Getting to know your mobile audience

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With 84% of U.S. adults owning a mobile phone, mobile commerce is a huge opportunity — and should be a top priority for merchants in 2012. But before deploying a series of mobile tactics, it’s crucial to consider what’s right for the marketplace, your customers and your business.

After all, there’s no point designing a downloadable app if most of your customers prefer text alerts; and launching services without the capability to maintain them is folly regardless of the platform. To determine how your brand’s followers and customers use mobile phones:

  • Study your Web analytics. Both fee-based tools such as Omniture and free services like Google Analytics have the ability to break out mobile traffic to your existing Web site. Pay particular attention to
  • inbound traffic from email marketing. If a significant number of visits to a custom  URL for an email promotion are from mobile devices, then your email subscribers are reading messages on their phones — and you should tailor your email content and design accordingly.
  • how social followers connect. Again, study those inbound links from social sites — if significant traffic to those pages is from mobile devices, you can infer that your brand’s social followers are using Facebook and Twitter on the go.

  • Survey existing customers. Ask existing customers and followers to take a brief survey on their mobile phone usage habits, and solicit participation via email marketing, social outposts and even, for your most loyal customers, direct one-to-one communication.
  • Size up the competition. While there’s no need to “keep up with the Joneses” when it comes to mobile development if your audience doesn’t require it, it’s helpful to survey the competitive landscape and understand what expectations exist for mobile services in your type of business and industry. In particular:
    • read reviews of competitors’ apps and study how many downloads they’ve achieved to determine whether and how you might follow suit.
    • use your phone to view competitors’ email campaigns and Web sites and track how many competitors are optimizing for mobile.

    As you collect and review data, keep these key questions in mind:

    Smartphone or SMS?

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