Blog/Beyond Texting

2021 Mobile Marketing Trends That Will Actually Affect You

Being aware of big mobile marketing trends is important. The problem is that so many roundups neglect to tell you anything you don’t already know. This one is different.

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Most mobile marketing trend articles are bad. Like gas station coffee bad.

Sure artificial intelligence is going to change the world in the next decade, but what does that mean to the average marketer right now?

Don’t get us started on trends like “chatbots” and “video content.” If you’ve glanced at Forbes, Hubspot, or any marketing publications over the last few years, you’re not thinking 2021 is the year of chatbots.

Not only are these the kind of predictions that sound like they’ve been written by the bot GPT-3, but they’re also completely unactionable.

Now that we’ve gotten that off our chest, it’s time to share the trends we actually think will impact your mobile marketing in 2021. 

We had three simple criteria for a trend to make our list:

1. It will have a tangible impact on you this year

2. There’s something you can do about it  

3. It’s a relatively recent development 

With that in mind, here’s what’s new in mobile marketing:

Apple’s iOS 14 Update

No 2021 mobile marketing trends article would be complete without referencing Apple’s iOS 14 rollout.

The Trend

Apple leads the US smartphone market with a 39% share. So any major update to Apple’s operating system is going to impact mobile marketers.

Apple software updates are nothing new but the September 16, 2020 release is definitely newsworthy.

One of the main reasons is the privacy policy changes. 

Part of its aim is to give its device users information on how apps track you, the data they collect, and how that information is linked to your identity.

The Impact

Not everyone’s happy with the new measures–including Facebook who took out a full-page ad in the NY Times criticizing the move

Now if a user refuses data tracking permissions, there’s no data for ad targeting. As a result, Facebook has alerted advertisers of reduced targeting and campaign measurement ability.

If the impact of this change sounds vague, consider that 44% of small businesses used personalized ads last year to generate revenue. This update will reduce the effectiveness of these ads.

Whether you’re for or against these changes, if your mobile marketing strategy relies heavily on Facebook ads, you may need to shift spend toward other mobile ad channels.

It’s also worth noting there are other iOS 14 features that will impact any mobile app you operate. For example, you’ll need to implement a dark mode for the new UI.

This article from Appinventiv has a nice rundown of the seven things worth taking into consideration when it comes to your app’s design.

Coronavirus Shifts Consumers Permanently Toward Mobile

COVID-19 wreaked havoc on marketers’ 2020 plans. It was a challenging time that left many brands unsure of what to do or how to respond.

While most organizations are better prepared this year, it’d be unwise to ignore the ongoing effects of the pandemic. 

The Trend

We’re not going back on our promise to avoid fluff. Yes, the shift to mobile has been happening for years. But a continuation of an existing trend suggests more measured growth.

That’s not what we’ve seen, with mobile usage soaring in 2020 due to Covid. Here are several examples of what we mean:

Mobile reflects our current lives and its usage has become more reactive to the way we live our lives. 

Put plainly, smartphones have more importance for socializing, entertainment, accessing services, information updates, and even our physical health and wellbeing.

The Impact

One report found COVID–19 propelled positive outcomes for 70% of mobile marketers. So one area where you’ll likely see the impact immediately is in budgets: more money is going to flow to the device doing a lot of heavy lifting.

We’re also expecting new technologies and markets to crop up around this massive increase in mobile activity. That means new mobile tools for telehealth, remote working, e-commerce, financial management, and other industries. 

It’s worth paying attention to these technologies and sectors even if you’re not directly involved in them. There will be lessons that you can apply to your strategy.

More importantly, as these new mobile-first habits initiated by the pandemic become more ingrained, businesses that ignore the broader shift will struggle to stay relevant.

A Move Toward Owned Mobile Marketing Channels

Online advertising has been having a rough time. First, there’s the iOS update. Then there are new antitrust actions targeting Google and Facebook. 

That’s not all, there are also widespread issues around ad fraud and whether a lot of online advertising even works.

All of this brings us to our next trend, the focus on building owned mobile marketing channels.

The Trend

Owned channels include your website, app, blog, social media pages, email, SMS, forums, and any other media that you own and have complete control over.

A lot of mobile marketing to date has been focused on optimizing ads and landing pages to capture and convert people using their phones. 

The big shift coming in 2021 is a focus on building out mobile channels that brands have complete control over. As a text messaging service, we’ve seen this first hand.

The Impact

Marketing message volume is going to increase by 40% this year. It’s not just SMS promotions either.

We expect to see more brand plays here like the one from women’s apparel company Summersalt Inc. 

They created a new texting experience back in March to communicate with customers as the coronavirus pandemic shut people indoors.

All people needed to do was text the word “Joycast” to a phone number to receive different types of content such as uplifting memes and activities to do during the quarantine.

As The Wall Street Journal wrote, “texting customers is no longer taboo when everyone is stuck at home.”

Social Media Becomes All Talk

Even if you don’t use Clubhouse or Discord, 2020 saw a rise in platforms that give people a voice. We don’t expect them to go anywhere anytime soon.

The Trend

Audio-social apps have been launched before to limited success. This year was different.

Part of it’s due to increased social isolation and stay at home orders. Part of it is related to screen fatigue. A lot of it is due to the rise of Podcast listenership and our comfort levels with audio-based content. 

The number of monthly active users Discord boasts doubled to 140 million last year with 800,000 downloads a day. Clubhouse is a relatively new entrant, but recently raised $100 million and is poised for exponential growth.

The Impact

Audio fits easily into most on-the-go activities for people, which means it’s an obvious fit for your mobile marketing.

It’s why more businesses are going to start building out an audio-content strategy that centers around mobile devices. To start, we’re going to see more:

  • Podcast advertising or brands starting their own podcasts
  • Branded channels or playlists on music streaming services
  • Blog posts in audio format to better suit people on mobile devices

As these audio-social apps mature, we also expect them to be incorporated into mobile strategies too. For example, brands could use Clubhouse to host an online brand community.

The Challenge With Predicting Mobile Marketing Trends

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that making predictions can be a fool’s errand. 

While no one knows what will happen this year, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take into consideration these recent trends.

Marketers can use them to their advantage and stand out from the crowd by showing they’re in tune with what their customers want.

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