5 Mobile Trends Marketers Need To Know About

Given that we are a little more than halfway through the year, it feels like it’s the right time to take a step back and look at some of the key trends happening in the mobile space. In particular, these are trends that marketers should care about, especially as this channel continues to grow in both numbers and usage (see stats below).

Some Key Mobile Stats

Below are some stats that marketers should pay attention to.

5 trends

Image via Shutterstock

What This Means For Marketers

It’s no surprise, but there are a lot of people using mobile devices worldwide. There are now more smartphone owners than feature or non-smart phones in the U.S. This means that marketers now have more flexibility in how they reach their end users. They also have a lot more location-based data on their customers.

As for purchasing, mobile is becoming a channel that customers are comfortable using. This means marketers know more about their customers, have more messaging opportunities and can make for a richer buying experience using GPS, accelerometers, and the ability to integrate cameras/pictures.

Starbucks Likes Mobile Commerce

Starbucks recently announced that 10% of all payments now come via the mobile channel. This means that shoppers’ interest in frictionless commerce is growing. And, the beauty with the mobile app is that Starbucks has an opportunity to cross promote and sell other things within their app because of the fact that people open the app every single day they buy coffee.

So, while the mobile wallet space is still developing — particularly as we wait for things like an NFC — 2D barcodes found in Starbucks mobile app and Square and Apple Passbook are making it easier and easier to facilitate mobile commerce.

What This Means For Marketers

First of all, it doesn’t mean that every marketer needs to run out and build a mobile app. However, it does mean that for retailers and businesses that do have regular foot traffic, adding mobile commerce functionality into their apps is worth consideration. The side benefit to having critical functionality like mobile commerce in an app or mobile website is that it gives marketers an opportunity to:

  • Cross promote some of their other products
  • Provide store locator functionality
  • Make phone numbers, Twitter handles and e-mail addresses available
  • Incorporate loyalty programs — especially relevant in Starbucks’ case where after 12 purchases, a customer gets a free drink or food item of their choice

Also important to note here is that Starbucks’ mobile purchases don’t just come through their mobile app but also come through Square (Starbucks is a major investor) and Apple Passbook. If you’re wondering which mobile commerce apps or mobile wallet solutions your customers use, don’t be afraid to ask them as they come into your store, enter your website, or via a survey in print or digitally.

The real win here, if you think about it, is all of the rich data you now have access to through your customers paying through a mobile solution.

Yelp Turns On Mobile Review Functionality

Yelp recently announced that users can now do reviews through their mobile app. This may not seem like a huge deal at first blush, but this new functionality really opens up a whole new set of opportunities to capture customer feedback and sentiments in the moment.

Just think, when was the last time you went to a restaurant or a business or store and had an immediate reaction good or bad? Pretty often, right? But let enough time go by before you get in front of your computer again, and the emotional reaction — positive or negative — starts to wear off.

With Yelp’s mobile review functionality, think of all of the new feedback that businesses will have access to. For companies with a dearth of reviews, this can be a gold mine.

What This Means For Marketers

For starters, marketers should be doing everything they can to get customers to take advantage of this new feature in the Yelp mobile app. Going back to some of the advice that Mike Schneider and I provided in our Location-Based Marketing for Dummies book, using things like stickers on your door, in-store signage, table tents, messaging on the website, staff training, newsletters and social media channels is critical.

While some businesses like restaurants have more reviews than they know what to do with, many others struggle with a lack of ratings and reviews. The reason why reviews are important is that they are a key purchase trigger. History proves that without them, a business suffers.

With this new ability on Yelp to leverage this “in-the-moment-ness,” companies should have so much more opportunity to capture real-time feedback. Ideally, this will create a new problem, i.e., the need to start curating and sorting through a mountain of reviews. This doesn’t mean the best reviews or the worst reviews, but the ones that are the most useful to the end-user.

Foursquare Expands Self-Service Local Ads To Small Businesses

Location-based pioneer, foursquare, recently announced it was expanding the ability for small businesses to advertise locally via their self-service tool. To that end, while I’ve beaten foursquare up in the past given their lack of growth to truly meaningful numbers, it does appear that they are gaining traction again. CEO and founder, Dennis Crowley, announced back in April that foursquare had reached 33 million users. I also see foursquare playing more of a role in the future with local ratings and reviews and discovery — similar to Yelp’s offering.

One of the things that’s exciting about this announcement is that foursquare claims to be using the same technology and algorithms used for businesses to help customers discover them through these paid ads, like the organic discovery tool in their app, which is pretty darn good.

Unlike Yelp, foursquare has the benefit of pure endorsement because users can see if friends have checked in at local businesses or restaurants.

What This Means For Marketers

For starters, any local business should at least consider testing ads with foursquare’s platform. The ads aren’t particularly expensive, and companies only pay if a customer checks into their store or redeems an offer.

There aren’t many opportunities like this where a business can demonstrate true ROI with advertising rather than wonder whether it worked or not. If you choose to test foursquare ads, it makes sense to publicize your foursquare presence on your social channels and marketing vehicles. Just like with search, organic and paid activities tend to work best when done in harmony.

What’s New With Apple Passbook?

Back in November, I talked about the power of Apple’s Passbook technology. As expected, many of the major retailers, airlines, ticket companies and the like have rolled out some sort of functionality using Apple Passbook. To me, this quick achievement of critical mass due to the adoption by mainstream business is one of the biggest benefits of the service.

What’s interesting — and I will be the first to admit that this took longer than I expected — is that Samsung just launched an Android equivalent in beta. The assumption is that this application will become available on other manufacturers in the near future.

What This Means For Marketers

Recapping highlights from my post last fall:

  1. Because Passbook comes pre-loaded on iOS 6 (on the home screen, to boot), it is impossible not to see. It’s also impossible to delete the app. And while you can delete items from your Passbook, users need to flip the item over and then find the delete button in the top left corner. It’s one of the few times that a non-intuitive user interface is helpful to the marketer.
  2. While the Passbook functionality integrates nicely with mobile apps, thanks to an easy-to-use API, companies can also deliver passes via email or the Web, ensuring that almost anybody can use Passbook.
  3. As mentioned in bullet one, tapping into the location-aware capabilities of Passbook is one of the more powerful aspects of the app. This allows marketers to message customers when they are in store or near a particular location.
  4. The ability to customize the items within Passbook to include messaging, barcodes, QR codes and other scannable formats allows for the proper connectivity of Passbook with most point-of-sale (POS) systems.

In one of my upcoming columns, I will review some of the best Apple Passbook offerings.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Apple: iOS | Channel: Mobile Marketing | Check-In Services | E-Commerce | Foursquare | Mobile Marketing | Mobile Marketing Column | Statistics: Mobile Marketing | Yelp


About The Author: is Managing Director at W2O Group, where he co-leads marketing and is the head of the newly formed Social Commerce practice. Aaron assists clients with mobile and location-based marketing campaigns and strategy. He is also the co-author of Location-Based Marketing for Dummies (wiley) and an avid blogger, podcaster and speaker. Earlier in his career Aaron spent time as head of marketing and social media at Mzinga and Powered/Dachis Group. Before heading off into the startup/agency world, Aaron worked at Fidelity Investments for 9 years in a variety of digital marketing roles.

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  • Chris Hershberger

    Two quick notes.. In most cased retailers use promotion to drive traffic to the brick and mortar (4SQ seems to have it backwards) and I have seen reports that people prefer wallet content via email rather than in branded apps.

  • Heather Curtis

    I’m really excited about Yelp’s update because I am an active Yelp user and it can be frustrating to type out a review, while you are experiencing good or bad service, but then to be told you have to save and finish it on a laptop. This not only helps Yelp users, but also people using search engines on their mobile device. This article talks about how Yelp reviews and listings have a huge impact on a local business’ ability to show up high in mobile search results: http://www.theedesign.com/blog/2012/optimize-your-site-for-iphones-siri-local-searches

  • aaronstrout

    @chrishershberger:disqus – Thanks for the comment my man.

    I would look at my foursquare recommendation as being geared more toward smaller businesses where they don’t have resources/wherewithal to drive into their brick and mortar. As for content being delivered via e-mail vs. via a branded app, I agree in general. However, I think there are opportunities to either provide useful information (store locators, loyalty program updates, etc.) along with occasional product and/or holiday updates. To that end, I was just suggesting that it’s one more way to present your brand in front of your customer.

  • aaronstrout

    Thanks for the link @disqus_u3vDSJcxpo:disqus! And yes, I couldn’t agree more.

  • itniche

    It’s a good thing you wrote this article instead of me because I couldn’t come up with all this original content like you did. You are simply an incredible writer.

  • aaronstrout

    @itniche:disqus ha, that is kind of you. For me, I try and read a variety of articles as well as pay attention to a number of smart people on Twitter/Facebook/Google+ who keep me plugged in.


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