Mobile is now the dominant channel in online advertising. And while many companies at least have a mobile site, most are missing that clear strategy for mobile customer acquisition.

We've all heard the stats: In the US alone, consumers will have spent nearly $119 billion on goods and services purchased on a mobile device by 2015. Mobile internet use has overtaken desktop use, and 35 percent of users are searching for coupons or shopping-related activities. It’s one reason why many companies are shifting their budget for desktop ad targeting over to mobile, and taking advantage of mobile-first data signals such as app engagement, location, etc. to fuel a better mobile experience.

However, as many brands leap to make bold mobile moves, they may be forgetting a few crucial requirements. Requirements which consumers demand, and are waiting for brands to implement.

1. There is no such thing as a national customer

When you’re doing business on the national level, it’s quite easy -- and natural -- to think about your marketing this way. Sure, you may want to target certain regions when your concentration of prospects is higher, but the problem is, no consumer thinks about themselves as a “national customer.” So whether its by a customers location or their unique attributes, running national campaigns on devices that are so personal and targeted is a no-no. In fact, hyper local geo-targeting now accounts for about 50 percent of mobile campaigns, while the other 50 percent is audience-based targeting.

But some brands are getting it right, and depending on their business model, using various forms of mobile targeting to reach an engaged audience. Take Taco Bell, they use geolocation targeting in locations with a high concentration of competitors, as well as areas that are heavy with consumer foot traffic. But a brand like eBay, which does not have a physical location, uses audience data to target based on products viewed or purchased, app engagement and other such metrics.

It’s time to think beyond targeting our audiences at a certain time of day, and learn, based on their unique or local signals, how to forecast their future behavior. Nobody should be putting out a general message any more.

2. Mobile ads must be as useful for the user as possible

Ok, now that we've covered that your campaigns have to be as targeted as possible, it’s time to think about the use of your mobile advertising. 300x50 is not a ton of space to work with, but it’s mobile and we have to deal. What is important to make the best use of that space as possible. If you’ve even been frustrated with the results of a mobile advertising campaign, it could have been that your ad design or messaging just wasn't doing the trick. And yes, mobile performance has to become better for advertisers to pour more money into it, but we as marketers have to also become more savvy about how these ads and their usefulness are portrayed to users.

Most companies are using a cross channel approach to marketing these days, meaning that your mobile ads are one small piece of the puzzle and don’t necessarily need to do all the work. With a well-executed cross channel campaign, these mobile ads can support the greater message, not do all the work, giving you more room to work with designing a 300x50 ad that actually is worth your CPM spend.

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3. Mobile should solve a problem

When a hot channel or behavior like mobile comes along, it’s easy to focus only on the latest new thing. But marketers need to think about closing the loop from ‪‬online and ‪mobile to in-store/on site. Why? Because the opportunity to personalize means understanding people in the physical world, not just digital.‬

Take mobile shopping as an example: experts have been forecasting its rise as a revenue channel for years. But nearly 65 percent of all commerce starts on phones but is still completed either in-store or on PCs. In this case, your mobile strategy needs to support these behaviors, rather than strong arming your audience into buying on a channel that is not a natural purchase path for them.

Or take apps, if you’ve decided to build one (and let’s hope it's for a good reason and not just to have one), you better ensure that it’s usability and promotions serve the customers’ needs, not your own KPIs. Deep linking is inevitable. Gone are the days when you could expect consumers to search in an app and find your latest update or offer. Instead, your mobile strategy should seek to push them into this experience directly.

Whether you’re a local brand or a large national company, mobile must be in your plans, but executed for the customer first. Design your strategy for the person, not the territory and you’ll find a more engaged, happier consumer.

Title image by Warren Goldswain (Shutterstock)