Understanding the Advantages and Disadvantages of Mobile Marketing

Emerging technology opens new opportunities, but with new risks

Two men looking at their phones walking on a sidewalk
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There was a time when email marketing was very much the thing for marketers. It changed the face of conventional marketing and the way companies viewed this aspect of their business. With the widespread adoption of smart mobile devices offering much more connectivity, mobile marketing has moved far beyond email marketing.

As with any new disruptive technology, mobile marketing offers a blend of new risks and new rewards.

Pros of Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing offers a great many pros to businesses.

Near-Real-Time Engagement

People always carry their mobile phones with them. Most of the time, they have their mobile phones turned on, which means they receive messages in real time. Even if the phone is in standby mode, the message is received as soon as the recipient turns on his mobile device — making mobile-marketing techniques almost instant.

Hyper-targeted messaging allows for greater personalization. Using this benefit, marketers can start a direct dialogue with potential customers, getting instant feedback through text messages or custom apps. This feedback-response loop helps mobile marketers better understand and analyze user behavior, thus improving their own standards of service.

Simpler Content Creation

Creating content for mobile devices — text, images, or video — is simpler and less expensive than creating content for desktops and laptops, because the size and complexity is thereby constrained. Because the screen size of a mobile phone is small, it limits the scope of content that can be displayed. This makes it convenient for the creators of the content, who can keep it basic and simple. Also, simpler content adapts itself easily to various mobile platforms.

Message Amplification

Mobile content can be easily shared among users, so mobile marketing can offer huge viral benefits. People often share good information and valuable offers with their friends and family, so companies get more exposure with no extra effort.

More people own mobile phones than desktops or laptops, which means mobile marketing reaches a far wider and diverse audience, especially in the remote regions of the world. Mobile marketing also gives the entrepreneur the advantage of geo-location and sending location-specific messages to users, using GPS and Bluetooth technology.

Cognate Technologies

Mobile users are increasingly using microblogging platforms like Twitter from their mobile phones. This microblogging feature can be highly beneficial to the marketer, as it reduces platform friction.

Mobile payment offers conveniences that may be tapped by marketing pros. People don't need to cough up physical currency to make a mobile purchase or pay a bill online, thus potentially increasing spending limits as well as allowing for coupons and discount codes applied directly at the point of sale, either in person or on a mobile shopping cart.

Cons of Mobile Marketing

There are a few cons associated with mobile marketing.

Platform Diversity

Mobile devices do not have any particular standard, unlike PCs and laptops. Mobile phones come in many shapes and sizes, so screen size is not constant. Mobile platforms vastly differ from one another, using different operating systems and browsers. Creating one campaign for all of them can be difficult.

Consumer Privacy

Particularly in light of aggressive social marketing campaigns and the ongoing scandals at Facebook, people take their privacy more seriously now than they did during the Gold Rush days of mobile marketing. Companies that cross the "creepy" threshold may well experience a viral backlash that creates significant reputational harm.

Limited Eyeballs

The mobile phone usually comes with a small screen and no mouse, and social platforms increasingly prioritize display orders in ways that adversely affect unpaid commercial messaging. As a result, ads may go untouched.