:: By Katie Grote, Empower MediaMarketing Digital Strategist

The mobile buzz is loud and, at times, deafening. And the long line of brands acquiring mobile technology companies is keeping the volume turned up.

Walmart’s recent purchase of Kosmix, a social and mobile commerce startup, to create Walmart Labs is the latest example. In April alone, brands including Visa, Groupon, Pepsi and eBay have all made acquisitions of mobile firms or invested in mobile technology. All of these moves reinforce the importance of mobile, particularly mobile commerce, and should be a wakeup call to businesses that haven’t started developing a mobile strategy.

Mobile Scores Big
Research supports the mobile migration. If you’re like me, reading a bunch of stats can put you to sleep about as quickly as the Golf Channel (no offense, dad!).  But when it comes to mobile, the facts are so powerful, I feel obligated to call out a few.

  • 50 Percent: Smartphone penetration in the U.S. should reach 50 percent of the population by the end of this year. – Nielsen
  • 200 Percent: The number of mobile shoppers looking at competitor sites while in brick-and-mortar stores increased 200 percent over 2009. – Arc Worldwide
  • 300 Percent: Product research on mobile devices is up 300 percent over 2009. – Forsee
  • 400 Percent: Searches conducted on mobile devices grew 400 percent in just one year. – Google
  • 700 Percent: Retailer-developed mobile app usage is up 700 percent. . – Forrester
  • 2 Billion: A purchase is made every second on mEbay and the site earned $2 billion in mobile sales globally in 2010. – eBay
  • 5 Billion: More than five billion people have a mobile phone—that’s more than the number of people with access to a clean toilet. – NYTimes
  • 278 Billion: Mobile sales will reach $278 billion by 2015. – Forrester

Listening for Mobile’s Sweet Spot
What are these numbers really telling us? Mobile is rapidly changing consumers’ path to purchase. Consumers now have the power to unlock valuable information about your brand on their terms.  Between the economic downturn and increasing gas prices, consumers are focused on finding the best product at the best price. Mobile rewards this focus by providing on-the-go access to product information, ratings and reviews, price comparisons and more.

As a result, marketers have a new opportunity to influence the customers’ experience with their brand. The key to a successful mobile strategy starts with determining how it will provide value to the consumer. Marketers need to research what their consumers want from mobile before defining their offering.

Dialing Up a Holistic Strategy
The key to mobile success for marketers is tuning out the buzz without tuning out other marketing efforts. Considering how mobile will work with programs already in place is key to success.

 

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