Niche-based-mobile-marketing-firms For many marketers, considering mobile marketing year after year is the same story. The year starts off with lots of hype about it finally being the "year of mobile marketing" … and after a month or two, the excitement dies down and reality hits. Most teams realize that they lack the experience or knowledge on what type of messages people will actually engage with and bow to the fear that only a fraction of the people they care about will respond to advertising or marketing in a mobile environment. Predictably, their attention turns elsewhere and mobile marketing initiatives stall. Is this year really going to be any different?

It's hard to predict, but I can say that this year does represent a unique moment where all the different aspects of mobile marketing that have long been preached by believers as signifying a cultural shift that matters to marketers are coming together. There are five concepts in particular that signify this evolution in my mind, and paying attention to their rise is the strongest indicator that mobile marketing may be reaching a new stage of reality:

  1. The Shortcode – Similar to the URL system that has allowed brands to have specific destinations online, the shortcode is giving brands a way to allow direct messaging from their consumers in an easily memorable way. Simply send a single word or a message to a five digit code from your mobile phone and you will get something in return. The simplicity of this format is an important prerequisite to make it truly likely that people will actually use it as it offers a memorable syntax that enables an actionable message to be memorable enough to stick in the minds of consumers on the go.
  2. LBS (Location Based Services) – One of the biggest new abilities that new phones are offering is the ability for your phone to know specifically where in the world you are. The potential of a personal GPS in your pocket, so to speak, ofers up all sorts of localized marketing possiblities. Of course, the potential for location based advertising could certainly backfire if people start to get inundated, but used right LBS can be a boon – and offer an important basic capability that enables all sorts of innovation in mobile device tools and marketing.
  3. APP(lications) – By now you have probably formed an opinion about Apps, and whether or not you feel like they will save the world, there is no denying that letting someone download a branded tool to enhance their experience of your brand offers great potential for engagement, lead generation and even direct sales. The App revolution, more than anything else, is fueled by a new level of utility in content for mobile devices. The popular tagline "there's an app for that" is based on this ubiquitous utility. When you can find an app to enhance just about anything you are doing, the net effect becomes transformative. Marketing can now do that too.
  4. AR (Augmented Reality) – You see a lot of hype about the potential for augmented reality these days, as it finally evolves beyond the realm of science fiction. Whether it is a service like Yelp's Monocle or more practical computer-based effort from USPS that I blogged about some time ago and referred to as "holocam marketing" at the time. Through your mobile device, you can now add a new layer to your interactions that offers more knowledge, more opinions and more suggestions – all live.
  5. DMPs (Direct MobilePayments) – Underpinning all these advances is the simple question of how people will be able to move money around. The potential for micropayments has always vastly outsized the reality. The only environment that has ever come close is Apple with iTunes, where you have a linked account and can easily click a button on a device to trigger a micropayment from your own account without having to re-enter or re-confirm credit card details. As the recent text-to-donate campaign for Haiti from the Red Cross showed the world, trying these payments to user's phone bills may offer another solution. If the behaviour of using these direct micropayments can be extended for consumers beyond donations, it would fuel many other marketing efforts.

Photo Credit: Mobile Marketing Watch