4 ways to spot-on mobile marketing campaigns

It’s no surprise that smartphones are an extension of us these days. The mobile era marked its arrival with these signs:

  • In 2014, people check their mobile phone every six minutes on average.
  • We spend approximately 2 hours on the phone each day.
  • 91% of adults have their phone within reach 24/7.
  • 80% of time spent on the phone is in apps, not in the phone web browser.

These are fascinating facts which leads to a realization that marketers can lead mobile-centric campaigns that are as successful as traditional ad campaigns. We no longer have to view mobile apps as serving the “supporting role” to an advertising campaign. Apps can promote incremental changes in behaviour that no other platform can, which is a powerful advantage over traditional channels.

Let’s discuss some aspects of what mobile marketing is.

Understanding user experience

Apps can be an enormously powerful tool for a brand to engage its users given that smartphones are considered “partners in life”. Thus, user experience on the app is the most important when it comes to developing an app. Successful apps understand how mobile users work – that is we experience the app regularly but on shorter frequencies than compared to desktop usage which requires us to sit-and-focus.

When it comes to mobile devices, users want apps that offer quick services that they can use on-the-go. It’s important then to create an intuitive interface that offers real value to users. Another thing to note is that all too often, apps are downloaded only never to be used again. It’s therefore a good idea to have app-only purchases or promotions which offers incentives for users to keep utilizing the app.

Time your message well

Think of how we use our smartphones in general – it’s usually when we’re stuck in traffic, waiting in the lift, in front of the TV or on our public transport commute. The mobile world does not demand our full focus but it does need to capture our fast attention. For example, push notifications gives marketers a way to directly speak to the consumer at a specific location and time. What if a fast-food brand tells you about a promotion at a specific time of day, when you check-in this particular location on the app?

With mobile, it is not just about the effectiveness of your message, but the timing of it as well which marketers can now gauge better without having solely to rely on primetime spots on TV or radio.

Mobile: Just the tip of the iceberg with multiscreen campaigns

Adweek recently explored the idea of advertising beyond the third screen by taking advantage of screens that are everywhere. Known as digital-out-of-home (DOOH), this digital placed-based advertising is a natural extension of any mobile campaign. The advantage here is that marketers can now tap into the ubiquity of screens to support a mobile app, which makes for a far more interactive experience with consumers. It makes sense as consumers no longer focus on just the television, or the computer. Screens are placed in front of you on the train, or as a billboard along the highway and etc.

In Hong Kong, Coca-Cola launched ‘Chok’. The app allowed users, mostly teens, to swing there Chok-enabled phones to catch flying bottle caps from their TV screens. The more flying bottle caps you get, the more points hence instant-win prizes that include travel coupons, movie tickets, and more. The campaign integrated both TV and mobile channels seamlessly. It also leveraged on the insight that consumers are looking at more than one screen at once. (

Take this example closer to home from McDonald’s as well. McDonald’s use of an outdoor digital screen in the middle of Bukit Bintang depicts a melting sundae cone. To ‘Save the Sundae Cone’, they were instructed to download the mobile app where they had to spin a fan in front of the screen to cool down the temperature. A success yields users a voucher for a complimentary sundae cone, only available from the app. The app itself was simple, and offered a real incentive to users walking under the heat, on the streets. (


Strategic use of technology

In an app that tried to influence user habits, agency Droga5 in New York launched an ‘anti-app app’ that told them to put down their phones for 10 minutes, and UNICEF sponsors will donate an amount of money that will provide a full day of clean water to a child in need. Framed as a challenge to the users, the app resulted in users going over 200 million minutes without their phones! That, is quite a feat in today’s world. (

This only goes to show that despite knowing that technology has changed the landscape of marketing, one has to avoid being caught up in choosing the best form of technology amidst the abundances of options available. We still firmly hold to the principle that marketing communication success does not begin with technology. Rather, it comes from identifying consumer insights, having crystal-clear campaign objectives and the singular message to communicate. Great strategies come from great insights.


The key to successful mobile app marketing campaigns is mobile-centric strategic thinking – Paul Lin, 27 June 2014.

Apps and Mobile Advertising: When the Two Meet – Robert Nachum,  8 Dec 2014.

Why Digital Place-Based Advertising Is the Secret Sauce of Successful Mobile Campaigns – Scott Pawloski, 3 Dec 2014.

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