You're behind the curve if you haven't been working on a mobile strategy. Consider this: the mobile sector is a US$ 850 billion global market and will comprise 62% of the total telecom market in 2010 (IDC study, Worldwide Mobile Trends: Steady Subscriber Growth, the Proliferation of Applications, and the Mobile Internet ). Or this: more than one half of internet users worldwide used a mobile device for part of their shopping activities in December 2009 (Mobile Shopping Takes Hold Worldwide - eMarketer).

But before you circle the strategy and tech wagons, step back and think about how you really need to approach this channel. Need help? Read on.

The Wrong Way to a Mobile Strategy

Here's how you shouldn't approach a mobile strategy: You look around at what your competitors are doing and read about the current stats for mobile usage and you say "we need one of those [mobile strategy] too".

Wrong. Yes, mobile is just another channel, but you need an integrated view across all your channels. The problem is, most companies put the mobile channel in a silo because they really don't know much about it.

This is the experience of Greg Dowling, Semphonic's newest VP. He is leading the consulting firm's mobile strategy and measurement practice, so he knows a little bit about mobile strategy. Dowling (who by the way is holding a breakfast seminar series on this very topic February 23rd in Washington DC and February 25th in New York) told us that companies need to determine their mobile readiness and figure out if a mobile channel is suitable to their current offering.

He says companies "need to get SMART with mobile". What does that mean exactly? Follow along:

S is for Strategy

Every good plan starts with a strategy and the decision to add a mobile channel -- or not -- should be considered carefully. Unfortunately many organizations are still starting with the technical decision and not with the business requirements.

Do you know the technograhics of your consumers? Do you know user types, geographic distribution, what they are doing on your website? If you already have good measurement of your current website and visitors/customers, you are well on your way to creating your mobile strategy.

It's important to understand that some products and offerings don't lend themselves well to a mobile environment (one example is lead generation websites). Mobile is used the most by consumers in the media, commerce and social markets.

We see this clearly in a report from Motorola that surveyed retail shoppers usage of mobile during the Christmas holiday season: 

eMarketer -- Mobile Shopping Takes Hold Worldwide

and in a recent report by The Nielsen Company:

Mobile Audience Mirrors Total Internet as Search, Email, Social Networking Drive Traffic

What are your objectives?

Why do you want a mobile channel? Are you trying to increase revenues? Decrease costs? Or do you want to increase brand awareness or cut calls to your call center.

What is your Level of Commitment?

To add a mobile channel you have to be 100% committed Dowling says. Testing the waters won't be good enough. He told us that in 2010 there isn't a ton of commitment by agencies and brands. According to Equation Research, the breakdown for 2010 plans for mobile marketing is as follows:

  • 10% have mobile as a line item
  • 60% are experimenting with mobile
  • 30% have no mobile plans at all

What's interesting though is that mobile is the fastest, largest and most readily adopted channel, says Dowling -- 3-1 over Internet users. That means 70% of people have mobile devices compared to 20-26% that have the internet.

According to recent research from the IDC, the mobile sector is a US$ 850 billion global market with smartphones emerging as a key driver.

The mobile sector is in transition from its prior focus on subscriber growth. The expanding demographics of smartphones and new operating systems, the arrival of mobile broadband, and the explosive growth of applications and content are combining to reshape the landscape of mobile telecommunications," said Courtney Munroe, group vice president of Worldwide Telecommunications at IDC.

Can you define reasonable ROI?

Don't try to get overly specific and detailed when defining ROI. Dowling says a rough order of magnitude will work. You just need to know if it's worth your time.