Veterans of mobile marketing and newcomers to the discipline can agree on one thing: successful mobile marketing is a complex, constantly moving target that is hard to execute successfully.

The seemingly simple act of marketing to consumers on their mobile devices, it turns out, involves a lot of processes, players, evolving practices, always-new technologies and shifting consumer expectations.

Against this backdrop, what should organizations and brands consider as they embrace and launch mobile marketing initiatives: should they go it alone, or should they rely on mobile marketing experts, their platforms, solutions and strategic services?

That decision requires a close look at several at key factors:

Cost: What are the outright expenses, potential cost savings and time-to-market costs?

Time: How much time is involved, and how will time impact the success and flexibility of current and future mobile marketing initiatives?

Expertise: Does the brand have in-house mobile experts with proven track records, or will contractors, vendors, experts or consultants be needed along the way – and how much does their participation impact costs and time to market?

Obviously, each organization finds its own answers to questions about total cost of ownership of specific initiatives, whether deciding on a third-party payroll system or a website management firm. In the mobile marketing arena, there’s a real need for brands to consider built-for-mobile solutions and platforms because of their ability to:

  • Improve workflow efficiency and optimize resources
  • Speed time to market for new solutions, campaigns and technologies
  • Separate the marketing aspects of mobile marketing from the development work involved with mobile marketing; let marketers and developers focus on what they do best
  • Centralize all of the various components that make mobile marketing work

Let’s take a look at both scenarios.

The typical “do-it-ourselves” scenario

When brands handle mobile marketing internally, the workflow usually goes like this:

Marketers, designers, product managers, producers and strategists envision what they want in a mobile app or campaign. Marketers, designers and producers create content. Technical aspects and app development are allocated to the development team. Third-party agencies or contractors might be brought in for specialized capabilities (e.g., mobile payments). Eventually, developers present a prototype, everyone suggest tweaks and adjustments, and several time-consuming rounds of edits and upgrades might be required before everyone is satisfied with the final product.

It’s an inefficient (and expensive) process because marketers and designers are pulled into development, and developers are asked to think like marketers. If deadlines are missed or delayed, the market might change. The mobile opportunity might evaporate. Brands must then play catch-up to prepare for the next campaign, the next unexpected technology capability, or the next smartphone operating system upgrade.

When the experts step in

When brands turn to mobile marketing platforms and experts, however, marketers and developers are turned loose, respectively, to do what they do best.

With an underlying platform handling everything from content and branding to targeting, segmentation, analytics and reporting, marketers can build their campaigns without impacting the development team’s workload. Developers can continue to innovate and feed the underlying platform with solid, scalable applications and capabilities. Producers, product managers and third parties can sometimes be removed from the equation altogether – saving resources and time.

And when a fully functional mobile marketing platform is in place, it’s entirely possible that mobile marketing can be managed by a 1-2-person marketing team and a handful of developers.

The benefits are tangible: money, time, expertise
Brands that rely on expert, built-for-mobile solutions and platforms benefit in several ways. They save money by having fewer people involved. They save on costs and resources by bringing mobile campaigns to market quickly – enabling their marketing specialists to build campaigns and create content on the fly, without the need to understand technical underpinnings. Developers can execute while they continue to bolster the underlying platform capabilities with the latest new functionalities and innovations. Frustrations and delays dissolve because all the necessary marketing activities are handled from a platform built specifically for mobile marketing.