What is Mobile Marketing? Elements, Types, Advertising, Importance, Features

  • Post last modified:10 August 2023
  • Reading time:33 mins read
  • Post category:Digital Marketing
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What is Mobile Marketing?

Mobile marketing refers to the practice of reaching and engaging with target audiences through mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. This type of marketing can take many forms, including text messages, mobile applications, mobile-optimized websites, push notifications, and in-app advertising.

Defining Mobile Marketing

It is quite evident from the ever-increasing smartphone users that mobile is the future of marketing. Although the average attention span of mobile users is very low, still it is becoming one of the prominent mediums for reaching and engaging consumers.

It has become immensely important for brands to have mobile-optimised websites as people are accessing and browsing content more on their smartphones rather than on desktops. Hence to engage with potential customers, brands need to be available on smaller versions as well.

According to The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), Mobile Marketing is a set of practices that enables organizations to communicate and engage with their audience in an interactive and relevant manner through and with any mobile device or network.

Mobile marketing involves direct marketing, advertising, and sales promotion over wireless connections. Mobile marketing is ubiquitous, personalised, and location-based. Hence, it is facilitating personalised delivery and engagement. In India, the number of smartphone users are also increasing rapidly.

Assessing Elements of Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing comprises various features that help in targeting the right set of audience. The following are the main elements that comprise the mobile marketing landscape:

Proximity Marketing

It is the marketing strategy or location-based mobile marketing in which right content is sent to the right place at the right time. It is affordable, simple, and easy to manage.

Connecting with the wireless devices on the basis of location and using GPS to reach the targeted audience in a location is a very popular technique. Brands can easily track the location of mobile devices with the help of GPS functionality. Such tracking can help in detecting the location of consumer and accordingly deliver the local messages.

For instance, you are in north Delhi and searching for famous eateries near you using the mobile’s search engine. Restaurants near you can send you timely messages about the offer and eateries to generate leads. With the help of time and location proximity, brands can gain higher conversions.

Social Marketing

90% of the social media users are accessing social media websites or application on mobile. Therefore, the maximum amount of social media usages occurs on the mobile phones. People share real-time information about their locations, events, and activities on their social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

Marketers are promoting their products and services among the younger age group over social media. Targeting people who are accessing social media on mobile phones can be treated as an effective strategy for marketers as it is an effective tool for interaction.

There are various options like check-ins, tagging, etc., that can be used for social engagement over Facebook and Twitter. Creating special hashtags for events by brands is an effective strategy to gain the visibility. Accessing social media via mobile phones lets you share photos easily and quickly.

Many brands have started engaging with consumers by creating campaigns in which consumers have to take their pictures engaging with the brand and share it on various social media platforms.

QR Codes

Black and white bar codes that can be read by a phone’s camera are known as QR codes. QR codes are cost-effective and convenient. QR codes are used by small businesses such as print and retail platforms to share the link of the mobile content with the users.

A QR code can be generated by visiting the website www.qrme.com and then typing the URL for which you would like to create the code to link to.

The new QR code can be downloaded and can be used for promotional material. Smartphone users can easily capture the QR codes on their mobile phones to visit the mobile Web page or read the message or app sponsored by the marketer.

Application-based Marketing

The application marketplaces like Google Play Store and iOS mobile application has been rapidly growing and these stores possess huge repository of millions of applications. Such marketplaces made it easy for users to find application of their interest.

Brands are developing mobile applications and uploading them on online app stores. Today, a plethora of applications or apps are available for beauty, health, lifestyle, games, news update, sports, or for entertainment on these stores.

Applications (apps) are categorised under two heads, namely native and mobile Web pages. Native apps are those apps that can only be downloaded from app stores. They run independently without any dependency on the browser, whereas mobile Web pages run through a mobile browser. Apps add value to the websites. These are not replacement for a mobile website.


Mobile commerce comprises mobile wallets, coupons, NFC chips, etc., that can be used by the consumers to pay by mobile. It fosters purchasing of goods and services through smartphones. Selling and purchasing done via mobile phone is known as M-commerce.

M-commerce has revolutionised the whole landscape of E-commerce as anyone can buy anything from anywhere using mobile phones.

Identifying Mobile Consumers

It is important for marketers to know their audience and identify whether they are desktop or laptop users, mobile users, or tablet users. There are various consumers with different demographic, geographic, and psychographic profiles present in the marketplace ranging from rural to urban, economy to luxury and illiterate to highly educated, etc.

Indian consumers are diverse in their characteristics and needs, so is their usage pattern of mobile devices. For instance, people in rural area use mobile only for basic features like voice calling. While, on the other hand, urban population is using smartphones for messaging, entertainment, video calling, making payments, etc.

There are certain set of consumers who are only surfing on mobile phones, therefore, it is essential to target those consumers there only. A mobile phone is emerging as an important consumer touchpoint. Mobile phones allow marketers to provide personalised experience to consumers.

Hence, brands are spending huge amounts on mobile marketing. It is important to analyse your target audience mobile usage, websites they are accessing through their mobile search engines and map it with their demographics.

Types of Mobile Devices

There are different types of mobile phones existing in the marketplace. On the basis of the advancement of technology and features, mobile devices can be classified into the following four categories:

Basic Phones

These phones were introduced initially with the basic feature of making voice calls, sending SMS, etc. The battery life of these phones is very long. In terms of uses, the features are very simple. With basic functionality, these phones do not contain any sound or graphic except beep sound and monochromatic display.

Feature Phones

These are advanced phones having multimedia sound and coloured display. These mobile phones may or may not have a camera, media player and GPS. These phones are not touch screen but they contain a QWERTY keypad for easy typing.


These are highly advanced touchscreen phones with a large screen size and Web browser. The rich features involve high-resolution display, built-in mobile operating system such as android and iOS, high definition camera, etc. These phones have features to connect with Wi-Fi and the Internet such as 2G, 3G, and 4G.


This is an amalgamation of laptop and mobile. It was first launched by Apple in 2010. Tablets have bigger screen as compared to smartphones but possess common operating systems and user interface as in the smartphones. In terms of screen size, it is similar to laptop screen experience.

Tablets are not very handy but their bigger screen size makes reading, browsing, movie-viewing, and gaming experience better and comfortable than smartphones.

Behaviour of Mobile Users

Most people have a habit of keeping their smartphones with them all the time. Marketers know that people check their smartphones frequently. Studies have shown that mobile users are active mostly in the morning and evening. Therefore, marketers have to keep in mind the timings while optimising their mobile marketing strategy.

People reach out for their smartphones to perform quick search or for searching any specific information. People have lower attention span on mobile screens as compared to desktops or laptops.

Smaller screen size does not offer comfortable reading experience and consumers are not even interested in resizing the content size for reading. Therefore, it is important for brands to have a responsive website for smooth browsing on mobile phones. People generally prefer mobile applications over mobile websites that is why today, most of the brands are spending huge amounts on app development.

The revolution of smartphones has majorly impacted the youth. Users belonging to the age group of 18 to 24 years are significantly using smartphones. Marketers need to create a mobile marketing strategy as per the demographics of their target audience.

Coming to the e-commerce, males are more likely to make online purchases through mobile phones as compared to females. Moreover, mobile phones are used for making a purchasing decision rather than online buying as people read reviews, product features on mobile and purchase through desktops, while mobile phones are used for pre-purchase research phase.

By mapping the key insights into the behaviour of mobile users, marketers should focus on mobile- friendly websites with instant response time and less than 3 second loading time.

Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising is a major component of mobile marketing. It involves short message service and mobile ads. Mobile banner ads can be run on mobile sites, apps or on mobile search engines. Mobile advertising helps you achieve the business goals of lead generation and engagement with the potential consumers.

There are two types of mobile advertising models which are as follows:

On-device Advertising

It involves all the marketing efforts that are executed to foster consumer’s engagement with the brand on mobile devices. In this type of advertising, brands directly engage with the user through mobile phones. There are two routes through which engagement can be possible:

Network-based Advertising

Using the mobile networks like Vodafone, Airtel, etc., for sending SMS, voice calling through WAP (Wireless Application Protocol). WAP is an in-built platform or portal to access particular data services such as horoscope, news, stock market tracking, sports headlines, etc. Ads on WAP portal are pay-per-click ads that are shown on the user’s mobile screen only when the content on WAP is accessed by the user.

Off-network Advertising

The increasing number of smartphones, the Internet connectivity such as 3G or 4G, WiFi connectivity on mobile devices, etc., facilitate the opportunity to engage with the content available on the Internet to the consumers or to access social media on mobile phone irrespective of the telecom network. Mobile applications have their in-built display ads which comes under the category of off- network advertising.

Off-device Advertising

In this type of advertising model, brands initially use traditional media to reach out to the consumers and then create consumer engagement over mobile phones. This type of advertising involves interactive Call-to-Action (CTA) buttons to create engagement with the consumers.

For instance, persuading consumers to take part in a contest by sending an SMS or missed calls on a toll-free number.

The following are a few widely-opted CTA buttons:

  • Click and make a phone call: In this CTA, users make a phone call to the advertiser.

  • Click to receive an E-mail: By clicking on this CTA, users receive a mail with a hyperlink of the website

  • Click to receive mobile coupons: By clicking on this CTA, users receive a mobile coupon that can be redeemed at a participating merchant within a particular time period.

Apart from the above-mentioned CTA, there are other CTAs, such as click to buy and click to locate that are available to foster customer engagement. These advertisements have different purposes such as persuading the consumers to download an app or to direct them to the websites.

Importance of Mobile Marketing

There are various benefits of mobile marketing. Marketers are able to foster personal connection with their customers. With mobile media, you can engage with your customers by creating ads, application, etc.

Connecting with people over mobile phones form a deeper relationship. People always have their phone in their hands, therefore, instant notification can be sent to them as it can be seen instantly. Immediate access is possible with mobile media.

People are using digital wallets and mobile applications with built-in payment mechanism. This feature is facilitating e-commerce and providing an interactive and seamless experience to customers, making it necessary for e-commerce website to explore m-commerce and more secure ways of paying through mobile devices.

Mobile advertising is cost-effective as compared to other traditional media such as TV commercials or print media. Mobile marketing is a two-way interactivity. Consumers and brands can contact each other anytime, anywhere. Hence, using mobile marketing is a win-win strategy for brands.

Types of Mobile Marketing

There are various types of mobile marketing, some are paid and some are owned. Let us study the types of mobile marketing in detail:

This type of mobile marketing comprised the purchased mobile media avenues that includes messages or call services provided by the telecom services. The paid mobile marketing has four formats, namely texts, voice, display, and video. The textual SMS containing a maximum of 160 characters from one mobile device to another.

The target audience should be literate to read such messages. Also, messages can be sent in regional languages as well. With the help of server application or PC, bulk messages can be sent to the large number of recipients. Messages are sent for deal closing, events reminder, constant CRM to build strong relationship with consumers. There are SMS ads that involve CTAs which are ideal for offering announcements, reminders, etc.

Brands are also using paid voice media for mobile marketing. Using Outbound Dialer (OBD) or Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system that is a pre-recorded audio that is sent to a large network through mass calling to consumers.

It is suitable for illiterate people as well. This voice media is used for engagement campaign or to make an announcement. Other important paid media is display banner ads on mobile websites or mobile application. Such ads fosters engagement, branding, content download or driving traffic to mobile websites. These ads are shown on feature phones and smartphones.


Marketers can create their own media space instead of buying the mobile media space by developing a responsive website and mobile app. Let us study these two in detail:

Responsive websites

These websites show the same content all the time but adapt themselves as per the browsing device. Such websites can adapt across multiple devices as these websites modify the layout as per the devices that are being used.

Be it desktop, mobile or tablet, the website will run on the single common URL on all the devices. It is important for brands to have an optimized responsive website as it offers economy of design, a single URL, a single website to administer and easy SEO practices.

Although, there are brands that create separate mobile websites which are configured for mobile uses. Creating different websites for desktop and mobile phones involve hefty cost and have two URLs. Marketing of both the websites involve more efforts, time, and cost.

Although mobile websites offer better user experience (UX) and speed but the multiple URLs, maintenance, etc., create confusion for the users. Therefore, it is advisable to have a responsive website.

Responsive websites are cost-effective and compatible with both the desktops and mobiles. These websites can be easily upgraded and have a longer life cycle.

The following are the best practices to have a responsive website:

  • Focus on content by creating a one-page scrollable website that is much easier to access and load.

  • Compress images to minimise the loading time.

Touch design is important as users are not very comfortable in clicking on hyperlinks on mobile devices.

  • Avoid using heavy graphics, large blocks of texts, long articles, etc.; instead of these optimise the content in bullet points.

  • Integrate the content of website with the features of smartphones like GPS map function for location information of the business, keyboard choices, AutoCorrect, Calendar, etc.

Mobile Application

A mobile application is a lightweight program that is designed specially to operate and run on handheld devices such as smartphones, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and tablets. Mobile applications are growing rapidly with Google Play store and Apple iTunes.

These two platforms are popular platform for launching an app. Mobile app is a software program that is designed for a specific purpose and has a clear utility value.

Users can download the mobile apps from app marketplace or online app stores. Mobile applications have become an indispensable part of peoples’ life. Therefore, app development is an important component of mobile marketing. There are over 1.5 million and 1.8 million apps contained on the iOS app store and Google Play store, respectively.

There are different pricing models followed by the Apple and Google for App launching. Apple uses a yearly fee, while Google uses a oneoff payment. Marketers should follow all the submission guidelines, registration process and developer agreement.

Mobile apps need to be marketed to persuade people to install those apps. Marketers use Google ads for promoting mobile apps. Referral marketing is also used for promotions of mobile apps. In referral mobile marketing, the existing consumers refer the mobile apps to others for installation and in return, the existing consumers get some bonus or reference amount.

A new app needs to go through three steps starting from Pre-launch planning to an intense campaigning launch to post-launch tracking. It is important to make sure that your app works without any technical glitches. After launch, it is important to track the data of a number of app downloads and duration of app usage.

The process of app development starts by identifying the specific purpose or need of the app so as to find out why users will interact with your brand over mobile application. There should be a market, a need and a context for your app.

The next step is building your app and finalising the functionality of your app with the help of a developer. Creating an app is a costly event, therefore, the selection of a developer should be done carefully. In the inception stage, the developer comes up with an idea to develop the app.

After the successful testing of an app, the app is deployed at various locations on the Internet. Further, the app need to go through the app submission process and get approval by the App Store for smooth launch. There are various online tools available for creating basic mobile apps at free of cost.

One example of online tool for app is Appsgeyser.com. Similar to the life cycle of any other kind of software, a mobile app also has a life cycle that starts from its inception and ends up in maintenance. A mobile app does not wear out but is replaced by an enhanced version of the existing app. The enhanced version of an app includes more useful features in addition to the existing features.

The stages in the life cycle of a mobile app are as follows:

  • Inception: In this stage, the developer comes up with an idea to develop the app. This idea lays the foundation of the app.

  • Design: In this stage, the interface of the app is designed by a graphic designer to make the user’s interaction with the app easy. This is the most important stage for the success of an app. The various principles related to the designing a mobile app are as follows:

    • The interface should be designed in such a manner that it looks unique among other mobile apps.

    • The interface must be attractive and interactive. A user must be able to interact with the app easily and efficiently using the interface.

    • The interface should not be complex to use.

    • The interface must be designed in such a manner that a user can navigate the app easily.

    • The interface must be responsive which means that it should notify the users while they are performing any action in the app.

    • The icons on the interface should be of appropriate size and should be placed at an appropriate distance so that when a user touches the mobile screen to select an icon, only a single icon should be selected.

    • The content on the screen must be readable and easy to understand. The options for using an app should be written clearly and in meaningful order on the interface.

  • Development: In this stage, the functionalities of the app are developed by using programming languages. The app developer writes the code as per the functionalities to be inculcated in the app.

  • Testing: After the coding and designing stages, the app is tested in virtual environment. First, the individual functionalities of an app are tested and then all the functionalities are tested together. This is necessary for the stability of an app. If the testing is not done properly, then the app may crash in the real-life environment.

  • Deployment and Maintenance: After the successful testing of an app, the app is deployed at various locations on the Internet. The users can download and use the app as per their requirements.

    The app is further monitored to check whether it is working properly or not. If the users face any difficulty in downloading or using the app, then it is addressed in the maintenance phase.

Features of Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing is a two-way communication that is established to promote products and services. Mobile marketing is interactive and engaging that can help in building long-lasting customer relationships. Let us study the features of mobile marketing.

The features are as follows:


Mobile phones can foster direct communication with the consumers anytime, anywhere easily. Mobile marketing offers marketers to reach mass audience with targeted and customised messages.


The users of mobile can receive messages from the network or servers within a few seconds. Immediate notifications are sent to the mobile users. The possibility of sending immediate message is highest in mobile devices.


Mobile devices are of personal nature. Every mobile has a unique user. A mobile phone has become an identity card that cannot be shared even with family members.

Marketers are using this feature to create personalised content for the users as communication is established between a person to person or a brand to person.


Mobile marketing is cost-effective. Cost of SMS or voice calls are affordable for brands. Mobile ads run on pay the per click model. All the paid media of mobile marketing is affordable even for small businesses.


Various metrics are available to perform mobile analytics. It is very easy to track the performance of mobile marketing by mapping the rate and time of responses, open rate, and the number of clicks on hyperlinks, bounce rates, etc.

Mobile Analytics

Mobile marketing is measurable and offer several metrics that measure the effectiveness of a mobile marketing campaign. It helps in running more sound and informed mobile strategy. For example, by assessing the bounce rate for users who are coming for mobile phones in comparison to the desktop.

If the bounce rate is higher, then one needs to improve its mobile website by making the website more responsive. In case of mobile advertising, marketers need to check the number of views and clicks on the mobile ads.

By tracking the journey of consumers, the marketer can gain insights into various valuable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of success or failure of mobile marketing.

By mapping the number of sales order placed or the number of coupons redeemed, number of online purchases, SMS sign-ups, request for brochure, etc., a marketer can track the performance of mobile marketing easily.

It is important to assess the performance of mobile marketing on several platforms like mobile websites, mobile application, mobile messaging, etc. There are various online analytical tools available such as Adjust, AppsFlyer, Ad2Campaign, etc., that can assess the performance of various elements of mobile marketing.

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