What Is Mobile Marketing?

How advertisers reach you no matter where you are

A photo of a turned on iPhone with a screen that says "Inbound Marketing Strategy" with icons showing different marketing concerns.


Advertising and marketing aren't just done through magazine ads or television commercials anymore. The invention of smartphones and other mobile devices has created mobile marketing, yet another way for companies to reach out to you with more ads and promotional campaigns designed to sell you more of their goods and services.

What Is Mobile Marketing?

Essentially, mobile marketing is a digital marketing strategy used by companies to reach current and prospective customers and persuade them to purchase their products or services. What makes this form of marketing "mobile" is the fact the ads or promotions delivered by mobile marketing companies are distributed to consumers via their smartphones and tablets.

How Mobile Marketing Companies Reach You: Digital Marketing Channels

Digital marketing channels are the main ways marketing companies and other businesses try to reach consumers with their ads and promotions. Here are a few of the most commonly used digital marketing channels in mobile marketing:

  • Mobile websites: Companies, especially online retailers, work to develop mobile-friendly websites to entice prospective consumers to purchase products using their mobile devices.
  • Email ads: Since many people check their email on their phones, it has become increasingly important for those emailed promotions to be optimized for mobile screens.
  • QR Codes and NFC Tags: This form of marketing allows interested customers to use their phone's QR code scanner or NFC technology to scan QR codes or NFC tags incorporated into advertisements like movie posters. Customers can scan a code or tag to get more information about a product or service.
  • SMS (Text Messaging) marketing: Some companies encourage their customers to sign up for text message alerts to notify them about upcoming sales, coupons, or other product-related promotions.
  • Mobile apps: Many businesses, especially retailers, have developed their own mobile apps to allow customers to conveniently purchase goods from their mobile devices and also display ads and coupons to persuade customers to buy more.
  • Location-based marketing: This form of marketing involves having mobile ads appear on a consumer's mobile device based on their current geographic location.
  • In-game mobile marketing: These are the ads that show up while you're playing mobile games on your phone.

Where the Mobile Marketing Data Comes From

Mobile marketing companies gather and use data about you to create personalized, targeted marketing campaigns. According to Business Insider, this data comes from a few main sources. Some of it is generated by the apps on our phone, but most of the data comes from your phone's location data and the data generated by your social media activity. Both data sources allow marketing companies to "deliver real-time hyper-local targeted advertising."

Where You've Seen Mobile Marketing

If you own a smartphone, you've experienced mobile marketing, there's no doubt about that. Here are few examples of everyday mobile marketing:

  • Mobile apps for chain coffee shops: The mobile rewards apps for both Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts encourage customers to purchase products using the app, and to place drink orders via the app. Both also offer rewards and coupons for continuing to use the app.
  • Emailed coupons with easy-to-scan barcodes: Retailers like Kohl's and DSW will often email coupons to their customers with mobile-friendly, easy-to-scan barcodes to encourage customers to use the coupons in their stores.
  • Text message coupons from retail stores: Retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond encourage customers to sign up for their text message coupons and alerts.

Mobile marketing is everywhere these days, and mobile marketing companies are only getting better at reaching you with their ads. And you can't really escape these ads as long as you use a mobile device.

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