For the uninitiated, mobile advertising can seem daunting. From setting up and launching a mobile ad campaign, to optimising for performance and working through the various reporting hurdles, managing a mobile ad campaign is complex and, occasionally, inefficient. As noted in a recent article for PerformanceIN, the rise of mobile programmatic advertising is helping to remove many of the inefficiencies from the mobile ad marketplace. But one component of mobile advertising remains as true today as it did with the rise of digital advertising in the 1990s: companies still need to engage, acquire and retain new and existing users and customers. 

Customer acquisition (including digital direct response and inbound marketing) remains the one constant underpinning of much of digital advertising’s rapid growth, including mobile. Ultimately, if marketers are unable to acquire and retain customers through their digital ad campaigns, no amount of clever marketing techniques will keep them coming back to a brand. 

As mobile advertising continues to grow — reaching an estimated $45.4bn in 2016, according to ZenithOptimedia — it may be tempting for marketers to take their eyes off of the customer acquisition prize. But savvy marketers will remember that behind every flashy branding campaign comes the ultimate question from a boss or CEO: Where are the results? 

Marketers wishing to maximise the ROI of their mobile ad campaigns should pay attention to a few important customer acquisition best practices. Here’s a look at three that apply specifically to mobile: 

Design your emails for mobile

We now live in a mobile-first world. This is particularly true when examining how people open and interact with email. According to Experian, 53% of email opens occurred on a mobile phone or tablet in Q3 2014, up from 48% in Q2 2014. 
Your mobile customer acquisition campaigns should be designed and optimised so that all facets are mobile email-friendly. A clean, simple email design is more likely to produce an action from a consumer using a mobile device than a complex, multi-layered email that will eat up a smartphone’s battery life. 

Despite many pundits predicting the death of email, the rise of mobile has actually breathed new life into this old form of digital marketing. Successfully integrated into a brand’s mobile customer acquisition strategy, email can become the lifeblood of a mobile ad campaign, helping to bring in a steady stream of new leads while also re-engaging old customers who may have forgotten about your brand.  

Build lead flows that create user engagement

Mobile customer acquisition marketing performs best when marketers employ a somewhat counterintuitive principle: by making it more difficult for people to click on a phone number on your site you increase the chances that a prospect will convert to a new customer. The reason is rather simple: people will learn more about your products and services, which improves the quality of calls into your sales team. That in turn, should improve lead conversion. 

Resist the urge to flash a big ‘Call Now!’ button or to give a prospect the most obvious information on your landing page. Instead, direct the user’s eye to the key elements of your product or service. If you’re feeling particularly confident in your mobile customer acquisition campaign, have the user fill out a lead form before showing them the call centre phone number. You will be surprised at how much the simple act of filling out their name and contact information improves the quality of your inbound leads. 

Avoid the click-to-call functionality trap

Click-to-call buttons have their time and place in mobile customer acquisition campaigns, but are often overused and/or poorly implemented. Unless you want every random errant click to bog down your sale team’s time and energy, keep the click-to-call button off of your mobile landing page. Instead, make the user fill out a short, one-screen contact form and then provide the ability to click-to-call your business, but only after they have given you some basic information. That way, your sales team can quickly look up their profile when the call comes in and will immediately know whether it’s a qualified lead or not.   

Mobile is playing an increasingly important role in the online ad market. Its rapid growth and adoption as an advertising medium is following consumers’ changing media consumption habits. Increasingly, consumers choose mobile and tablet devices as their first engagement point with brands and advertising. This trend is propelling rapid developments and new advertising and publisher monetisation opportunities within mobile. Ultimately, though, a keen focus on customer acquisition will yield the best ROI for your brand’s mobile ad campaign.