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As a business owner, do you understand mobile marketing? Can you define it? Do you have a mobile website? Do you utilize quick response (QR) codes? It is important to understand this developing and expanding platform before integrating it into a comprehensive practice marketing campaign.

The Mobile Marketing Association—a trade association that advises, promotes, and maintains mobile marketing information—defines mobile marketing as “a set of practices that enables organizations to communicate and engage with their audience in an interactive and relevant manner through any mobile device or network.”1 These devices include Smartphones, tablets, and texting-able phones. Examples of methods for interacting with these platforms include simple text, multi-media text, email, voice, wireless transmissions, and QR codes. Supporting the mobile experience of customers is an integral part of maintaining a comprehensive, robust, and dynamic marketing presence.

Exponential Growth

The mobile world of Smartphones and tablets is growing exponentially. In 2012, the US saw a 55 percent increase in Smartphone subscriptions. There are now 98 million Smartphone subscribers, representing nearly 42 percent of all US mobile users.2 Mobile email opens increased 34 percent while webmail and PC opens decreased significantly (by 11 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively, from April to September 2011).3 Last year, the annual purchases of Smartphones surpassed the purchases of personal computers in the marketplace for the first time. QR code usage jumped 617 percent from January to December 2011 in the top 100 magazines, while QR code scans increased 300 percent in 2011 compared to 2010.4

While these large user numbers are certainly impressive, what the average consumer is doing online with mobile devices is equally notable. According to December 2011 Nielsen Smartphone Analytics, consumers are browsing products (42 percent), reading online reviews (32 percent), and purchasing products (23 percent in a recent 30-day period).5

Tips for Entering the Mobile Game

Based on these remarkable statistics, the mobile marketing movement is here to stay and is growing dramatically. It's time to get on board; there is no debate. So, how does a practice get started in the world of mobile marketing? Follow these tips for entering the mobile game:

Review your comprehensive marketing strategy. Do your marketing plans currently include mobile marketing? When reviewing your current marketing plan, can you identify specific and notable areas where the needs of the mobile customer are not being met? Do you have a mobile website? Are there opportunities to communicate your products and services to customers using mobile applications? Do you use a mobile application, QR codes, or a “call me” on your marketing materials? Mobile marketing does not exist just on the Web. Mobile marketing utilizes a portion of your Web presence while also featuring mobile-friendly applications in various internal or external marketing resources. To meet the needs of customers with mobile marketing capabilities, review all marketing plans and initiatives to find opportunities for engagement.

Review your overall marketing budget. A practice must be willing to budget for mobile marketing resources it lacks but views as valuable. Does your overall marketing budget include funds for items you find lacking in your mobile strategy? If not, it should. A mobile website can cost $3,000–$5,000. However, many website designers now include a mobile website when a practice redesigns its primary website. Make sure you ask for that perk if you are updating or upgrading your present website. Creating a mobile application can cost $700–$1,000. For the most part, these (Android or Apple) applications allow established patients to easily connect with a practice. The cost to utilize other mobile resources—such as QR codes on print materials—is nominal (see Table). Adequate and anticipatory budgeting will allow for the best use of a practice's mobile opportunity.

Assess your current mobile presence. Early in the process of entering the mobile marketing arena, a practice needs to evaluate what its website looks like on a Smartphone. Is it visible and friendly? It is essential to present a clean and appropriately sized website to mobile customers. More than 60 percent of customers who visit an unfriendly mobile site are likely to go to a competitor's site.6

Identify the mobile marketing tools that best support your marketing goals and objectives. Mobile marketing tools range from simple to complex. Creating a mobile application or a mobile-rich website can be costly and time-consuming. Because every practice likely will have different and unique mobile marketing goals and objectives based on market position, competition, location(s), practice size, etc., it is imperative that all mobile marketing tools and resources be analyzed for appropriateness and applicability. Practices do not need to go “all in” right from the beginning. Sometimes going slowly with purpose is the prudent course of action.

Devise a specific budget for mobile marketing. With the (seemingly daily) emergence of newer technologies, the cost to utilize mobile marketing tools has significantly decreased. There is a great deal of innovation and competition in the mobile marketing arena and costs are all over the map. Nevertheless, there will be significant costs involved. Mobile marketing will become a major line item in your marketing budget. And, it will increase in the future. Make sure to include staffing costs to support someone who “owns” the mobile marketing plan—a plan “champion.”

Create a detailed mobile marketing plan based on your budget and desired tools. With an assessment and understanding of the basic and available mobile marketing tools, it should be possible to build a reasonable—but detailed— plan to enter this arena. Start with a one-year plan and see how things progress. Later you will want to develop a lengthier plan, but understand that this is a fluid undertaking with change happening regularly. Your initial plan should include providing simple mobile tools on advertisements, flyers, distributed materials, and websites; creating your website with this plan in mind; and identifying how it will be possible to eventually populate all media materials with QR codes and other mobile media. You can launch a basic mobile program quickly with relative ease.

Track and measure results/data. It is impossible to manage what is not measured. At the front line of measuring mobile marketing efforts is Google Analytics. Measuring mobile traffic to a mobile or main website starts with setting up and managing a Google Analytics account. Google Analytics features allow customers to measure both the mobile traffic to sites and the type of device that is used. Have your mobile marketing “champion” learn Google Analytics and use it as an inspiration for additional education and learning.

Not a Fad

Mobile media is not a fad. It is here to stay. Proactive practices will climb on the bandwagon now, rather than wait and fall behind the competition. While mobile media may seem complex and confusing at first glance, it can be mastered— or, at least, learned—relatively quickly if practice leaders demonstrate they believe in the technology and are willing to allocate the requisite time and resources.

Dave Zimmerman is a management consultant with the Allergan Practice Consulting Group, a specialty pharmaceutical company based in Irvine, CA.

  1. MMA Updates Definition of Mobile Marketing. Mobile Marketing Association, http://www.
  2. April 2012 US Mobile Subscriber Market Share. ComScore Reports, 2012/6/comScore_Reports_April_2012_U.S._Mobile_Subscriber_Market_Share
  3. The Global Email Deliverability Report. Return Path,
  4. ScanLife Mobile Barcode Trend Report for Q4 2011. Scan Life, with-millions-of-new-users/
  5. State of the Media: U.S. Digital Consumer Report Q3-Q4, 2011. Nielsen, DigitalConsumer.pdf
  6. Mobile Marketing Statistics 2012. SnapHop,
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