Mobile Marketing: Evolution & Future for Small Business

February 27, 2017 | Back to the Blog

Mobile Marketing: Evolution & Future for Small Business

As far as industries go, advertising is one of the most adaptive and resilient.

When you think about it, we are exposed to hundreds (if not thousands) of ads every day, from billboards to TV commercials to banner ads on our desktops.

No matter where we look, it seems like someone is trying to sell us something.

With technology continuing to improve, this trend will only get bigger as evidenced by the fact that mobile marketing is becoming a huge business.

Since most of us are glued to our phones and mobile devices, it makes sense that advertisers would take advantage of that trend.

But how did we get here?

What does the future hold?

Just as the industry adapted from radio to television to computers, mobile devices seem like the road to riches.

To better understand the state of mobile marketing today, let’s turn the clock back and see what led us to this point. (Article continues below)

The Future of Mobile Marketing

The Facts About Mobile Marketing

So just how big is mobile marketing these days?

Well, if you ask advertisers, they will tell you that it is huge.

In 2016, mobile ads accounted for over $22 billion in spending, which is double what it was back in 2012.

Social media giant Facebook has seen an even bigger surge, as mobile ads only accounted for about 11 percent of the total revenue by the site back in 2012.

Today, those same ads cover almost half (45 percent) of Facebook’s marketing revenue.

In fact, things are looking so good for advertisers with mobile marketing that it is the one arena where they are seeing net positive results.

As television and print media go the way of the dodo, marketing has jumped on the mobile train and it shows no signs of slowing down.

In fact, here are some stats to back up these claims.

  • 57 percent of smartphone users have expressed interest in subscribing to an SMS marketing campaign
  • Of those who do sign up, less than 5 percent opt out
  • 90 percent of users who have subscribed to an SMS campaign have said that it provided value to them
  • SMS coupons are 10 times more likely to be redeemed than any physical ones

Now that we’ve seen where we are now, let’s take a look at the long road it took to get here.

And by long we mean short as it only took just over a decade for mobile marketing to dominate the landscape.

Mobile Marketing Timeline

SMS Messaging

To understand how mobile marketing has evolved, we have first to understand the thing that started it all: the humble text.

Short messaging services (SMS) were first created in the early 1990s as a way to send greetings to one another.

Within a few years, advertisers saw the opportunity of a lifetime.

As SMS grew and started to replace calling, it was inevitable that marketing would jump on board and take full advantage of this new communication revolution.

So, if you’re wondering what spawned mobile advertising, this is it.

2000 – SMS Becomes a Thing

Although text messaging had become sort-of mainstream by the late 1990s, it was still a new and novel concept.

The idea of texting someone rather than calling them was seen as silly and unnecessary, but that didn’t stop businesses and advertisers from realizing the potential.

While people at this time still preferred to call each other rather than chat, texting was seen as an unobtrusive way to share an ad with someone.

The first major SMS campaign came from Finland when a mobile news service started texting headlines to its subscribers.

2003 – SMS Becomes Worldwide

Do you remember having a Nokia cell phone?

Of course you do because everyone did at the time.

Even though the features and benefits of having a mobile phone were limited, customers used texting the most.

At this point, all the main carriers utilized SMS messaging and allowed texts to go to phones from other providers.

As a result, texting soon exploded and started to take over as the number one way to communicate with one another.

Now, instead of having awkward silence between sentences, you could text your thoughts and feelings to one another very quickly.

You never have to worry about knowing when a lull in the conversation meant that you should hang up or just wait for the other person to start talking.

Introverts everywhere rejoiced.

2005 – Nike Mobile Ad

With the widespread usage of SMS messaging, advertisers started playing around with different methods of reaching new customers.

Around this time, shortcodes were invented.

Shortcodes allowed texts to be sent and received from numbers that were shorter than standard 10-digit phone numbers.

This made it easier for businesses to send texts while still being able to receive calls.

Then, in 2005, Nike became the first significant company to utilize this new method of reaching customers.

Users could text a number to create a custom-made shoe.

The marketing campaign was a hit, and it proved the viability of SMS advertising as a means to reach new audiences.

It is also around this time that a new landmark was established that would signify an enormous shift in communications overall.

More text messages were sent than phone calls.

2007 – iPhone Release

While smartphones were already around, they wouldn’t become super mainstream until Apple unveiled the iPhone.

Now, users could do so much more with their mobile devices than ever before.

Prior to this point, doing anything extra on your phone meant that you had to deal with unreliable web services which were clunky and hard to use.

As a result, smartphones never really caught on at this time.

Another issue that plagued early smartphones was the fact that advertisers were still creating ads on the computer and then resizing them to fit mobile devices.

However, this resulted in annoying advertisements that were more of a hassle than anything else.

This prompted advertisers to try a bold new approach, which was to create ads exclusively for smartphones.

In this year, a new milestone was reached as 2.7 billion people were now using SMS messaging as a means of communication.

2008 – App Store

Although the iPhone was already popular with consumers, what propelled it to new heights was the introduction of the app store.

Now, instead of having to use the internet to do things and access new features, you could download an app that was targeted for a particular purpose.

With apps becoming overwhelmingly popular overnight, advertisers and marketers quickly shifted focus to make advertisements and campaigns that would utilize apps instead of traditional browsing methods.

2010 – QR Codes

It’s kind of hard to believe now, but at the time QR codes were a dominant force in the mobile marketing landscape.

Users could now scan a code and then be taken to anything that the advertiser wanted, whether it was a website, a landing page or a coupon.

While QR codes were all over the place for a couple of years, they were doomed to failure.

The fact that you had to download an app to scan them, coupled with the fact that no one could really figure out what to do with them, meant that they became extinct almost as quickly as they came.

2012 – Facebook Slump

Although the social media site was certainly riding high during this time, many of its users started to use the service on mobile devices and advertisers were having a hard time catching up.

During this period, mobile ads accounted for only 11 percent of all marketing revenue.

Fortunately, tablet computers started to take off at this time, and more users were switching to smartphones every day.

That meant Facebook could focus more attention on “mobile first” ads, which would help bring the company out of its revenue stagnation.

2013 – Mobile Payments

As smartphones and mobile devices were becoming more prevalent, so were users’ expectations of what the devices could do.

At this point, mobile payment options started to be introduced around the world with huge success.

Now consumers could pay for good and services via their mobile device rather than using physical forms of payment.

While mobile payments had yet to become widespread in certain parts of the world (such as the United States), that didn’t stopped developers from moving forward with new advancements in security and connectivity.

Apple Pay and Google Wallet were trying to expand their markets and make mobile payments the next big thing in 2013.

2016 – Mobile Marketing Spending Climbs

As of last year, advertisers and businesses spent over $22 billion on mobile marketing.

Back in 2012, that number was just over $11 billion.

As smartphones and tablets become ubiquitous, advertisers reaped the rewards of a more connected global landscape.

Tweet about mobile marketing


The Future of Mobile Marketing

So what can we expect in the next few years?

Where will we be by the year 2020?

What about the year 2050?

Here is what the experts are saying.

Brand Loyalty

When you think about the biggest companies today, you imagine powerhouses like Amazon, Netflix, Google and Apple.

But why are these brands so huge?

Doesn’t the free market mean more competition?

While that may have been true years ago, that doesn’t seem to be the case today.

Now, consumers are becoming more and more loyal to a few key brands.

What’s the main reason behind this trend?

Consumers can get an inclusive and valuable experience in addition to having better service and features than the competition.

In the future, this loyalty will only become more fervent towards businesses that reward customers.

Niche Interactions

Remember MySpace?

For a few short years, the social media giant was everywhere, and everyone wanted a taste of it.

Then Facebook came along and torpedoed MySpace’s ambitions, and Facebook quickly became the go-to app for anyone who wanted to connect with their peers online.

However, that all is about to change.

As more apps are developed, users will become more and more isolated as they flock to platforms that meet their specific needs.

While Facebook is a great place for everyone, that’s also the reason that people are starting to move away from it.

Simply put, having your mom be friends with you on FB is a total drag, so why not go to a different social media platform that she’s never heard of?

This trend will only continue into the future, meaning that there will be more social options than ever before.


As we mentioned, mobile payment platforms are slowly but surely becoming more common.

In the future, this trend will only continue upward, meaning that we could be looking at a world where paper money is all but obsolete.

While there will still be plenty of industries that deal with hard currency, most consumers will not ever have to deal with depositing cash into an ATM.

While it can be scary to think about all money becoming digitized, it does make things a lot easier for the user.

Since mobile banking is becoming more popular and more integrated, there is no turning back at this point.

Seamless Integration

We’re already starting to see this in action with Google, but the future will be all about having one account for all of our online activity.

That means that we won’t have to memorize a dozen new passwords or account names, instead using a single login to access everything we want.

Google is by far the best at this right now with the integration of Gmail, Maps, and YouTube.

Soon, other brands will follow suit, and everyone will eventually have one company in charge of their entire online persona.

This is another place where brand loyalty will come into play, as users will flock to companies that can make integration more convenient overall.


Whether you love or hate the concept of Uber, you have to admit that it changed the mobile landscape forever.

The way we buy products is slowly starting to change, as millennials and younger generations see the damage done by rampant consumerism.

Instead, the future will introduce a wave of “share economy” based applications and services, where you no longer buy something, but rather rent it for a certain amount of time.

While the implications of this can be staggering (giving more power to owners rather than renters), we are seeing this take shape already.

Apps like Airbnb and Uber are showing people that you don’t have to own everything to get to where you want to go.

The next step will be sharing products and experiences, thereby instituting a pseudo-barter society.

While it’s impossible to know exactly what the future holds, it’s clear that mobile marketing and devices will be a major part of whatever comes our way.

Give the Mobile Revolution a Go

SMS Marketing is an easy way to get involved in the mobile marketing revolution. Sign-up for you free test account and explore what mobile marketing has in store for you.


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