The world has rapidly become dependent upon mobile technology in recent years.  While this is apparent to anyone immersed in the market, those who aren’t may not notice it as readily.  In terms of business intelligence, this is akin to the first ripples of the shift from manual labor to machine industry.  The companies that failed to see the changing trends and adapt their strategies wound up lagging behind their competition and then struggling to catch up.  For some, they never did.

According to a Nielsen survey, more than half of the users between the ages of 18 to 44 in 2011 were smartphone owners.  Fast forward to 2013, and Neilsen reports an almost 50% increase in these numbers, bringing the total to a little less than three in four users in the US alone.  This same report indicates that three out of five smartphone users are women.  In fact, accounting for the use of tablets, women made up 50% of the online shopping market for Q1 2013, up 16% from Q1 2012.  In that same period, the youth market increased their purchasing by more than twenty percent.

As a business owner, the percentages sometimes mean less than the absolute values.  However in this case, those are also quite large.  In fact, Bank of America predicts almost $70 billion in retail purchases across America and Europe from smartphones and tablets in 2015.  Considering that nearly 75% of that market is under 34 years old, the youth market will be spending more than $50 billion in 2015.  This means mobile marketing to a youth audience will become an increasingly important part of operating a successful business.

The shift to a mobile market has turned many traditional advertising maxims on their head.  Mass media advertising dollars get less mileage than they used to, consumers are purchasing online for less than retail, and many traditional companies have been slow to establish an online presence.

Capitalizing on the shift to a mobile-youth audience requires a different approach to advertising, as the world of online communications is constantly evolving.  Brand identities not only need to be communicated across multiple platforms, but also in different mediums, targeting unique audiences.  For example, all of the following social sites offer similar features, but each has a different use within the youth community.  Being aware of this will allow ads to more effectively engage users.  Ignoring it will result in ads that are not seen, or otherwise ignored.

  • Facebook – The most popular social update and networking site, users tend to keep posts to about 250 words or less here.  Photos and artwork are fine, but lengthy ads will not go over well.
  • Google Plus – A site much like Facebook, advertisements should be targeted and brief.  Too long or too short, and you’re likely to have limited success.
  • Tumblr – This is the site for long posts, stories, and anything a person wants to write that is more than approximately 250 words.
  • Twitter – Home of the short and sweet, Twitter is where concise ads are likely to be read, and long ones deleted or skipped.  If you can’t effectively convey your message in a few words, 140 characters to be exact, then find somewhere else to advertise.
  • YouTube – An often overlooked site where examples of poor advertising are abundant.  Users don’t want commercials to dominate their viewing experience, yet agencies continue to place ads of up to a minute or more in front of high profile content.  Rather than engage the user with a short clip of 10 to 20 seconds, which is less likely to feel intrusive, advertisers alienate viewers with lengthy ads that cause them to have a negative reaction towards the brand featured in the ad.

To engage the youth market with a mobile campaign, advertising needs to be aware of the environment in which ads will be released, the format, and the intended audience.  Unlike traditional advertising, the actual user experience needs to be considered, especially if your ad will interrupt a user from performing an action on their device.  Failing to do so will result in users rejecting your advertisements, and even avoiding your products because of the negative sentiment they develop for your brand.  Carefully considering all of these factors is critical for developing a successful mobile marketing campaign.

One strategy that marketers may want to consider is “Gamification” which is a marketing strategy that makes use of game elements to promote desired behaviors among consumers and employees. You’ll want to make sure to incorporate features which will give users the opportunity to compete and get involved in direct engagement as well as giving valuable rewards that will appeal to your market segment when reaching a particular achievement.

We’d love to hear what your most effective mobile marketing strategies are in the comments!