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Summary:

Mobile can be a new platform for building brand loyalty, stimulating traffic, and enhancing interaction. Eventually, sooner than we think, mobile will drive sales. If you’re going to “go mobile,” make sure that your efforts are framed by clear and attainable goals.

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It’s clear from where we’ve been this last year that we can’t ignore mobile. I’ve been thinking about where it’s headed, and recently blogged a little rant on the subject.

As I frame my view of where mobile is going, I can’t avoid starting with some numbers I just saw in Seth Weintraub’s post in Fortune about Android.

Globally, market intelligence firm IDC counted 269.6 million smartphones sold this year, compared to the 173.5 million units shipped in 2009.

In 2011, we might see half a billion phones sold worldwide. Smartphones will likely blow by traditional computers next year as the way most of the world gains access to the Internet.

If that doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will.

Are you thinking about mobile yet? And if so, how are you thinking about it? Let’s plant our feet firmly on the ground and talk about how you should be thinking about mobile. Here are some guiding thoughts:

1. Don’t think product; think platform. People are excited about devices and apps: that is, products. As a marketer, you need to look at devices and apps as platforms for communication, conversation, conversion; pick your “C” word. Develop your app or apps with that broader concept in mind. Look to integrate mobile into your current marketing mix as a new communications and marketing platform. Don’t try to sell a product now; you can add sales later.

2. Leverage the ubiquity. Smartphones — and more recently, iPads and other tablets — are becoming essential tools. Their ubiquity is going to be unprecedented. We love these devices even more than our laptops. We are bringing them into places and situations we never imagined. There’s an intimacy, a necessity, that these devices are engendering in us. Whether that’s good, bad, or indifferent, it’s our new reality. So, as a marketer, how can you leverage this intensely personal, can’t-live-with0ut-it feeling smartphones generate? How can you be present on these devices in a way that’s meaningful, useful, and purposeful? How can your app be indispensable? Don’t think, “I want to create a cool app.” Think, “I want to solve real problems, offer real solutions, create a must-have feature” for your audiences’ mobile device. Create something essential.

3. Put goals in the driver’s seat. Don’t go crazy and forget the fundamentals of business and marketing. We saw companies forget these when they first went on the Web. They thought that they could spend a lot of money to build a website, and all their business problems would be solved. We have seen similar madness with people getting on Facebook and Twitter without any sense of why they should be there, who they are trying to reach, and what they are trying to get their friends, fans and followers to do — other than “buy our product” or “do business with us.” Without a clear plan and strategy, mobile will become this new year’s huge time and money suck.

Mobile can be a new platform for building brand loyalty, stimulating traffic, and enhancing interaction. Eventually, sooner than we think, mobile will drive sales. If you’re going to “go mobile,” make sure that your efforts are framed by clear and attainable goals.

What will be your mobile strategy in 2011?

This post was inspired by Fred Wilson and his post The Smartphone Explosion which references Seth Weintraub’s post in Fortune about Android.

Image by sxc.hu user mrceviz

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  1. Aliza, I agree with you completely on your main points- mobile is the biggest opportunity we’ve seen a long time, and lends itself to a degree of personalized communication that hasn’t been possible before. I have to interject, however, that with the rapidly increasing number of devices and social networks, it is not sustainable to create an app for every touchpoint, especially as mobile juggernauts like Samsung, Microsoft and Motorola beginning to produce viable alternatives to the iPhone. The perspective should be more about integrating marketing into mobile, not mobile into your marketing. I just read a good tweet from @stevenhay that said “There is no Mobile Web. There is only The Web, which we view in different ways. There is also no Desktop Web. Or Tablet Web. Thank you.” Although you want to create an app that solves real problems, you also want to make sure you aren’t developing these in one-off silos- it is just taking your core online presence and message, and adapting it based on how, when and where your customer is accessing it. To add to this growing problem, the developers usually have little or no marketing experience, so they don’t have the full understanding of the customer. Companies need to involve marketers in this content management process in order to give consumers the type of experience they expect – a personalized Web experience based on context. The first step in moving towards this direction is finding a platform which marketers can use, while having all customer info across all systems at their fingertips.

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