What Is Mobile Marketing & Why Does it Matter So Much?


What Is Mobile Marketing?

First, a quick definition: Mobile marketing is the art of marketing your business to appeal to mobile device users. When done right, mobile marketing provides customers or potential customers using smartphones with personalized, time- and location-sensitive information so that they can get what they need exactly when they need it, even if they're on the go.

I would tell you that mobile is the future of marketing, but really the era of mobile has already arrived. If you're not implementing some kind of mobile marketing strategy, you're already trailing behind!

As you can see from the graph below, more users are spending larger amounts of time engaged with mobile devices than ever before. We can expect this trend to continue even further in the future, so get ready!

marketing for mobile

Desktop vs. mobile users in millions

How Does Mobile Marketing Work?

Mobile marketing consists of ads that appear on mobile smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices. Mobile marketing ad formats, customization, and styles can vary, as many social media platforms, websites, and mobile apps offer their own unique and tailored mobile ad options.

Why You Need a Mobile Marketing Strategy

Your business needs a mobile marketing strategy for the same reason that you need a computer and wi-fi access – this is the age in which we live! Walk around any major city and you’ll find more than just a few folks with faces glued to their smartphone screens. According to recent reports, 40% of users’ internet time is spent on mobile devices, which means simply ignoring the rise of mobile just isn’t an option.

Some other interesting mobile marketing statistics:

Mobile is here to stay, and if forecasts are correct, it will soon by eclipsing desktop usage. If you don’t have a mobile marketing strategy yet, it’s time to get going!

Types of Mobile Marketing Strategies

There’s a healthy variety of mobile marketing strategies to try. The kind that works best for your business will depend on your industry, target audience, and budget.

App-based marketing: This is mobile advertising involving mobile apps. While 80% of mobile time is spent engaged with apps, you don’t have to create an app yourself to get in on the action. Services like Google AdMob help advertisers create mobile ads that appear within third-party mobile apps.

Facebook also allows advertisers to create ads that are integrated into Facebook’s mobile app. Facebook’s mobile Promoted Post ads integrate so seamlessly with Facebook’s news feed that users often don’t realize they’re looking at ads.

In-game mobile marketing: In-game mobile marketing refers to mobile ads that appear within mobile games, like in the example below. In-game ads can appear as banner pop-ups, full-page image ads or even video ads that appear between loading screens.

in game mobile marketing

Example of an in-game mobile marketing ad

QR codes: QR codes are scanned by users, who are then taken to a specific webpage that the QR code is attached to. QR codes are often aligned with mobile gamification and have an element of mystery to them, since users who scan them don’t always know exactly which rabbit hole they’re jumping down.

Location-based marketing: Location-based mobile ads are ads that appear on mobile devices based upon a user’s location relative to a specific area or business. For example, some advertisers may only want their mobile ads to appear when users are within a 1-mile radius of their business.

Mobile search ads: These are basic Google search ads built for mobile, often featuring extra add-on extensions like click-to-call or maps.

Mobile image ads: Image-based ads designed to appear on mobile devices.

SMS: SMS marketing involves capturing a user’s phone number and sending them text offers. This is considered somewhat passé. 

If you're ready to dig in and optimize your mobile marketing campaigns, check out our list of 13 mobile marketing tools you need.

Mobile Marketing: Google AdWords Enhanced Campaigns

On July 12, Google rolled out Enhanced Campaigns for all AdWords users, integrating mobile advertising options with classic online AdWords advertising.

Enhanced Campaigns allow advertisers to manage their AdWords bids across various devices in one single campaign, rather than make separate campaigns for mobile vs. desktop. AdWords advertisers can simply take the Google search ads they already use, and then set bids to adjust for mobile devices. To increase bids for mobile devices, users can set a positive bid adjustment, such as +20%, and vice versa – a bid adjustment of -10% reduces the bid by 10% for mobile devices.

mobile bid adjustments

Enhanced Campaigns image via siteproppc.com

It’s in Google’s best interest to make mobile marketing easy for advertisers – Google generates a hefty amount of revenue from mobile ads.  

Google’s Enhanced Campaigns allow for advertisers to manage bids across devices, locations, and time with ease. Some advertisers may choose to bid higher for users on mobile devices who are within a certain range of their store, or may only want to bid on mobile devices during their store’s open hours, and Enhanced Campaigns make that an easy possibility for advertisers.

Google Mobile Ad Extensions

Creating mobile search ads with Google also lets you take advantage of Google’s nifty mobile ad extensions, which include features like:

Mobile Site Links: Mobile site links make it easy for mobile users to jump to specific pages of your site without wandering around. Site links are especially useful in mobile marketing, as it’s much more convenient for users on mobile devices.

What is mobile advertising?

Mobile sitelinks on AdWords

Click-to-Call Mobile Ad Extension: The click-to-call extension puts a “call” button directly beneath an ad. Clicking the button automatically generates a business’s phone number on a user’s mobile device.

While this handy ad extension makes it easy for searchers to get in contact with your business and drives users down the conversion funnel, it’s best to only have the click-to-call mobile ad extension appear when your business is open and able to answer the phone.

Click to Call Mobile Marketing

AdWords mobile call extensions

Google Offers for Mobile: The Google Offers mobile ad extension lets advertisers post a discount offer or coupon beneath their ad. These special offers can capture the attention of users who might otherwise ignore an ad.

mobile marketing trends

Google offers for mobile

Click-to-Download Ad Extension: The click-to-download ad extension is similar to the click-to-call, only instead of generating a phone number, clicking the “download” button takes users to the download page of the advertiser’s pre-selected app.

what is mobile marketing?

Click-to-download mobile ad extensions

Local Ad Extensions: Local ad extensions are probably the most important extensions for mobile, considering that 1 in 3 mobile searches have local intent. Considering how many mobile searches are questions looking for a local solution, local mobile marketing needs to be a key aspect of your mobile strategy.

Local mobile marketing extensions often involve a phone number or link to Google Maps.

local mobile marketing

Local ad extensions on mobile

Mobile Marketing Best Practices

We’re leaving you with some quick mobile marketing tips to make sure you make the most of mobile.

  • Be Clear and Concise: Mobile devices have small screens, which means words should be used sparingly. Cluttered and crowded ads will just drive users to scroll past. When it comes to mobile, it’s best to keep things simple.
  • Optimize for Local: Be sure to remember that 1 in 3 mobile searches have local intent. Users often use mobile devices to complement their immediate worldly interactions – where is the nearest gas station? Is there a nearby coffee shop that has wi-fi? Optimize for local mobile marketing to make sure you are aligning with users’ queries.
  • Consider Your Audience: The type of audience you’re hoping to reach should influence the kind of mobile ads you use. Are they gamers? Then try taking advantage of in-game ads. Are they young and tech-savvy? Mobile Facebook Promoted Posts might be more likely to get their attention.
  • Experiment with Different Strategies: There’s a lot of room for experimentation when it comes to mobile marketing. Don’t be afraid to test out some ad extensions with your AdWords Enhanced Campaigns – try the Google Offers ad extension, or the click-to-call extension, and see how they work for you.
  • Benchmark Your Results: Experimenting is great, but there’s no point in trying new techniques if you’re not tracking your results to see what works and what doesn’t. Try the AdWords Grader to see how your mobile PPC ads are performing.

Sitelinks photo and local ad extension photo via Marketing Land

Find out how you're REALLY doing in AdWords!

Watch the video below on our Free AdWords Grader:

Visit the AdWords Grader.


Randall Magwood
Aug 19, 2013

I'm good at marketing but not so much as mobile marketing. I know how to use QR codes, but that's about it. My webhosting provider gives me a great deal on a mobile website development for $10/month, so i might take them up on their offer. Thanks for the stats and graphs on this post. BIG eye opener.

Aug 20, 2013

Thank you for commenting Randall. Without your feedback we wouldn't know how our audience is liking/disliking the content we research, and then write.I'd be sure to check twice on what's offered by your webhosting provider to make sure it works though!

Megan Marrs
Sep 03, 2013

I second Victor! Thanks as always for the feedback Randall.

Mobile Text Experts
Aug 20, 2013

Your article is fantastic we loved the part where you acknowledge mobile SMS messaging is part of the future of marketing.

Megan Marrs
Aug 21, 2013

Ha, thanks! We certainly do acknowledge it as an element of mobile marketing, but we don't see SMS messaging really going much further - the future is really in other forms of mobile marketing!

Aug 28, 2013

Your article about mobile marketing is very interesting.  Through Mobile marketing we can easily shop at any place which makes it safer for customers. 

Saqib Sherazi
Sep 05, 2013

Great article. I think with the increasing popularity of smart phones especially amongst the younger generation, the impact of mobile marketing may be more important than ever. New ways of reaching people, not just through social media sites, but also through new apps such as vine or snapchat allow for more options. I think for mobile marketing you have to keep up with the latest apps such as social apps where you get to really find out what people are talking about and possibly get some ideas about future business.

Sep 12, 2013

I think it's crucial for sites to be well optimised for mobiles especially how Google puts a lot of emphasis on optimised sites and 30% of referral traffic comes from mobile sources. Integrating mobile marketing in the campaign to increase brand exposure.

Oct 20, 2013

Hi Megan,A very good and informative blog indeed.Thanks for sharing.Junaid

Oct 25, 2013

Very good summory related to mobile marketing! However, I would like to make some corrections.You write about different types of mobile marketing strategy, but have actually summorized different types of mobile related solutions that you can use in mobile marketing strategy.There are so many examples of using mobile solutions from your list in one marketing strategy.I just want to empasize this point because many marketers make this mistake, while Integrated Mobile Marketing Strategy that consists all examples from your list is what all marketers should want to achieve to reach a valuable goal.

Dec 03, 2013

Awsome Article! You have made some very useful tips.I found this mobile marketing statistics fascinating - 80% of mobile device time in spent on apps, with game apps eating up the largest percent of app time.Wow! So much time spent on games. But still getting mix results targetting apps in the GDN.

Kemya Scott
Mar 27, 2014

This is a great mobile marketing 101 post. I'm working on strengthening my understanding of mobile and found this article in my research. Very informative!

retail marketing
Jun 17, 2014

 Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be interesting to read through content from other writers and learn something from their web sites.

don jones
Dec 09, 2014

     i have just purchased a software package which converts websites to mobile phone friendly easy to read and use websites i hope to turn this into a business and your post has been very usefull

Feb 26, 2015

It's a new trend and this is very interesting. This is truly a valuable post and thanks for sharing such informative article.

Apr 13, 2015

I think the revolution which comes in mobile industry can be the reason for the popularity of mobile marketing. The way how usage of internet has been increased in smart phone, it is become necessary to think about mobile marketing. And ASO is the key thing to learn.

Lanre Sonola
Dec 07, 2015

Reading this in 2015 and it is still very relevant. Great read.

Apr 07, 2016

Such an old article but still relevant as rightly said by one friend up there. Big fan of Mobile advertisement/marketing. It's come a long way since this data but going strong. Was upgrading my campaign today and brushed up some knowledge on mobile marketing before proposing a plan in this direction. Thanks WordStream & Megan Marrs !

Mayur Sonagara
Aug 16, 2016

Very nice article. mobile marketing field is now in trending. because it is highly measurable in terms of inquiries and call to actions. nice article to read.

Aug 19, 2016

Reading this article just now and its oh so very relevant ,mobile is the way to go and gamification has come to stay as on the the unique/niche ways of marketing and advertising. really cool read.

Sep 03, 2016

Hi there, You have a great blog and I would like to say thanks for sharing!

Oct 26, 2016

This article is very interesting. I never knew that having a mobile marketing strategy was so important. I didn't know that 80% of mobile device time was spent on apps. Having a mobile marketing strategy is definitely something to keep in mind for the future.

Jan 18, 2017

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon

Anna Johnson
Jun 16, 2017

Stats said that in 2016 there were 2.34 billion social media users which could be increased to 2.67 billion till 2018. And in this digital era, online video marketing take over the traditional ways of marketing. And we all know that we loved to watch those animated videos which have some humor and inspires us. So I think social media is the game changer in the market, to engage more and more audience to your business through animated videos. Yeah, its old one but still worth reading.
Thanks Megan!

Jul 26, 2017

Great Article, It is very helpful Information for me. Thanks for you.

Margaret Joseph
Aug 30, 2017

Great Post! Very informative article & thank you for sharing information about Mobile Marketing.
It helps me a lot to enhance my knowledge, I really like the way the writer presented his views.

Oct 30, 2017

Such a nice post, great informative article for me. Thanks for sharing.....

Samantha J Yandell
Dec 09, 2017

Awesome Article! You have made some very useful tips.I found this mobile marketing statistics fascinating - 80% of mobile device time is spent on apps, with game apps eating up the largest percent of app time.Wow! So much time spent on games. But still getting mix results targetting apps in the GDN.

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