Most of what we now know about mobile marketing comes from the consumer industry. As with many business trends, the education industry follows slightly behind the consumer market. But now that most educators have a smartphone or tablet, the gap between consumer marketing and education marketing is closing fast.
The two markets are aligned because educators are consumers and much of their purchasing behavior is the same. For example, educators are swayed by convenience and affordability in their education roles as well as their consumer roles. Now that smartphone and tablet transactions have grown 70% year over year in the consumer industry, it’s reasonable to believe that teacher purchasing habits will follow the same pattern. This year, sales via smartphone and tablets represent 29% of all revenue generated online and it is expected to increase next year.
Institutional purchasing, however, is not likely to trend in the same way. These transactions, primarily via purchase orders, will continue to be placed from office desktop or laptop computers. But it is important for companies to understand the range of devices their customers and prospects are using to access information as well as engage in transactions.
Even though district purchases are not as likely with mobile devices, much of the search for information has shifted to mobile. Each year the number of searches via mobile devices increases significantly. Because of this, providers are advised to use responsive web design (RWD). This design method changes the appearance of the website based on the size of the screen used to view it. Improving the customer’s user experience with an adjustable website design is a good foundation for a mobile marketing plan.
One of the primary marketing channels to schools and districts is email. Since the recipient decides whether they access their email on a mobile device, smartphone, or laptop/desktop, it is smart to optimize company email messages to be viewed on different sized screens as well. Trying to read emails on small devices that have not been optimized is annoying. Optimizing your messages will improve open and click-through rates.
While every company should have a mobile-friendly website, not every company needs to develop a mobile app. Those that do, have a built-in channel to market additional products and services to their users. But as with all marketing efforts, testing should be part of the plan. Finding the balance between increasing sales and annoying customers is the key here.
Companies that do not have an app of their own can market to educators through popular social media apps such as Facebook and Twitter. While you can create ads that target specific types of prospects, both platforms offer tools that allow the user to accept or hide ads according to their preferences. So understanding exactly what your customer finds valuable is an important element in effective mobile marketing.
Search marketing should also be a part of your mobile plan. Last year the percentage of search requests on mobile devices exceeded those from desktop computers for the first time. In this fast-moving environment, using Google ad words to target new customers through their keyword searches might be a useful addition to your marketing plan.
The shift to mobile has already passed the tipping point. The question to answer is, “Have your marketing tactics kept pace with how prospects seek information?” Making it easy for them to find information about you and buy from you will go a long way to creating satisfactory customer engagement. Then, you can focus on growing relationships with your customers by testing a variety of mobile initiatives.