Reaching the mobile customer anywhere

The benefit of mobile marketing activities in retail


Today, almost 50 percent of cell phone users in Germany already have a Smartphone – and the number of tablet users is also growing. There is no other channel where retail is able to reach the user as directly as via his or her mobile device. Nevertheless, many retailers are still unsure on how to best appeal to their customers. One thing is clear however: those, who don’t focus on mobile devices, miss opportunities.
Graphic: smartphone with different apps; © Krieger
Aside from the continuously increasing number of users, the number of available devices is also constantly growing. Besides the classic Smartphone and tablet, so-called “phablets“ have also hit the market. These devices are sized between a Smartphone and tablet. And of course, there are still users, who are mobile using their laptops or netbooks.

The different models and form factors present a challenge for both online store designers and people in charge of marketing. Regardless of the device, retailers should ideally present their products in a way that achieves the best possible user experience. After all, users switch between devices during the course of the day.

On their way to work, users surf with their Smartphones, use a desktop PC at the office and relax with their tablets on the couch in the evenings. This is why it is essential for a store as well as advertising to work on all devices. Ideally, all information a user indicated at a specific touchpoint should show up again on other devices at the same location. After all, if a user needs to repeat an identical process - whether that’s a login or checkout process – it leads to frustration rather than a pleasant shopping experience.

Multifaceted devices mean multifaceted usage situations

Positioning an advertising message to where it reaches the user at the right time was comparatively easy in times of linear ads. Television commercials usually reach the user at home on the couch; newspaper inserts are read at the breakfast table. Mobile devices however are constant companions during everyday life and mobile advertising reaches the user in a variety of situations – in the car, on the train, at work or in the supermarket. Users therefore need to receive advertising that is truly relevant to their interests, because they never entirely focus on the content in these types of situations. If that’s not the case, advertising is generally perceived as disruptive and therefore has more of a negative impact.

The accuracy of the sales approach, which far exceeds the precision of TV ads or newspaper inserts is one the major advantages of mobile marketing:”Added to this are the classic targeting methods based on age, visited sites, location etc. Especially an approach based on location is highly interesting when it comes to mobile devices. Oftentimes, you know the user’s precise position within a few meters. Retargeting also works better with a mobile approach.

Smartphones in particular are usually only used by one person compared to laptops and especially desktop PCs. And app downloads such as transactions can be directly assigned to a unique ID or phone number,“ says author Jens Jacobsen in a blog article on the ”Foundations of Mobile Marketing” (German: Grundlagen des mobilen Marketing“). Similar to the “classic” forms of advertising, mobile marketing also offers a variety of options to reach the user.

This includes the retailer’s own apps of course (in this case, retailers can introduce products and sales campaigns particularly well), advertising in external sponsored apps and on mobile websites (banner advertising) as well as the increasingly utilized QR code, which routes the user to the store or directly to the product.

Contents need to be prepared for mobile use

Of course, the fact that the customer can be reached anywhere and in any situation is initially an advantage for people in charge of marketing. However, this can quickly turn into a disadvantage when the mobile ad reaches the prospective customer, but the remainder of the customer journey then does not meet his or her requirements.

The decisive factor is to offer a mobile optimized website. After all, a product search typically starts on a mobile device or the computer at home via Google and therefore a mobile browser. Most users only download the vendor’s app if they are already a regular customer – and not when they make a spontaneous purchase. Nonetheless, more than half of the 100 biggest German online stores still don’t offer a mobile optimized website today.

This is disastrous for the user experience. Since online stores are usually geared towards the use with a PC, orientation in the store proves to be difficult and can typically only be accomplished by constantly zooming in and out on the page. If the user then needs to struggle through a complicated login process for the checkout as a new customer, it becomes more and more likely that he or she prefers to purchase the desired product at a competitor’s store, which is able to offer a mobile optimized user experience.

Picking up customers where they search

“Mobile marketing in eCommerce therefore on the one hand means to first have a mobile optimized website and operate in mobile SEA and mobile SEO. On the other hand, mobile apps are also important: especially regular customers prefer this type of mobile shopping,“ explains Florian Treiß, mobile marketing expert and founder of Yet he also makes a case for the use of marketplaces:”At the same time, there are also apps that in turn aggregate other online stores, like ShopLove for example, and offer them a showcase. It can pay off for online retailers to be open to such platforms and include the vendors in sales via affiliate models.“ In doing so, the user gets a mobile optimized version without the retailer’s own store necessarily needing to be set up for it.

Implemented properly, mobile marketing therefore presents retailers with great opportunities to reach their customers more directly than ever before. Many retailers have already recognized these opportunities. According to a recent survey by artegic, more than one third (34.8 percent) of German retailers already use mobile marketing, while another third (32 percent) is planning to use it. Its significance increases especially on the way to multichannel commerce: 69.8 percent consider mobile marketing important for eCommerce and 57.8 percent for brick-and-mortar retail. 70.9 percent of surveyed retailers believe that before too long, buyers will notice retailers less without a mobile compatible store.

The survey also reveals surprising results as it relates to the distribution of mobile marketing measures for the different options. Based on the survey, mobile e-mail marketing (68 percent) is used the most, followed by QR codes (62.9 percent) and mobile apps (57.7 percent). Mobile advertising on the other hand, which can also be extremely effective according to experts, is so far only used by 18.6 percent of the surveyed retailers.

Author: Daniel Stöter; EuroShop
First publication at