m-commerce
M-commerce is a combination of hardware equipment, software applications and internet or other data career connectivity (Herzog & Gottlob, 2001). To be a mobile user it is pertinent to have a mobile device. This device does not necessarily has to be a mobile phone. It could be a tablet, a smart watch or any other handheld electronic device. Mobile devices are operated by different operating systems which make it possible to run different mobile applications. IOS by Apple and Android by Google are the market leading operating system adopted by the majority of mobile devices in the market (Liu, Li Guo, Shen, & Chen, 2013).. Marketing strategies are developed to develop advertisements that can be run on the operating systems.
A mobile devices can be connected to internet through many applications at the same time. The internet browser can be used to reach out to different websites from a mobile device. An internet browser for a mobile device is designed in a way so that it can fit the mobile device and communicate with its operating system. Apple incorporated Safari as an internet browser but other browsers are also available to be installed on Apple mobile phones called iPhones. In the same way Android works with many internet browsers. But this is not it. A mobile device could be continuously communicating with internet servers to download data for application update processes. This is one of the loophole that is exploited by hackers. I would be discussing it in the later part of this paper.
Types of mobile marketing
Mobile marketing is done through a variety of means including SMS or short messaging service, mobile web, MMS or multimedia message service, Mobile Applications and Games and Voice Calls (Truax, 2016). Following is an overview of these mobile marketing techniques.
SMS Marketing: In my opinion this is one of the oldest mobile marketing technique. This does not require an active internet connection. Instead messages with marketing messages are sent through mobile data providers as short messages. The users are usually subscribers of the marketing network how have a prior permission of the user to be sent marketing messages of their interest. But this is not always the case as mobile phone numbers could be acquired from just anywhere to be sent a marketing messages. SMS marketing is also done to random mobile numbers which is ethically wrong.
Mobile Web: Mobile internet users browse internet to visit their desired websites. Marketers might join in to internet advertisement programs like AdSense by Google to reach out these mobile users. Advertisements are placed on different locations on these websites which could be clicked by mobile users if they are of their interest.
MMS Marketing: MMS has been used to send multimedia advertisement to mobile users. I have had this experience via my WhatsApp on my mobile when I got an MMS advertisement to send a gift to my father on this father’s day. I think that it is a useful mean of advertisement.
Mobile Applications and Games: Advertisement might pop up when you are using a mobile application or playing a mobile game. These advertisement might be placed in designated places in mobile applications and games.
Voice Calls: Mobile advertisement is done through calling potential customers from different call centers for new offers and discounts. Pre-recorded messages are also sent to different mobile users.
Advantages and disadvantages of mobile marketing
Mobile marketing has its own advantages and disadvantages. Mobile marketing is one of the cheaper form of advertisement. Mobile users have their mobiles with them most of the times and there is a high probability that the advertisement will be attended by the users sooner or later. As we can see that the mobile screens have limited space, so it is easy to develop advertisement content for it. When advertisement is done through internet connectivity, the marketers can instantly know the actions taken by the mobile users after attending to an advertisement and hence it would help them understand their behavior. Mobile marketers can take full advantage of the social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter which have billions of users. These platforms can be used for targeted marketing.
There are also some disadvantages of mobile marketing. From a user perspective, hackers might present themselves as advertisers and convince them to click an advertisement that could be used to steal personal information. Mobile marketers might get into legal troubles if they do not respect the privacy of the mobile users and send them ads without their permission. The small screen of the mobile phone is an advantage but a disadvantage at the same time as the marketers might not have enough space to convey their full message to the mobile users.
IT components in mobile marketing campaigns: There are many IT skills required to do internet marketing. If we talk about the people who are directly involved in the development of the ad content, they must be able to utilize the available mobile space. They must have a thorough knowledge of the mobile user’s online behavior and be able to manifest it into their advertisement text and design. If the content of the advertisement is in the form of online text that is intended to be crawled by search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Techniques must be utilized so that the content is mobile ready and ranked high by the search engines (Evans, 2007). Marketers also need to be aware of the behavior of the different mobile devices and mobile operating systems in response to the developed advertisement.
Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) and Mobile Marketing
With the passage of time, mobile marketing has become an integral part of IMC of businesses. Businesses send regular updates to their users via mobile messaging. Mobile users can use their mobile number instead of their profile name on many platforms when making user profiles. Mobile devices are personalized gadgets. Marketers are taking full advantages of this fact.
Mobile computing have contributed to today’s world in many ways. Some say it has adversely effected the society and people have been destined from each other. Others say that mobile computing has positively contributed to society by decreasing the communication gap that existed. Mobile marketers research different aspects of mobile user behavior and the overall societal trends shaped by mobile computing and devise marketing strategies to increase the sales of their products and services. I believe that there is a great market for mobile marketing and marketers should use scientific means to take full advantage of it. Having said that, I must emphasize that business ethics should be fully taken into account when developing mobile marketing strategies.