You may preach a lifetime before seeing the smallest sliver of revelation. Zen monks spend lifetimes in meditation and prayer. As much as I appreciate and respect such discipline, I’m too impatient to contemplate, much less live, such an eastern truth. Today the mobile revolution fell from the sky like Texas hail. Today a spiritual belief, a faith, was confirmed by science, by numbers. This post could be titled, “Portrait of the Internet Marketer As A Young Man”. I wasn’t that young when I became an Internet marketer in 1999, but grant some creative license as I share a story.
Marty’s Internet Marketing Experience
I fell into Internet marketing when Found Objects, the specialty gift company we started, needed a website in 1999. We didn’t have the $10K web developers were asking, so I read a book on HTML, attended a seminar on photo editing and dusted off writing chops rusting in my personal brand’s attic.
Impatience fits Internet marketing. In 1999 no one knew nothing. There was NOTHING to lose. I moved from startup to an ecommerce site when eating became a much needed necessity. It wasn’t that FoundObjects.com wasn’t successful. The site came too late. Our company had a HUGE hit with our generation’s “Pet Rock”, called Magnetic Poetry Kit: words on magnets most put on their fridge. Magnetic Poetry Kit sold millions and destroyed our company. It goes that way sometimes. The good news is Magnetic Poetry Kit was a HUGE HIT. The bad news is MPK was a HUGE HIT.
I have an intuitive sense about trends, I sense some trends about half a step before the crowd such as:
- Purchased an Apple II in 1982.
- Replaced it (much to my now disgrace) with an IBM PC in order to use Visicalc and then Lotus.
- Created one of if not the first territory management systems in consumer products goods in 1985.
- Being half a step ahead on PCs led to a new job as a Project Manager on M&M/Mars’ Sales, Management, Analysis and Telecommunications (SMART) system, the first territory management system in CPG.
- Built first B2B and B2C ecommerce enabled website (FoundObjects.com), November,1999.
- Being a half a step ahead on ecommerce led to Director of Ecommerce position on a million dollar website (that we turned into a $6M in annual sales ecommerce site).
- Understanding print was dead despite protestations to the contrary motivated me to leave, after 7 years, my job as Director of Ecommerce to ride a bicycle across America (Martin’s Ride To Cure Cancer).
- Returning from Martin’s Ride, everything Internet marketing felt different due to social networks and the massive amounts of User Generated Content (UGC) they generate.
- Google responds with Panda and then Penguin algorithm updates.
- Being half a step ahead on the NEW SEO and Ecommerce leads to becoming the Director of Marketing here at Atlantic BT.
Mobile has been making my spidey senses tingle for a year, and The Mobile Marketing Revolution arrived at Atlantic BT in July. Here is a chart showing % of Atlanticbt.com’s traffic that is MOBILE for the last 18 months:
The Mobile Marketing Revolution
Fear and a dinosaur was in the room. Attending the Bronto user conference, the managers of several large, sales greater than $10M a year, sites were complaining. “We didn’t know what hit us,” I heard a man in his forties explain to one of the speakers, “our mobile traffic went from nothing to something in the blink of an eye, and then from something to Holy Batman.” Yes, the man said, “Holy Batman,” and it is probably why I heard what he was saying.
Atlantic BT reached the Holy Batman stage with our Atlantic BT Gives Back $25,000 Mobile Grant contest. Our contest moved us from “something” to “Holy Batman” in mobile traffic bringing several important mobile marketing lessons including:
- People use their phones to curate their lives and VOTE in contests.
- YTD mobile traffic on AtlanticBT.com is now above 5%, the “something” threshold.
- July’s mobile traffic was 13% of all traffic (the “Holy Batman” stage).
- Mobile is different.
Mobile Marketing Is Different
Mobile first is a movement suggesting we should work from mobile out to everything else. Don’t force mobile into a process sure to be eliminated soon (static websites, say), the mobile first argument goes, think and build to the future, not the present, and the future is mobile. More than Responsive Design, mobile should promote a rethink of key Internet marketing concepts including:
- Search and Search Marketing (mobile PPC is CHEAPER).
- Content development.
- Email marketing.
- Social Media Marketing.
Don’t know about you, but just about everything I do for a living is on THAT list. In the middle of a revolution, you don’t know how things are going to come out. You know stuff is changing at an ever faster pace, but how everything and everyone will shake out is unknown. I’ve never worked for a company capable of generating millions in annual revenue that is comfortable being way ahead of the pack. They like to wait for an undeniable event and then adjust accordingly. The mobile revolution comes to Atlantic BT chart above is the mobile network effect chart your website will see for its mobile traffic too. When? Who knows, but that you WILL see a mobile traffic network effect that looks like Atlantic BT’s is a fact.
What To Do About It
Beyond finding and hiring great mobile development partners, every company needs to RETHINK a few things including:
- Customer Service In Real Time On Social Networks Via Mobile Phones.
- Content Development – One database needs to feed many channels and receiving devices.
- Social Marketing – StumbleUpon moved past Twitter on the strength of their mobile application. Who is trying to make a mobile move on you, your company and brands?
- Websites – static page limited sites are dead, platforms capable of curating, creating and generating UGC (User Generated Content) that are easily and powerfully mobile will rule the future of Internet marketing.
- Campaigns, Offers and Promotions – Feels like we are reaching the end of the “never ending sale” merchandising cycle with “social shopping” powered by platforms and mobile its replacement. Figuring out what that means to your promotions calendar is beyond critical.
- Ecommerce – how do we sell and communicate MOBILE FIRST and have that communication be MORE exciting as customers up their ante (look at our communications across devices).
- UI – User Interface is different on phones and pads, how do we encourage and build to the conversion behavior we want (swiping, tapping, and an infinite pool look and feel created by pads).
Hate to end a post with more questions than we started, but such is the nature of a revolution. You don’t know who, what or why is going to win in the middle, no matter how well your spidey senses tingle. The mobile marketing revolution is coming to your website, company and brands too. Get ready, and yes, that strange tingle you feel is your spidey senses in full alarm.
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