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2014: The year of the mobile

By Vinish Kathuria

With the rise of mobile, content marketing and big data for many businesses, 2014 ushered in a new era. Right in its embryonic stage, mobile has irrevocably transformed digital marketing. It’s been an eventful year for marketers with the rise of omni-channel, mobile-first marketing and a rapid growth in geo-tagging management, to name but a few.

Vinish KathuriaThe digital marketing industry will evolve even further in 2015, bringing a new set of marketing strategies and opportunities to look forward to. Here are some recent trends marketers should be attentive to for the year ahead.

We already heard a lot about the mobile craze everywhere, but 2014 bucked that trend. We are now going to witness major consumer transactions happening via mobile, driven by mobile payment options such as Paytm and Freecharge. There is a perfect atmosphere of strong consumer evolution to mobility for every aspect of their lives, as well as enterprises treating mobility as a strategic advantage. We also saw mobile usage of social media overtake desktop usage. The mobile-centric Instagram grew to over 300 million active users. There are more mobile phones (7.2 billion) on the planet than there are people living on it (7.16 billion).

It happens very rarely that a prediction in the digital industry comes true. There were a lot of talks about 2014 being a year of mobile and that statement has come true; 2014 witnessing an enormous growth in smartphones and so will 2015.

Mobile presents a huge opportunity for marketers to reach their target audiences. A Google research shows that 7 per cent of mobile searches lead to a purchase within 24 hours, rising to 18% for local searches. Smartphones are also changing communication habits—particularly for younger generations—with 94% of communication time for 12–15-year-olds spent on text-based activities such as instant messaging and social media, and only 3% spent on voice calls.

In 2015, we will see the widely discussed mobile-first marketing approach finally develop to take advantage of these high consumption levels. Retailers will push more high-volume, low-cost products through their mobile commerce platform, to gain enhanced data on consumer behaviour, locality, adaptation and ROI.

In the 2014 elections, we saw most politicians using social media for campaigning. Not only did Indian politicians use social media but during the presidential elections in 2008 and 2012 US President Barack Obama’s team most effectively used social media campaigns. In India, we saw the Modi selfie on voting day, live rally broadcasts on mobiles, AAP using it for driving new member joinees and for getting citizen participation in its initiatives.

Global revenue from app stores is expected to rise 62% this year to $25 billion. From e-commerce companies to travel outfits to government departments, everyone is launching mobile apps and driving significant sales and user engagement through same such as Paytm, Freecharge and other mobile-centric means for micro to small payments. It’s almost like a dotcom evolution of 15 years ago—no one wants to miss the bus. The same was followed by a rise in the mobile handsets sales, led by newer and fancier smartphone models is a major catalyst in making 2014 an era of the mobile and paving the way for the coming year. India is already the third largest market for smartphones and will overtake the USA shortly.

Telecom operators have finally started to see lot of data usage from their customers and their 3G infrastructure investments have started to show financial results. Consumers are in a happy mode with lot of choices—a lot of people have more than one handset, kids and teenagers are not the only one using them for social media

India has emerged as the strongest market for digital companies who see a huge growth opportunity here. For Facebook, WhatsApp and Google, India is one of their top markets. Regardless of where an internet company is launched today, India very quickly becomes a large user base for it.

Rural India is also not untouched by this craze and has started seeing relevant information and entertainment services readily available to them via mobile. Venture capitalists and investors are willing to bet long term on the sustainability of mobile-led digital evolution and are pumping in millions of dollars.

So what does all this mean as a marketer?

1- Jump on mobile bandwagon quickly, else you will lag behind.

2- Gear up for big data and analytics to play a bigger role in next phase of mobile evolution.

3- Gut-based decisions will start getting replaced by more number-driven decisions.

4- Three M’s need to be central to your marketing plan—i.e. Millions of people engaging with Multiple offerings on their Mobile devices.

Mobile has started to impact almost every sphere of our life—payments, health care, shopping, eating, travel, investment, and education, etc. It is important for marketers to understand the changing trends and design their marketing strategies accordingly. Mobile provides a personal connect to the user base and customers, helping impactful brand engagement with the audiences.

It’s an era of dialogue creation, with integrated campaigns across platforms made even more convenient via mobile. 2015 promises to ride on this wave of momentum as smartphones become more secure, more contextual, more location-aware, more targeted, and more integrated. We will witness the most engaging mobile experiences in 2015. There will be an integration of mobility, cloud and the internet of Things, creating significant opportunities for businesses to expand and for consumers to enjoy. But these opportunities will also come with newer challenges.

(The author is the chief operating officer of Digital Quotient.)

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