A Dozen Mobile Marketing Tools That Can Really Pay Off

Before you can craft strategies and tactics that make profitable use of mobile marketing, it helps to get a quick overview of some common tools used by marketers to improve ROI.

1. Custom Apps, Utilities and Extensions
You can do almost anything with a mobile app platform-just like conventional application development. From enterprise CRM extensions that deliver real-time sales metrics to apps that let buyers spec out order estimates from anywhere, it’s easy to see why organizations get so excited about custom app potential.

2. App-vertising
This is the paid association with an existing smartphone app for the purposes of promotion. There are three angles to linking an app with your brand: creating the custom app and branding it (the first point above); advertising within the app itself; and advertising in a way that simply sponsors the app but isn’t a functional part of it.

3. Sponsoring Mobile Content
In addition to sponsoring mobile apps, your company can also sponsor actual content online-everything from iPad versions of the most popular magazines to ebooks, videos, photos, podcasts and audio books on platforms such as Audible.com, Amazon’s Kindle and Apple iTunes.

4. Direct Commerce
Commerce-enabling mobile apps let business buyers engage in anytime, anywhere purchasing. Though you have to keep it simple and easy-to-use, getting the formula right could mean not only an additional way to sell but also speeding up the sales cycle in some instances.

5. QR Codes and Conventional Barcodes
Whether as a point-of-sale tool (as with mobile coupons), or as a promotional device to drive traffic to websites or integrate into campaigns, QR codes have given new life-and novelty-to users of the smartphone.

6. Location-Based Services
Location-Based Services (LBS) take the user’s location into consideration, like when someone “checks in” at a location ala Foursquare, Gowalla, Google Hotspot, Scvngr or Facebook Deals. While the business-to-business use of this technology will be more subtle, the potential is still massive.

7. SMS (Text Messaging) Campaigns
Though pricey and a little old school, SMS messaging shouldn’t be overlooked as an alternative to development heavy smartphone apps. Text messaging is a good way to connect with existing customers who’ve bought in to your brand and want to interact. No carpet-bombing, please.

8. Mobile Video and Audio
Optimizing interactive content for mobile use is a great way to squeeze more value from existing investments in video and audio materials. Keep in mind, however, that mediocre content optimized for a mobile platform is still mediocre content-just seen somewhere else.

9. Mobile Optimized Websites
Many companies still haven’t optimized their existing company’s website for mobile use. More and more mobile users are going to your website to check out your company, find specific information, get contact info or compare you to competitors. What are they seeing?

10. Content Management Tools
CMS users today expect that marketers should be able to update web content on the fly from their smartphones. This pays off in a variety of ways, including business development support, reporting, crisis management, investor relations, delegation and contingency management.

11. Intranet Access
Most of what is on the intranet will not-and should not-be made available on a mobile intranet. But already, hundreds of corporations have made resources like employee directories, critical safety and security messages, expense reports, vacation requests and even online learning tools faster and easier to access by migrating to mobile.

12. Customer Service Automation
Mobile customer service can, in some instances, enable customers to perform certain service-related functions themselves. This is akin to the grocery store self-check-which lowers business overhead while packaging this cost-saving measure as a convenience benefit. The same principle could apply to a customer’s contract renewal, technical troubleshooting, etc.

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