Definition, Examples + Best Practices

What Is Mobile Marketing?

We can define mobile marketing strategies as the tactics, activities, or strategies designed to engage audiences via mobile devices—think smartphones and tablets.

Mobile marketing’s primary goals are reaching new mobile users and deepening engagement with existing customers through your brand’s mobile experience.

The technique often involves targeting audiences based on their in-app behaviors more than their demographics (although demographic data can still make targeting more precise). As well as delivering simple, convenient buying experiences.

Here’s an example: 

Domino’s Pizza (UK) promotes products, takes new orders, and streamlines customers’ buying experiences on its mobile app.

The app doesn’t just allow transactions. It houses product ads and other promotional content. Plus personalized content to entice follow-up purchases from existing customers.

Customer's order section in Domino’s Pizza mobile app

The app even updates customers on the status of their food order along five stages: order, prep, baking, quality check, and delivery.

All these engagement tactics work well. Domino’s reports almost eight million active app users in the UK—the mobile marketing tool accounts for 75.2% of its online sales.

Mobile Marketing vs. Digital Marketing: What’s the Difference?

Digital marketing is an umbrella term that includes all forms of online marketing. Like search engine optimization (SEO), influencer marketing, email marketing, and content marketing. 

Mobile marketing, by definition, focuses only on mobile devices.

Many successful businesses use mobile marketing strategies alongside other digital tactics. For instance, Domino’s promotes its mobile phone app and builds general brand awareness through SEO and online advertising.

Here’s how it appears in Google search:

How Domino’s Pizza mobile app on Google search

And on YouTube:

Domino’s Pizza mobile app promoted on YouTube

And finally, on Facebook:

Domino’s Pizza mobile app promoted on Facebook

But its mobile marketing efforts specifically—including app notifications and SMS—do what those other tactics can’t: fulfill customers’ desire for “snacking” content. 

In other words, it gives instant gratification to mobile users who frequently use their devices for very short periods (e.g., to check messages).

How Mobile Marketing Can Help Your Business

With smartphone use growing globally, investing in mobile marketing is more important than ever to keep your potential and existing customers engaged.

Effective mobile marketing gives your business several key advantages:

  • Global, all-hours reach: Connect with audiences anytime, anywhere, with any message. More than two-thirds of people worldwide use smartphones—many keep their devices close around the clock. 
  • In-depth engagement: Mobile devices allow for a more immersive experience. Interactive content like games, apps, and augmented reality (AR) can keep your audiences engaged for longer. Mobile enablement software company MediaFly found it created 52.6% more engagement than static content.
  • Personalization: Data and analytics enable you to tailor your mobile messaging and experiences to each user, which boosts engagement. According to global management consultants McKinsey, 71% of consumers expect personalized interaction from brands.
  • Channel variety: Reach customers where they spend the most time by marketing your business across a range of mobile channels. Combine apps, messages, games, and ads to create powerful, multifaceted mobile marketing campaigns with greater conversion potential.

That last point is critical. 

Marketing automation platform Omnisend found that marketers operating three or more channels had a 494% higher order rate than single-channel campaigns. 

Omnisend's graph showing results of a single channel vs omnichannel marketing

Image Source: Omnisend

So, it’s clear that mobile marketing lends itself well to boosting sales.

With that said, it’s important to choose the right mobile marketing channels for your specific business and audience.

We can break mobile marketing down further into various audience-building and promotional activities.

Here are seven of the most popular mobile marketing avenues you can implement into your strategy.

Mobile SEO

Mobile SEO is the process of optimizing your website for mobile devices to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). It helps you grow your online presence as you become more discoverable through organic search.

It involves many of the same practices as desktop SEO. But it’s even more effective at improving online visibility.

Why?

Because Google favors mobile-first indexing. As of 2019, the search engine “predominantly uses the mobile version of a site’s content . . . for indexing and ranking.”

The optimization process also ensures mobile users—accounting for 53.66% of all web traffic—get a great experience of your brand.

Key aspects of mobile SEO include:

  • Ensuring website designs are responsive and mobile-friendly
  • Optimizing website content for smaller screens
  • Improving mobile site speeds for smooth user experience (UX)
  • Using structured data (information search engines use to understand pages) on your mobile website

Take Semrush’s responsive website. It behaves differently across various devices.

Semrush’s responsive website shown on different screen sizes

The site design moves and resizes text and imagery based on the screen size. Ensuring all desktop and mobile users consume our content comfortably.

Further reading: Dive deeper into site optimization tips and best practices with our Complete Guide to Mobile SEO.

Mobile Social Media Marketing

Platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat are prime marketing channels for engaging smartphone and tablet users with your ads and branded content.

In its State of Mobile 2022 report, Data.ai revealed that seven of every 10 minutes of mobile use was spent on social, photo, and video apps. So there’s a strong chance your ideal customers are also there.

Data from State of Mobile 2022 report, showing hours spent in apps by category

Image Source: data.ai

You can target social media users with various mobile marketing tactics, including:

  • Optimized ads: Reach the right people with your ads through testing and analysis. All platforms provide information on reach (how many people see your ads) and click-through rate (CTR). Some allow you to track if a user becomes a customer after clicking your ad, too. This information can help you improve your ads to make them even more effective.
  • Personalized messages: Making your social media more specific to your audience means they can relate to it and are more likely to engage. For instance, if you’re a dog accessories brand, posting content about dogs will do well. Posting about parrots won’t be as relevant to them, and may get you less engagement.
  • Live streams: Got a new product to launch? A live stream is a great way to tell your target audience all about it. You can then repurpose this stream into stories or an embedded video on your website. Most platforms send users a mobile notification when someone they follow goes live, encouraging them to watch the stream
  • Stories: Stories, which usually disappear after 24 hours on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok, are a more casual way to show social media content. They’re often less polished, providing real-time insights or updates. You could use them for product launches, events, or to build anticipation for upcoming offers.
  • Video content: Videos can go into more depth than photos or text alone. Making them a great way for your customers to get to know you and your brand. Examples can include product or feature highlights, behind-the-scenes videos, and user-generated stories. 
  • Augmented reality (AR) filters: These superimpose computer-generated images onto a mobile camera’s view. So you can see the product or game in a real-world environment.

With help from London AR agency Gloam, the NBA and Beats by Dre teamed up to create this AR Instagram filter:

An AR Instagram filter created by NBA and Beats by Dre

Image Source: Gloam

This simple mobile game provides a more intimate, immersive mobile experience while simultaneously promoting both brands’ products.

There’s more you can achieve with social media. Like driving more mobile website traffic by including homepage and landing page links in your profile bios.

The below example from our X/Twitter account takes users to the Semrush homepage. It includes a tracking link so that we can tell how many visited our site via X:

Semrush homepage link on Semrush's profile on X

Bio links help browsers and new followers discover more about your business and products.

Mobile Advertising

Serving paid ads on mobile sites and apps allows targeted messaging based on your users’ location, demographic data, intent, and past behaviors.

Take a look at sports brand Adidas. Its ads strategy on the YouTube mobile app targets users based on their searches.

"Adidas's social media ad for "Superstar. Samba. Gazelle." shoes

A user who searched for “Adidas” or a related keyword in the app is a good fit for Adidas’ product. So they’re more likely to engage with the ad.

Consider which social media platforms your target audience uses the most. Market Explorer can help with this.

Open the tool, then hit “Analyze Category”, select your industry, and click “Research a market.

Choose the “Audience” tab, then scroll down to the “Social Media” section.

“Audience” tab selected from Market Explorer tool menu

It will show you your target audience’s preferred social media channels.

"Social Media" section of Market Explorer report

And check social media platforms’ websites for in-app advertising opportunities, too.

YouTube Advertising homepage

Although different apps offer different targeting features, many will help you target different user groups based on criteria such as demographics or interests. After all, it’s in their interest to show relevant ad content.

Location-Based Marketing

You could reach users near your store or event locations with:

  • Proximity-based push notifications: Send notifications to users’ phones if they’re within a certain distance to your store/event (and have given you permission to do so!)
  • Geofenced ads: Geofencing restricts ads to show only in specific regions or locations. You can target users in a geographical area with ads. Useful if you have an app or service that’s only available to people in a particular city or country.
  • Location-personalized content: Tailor your content to a user’s location—think location-specific discounts or real-time event information. You could do this via your email marketing platform, geo-fenced ads, or an app that’s only available in certain countries.

People close by are more likely to engage with your content because it’s relevant to them, there and then.

Disney is a global brand. But it still geofences mobile ads to promote its products.

Here’s one for a show in Manchester, UK which targets Instagram users in England’s North West:

Disney's Instagram ad for a show in Manchester, UK

Users in or near Manchester are a good fit for Disney’s product as it’s easier for them to attend the show. Meaning they’re more likely to tap the “Book Now” button and buy tickets than someone in another region or country.

Make sure to identify high-value locations and tailor your messaging for context (Disney’s ad mentions “Manchester Bridgewater Hall”). 

You can even integrate maps for directions or travel time estimates on some channels. Like in this used car ad on the UK’s Auto Trader app:

"Location map," and "Get directions" widgets highlighted on the used car ad on the UK’s Auto Trader app

Easily accessible location info streamlines the buying experience to make a sale more likely.

Branded App Marketing

A custom-branded app lets you provide a seamless, engaging customer experience tailored specifically to mobile users. 

Branded apps keep customers connected to your brand on their home screen. Plus foster interaction through features like deals, bookings, and games.

Wholesaler Costco provides a mobile-first customer experience through its smartphone app, downloadable from the Android and iOS app stores.

Costco's mobile app home

As well as shop, users can view promotions, apply for memberships, manage their Costco accounts, and find stores using location data. All through a single interface designed specifically for mobile devices.

Mobile users who download the app are guaranteed a quick and easy way to interact with the Costco brand. 

Many companies are building their own app to provide an immersive experience for customers. They keep everything a customer needs in one place, providing better UX and improving brand loyalty.

Depending on your business, you could create one for users to place and track orders, get exclusive discounts, or collect rewards.

Push Notifications and SMS Marketing

Push notifications and SMS messages allow you to reach potential customers with timely, ultra-relevant alerts on their phones. Think cart reminders, exclusive deals, and new product information.

Take Audible’s use of push notifications to update subscribers on new titles in its library.

Audible’s push notification updating subscribers on new titles in its library.

The online audiobook and podcast provider effectively targets users based on their past listening behavior. 

The above push notification—promoting “Derren Brown’s Boot Camp for Emotion” podcast series—is aimed at those who previously engaged with other Derren Brown content on the Audible app. 

Again, these people are a good fit for the new title—meaning they’re likely to engage.

When using text messages and push notifications for mobile content marketing, limit volume and personalize your alerts based on customer behavior data. Allow opt-ins and make unsubscribing easy to avoid irritating mobile device users.

QR Code Marketing

QR codes are scannable codes that take smartphone users to mobile-optimized sites, apps, special promotions, contact forms, or other useful experiences.

Integrating them into print or out-of-home advertising helps to bridge your offline and online marketing efforts.

For example, the QR code on Pringles’ “Scan My Mo” packaging (squeezed into the character’s mustache) takes users to a mobile-optimized site. Where they get an explanation of the brand’s collaboration with mental health charity Movember.

Pringles’ "Let's get talking about mental health" campaign with Movember

Image Source: Movember

The mobile landing page also links to an AI-powered tool to help users support their friends. To try it, users can click the “Member Conversations” link on the page.

Pringles’ mobile landing page showcasing the mental health campaign with Movember

This combination of physical (packaging) and mobile (mobile website) marketing adds value to the Pringles buyer’s brand experience.

You could incorporate the technology into your marketing by creating a mobile site or game for people who purchase your product and scan a QR code.

Mobile Marketing Best Practices: 9 Tips to Get Started

Given mobile marketing’s versatility, knowing where to start can be tough. But fear not. 

Here are nine commonly used tactics you could leverage for effective mobile marketing.

1. Optimize Your Mobile Site’s Loading Speed

Mobile users expect quick and easy access to information. If your site keeps them waiting, they’ll likely abandon the page and turn to a competitor. Meaning you lose your chance to convert them.

Google’s Core Web Vitals are metrics that help you provide a better experience for your website visitors.

Google research found that slow page load times increase bounce rates (the percentage of people who leave a web page without taking action). Its Core Web Vitals demonstrate the key areas that affect page load speed, and therefore, UX.

A graph showing how slow page load times increase bounce rate

To keep load speeds up and mobile browsers engaged, leverage accelerated mobile pages (AMP) and streamlined designs that load fast. This can improve UX and conversions.

Site Audit can help you identify areas where you can speed up your site.

Open Site Audit, enter your domain, and click “Start Audit” if you don’t already have an existing project. (If you do, open the project by clicking its name.)

Site Audit tool search bar

The tool will highlight “Errors”—the highest-priority site issues that need fixing; “Warnings,” which are of medium severity; and “Notices,” which we recommend solving but aren’t issues as such.

"Errors," "Warnings," and "Notices" widgets highlighted in the Site Audit overview dashboard

You can then use this information to prioritize which areas of your site to optimize first so you can improve your mobile loading speed.

You can also use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to identify areas for improvement and follow its recommendations to boost your site’s speed.

Further reading: Find more in-depth optimization tips in our Guide on Page Speed and How to Improve It.

2. Personalize Your Mobile Messaging

Tailor your messages and content to individual mobile users or groups based on their: 

  • Location
  • Demographic profile 
  • Preferences
  • Behaviors

Personalized marketing messages can lead to higher conversion rates as they’re more engaging than catch-all content.

How do we know?

Google reports that 63% of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps offer relevant recommendations and offers.

For example, sending a birthday discount to a loyal customer via a push notification can make them feel seen and valued. And therefore more likely to buy.

To find data that can help you personalize your mobile messaging, you can use One2Target.

Enter your domain into the tool, then hit “Enter.”

One2Target tool search

It will return information on users’ demographics, socioeconomics, behavior, and audience overlap.

One2Target's audience report overview

You can then use this information to better tailor your content to your target audience.

The easiest way to reach specific groups with relevant mobile content is to use the built-in targeting features of your sales and marketing tools.

Data from Bluecore found that 53% of all users check their emails on mobile, with this increasing to 59% for millennials and 67% for Gen Z. It also found that 68% of people want to hear brand communications via email.

Most email marketing software lets you target users based on recent engagement and website behavior. 

Here’s an example of what automated personalization looks like in ActiveCampaign:

A workflow from ActiveCampaign showing automated personalization emails

Image Source: ActiveCampaign

It undergoes the exact process the software goes through when automatically sending emails to subscribers. With the series trigger at the top (“Tag Interested in Product 1 is added.”) 

3. Leverage Messaging Apps

Instant messaging apps offer a direct, personal, and versatile channel for mobile marketing.

Used strategically, they can enhance customer engagement, drive conversions, and strengthen your brand loyalty.

Their effectiveness is largely down to popularity.

WhatsApp has around two billion active users, while WeChat has over 1.3 billion. Facebook Messenger also has around one billion users.

DataReportal's graph showing the world's most used social platforms

Image Source: DataReportal

But reach isn’t the only advantage. Instant messaging channels also offer marketers:

  • Rich media support: Your business can send images, videos, GIFs, and audio messages without extra costs. Use multimedia content to capture users’ attention and convey your brand’s message effectively
  • Interactive features: You can run polls, surveys, and chatbots to engage users in two-way conversations, gather feedback, and offer interactive experience.
  • Group chat functionality: Group chats and broadcast lists let you reach multiple users simultaneously. Your company can create groups for specific topics, promotions, or customer segments.
  • Engagement data: The top messaging apps help you measure campaign effectiveness by showing how people receive, open, and interact with your content. This is true for WhatsApp, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger.

Let’s consider WhatsApp Business. This WhatsApp tool is separate from the main chat app, designed exclusively for business use.

You can send broadcast messages like newsletters or promotions to segmented user groups. 

Or let customers use it as a pre-sale support channel to learn more about your product or service.

You can even link to WhatsApp through Facebook Ads. So customers can chat directly with you while they’re interested.

A Facebook ad from Jasper's Market linking to WhatsApp

Image Source: WhatsApp Business

4. Provide Frictionless Mobile Experiences

Reduce barriers between mobile users and their goals. Whether it’s finding information, making a purchase, signing up to a newsletter, or contacting customer support.

A fast, smooth, intuitive mobile experience increases user satisfaction and makes conversions more likely.

Here’s how you can create a seamless mobile experience:

  • Offer speedy checkout options: Forcing mobile users to find and enter their card details every time disrupts the buying process. Utilize a secure one-click payment platform like Google Wallet or Apple Pay. 
  • Minimize external links in your app: Let users access important information without having to switch from your app to their browser
  • Make links and forms touch-friendly: Longer anchor text (e.g., 3-5 words) and large buttons stand out more on smaller screens, making it easier for mobile users to navigate and enter data into your site. Forms should be easy for users to fill in, ideally allowing autocomplete features to save users time.
  • Use short, snappy sentences: Consuming large, unbroken blocks of text is difficult for mobile users. Keep them engaged by presenting your written content in short, digestible, easy-to-read sections.
  • Minimize pop-ups: Large, intrusive pop-ups can cover users’ mobile screens and disrupt their experience. If you must use pop-ups, make them small and easy to dismiss.

Test your site or app with real users to identify and address any usability issues. Alternatively, you can use HubSpot’s Website Grader to gauge your site’s mobile-friendliness.

The tool looks at font sizes, tap targets (e.g., interactive elements like buttons), responsiveness, and more before giving you a mobile-friendliness score out of 30.

HubSpot’s Website Grader tool

Assess the feedback to build a list of improvements to prioritize. Then check back on your site’s performance once you’ve implemented them.

You can also run Site Audit to assess your site’s mobile friendliness. It crawls your site with a mobile bot, the same as Google does.

In the settings, make sure the crawler is set to “SiteAuditBot-Mobile.” Then click “Start Site Audit.”

“SiteAuditBot-Mobile” selected under Site Audit's crawler settings

The dashboard will return information on your site’s health that you can use to update your mobile experience.

Site Audit's overview dashboard

5. Experiment with Immersive Technologies

Don’t follow the same well-trodden paths as your competitors. Instead, consider what you can do to make your content more immersive for your audience.

Adopt new or more advanced mobile technologies to create memorable experiences and get people talking about you.

Let’s look at how Burger King’s 2019 “Burn That Ad” campaign leveraged AR to spark conversation and boost brand engagement.

Youtube video thumbnail

Using the Burger King app, customers could point their camera at rival fast food chains’ ads. In the unique AR display, the competitor’s content would seemingly burn away. And then transform into a Burger King promo offering a free burger.

Other immersive, lesser-used mobile marketing technologies to consider include:

  • Virtual reality (VR): Create opportunities for customers to enter your virtual world and spread the word about your brand. Users connect their mobile devices to VR headsets to stream their VR experiences to mobiles or tablets and share them with friends.
  • 360-degree videos: These videos can show customers all around your stores or provide behind-the-scenes access—which can encourage brand loyalty
  • Mobile games: Mobile gaming immerses users in your world, keeping them there for longer and building brand loyalty
  • Virtual events: Hosting an online-only event can show people into your world, introduce new products, build hype for launches, etc. Users who can’t make the event live can watch the replay after.

Continually provide fresh and exciting mobile experiences to help you grab potential customers’ attention. And keep your existing customers loyal and engaged.

6. Unify the Customer Journey

Ensure consistent customer journey touchpoints (i.e., across mobile and non-mobile) to help you deliver a more engaging, reliable, and trustworthy customer experience.

A user might start researching a product on their mobile device and later make a purchase on a desktop computer. If these experiences are disjointed, they can end up frustrated and abandon their purchase.

But what if the user can log in and access the same “recently viewed” products across devices? And be able to continue adding to their cart without starting again? 

Then they’re more likely to keep moving toward the checkout.

This is what happens when you add a product to the desktop version of the Amazon website:

A product added to the cart on a desktop version of the Amazon website

It immediately shows in your account on the Amazon mobile app.

Closely aligning mobile and non-mobile experiences means users can easily transition between platforms without disrupting the buyer journey. 

The benefits? You shorten the sales cycle (the time it takes a new customer to buy) and keep people shopping for longer. Plus make them more likely to want to come back because of the seamless shopping experience.

7. Reward Loyalty

If you serve customers from a physical location, running a mobile loyalty program can be a great way to encourage repeat business.

Most customers carry mobile devices with them at all times. So they don’t need to bring a specific card or collect physical stamps.

Starbucks’ mobile apps let users collect, track, and manage loyalty rewards from their Android or iOS device.

Loyalty rewards from Starbucks’ mobile app

Image Source: Google Play

Like our Pringles example, the Starbucks app uses QR codes to seamlessly integrate offline and mobile customer experiences.

Users can “Scan to earn Stars” and redeem their rewards by ordering items for in-store collection.

If you’re not ready to build a rewards scheme from scratch, consider using a third-party loyalty program like Smile or Stamped.

8. Target Voice Search-Friendly Keywords

Optimizing for conversational search terms will make your business more visible to people who use voice search.

Why does this matter? 

Voice search is a growing trend among mobile users. According to online marketplace UpCity, 67% of U.S. consumers say they’re “very likely” to use voice search when seeking information.

A circle chart from UpCity showing how likely are users to use voice search when seeking information

People who use voice assistants for search often speak more casually. To optimize for this, weave question-based long-tail keywords into your website’s content.

For example, desktop users might search “buy wedding flowers” when typing into a mobile browser. But with voice search, they might ask, “Where can I buy wedding flowers?”

To find more long-tail keywords, head to the Keyword Magic Tool and search for one of your target keywords.

Let’s say you’re looking for long-tail keywords for “wedding flowers.” Enter your seed (main) keyword into the search bar and hit “Search.”
 

"buy wedding flowers" entered into the Keyword Magic Tool search bar

Next, filter your keyword list by Questions.”

"Questions" filter selected from the Keyword Magic Tool upper menu

The tool will show you a list of queries people usually search for.

"Questions" results related to "buy wedding flowers" in Keyword Magic Tool

For the best chance of capturing mobile organic traffic, prioritize questions with a good balance between high search volume (“Volume”) and low keyword difficulty (“KD%”) scores.

To see the keywords with the highest search volume, click “Volume” at the top of the table. You can sort them in descending or ascending order, and compare this information against the KD% column.

9. Track Mobile KPIs

Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure your mobile marketing strategy’s effectiveness.

When you understand what works and what doesn’t, you can refine your approach to achieve better outcomes. 

In other words, you can ditch unsuccessful tactics and repeat or expand the winning ones.

The exact KPI data you monitor to measure success will come down to your chosen objectives and channels. But here are some high-level metrics to start with:

  • CTR: You can gauge the percentage of users who visit your website via mobile content such as apps, ads, and social media posts. You’ll find some of this information in Google Analytics’ Traffic Acquisition report
  • Conversion rate: Measure the percentage of users who completed a desired action after engaging with your mobile marketing campaign—whether that’s making a purchase, filling out a form, or contacting you. It directly reflects campaign success. You can track this in some social media marketing tools, such as Meta’s Ads Manager. Or by setting up events in Google Analytics. Check out our guide on setting up events in Google Analytics to learn more.
  • Mobile site engagement: Mobile traffic signals your mobile site’s popularity. But bounce rates and average time on page show how engaging it is. User-friendly mobile sites with compelling content typically have low bounce rates and high time-on-page metrics. Google Analytics can provide insights on these metrics.
  • App installs and users: Find the number of users who download, install, and use your branded mobile app. Both Google (Android) and Apple (iOS) offer analytics platforms to help you measure app performance.

Track your KPIs over time and use what you learn to further optimize your mobile strategy. You can find key information and monitoring functionality in Google Analytics and Site Audit.

Say your mobile website gets lots of traffic but has poor engagement metrics. 

Your next step? 

Focus on improving UX factors like page load speed and navigation (how users find content on your site).

Integrate Mobile Into Your Marketing Strategy

Mobile marketing is most effective as part of a carefully planned, data-driven marketing strategy. One that involves other digital and traditional tactics, such as desktop SEO, email, online advertising, and social media.

Start building your blueprint for business success with help from our Marketing Strategy Guide.

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