As the use of smartphones has been growing rapidly over the years, many brands are paying more attention to mobile marketing alongside traditional marketing.

Mobile content is the key to success in developing a mobile marketing strategy. Consumers are now more interested in obtaining clear information about brands, prices, products, and other details before making purchases. Moreover, the emergence of social media enables consumers to share their purchase decisions and brand loyalty with their friends and family. Marketers have started developing innovative as well as creative strategies that let users participate through user-generated content. Today’s marketing is about information sharing, brand communities, and interactions with the brand.

Mobile applications (apps) let users access brand information in more compelling ways. Nielsen reported that 63% of consumers constantly search using new mobile apps and rely on product recommendations. Users are likely to be more engaged with their smartphones and social networks. The ideal mobile apps to be developed are easy to navigate with user-generated tools and consumer touch points.

The emergence of user-generated content has brought brands to the next level. User-generated content allows users to personalize and share content. More and more consumers are identifying with their preferred brands, forming relationships with the brand above and beyond simply fulfilling customers’ needs. This higher level of brand engagement can take many forms - interaction on Facebook Pages, for example - but more often than not, it involves some element of user-generated content. Consumers are willing to take video or photos of themselves enjoying products, and submitting them to websites and so on, sometimes in exchange for incentives, but sometimes also just for five minutes of internet fame.

A changing approach in allowing consumers to personalize content gives an opportunity for marketers to encourage users to explore what the brands stand for in the market at an emotional level. Brands encourage users to go deeper into brand meaning and interact with the brand more closely, in the process also broadening the brand identity and letting consumers demonstrate what the brand means to them.

Many brands have created opportunities to leverage consumer touch points across the mobile channel. Mobile devices give users accessible content creation tools while at the same time, mobile apps that are linked to social media allow users to immediately share their personalized mobile experience (sponsored or otherwise) with friends and other groups across digital platforms anytime and anywhere.

This is a level of mobile marketing that is less driven directly by the brands and agencies, but one that is in fact propelled by consumer sentiment. Nowadays users are able to enrich the content of brand campaigns by uploading their pictures with the products and spreading their thoughts and opinions about the brand. This content creation is the reflection of the consumers’ voice. The challenge for marketers is to be more proactive by monitoring and responding to negative consumer perceptions toward the brand that could happen unpredictably, while remaining open to new and perhaps different interpretations of extant brand messages.

In addition to content creation, geo-location is another dimension of user-generated content that is popular. Geo-tagging lets mobile apps associate location information with photos taken by consumers, and in turn, can be used as the basis for the brands to provide more information, relevant deals, and so on. Consumer contributed content can also be tagged in different locations, letting campaigns run not just locally, but across the world. Consumers will be able to discover must-have products and new trends that brands offer. More importantly, customers are now being social influencers to drive consumer behavior and help marketers communicate the brand meaning in more enjoyable ways.

Marketing has evolved to be more of a dialogue than simply passive information sharing. More and more consumers are now excited to be part of the brand. With the support of mobile apps, marketers can offer consumers a chance to be a part of the brand story - and this is an opportunity that people gladly take up, especially if the result is something that they themselves can share with friends and family. User-generated content is changing the way marketers depict brands, making campaigns more engaging and powerful with the participation of consumers.

By Rohit Dadwal, Managing Director, Mobile Marketing Association Asia Pacific