The Top Five Mobile Marketing Mistakes Many business owners are still trying to work out the kinks in their mobile marketing plan. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid.

By John Arnold

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The Top Five Mobile Marketing Mistakes

Two years ago, there was no such thing as an iPad. Five years ago, nobody had a smartphone. Before 2007, the year of the iPhone, mobile marketing was mostly about text-messaging and selling ringtones. The bottom line is that everyone is new at this thing called mobile marketing. So, it should be no surprise that marketers are still working out the kinks.

For the past few years I've seen companies big and small repeat the same mobile marketing mistakes. If you're planning a mobile marketing campaign, you can save some time and money by learning from where they've gone wrong. Here are the top five mobile marketing mistakes and how you can avoid repeating them as you roll out your next campaign.

No. 1. Mismatching content with mobile messaging
Text messages, quick-response codes and emails are all great ways to reach mobile device users with links to content such as websites, videos, downloadable apps and other content. That is, unless your links point to content that won't function properly on every type of device. If you're going to spend time and money targeting mobile devices with a marketing message, make sure every part of the experience --- from message to response -- works on all mobile devices that may engage in the campaign.

Related: How to 'Mobilize' Your Social Media Marketing

For example, nobody with a Blackberry wants to receive a text message with a link to an iPhone application. Similarly, scanning a QR code leading to a website that requires people to endlessly scroll, zoom and type is a literal turnoff. Ask your web developer to use device detection to serve up different versions of your website based on the type of device, or target specific device users to make sure everyone you reach with your messaging is capable of interacting with your campaign.

No. 2. Building an app without a plan for promoting it
With over 500,000 apps available between the iPhone, Android and Blackberry app stores, there's no doubt your app needs more than a listing and a few ratings to be noticed by your prospects or customers. When you budget your application development, add on a budget to promote your apps with mobile advertising, emails, text messages and traditional ads.

Don't forget that your promotions shouldn't end when you get someone to download and install your app. You also have to remind your customers to use your app regularly, and you should plan to advertise any updates and new features you release. Of course, it also helps to make sure you have a strong business case for developing your app in the first place so you can justify all the development and advertising costs.

No. 3. Too much targeting
Mobile devices are capable of tracking and collecting all kinds of nonpersonally identifiable information that can be useful for targeting and personalizing your marketing messages. Examples include the geographic location of the device and the shopping preferences of the device owner. While it's easy to get excited thinking about what could be done with highly personalized marketing messages, it's a mistake to do that without thinking about whether it should be done.

Cost-effective messaging requires some degree of scale, so targeting individuals or very small groups of people usually reaches a point of diminishing returns as more time and money is spent trying to customize each and every message for every possible personal scenario.

Related: Five Ways to Win a Sale Using Your Customer's Mobile

Instead of trying to set your sights on highly individualized marketing, go with the more practical solution I call "just enough targeting" or JET. To use JET, use the data you collect from your mobile campaigns to create marketing messages for groups of prospects and customers with similar characteristics. Examples may include everyone with an iPhone, everyone who is currently in your store or everyone who is searching for your products from within five miles of your physical location.

No. 4. Ignoring the potential of voice
It's easy to get excited about the wide variety of rich media and communication experiences available through mobile devices, but don't lose sight of the fact that many mobile devices can make it easy for your customers to touch or click a phone number to call your business. Put your phone number in all emails and on all websites and social media sites. If you're not staffed for inbound phone calls, try an interactive voice response (IVR) system to answer and route calls. Some IVR systems can even automate ordering and collecting payments by phone. Mobile instant-messaging and chat are also emerging ways for quickly connecting your business to a prospect or customer. Chat technologies are dependent on bandwidth and cheap data plans for a good overall experience, so you may want to wait a bit for carrier data plan pricing and mobile infrastructure to stabilize before investing too much in instant messaging.

No. 5. Taking privacy concerns lightly
Consumers, especially in the U.S., are concerned with personal privacy, and few devices are more personal than someone's mobile. Make sure you and each of your mobile marketing technology providers follow all industry regulations and best practices for collecting, using and securing personal information. Ask your customers for permission before collecting personal information to target your marketing messages, and publish a link to your privacy policy on all your company websites and advertisements. If you need help with best practices and privacy policy guidelines, check out the Mobile Marketing Association's list of best practices. (Disclosure: I am the education director of the Mobile Marketing Association.)

Related: 10 Ways to Find Customers with Mobile Marketing

John Arnold

Marketing consultant and author

John Arnold is a marketing strategist and author offering practical marketing tips and advice to B2B companies. Connect with him at 

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