It’s not uncommon for many brand marketers to think that once they’ve nailed down the science of email marketing, mobile marketing success is just a single, logical step away.

Most marketers looking for a mobile marketing and engagement platform already have a marketing strategy and optimized channels in place. Thus, it’s critical that the platform they are considering complements the existing systems and programs. But marketers also are wading into unknown territory and uncertain of how “mobile” works. As a result, they tend to decide conservatively. They hesitate to try something new.

A common fallback position is: “Let’s do the same things we’ve done with email marketing, because we’ve been successful at email marketing and we know how it works.” So they send one mobile message at 8 a.m., another at 4 p.m., and hope the results are effective. (Hint: They won’t be).

At Swrve, we understand why mobile marketers might jump to that conclusion. But we also draw clear, unequivocal distinctions between email marketing and mobile marketing purposes and behaviors. They’re completely different mediums designed around different sets of consumer behaviors. How different? Let’s start by answering these two questions from the consumer perspective:

  • How many times a day do you check and engage with your email account?
  • How many times a day do you check and engage your smartphone?

Yes, they’re that different.

To use a media-streaming analogy, email marketing is the equivalent of recording your favorite movie on TiVo or your DVR. By contrast, mobile marketing is live-streaming a popular, hot-ticket sports event.

Like TiVo recordings, email is always there, waiting patiently (but not necessarily urgently) for when you have extra time, or the desire, to interact at your leisure. Email is about post experiences and the lifecycle after the experience (days, weeks or months later).

But mobile marketing messages? They’re real time. They’re here-and-now. They’re about the moment. Mobile messages can be thrilling and highly personal, but if they’re delivered late or out of context, they can become irrelevant (and maybe even annoying).

Leverage Mobile Marketing’s Unique Capabilities

Marketers diving into the world of mobile marketing need to understand these email vs. mobile distinctions right from the start.

First, mobile marketing connects with users personally and in real-time on smartphones and devices that never leave their sides. Mobile is all about the moment and the experience at that moment. For example, mobile messages that confirm an in-app activity, welcome customers into a brick-and-mortar store, follow up on an online order or request feedback about a recent call-center encounter assure customers that the brand understands their preferences and cares about their needs.

Luckily, data from the mobile channel makes real-time personalization possible. Mobile data acknowledges customers for who they are. It informs messages based on where customers are, what they’re doing at a particular moment in time, and what they’ve done, purchased or interacted with in the past.

Second, mobile marketing also connects customers seamlessly and personally to other channels and points of brand engagement, including email, online, in-store and call center. It acts as a bridge, supporting engagement on other channels that cement and strengthen brand-to-customer relationships.

Third, no single marketing channel is more important than any other, and mobile marketing has a unique role to play in a larger marketing strategy.

Bottom line, marketers who fail to grasp the differences between email marketing and mobile messaging run the risk of annoying hard-earned customers, or worse, alienating them altogether. And no marketer should put their brand in that position.

The best way to avoid mobile vs. email pitfalls is to understand key differences right from the start.