Businesses may be struggling to keep up with all the new developments on smartphones, but it seems that users are making more and more use of mobile apps and mobile search. Foursquare’s 3.0 launch with an estimated 35,000 new users per day, the use of previews in Google mobile search, and the slew of tablets that are hitting the market in 2011 (Blackberry PlayBook, Samsung Galazy, iPad2, Motorla Xoom etc) are all indications of the fact that mobile marketing – in the most general sense of the term ‘mobile’ – is here to stay.

Smartphones and tablets have now blurred the distinction between computers and mobile devices, and it is becoming imperative for businesses to ensure that their websites are accessible from as many devices as possible. Make your site impossible to access over a limited data mobile connection, or too expensive, and you will only lose traffic.

However, there is more to mobile marketing than just ensuring accessibility. You also need to look at the potentials offered to your business using that in-built capacity that mobile devices offer – a means to pinpoint a user’s present location.

Businesses will need to keep abreast of new applications and take advantage of opportunities to market directly to people within the vicinity or locality. Whilst there are already applications which use mobile geolocation such as Foursquare, Gowalla and so on, it is likely that Google will move into this space with customised searches based on known information about the user eg surfing activities, searches, previous locations, check-ins to FourSquare indicating which particular coffee bar a user likes, tweets and other user-generated content, social bookmarks, etc.

It may not be a simple task to include the business listing on every directory, app, guide, but this should become part of the linking strategy as mobile marketing actively seeks to use one of the key benefits of mobile technology – the ability to locate the user in real-time. As mobile devices increase in number, and become even more of a must-have than they are at  present, mobile networks will also evolve to the next generation of technologies which permit faster and more reliable data transfer. This in itself will encourage wider use of mobile devices and the development cycle will continue apace.

Presuming that mobile marketing is an ‘immature marketplace’ because of the lack of mobile marketing to mobile phones is foolish. It is already apparent that on devices such as the iPad and the tablets which will hit the mass market this year is now maturing rapidly, and your business needs to be aware of the opportunities that are already present for you to reap the benefits from.

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology