It’s safe to say that mobile devices are an indispensable part of the way we live today, across the country, and across the world. Now that even traditionally late adopters find themselves with phones in hand, marketers need to take a closer look at how mobile could fit into their promotional and engagement mix.

But as with all things marketing, it makes sense to develop a plan and a strategy before you make the leap to using a new (to you) channel to connect with your market. Here are some steps to make your venture down the mobile path a little less bumpy — and a lot more effective:

  • Make a case for why mobile matters. By making a detailed list of the pros and cons of adding mobile to your set of strategies, you’ll better understand why mobile matters overall and why it should matter to you and your customers. Before you make the pitch, make your case.
  • Determine the mobile preferences of your mobile users. Mobile users are anything but exactly alike. Factors like age, income and level of adoption play a role in how they’ll respond to your mobile efforts. Do your due diligence and get to know your specific target audiences first. As you go, real time analytics will make this task easier and virtually immediate.
  • Develop the best engagement strategy that will compel your audience to act. What’s the best way to connect with your users? Would text addicts prefer an SMS campaign? Should you create a responsive website or landing page to provide the best visual and interactive experience possible? Whatever you choose to do, get acquainted with the best practices for each channel to ensure you won’t alienate your mobile audience by breaking the rules (and ruining your own creative efforts in the process).
  • Map out your measurement methods. Decide how you’re going to measure each of your campaigns. What tracking methods are available with each strategy? What metrics will you use to gauge success and ROI? How and how often will you analyze your results — and how long do you wait to pivot?
  • Create a pilot… and then test, test, test. Testing is a crucial step in creating and analyzing any sort of marketing plan or strategy, and mobile is no exception. Once you’ve created a campaign or channel, test every aspect of your efforts: design, copy, messages, functions, etc. That way, you can leave behind the parts that aren’t working and build on the ones that are.

And a special note about apps…

Don’t forget: mobile big data is bigger than smartphone penetration and consumer usage patterns—it’s about all the data that apps and services collect in the background, too. Phones (and tablets) are no longer sold simply on the basis of what they can do, but also on the apps users can access through their operating systems.

Apple is undoubtedly the app pioneer in the mobile world, and they’ve seen incredible success as a result. In fact, Apple recently sold their 50 billionth app—and customers are now downloading more than 800 apps per second, every single day.

Even so, developing apps for the various mobile platforms isn’t always a cheap proposition, so marketers are often left wondering if it’s worth their time and money to try and connect with customers in this way. Here are three great reasons to consider an app if your market is mobile-friendly and phone-addicted:

1. We always have our phones in hand — and that’s a great place for you to be. When your customers and users swipe past your presence on their phones, you get one more opportunity to engage with them… one more opportunity every day they use their phone, that is! If you’re capable of being one more place your customers spend time, consider the value of making the move.

2. Apps give you an opportunity to create another “brand experience.” Apps provide a unique environment (in terms of freedom and limitations) to extend your brand experience, and convey messages to your customers (and even potential customers). What can you do for your customers with an app that you can’t do anywhere else? Is that something they want? Then it’s time to get started!

3. Why miss out on another source of targeted data? As I mentioned above, apps can provide unique data points to add to your analytics mix. Consider what you can learn or measure through an app that you can’t learn or measure elsewhere.

In our increasingly mobile-focused world, smart marketers are taking advantage of the opportunities that mobile technology offers for consumer engagement. Most analysts predict consumers will become even more tethered to mobile devices in the future. So, whether you create an SMS, text, responsive web, or app strategy, it’s worth taking a long, careful look at what mobile can do for you and your business.