With so many people using smartphones on a daily basis, mobile marketing has become a crucial part of any advertising strategy. Because of the amount of time that people spend on their phones, you are missing out on potential customers and sales if you don’t take advantage of mobile marketing.

Our mobile marketing how-to guide will teach you everything you need to know about marketing on mobile devices. 

What is mobile marketing?

The short answer to what is mobile marketing is a digital marketing strategy that reaches your audience while they are on their phone or tablet.

It can include SMS marketing, ads on social media platforms, video ads, mobile apps, mobile-optimized websites, mobile SEO, and mobile-optimized emails, among others. It will also include mobile banner ads and other types of mobile ads. 

That being said, it is also common for the answer to what is mobile advertising to just include SMS marketing and mobile applications. You will see the best results from your mobile strategy if you integrate more channels and methods. Notably, you can incorporate mobile marketing into other strategies, such as attraction marketing.

person holding mobile phone

The rise of mobile marketing

The rise of mobile marketing ties closely to the rise of smartphones. People could first access email on their phone with the Blackberry in 2003, followed by the iPhone launch in 2007. However, neither of these systems offered location services, push notifications, in-app messages, or many of the other current hallmarks of mobile marketing.

Over time, smartphones evolved and developed more features, and people spent more time on them.

To give you an idea of just how important mobile marketing is today, consider the following statistics.

  • There are over 5 billion mobile phone users globally.
  • The number of unique mobile users worldwide increases by 1.8% annually.
  • In 2020, Android users spent over four hours per day on their smartphones, according to data from App Annie.

And the following digital marketing statistics give you an idea of how important mobile marketing is:

  • Seventy-seven percent of smartphone users are more likely to buy something if they can do so from their smartphone quickly.
  • American companies dedicate 11.2% of their total marketing budget to mobile marketing. This figure is expected to grow to more than 50% by 2022.
  • Forty-eight percent of users say if a website isn’t mobile-friendly, they assume the business doesn’t care and will leave.
  • Fifty-nine percent of people who use mobile devices are just as used to mobile advertising as they are with TV advertising.
  • Fifty-three percent of paid search clicks are on mobile devices. 

With those consumer habits in mind, the need to target customers on their mobile devices becomes clear. 

Types of mobile marketing strategies

When discussing how does mobile advertising work, you will notice a few different potential strategies come up.

As mentioned, mobile marketing can include PPC ads that take users to mobile-friendly websites, in-app advertisements, push notifications from apps, and more.

That being said, some of the most popular mobile marketing strategies involve directly communicating with users, such as via SMS, Facebook Messenger, or WhatsApp. Think of these as types of messages that let you interact with consumers and use similar strategies. 

Don’t forget that not all mobile marketing campaigns should focus on messaging. You will also want to incorporate social media marketing, banner ads, QR code campaigns, and mobile advertisements in things like mobile games or on mobile websites. For instance, you will likely want to create an account with Google Ads for paid banner advertisements and other ad campaigns, as well as to track your ranking on search engines via Google Analytics. 

You may also want to turn on web push notifications for your mobile website and create mobile-optimized landing page options for your location-based marketing. 

SMS marketing

You can spend hours talking about SMS marketing without scratching the surface of what it involves. That being said, the following gives you the most important information in the context of mobile marketing.

To start, SMS marketing is marketing completed via text messages. It is incredibly popular partly because of its 98% open rate, a figure which is unheard of for other types of advertising.

SMS messaging also allows you to instantly reach your customers and take advantage of fast open rates and short response times. Texting also tends to feel more personal than emails or other communication methods.

The specific strategies will vary, but there are a few main categories outlining the types of SMS messages you can send as part of your mobile campaign:

  • Promotional messages (sales, discounts, new products, etc.)
  • Transactional messages (purchase confirmations, delivery information, etc.)

The following are some more specific situations when you may want to use SMS marketing:

  • To announce new products
  • To announce sales or discounts
  • To thank customers for their loyalty
  • To share changes to your hours
  • To provide updates on orders or service statuses
  • To remind customers about payments
  • To share a link to make a payment
  • To remind customers of appointments
  • To schedule appointments
  • To request an online review
  • To request filling out a survey
  • To communicate internally with your employees

If you plan to use text messaging in your mobile marketing strategy, make sure to follow these best practices:

  • Always get an opt-in (this is a legal requirement).
  • Make it easy to opt out (this is also a legal requirement).
  • Think about the timing of the messages; don’t send them in the middle of the night, for example. 
  • Identify your company in the message (this is another legal requirement).
  • Consider sending messages from a shortcode that is easy to remember instead of a full 10-digit phone number.

person at work looking at phone with laptop and sunglasses on table

Facebook Messenger

At its most basic level, you could use Facebook Messenger just like you would native text messaging. As a refresher, it is the messaging platform connected to Facebook.

Messenger has the benefit of being connected directly to your Facebook page, making your company easy to reach via this method and providing proof of who you are to the recipients. Messenger even supports transactions.

While automation is possible for many SMS marketing platforms, there is even more automation available for Facebook Messenger, including chatbots. 


WhatsApp is an end-to-end encrypted messaging platform. Like Facebook Messenger and MMS, it supports gifs, audio files, images, video, and more in addition to text. WhatsApp also offers voice calls and video calls.

As with Facebook Messenger, you can follow similar strategies for using WhatsApp as you would with your SMS campaign. WhatsApp also supports external ads that take the user to WhatsApp when they click on them. This is a simple way for customers to text you, as the process automatically fills in your number for them.

The idea is that by offering more ways for customers to communicate with you, they can use the method that they prefer. 

Mobile marketing vs. traditional marketing

Because mobile marketing is still relatively new, it can be useful to compare it to traditional advertising methods. Examples of traditional marketing include ads in newspapers and magazines, ads on TV, radio commercials, marketing via mail, and things like billboards or signs at bus stops.

By using both types of advertising, you can maximize your reach. After all, not everyone goes online, so if you only used mobile marketing or digital marketing, you would miss a segment of potential customers.

Additionally, some types of traditional marketing can be easier for people to remember or provide more of a hands-on experience. Product testing or samples of a food item are both examples of the latter.

However, the biggest downside to traditional marketing is that it can be incredibly expensive compared to digital advertising. Additionally, it is limited by its physical location.

By contrast, mobile marketing lets you reach your customers no matter where they are and costs less. Mobile marketing is also more automation-friendly and gives you more data and analytics automatically, helping you improve your campaigns.

What about email marketing?

As mentioned earlier, email marketing can be part of your mobile marketing strategy, but it is also part of your larger digital marketing strategy. Essentially, when you create email marketing campaigns, you want to ensure that they are mobile-friendly, as many recipients will be viewing the messages on their phones.

It’s worth noting that compared to SMS marketing, email marketing has a lower open rate but gives you the ability to send longer messages. 

Conclusion: Why you should care about mobile marketing  

With over 5.22 billion people around the world using smartphones, if you don’t have a mobile marketing strategy, you will miss out on a large segment of your potential audience. Mobile marketing can also reach customers wherever they are, be customized, be automated, and tends to be more affordable. Just remember to also target desktop users. A good advertising campaign will account for all users, regardless of the mobile gadgets they use to get online. 


What are free mobile marketing tools?

One great free option is Podium, which has a free 14-day trial that will get you started with mobile marketing and more.

How do I set up QR codes?

You can set up QR codes using a QR code generator online. Use them for promotions, opt-ins, downloads, and more. 

What are the disadvantages of mobile marketing?

There can sometimes be a big learning curve to embrace mobile marketing. However, various intuitive systems, like Podium, help reduce that learning curve. Additionally, mobile marketing can involve just as many channels as traditional marketing, if not more. 

Isaiah Rendorio
Isaiah Rendorio Product Marketing Manager, Campaigns

Isaiah Rendorio is the Product Marketing Manager for Podium Campaigns—helping local businesses tap into the power of SMS marketing to strengthen customer relationships, increase customer lifetime value, and drive more revenue.

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