How will mobile apps impact proximity marketing - will we get a better mobile web?

Using Mobile for Proximity Marketing

A recent Comscore article shows that Facebook and Twitter Access via Mobile Browsers has Grows by triple-Digits in the Past Year, which really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. I don’t know about you- but it seems that everyone I talk to these days has an iPhone, Droid, or Blackberry.

The rise of mobile technology has some neat (and somewhat frightening, in the Big Brother-sense) implications for how we can be targeted by marketing/advertising. Applications like Foursquare publishes your location to the world, which could allow a monitoring application to watch for anyone who “checks-in” at specific locations.  Think about the implications of checking-in on Beale Street in Memphis on a Saturday night, and then getting a reply that offers you no-cover entrance, or 2-for-1 on your first cocktail at a nearby blues club?

Consider what that technology could that do for restaurants: giving them the ability to offer location-specific specials for lunch or dinner?  What about B2B organizations (a lot of whom seem to be struggling with ways to use social media tools) who want to target locally?  It would be relatively simple for an application to cross-reference someone’s check-in location (like in your company’s office complex, for instance) with specific keywords in a Twitter profile data.  I could then send a message to anyone who is listed as a CMO or Director of Marketing that checks in at Memphis’ business incubator, Emerge Memphis, a message that said “Good to see you in our neck of the woods. If you’ve got 10 minutes, stop by and we’ll show you something neat that we’re up to”.

Alright, I may want to put a little more thought into that message itself, but the point is: I can get hyper-specific with who I am targeting and what messaging I send to that person.

A Better Mobile Web

My other thoughts on the rise of mobile are nothing new – I love that mobile technology gives us so much freedom and instant access to information, but I hate that web site (not app) developers are not catering more to mobile users.

Web sites need to get smarter!  This presentation from Razorfish’s John Petengill points out how mobile users do not want their Internet experience to be watered down. Check it out – very short, but powerful (plus its a really cool presentation).

There’s a lot of hype about having a mobile app, and there are some great companies who have developed an application that will build mobile apps for you. Our neighbors, Resolute Interactive, has developed their Appanda software that allows you to design and publish your own iPhone and Android app through a web interface. (Shameless plug: check out Valeo’s app on iTunes that was built using Appanda)

This is a break through for anyone who doesn’t want to hire someone like Resolute or Valeo to build you a custom app, but don’t forget about your website, which still has the power to drive far greater amounts of traffic to your online presence. Having your own mobile app is great – but between a mobile app, and a mobile-friendly version of your site, which do you think has more potential?  I’ll give you a hint- mobile apps are not showing up in search engine results.

Looking to the Future

Not huge in the States yet, but sure to be crossing the oceans and coming here soon, I think QR codes will play some part in the mobile future.  I’m not quite ready to talk about that yet – but we’re working up some ideas, so I’m sure we’ll have something for you sometime this year.  Stay tuned…

Some interesting reading about Foursquare