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In 2014 something fundamental happened to marketers in nearly every industry vertical, and that highly noticeable shift offers a glimpse into what marketers can expect and should prepare for in 2015, according to Ramsey Masri, CEO for OtherLevels. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

Just about every aspect of commerce became increasingly mobile-focused in 2014, starting with news that 91% of adults navigate daily life accompanied by a smartphone or tablet - or both. Apple Pay's official NFC "oming-out" in September added further momentum to the mobile landscape, as did a host of new mobile payment technologies and a continuing flood of devices, watches and wearables that can be worn, swiped, tapped and scanned to search for, book, transact or buy everything from groceries to hotel rooms to boarding passes.

In fact, purchases made on mobile devices rose 48% in 2014, according to BI Intelligence, three times faster than desktop purchases and the fastest increase in mobile spending since early 2012. And that's not all. The contextually relevant in-location messaging that can be supported by beacons and information-rich "smart data" has upped the ante for marketers, forcing them to make sure that their marketing plans have solid mobile components and frameworks.

This, of course, raises the question: how can marketers in 2015 prepare for the mobile-powered environment when it changes so quickly? How can they most effectively reach today's consumers with mobile messages that will be compelling enough to attract their attention, inspire their engagement to drive repeat behaviours, and deepen their loyalty to a brand?

Whether marketers are nervous, chomping at the bit, or already leveraging first-mover advantage of the mobile marketplace, here's a look at some trends that are emerging as we head into the New Year:

  1. Mobile Devices as Bridges - and Highways
    Consumers tend to lead the way in their interactions with marketers and brands, forcing them to play catch-up to their new-fangled phones and behaviours. As such, mobile devices function as the bridge between the physical or brick and mortar environment and digital commerce. They also can serve as the platforms that transform "I'm interested in - " consumers to "I'm buying today" customers.

    With 77% of mobile-powered consumers willing to share their location data with marketers and brands in exchange for someone of value, according to ResearchNow, marketers must take advantage of the mobile device to give customers what they want. Marketers must, in effect, keep up with their on-the-go customers, providing them with handheld-sized, mobile versions of offers, promotions and incentives that are based on key factors and needs: specific location, time, language, shopping behaviour, purchasing preferences, demographics and other data.

    With the growing adoption of beacons and location-aware technologies, in-location marketing will be a focal point for leveraging customer engagement and retention, based on Deloitte's finding that 84% of shoppers use mobile devices before and during their shopping trips.

  2. Marketing that is Oh-So-Personal
    The interaction of in-location beacons and chip technologies inside mobile devices provides to marketers what few other forms of marketing offer: immediate data, and lots of it. The availability of real-time data sets the stage for hyper-personalised marketing - messages, offers, promotions and incentives that can be delivered personally to individual consumers as they shop, in the moment.

    Data is derived from the device itself and from the interactions that take place on it - purchases, frequency and recency of app activation and use, location, loyalty status, time zone, language and other factors, and all of that data can be linked with internal and CRM data about consumers' behaviours, preferences and interests.

    So instead of creating targeted TV ads for 35-49-year-old women, marketers can target a specific 35-year-old woman - a known department-store rewards programme members and frequent shopper - as she browses the housewares department of a particular store at 2 p.m. on a Saturday. That's how personalised mobile marketing can be, assuming the marketing team has invested in the data, platform and content tools that can deliver mobile messaging that is relevant, timely, thoughtful and specific to that particular customer at that particular location.

    The challenge of course, is the data. According to the Gartner CMO Spend Survey, 82% of marketers say they are not prepared to handle the explosion of available data from the digital environment, let alone incorporate it into customer interactions or supply chains. Data challenges certainly will keep them busy in 2015.

    But a separate IDC study notes that by the end of 2015, at least 25 retailers using location-based marketing will increase same-shopper sales 5% by using data from mobile-customer engagements. And by 2016, according to the same study, the top 150 retailers hope to boost their return on investment by marketing personally to extremely loyal customers.

  3. Marketing that's both Meaningful and Seamless
    How many people do you see walking around all day, staring at their phones or tablets? The singular focus represented by this type of behaviour is precisely the opportunity that mobile marketers must seize.

    People wouldn't be hyper-focused on their mobile devices if there wasn't something of interest to look at, and that's how mobile marketers have to think about their marketing and messaging content. Interactions on mobile devices - whether text, images, videos or check-out and payment processes - need to be easy, convenient and hassle-free for shoppers and users.

    Just as marketers at the turn of this century had to translate their print catalogues and newspaper coupons to the Internet and embrace the digital era by adapting their large websites to tiny mobile devices, marketers in 2015 must ensure that their marketing campaigns match mobile consumers' behaviours and expectations. Mobile interactions need to be well-tested, glitch-free and able to attract consumers' eyes at that very moment at that particular location, because that moment represents the mobile marketing opportunity. And if the opportunity is missed, slow or messy, mobile consumers will quickly move on to something that is, or they'll tune out or opt-out because of irrelevance or frustration.

"Mobile marketing will come into its own in 2015, especially if marketers seize the moment(s) when consumers are hyper-focused on their mobile devices and eager for satisfying, relevant engagement," concluded Masri. "Deploying content that's personal, meaningful, relevant and seamless will move marketers beyond their jitters about the always-changing universe of mobile marketing into the actual practice of mobile marketing, able to seize the mobile moment and opportunity by delivering the right message to the right person at the right time."