Why China is a hot market among mobile marketers

500 million mobile users eyed by end-2013.

According to a report, a new whitepaper from Experian Marketing Services, titled “Mobile Marketing in China,” that surveyed over 300 marketers across a range of business-to-business (B2B) and business-toconsumer (B2C) industry sectors, discovered that some 36 per cent of China’s marketers have tested mobile marketing and 16 per cent have already incorporated mobile as their regular  marketing channel.

Experian Marketing Services noted that China, home to the world’s largest mobile service providers, is expected to have up to 500 million mobiles in use by year-end 2013. With most of China’s consumers, both in urban and rural areas, now using mobile internet, it presents marketers a treasure trove of potential customers and data to decode their buying behavior in the vast but diverse market.

While many marketers are still struggling to find the best mobile marketing approach to a country with such large numbers of mobile devices, some companies have already rolled out cutting-edge mobile campaigns.

E-tail giant Taobao, for example, ran “Shopfest” online to celebrate China’s “Double Eleven Day” (11 November, 2012), an online shopping festival similar to the U.S.’ Cyber Monday shopping spree.

A significant portion of merchants have used short message service (SMS) to offer discounts at virtual stores. The campaign resulted in an impressive RMB 19 billion in sales.

“Mobile marketing is now bringing ample opportunities for Chinese businesses of all sizes to engage with their vast consumer base more effectively,” said Chris Yao, Managing Director of Experian Greater China. “Local brands today understand the power of tools like SMS and are already using that to great advantage.

Some 84 per cent of company respondents expected that sales through mobile devices will increase significantly in the next year. The business opportunity is tremendous, and we expect to see marketers adopt groundbreaking innovations in China’s highly competitive and segmented markets.”

SMS remains the mainstay of respondents’ mobile marketing, delivering short, simple calls to action to drive foot traffic and e-commerce. Yet tactics expected to show big gains in 2013 include custom application, QR and barcodes and mobile optimized email.

Challenges remain, however, as marketers cited lack of multi-channel strategies, absence of inhouse resources and poor senior corporate support as obstacles to rolling out effective mobile campaigns. However, as sales from mobile tactics grow, it is expected that those obstacles will disappear gradually.  

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