Recently, I presented at the Frederick New Media and Tech Conference. This nationally recognized conference is held each year in Frederick, MD (just outside of Baltimore and Washington, DC) with topics ranging from mobile marketing to social strategies and favorite apps.

I spoke about the basics of mobile marketing. Mobile is a channel that’s growing too fast to ignore. Yet, many small businesses find it difficult to understand how to tackle this new medium.

They are presented with so much differing information about what mobile marketing is that they end up throwing up their hands and doing nothing!

In this presentation, I discussed the basic technical and marketing principals of mobile marketing. Below are my slides and an overview of the discussion. I hope this helps!

Mobile Marketing? Of course… but how?!?

Mobile is now a mainstream marketing channel. It’s not becoming one, it is one…

“…in 2012, the U.S. saw a 55% increase in smartphone subscriptions to …98 million…,representing nearly 42% of all U.S. mobile users.” -According to

And these numbers continue to grow. During this presentation, we discuss…

  1. Zero Moment of Truth – ZMOT
  2. Responsive Design
  3. Mobile Microsites
  4. Mobile marketing channels… Website/Blog, Social, Email, SMS, QR Codes


ZMOT - Zero Moment of TruthImage from

The Zero Moment of Truth was a concept developed by Google to explain the buying cycle in a digital age. In the past we were presented with…

  1. Stimulus – an ad, or mention, or even just a craving or an idea
  2. First Moment of Truth – the moment when we are presented with a series of purchase options, like standing in the grocery store looking at a shelf full of cereal boxes.
  3. Second Moment of Truth – the experience with the product we’ve purchased, like the first bite of that cereal.

Google identified a gap that now exists between the stimulus and the first moment of truth and called it the Zero Moment of Truth or ZMOT.

The ZMOT is that moment after stimulus when we reach for our mobile or tablet device and start looking for more information. We might do one or more of the following…

  1. Do a search about the idea or look for products that match our need.
  2. Get on social channels and ask for advice or recommendations.
  3. Search for reviews or research information to help us make a purchasing decision.

So, the question then becomes, “where is your company in this moment?”

Simon Salt, author of Shorty Guide To Mobile Marketing asks this…

“Experience is the emotional connection you make with the user. Do you generate feelings of frustration, anxiety, calm, entertainment, education, information?”

What sorts of feelings are you generating in your target audience’s ZMOT? ZMOT is a moment made for mobile. How does your website perform in this zero moment of truth? Grab your smartphone and test it out.

Responsive Design

What is Responsive Design? Responsive Design refers to the coding on a website allowing it to render differently on smaller screens at specified breakpoints, i.e. iPhone, iPad, Desktop.

Responsive Design is…

  • One website for multiple devices
  • The same content repurposed for… Desktop, Mobile, and Tablets

It’s important to note that at these different breakpoints, it is still the same website with the same content. The website and mobile site are not separate.

So, what does responsive design look like?

We developed a responsive website for Atlanta based, Information Technology firm, USAN. Through analytics research and some internal design brainstorming, we determined the critical break-points for the site were at the desktop and smartphone resolutions.

Here is what the desktop version of this responsive design looks like…

USAN Desktop Exampleclick to enlarge

Now, here is the same exact website but at a mobile responsive break-point…

USAN Mobile Responsive Breakpoint Sampleclick to enlarge

The samples look completely different but it is the same website. The difference is that media queries in the CSS (Cascading Style Sheets – controls the graphical look of the site elements) tell the browser (IE, Firefox, Chrome) to display the same information in a different format based on the size of the display window.

When does responsive design make sense?

Google recommends that most websites be responsive. It creates a much better user experience when the site delivers information in a format tailored to the user’s device.

You especially need to consider a responsive website if you have…

  1. a large enough portion of your visitors viewing your full website from a mobile device.
  2. specific conversion needs from mobile users where it is essential to eliminate visual noise and make it easy for them to act.
  3. content areas where a mobile user needs easy access, such as blog posts, contact information, directions.

Responsive design is a fail-safe practice to consider even if you only have a small portion of users on mobile devices. Because, let’s face it, that number will grow.

Mobile Microsites

Now, what about a mobile microsite? How is this different from responsive design?

What is a mobile microsite?

A mobile microsite is…

  • a mobile only website
  • accessed via a sub-domain like or
  • limited in its content and navigation choices
  • presented with just one or two calls to action
  • linked to full site sometimes

A mobile microsite is completely separate from a full website and acts independently from the main company or organization’s website.

So, what does a mobile microsite look like?

The Frederick County Division of Business Development and Retention (DBDR) is charged with attracting and retaining business in Frederick County MD. Part of their mission involves attending bio-tech events to encourage bio-tech firms to relocate to Frederick, MD.

They came to us because these conferences were busy and they felt that lead opportunities were strolling right past their crowded booth.

So, we developed a mobile landing page tied to a specific sub-domain as well as a QR Code. They wanted some very basic information related to bio-tech and a simple form for the user to fill out.

Now, while at these shows, they are less likely to miss these leads because attendees can access this microsite easily and engage with the DBDR on their own time, avoiding a long conversation or having to wait for someone else’s to end.

Here’s what that site looks like…

click to enlarge

This mobile microsite has…

  • Limited text
  • No link to full site
  • Simple form

When does a mobile microsite make sense?

Mobile microsites are super focused and should be used in moments when you want to deliver targeted information tied to one, maybe two calls to action.

You use microsites when the visitor is coming from a specific marketing or communications effort:

  1. print ads
  2. brochures
  3. posters
  4. point of purchase displays
  5. event promotion and at events
  6. conferences and trade shows
  7. product support

In all of these examples a mobile microsite would be used to deliver information to enhance or improve the experience in that moment. A couple of examples from this list…

  1. Point of purchase displays – you are selling a product in your store that requires a little explanation. You get asked “how it works” from customers a lot. Place a QR Code on the product display that links to product video, spec sheets or audio to help sell the product by explaining its use and benefits.
  2. Conferences and trade shows – in the example above the DBDR team placed a sign with a QR Code in an easy access area where any attendee could scan it and sign up for a free (and valuable) information packet right on the mobile microsite.
  3. Product support – how often have you been assembling a new purchase where your only guide were some horribly written instructions accompanied by very bad drawings? Frustrating to say the least. Imagine that product has a QR Code on it which, once scanned, led you to a mobile microsite containing video instructions SHOWING you how to assemble the product. Much better!

How to Think about Mobile Marketing

Remember, mobile marketing is about being accessible in your target audience’s Zero Moment of Truth. To identify this moment, you need to understand both your client’s needs as well as your marketing goals.

Your priorities for mobile dictate your approach…

Mobile PrioritiesSource –

The intersection of a mobile user’s needs with your business goals is what determines your mobile marketing priorities.

Mobile Marketing Channels

How do you drive traffic to these mobile properties? Use the channels you already have in new ways…

  1. Your website and/or blog content
  2. Email Marketing
  3. Social media channels
  4. QR Codes and SMS

Expect that your audience will look for you on mobile because they are.

Your Website and Blog Content

Your website, blog and the content on both should use Utility Marketing Content to appeal to a mobile audience. What is Utility Marketing?

Mobile Phones and Utility Marketing

This is the stuff that your target audience needs. Put this content up front, using responsive design…

  • informative or educational blog posts
  • instructional video or audio
  • phone number, directions, hours, things they need from you while on the go

When someone has a question or a need, they reach for their smartphone or tablet. Are you there in a way that helps them?

Social Channels

Clients using social media do it on mobile. The growth of mobile users on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and more is staggering. According to a study on SmartInsights, 23% of the average mobile user’s app usage is on social.

You want to integrate your social efforts with your mobile strategies…

  • Use social to push mobile focused actions
  • Consider the social user when constructing social campaigns
  • Have fun using games, contests, and scavenger hunts

Don’t forget to be social on mobile to better understand this format. You will see how users interact with brands on their mobile devices. Pay attention to what works and try to emulate that.

Email Marketing

Consider the mobile user for your email newsletter. In 2012 eConsultancy put out a study showing that 88% of all smartphone users check email on their phones daily.

  • How does your newsletter perform on mobile devices?
  • How much content are you giving them? Too much?
  • Did you make use of the preheader? This is the text that appears at the top of the email. We use this to link to a mobile version of the email
  • Where are you sending them? Responsive or mobile micro-site? Good. Non-responsive site??? BAD.

Check your site and email stats. Give the users options for a mobile friendly version of your email. Or, if you have mostly mobile readers, consider leading with a mobile version of your newsletter.

QR Codes

QR Codes do work. Their effectiveness is often questioned or misunderstood because they are often horribly misused.

QR Code in Clouds

Use them where they make sense. Don’t expect everyone to know how to use them. Where you display a QR Code, instruct on what to do with it. And have a backup URL or even an SMS shortcode in case someone has a feature phone or just doesn’t “get it.”

And please, connect them to something tied to the promotion- information relating to the reason they scanned. Give them something – an eBook, a prize, an offer. And make sure this place you are sending them to is optimized for mobile…

  • Responsive landing pages
  • Mobile microsites

SMS Campaigns

SMS or text message marketing can be incredibly effective. Our friends at JA TXT handle SMS campaigns for restaurants, non-profits and other organizations. With SMS you can market to your clients and engage them with…

  • Giveaways – Users text in to win something.
  • Mobile coupons – Offering a discount as an incentive for joining a mobile club.
  • Email address capture – Users text in their email address or a request to add it.
  • Trivia & Quizzes – Separate responses for different answers, or sub-keywords.

Be careful with SMS. Similar to email, the text message inbox is a sacred place. You want to set clear expectations with your clients so they not only expect your SMS messages, they look forward to them.

Expect Mobile Users

Mobile is not going anywhere. Mobile adoption is growing at an incredible rate. Mobile users will consume your content…

  • Take out the frustration
  • Control the experience and direct the conversation
  • Help them in their ZMOT
  • Guide them to action
  • Keep it going, be creative


Frustrated Mobile User

Your mobile channels need to be laser focused on the user experience. Focus on their needs and your goals. These are your mobile marketing priorities.

Your Plan of Attack!

Rinse and repeat…

  1. See what works
    1. Check your analytics
    2. Track your audience reactions
  2. Test different approaches. Do A/B split or mutivariate tests if possible
  3. Repeat the tactics that achieve the best results!

What do you think about mobile marketing? How far along are you with it? What great examples of mobile marketing have you seen out there?