Customer Experience, Digital Marketing, Five Ways Your Brand Can Be a Better Mobile Advertiser - Without Using Mobile Banner Ads
When was the last time you deliberately clicked a mobile banner ad? For most of us, the answer is never. Fraught with annoyances and fat-finger syndrome, mobile ads not only offer little-to-no meaningful engagement with consumers, they are also impossible to truly quantify in terms of user intent or interest.


And right now, at this very moment, your (would-be) customers are on their smartphones looking for anything that will help them shop better, become more informed and connect to brands in a more meaningful way.

Advertising is still a very powerful medium, but when it comes to mobile, banner ads aren’t the answer. It’s time to think beyond the ad or offer, and think about consumer behaviors and needs. Make your brand fit their lifestyle, not the other way around.

1. Be Fun: Share Content That Enhances Customers’ Lives

There are myriad reasons today’s consumers are smartphone crazy, but shopping isn’t the main one. (Neither is clicking on your banner ad for that matter.) Consumers use them to feel connected and engaged, discover new things, be entertained and otherwise fill the unoccupied (and sometimes even occupied) hours of their days. Which means there’s huge potential to engage with them: think original videos, style guides, music, interviews or anything other branded (or not-branded) content, and the like.

Retail giant Target put its brand at the center of summer fun, sharing and conversations when it used a mobile campaign integrated with its commercial spots and in-store promos to give customers a free song download. The catchy Ula Ula by Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas became one of the “it” songs of the summer of 2013, and Target saw its customer engagement levels quadruple.

2. Be Engaging: Give Your Most Social Customers Something to Talk About

Facebook recently found that over 71% of users are accessing the social network from a mobile device. And whether it’s with articles and engagement announcements, to photos of food, cats and babies, Americans are constantly sharing their lives. The good news is there’s room for you in this social equation by creating ways for consumers to generate their own shareable, custom content and allowing them to play an essential role in spreading the word about a broader campaign, in real time -- across social media and beyond.

Dove brought a Times Square billboard to life with users’ participation. A simple mobile prompt on the billboard encouraged passersby to share pictures of themselves on social media via their mobile devices. In doing so, these new fans could see their pictures appear on the advertisement in real time. They didn’t just socialize with the brand, they became a part of it. Sounds a lot more engaging than an annoying banner to me!

3. Be Exclusive: Deliver Special Offers and Experiences to Your Most Loyal Customers

You know who your most devoted customers are. They sign up, opt in, download and visit your website or step into your store every chance they get. And these devotees are nothing but flattered to think that you might offer them some sort of special offer or recognition for their loyalty. Mobile-only promotions are the perfect way to reward your dedicated shoppers, get them excited about new campaigns and products, spurring the intent to purchase.

This summer, Victoria’s Secret PINK gave its mobile application users exclusive access to the “Ultimate Shopping Night,” an in-store back-to-school event at 300 stores across the country. Loyal fans were invited to the August event via push notification in mid-July, and then directed to an in-app landing page that used geo-locating capabilities to identify the nearest Victoria’s Secret store. Mobile content not only promoted the event, but also the brand’s loyalty program and connected to event messaging on social media.

4. Be Helpful: Get Coupons in the Hands of the People Who Really Want Them

Coupons are still one of the most effective ways to drive real-time sales and in-store traffic, but gone are the days when retailers had to hope savvy shoppers would stumble on their offer in the Sunday paper. Today, done right, mobile coupons can drive high levels of engagement and redemption -- almost 10 times more than paper coupons. All you need to do is ensure that the mobile coupon arrives on a customer’s mobile device for just the right product at just the right moment.

Nickelodeon boosted Dora Rocks purchases in Target stores by using a mobile campaign that prompted in-store shoppers to use their mobile device to receive an instant US$ 5-off mobile coupon. Coupled with a fun voice message from Dora for the kids, Nickelodeon achieved coupon redemption rates that were 10 times higher than existing benchmarks.

5. Be Local: Use Geofencing to Put the Right Offer in Front of the Right People

Seventy percent of consumers use their mobile devices to look up nearby store locations. Yet mobile banner ads rarely target users locations. It’s up to you to put yourself in the location equation -- the right way. By connecting local advertising or promotional efforts to the mobile experience, you can bridge the gap between awareness and action.

Simon Malls took advantage of mobile geo-targeting functionality during the holiday season to get families into local malls. The company used a mobile campaign that gave kids a special message from Santa, and local coupons for the parents. More mall visits, and thousands of coupon redemptions later, this was one success local mobile initiative.

Truth be told, there are so many ways for you to connect with customers via their mobile devices that using just one of these ideas will likely bring greater results than any banner ad can. By creating your advertising to take advantage of consumer smartphone behaviors, like sharing, calling, texting or searching, you’ll see engagement rates that bring meaningful measurement and increased loyalty.

Title image courtesy of JatinShah99 (Flickr) via a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License

Editor's Note: Read more of Ashley's mobile insights in 5 Things You Should Know About Your Mobile Consumers + How to Use That Data