“Go west, young man, and grow up with the country.” This famous quote, attributed to 19th century newspaper editor Horace Greeley (but actually originated by John Soule), was responsible for countless thousands of young men and women heading toward the great American frontier to stake their claim to fortune and a better life.
Although the American West has been duly populated, there is yet another frontier which awaits the courageous and forward-looking young entrepreneur in the 21st century: The mobile marketing revolution.
Mobiles are full-fledged handheld computers
Most Americans under the age of 30 have spent a fair portion of their lives in the “sit up and beg” stance, tapping away at keys while positioned bolt upright in front of an ever larger monitor, first CRT and now LCD. It is only in the last few years that the mobile device which was previously only suitable for making voice calls and thumb-texting curt and drastically abbreviated messages has become for all intents and purposes a hand held computer, just as able to surf the web and engage in rich email communications as the bulkiest desktop or laptop PC.
Half a billion+ smartphones sold annually
The market penetration of mobile web enabled devices continues to approach saturation, with most experts agreeing that more web access will be mobile rather than through personal computers in just a couple of years from now. Already there are 5.3 billion mobile subscribers in a world of 7 billion people. China alone is expected to have more mobile web users by the end of 2011 than the entire population of the United States… every man, woman and child. Gartner Research expects 468 million fully web enabled smartphones will be sold in 2011, rising to 631 million by 2015.
Marketers lag behind technology
The internet has evolved far beyond its embryonic Mosaic browser years when it was a curiosity mostly populated by eccentrics and snake oil salesmen. The web has now become an integral part of the lives of the majority of people on this planet, but the forms of online marketing have just begun to evolve. The technology is moving so fast that the adopters of the most effective ways to utilize it lag far behind:
- Smartphones, tablets, and netbooks are all capable of displaying full motion video but the overwhelming majority of email newsletters are just as static as they were in the 1990s.
- Face to face video calling has become nearly universal but the email newsletters which offer this form of real time live chat or customer service are few and far between.
- Localization options abound, but many email newsletters are geographically unspecific with most presenting offerings to the entire country without differentiating that the Alaskan customer varies from the Floridian.
- Mobile specific sites are still not universal among email marketers with many newsletter calls to action leading to landing pages which display incorrectly on the smaller screens.
Become one of the great success stories
The dizzying rate of technological progress may soon have us walking down the street while 3D holographic tablet imaging is projected ahead of us, but many email marketers are still applying much of the same promotional strategies which would have been incorporated in printed direct mail pieces delivered by the US Post Office in days gone by. The young entrepreneurs who apply their youthful vigor and genius to breaking new ground in the mobile marketing paradigm will be the great success stories of this decade.
The mobile frontier is just as open and ripe for the taking as the American frontier once was. Go mobile, young person, and grow up with the unlimited potential!
Denise Keller is COO and founding partner of Benchmark Email, one of the world's leading email marketing services for small businesses. Read more about Denise here.