There are five key traps and pitfalls to be avoided when creating a mobile marketing strategy, according to Robert Carroll of SDL Web Content Management Solutions, who here outlines his survival guide. This article is copyright 2012 The Best Customer Guide.

When undertaking any degree of mobile marketing, it's easy to forget one simple thing: it's not just the technologies involved that matter, but also the psychology of the mobile consumer.

The way that humans interact with mobile devices has changed. Now there's no real difference between any mobile device and one of their body appendages because these gadgets are always with them. This means that understanding how users engage with their environment, in real time, is now essential.

Your brand is in danger if you don't understand the psychology of the mobile channel. In a heartbeat you can either delight your customers with news of a new product or a sale, or leave them feeling irritated that their privacy and personal space has been invaded with irrelevant offers.

Marketers can avoid the chance of killing off their customers or brands if they clearly understand the five traps of mobile marketing: time, location, language, device and relevance.

  1. Mobile trap: Time
    Mobile has created a new multi-dimensional Twilight Zone forcing us to no longer think of time in a linear fashion. Of course, time is this moment right now. But time can also be measured in day parts, life stages and days of the week. Successful mobile marketers get this concept, and serve a perfectly mixed - and "timely" - cocktail to the delight of their customers and prospects.

    Remember: we are completely different people depending on real-time events, parts of our day and our own lifecycles as we progress from childhood to adulthood. Sometimes we are workers, parents, life insurance buyers, Sunday afternoon couch potatoes, retirees, newlyweds or lost and hungry travellers.

    We can have little time and need something right now. Or we can have all the time in the world for a leisurely mobile engagement. If you don't know your customer's relationship to time, you don't know your customer.

  2. Mobile trap: Location
    Where in the physical universe is your customer right now? When a mobile marketer has a location-based service or product (restaurant, retail, traffic avoidance, etc.) and can pinpoint a customer's location, the possibilities are endless. Just remember location doesn't live in a vacuum. It only truly works when you fully understand all of the mobile traps.
  3. Mobile trap: Language
    This seems like a no-brainer, but many marketers get this wrong and leave opportunities on the table. Just look at the statistics floating out there: a customer is 80% more likely to buy or engage with your product if you market to them in their native language. Now, their location may be London - where many different languages are spoken - but they may not speak English.

    Further complicating the language trap is culture, which is just as important as language. For example, Spanish is spoken "officially" in nearly 20 countries, but a Spanish speaker in Mexico has a very different culture than a Spanish speaker in the West African nation of Equatorial Guinea. Culture influences engagement, buying patterns, pricing and all of our basic but unique sensibilities.

  4. Mobile trap: Device
    All mobile devices are not created equal. Of course, device detection and adaptive content display are must-haves to create an optimal experience for your customers. That said, how we use and interact with devices, regardless of the quality of display, is just as important.

    The way people use an iPad to manipulate and navigate through a website will be much different than how they do that on a Smartphone. Not only is their behaviour different, but so are expectations on the quality of the experience.

    To best benefit your customers, you need to understand this interaction variant. It requires interviewing your customers, holding focus groups and sometimes simple common sense. What devices is your target audience most likely to use and when? You'll never know if you don't ask them.

  5. Mobile trap: Relevance
    Relevance is the hardest and most important trap to avoid. It's also the most important. That's because it's dependent on the confluence of all the other mobile traps.

    Of course, one-to-one marketing is nothing new. But we now have the technology to truly personalise a mobile experience. Relevancy is the ability to bring multiple data sources together in real time. It allows marketers to build explicit and implicit profiles to deliver content and offers in their customers' language that is contextually relevant at the right place, right time and on the right device.

    Nothing is more disappointing than receiving content addressed to "Dear Valued Customer" - especially when the source is a company you've done business with for years. The company's brand is diminished, their message diluted and the last thing customers feel is valued. If the company doesn't care about me, why should I care about them?

Simultaneously avoiding all of these traps is no easy feat, especially when we're just starting to scratch the surface of mobile marketing possibilities. Take the time necessary to set your mobile strategy and alter your course as you learn along the way. But start now, and work out how to deliver truly meaningful and personalised mobile experiences that drive loyalty and increase lifetime customer value. If you don't, your competition certainly will.