Mobile marketing was relatively slow to start, compared with how long the technology has been around. However, once marketing teams got their heads around just how much potential there was, it wasn’t surprising that it became a huge part of their strategy. And of course, with a new marketing opportunity comes a whole bunch of statistics to report on! Before we get to examining the statistics, we’ll take a look at what mobile marketing is, what it includes and a brief history of the technology. We’ll touch on some of the challenges of mobile marketing before we get going with the really big numbers (and trust us, there are some absolutely phenomenal ones!)
We’ve been on a bit of a statistics kick just lately, and for good reason. There are so many stats that are not only fascinating, they reveal such a lot about both the industry and consumers, which is incredibly valuable for businesses and marketing professionals, who can make use of that data to guide their strategies. We’ve got a few more statistics posts planned after this one, but in this post we’re focusing on mobile marketing to get a look at just how incredible the field is.
What is mobile marketing?
Essentially, it is marketing to people on their smartphones and tablets – but in reality it is so much more than that. At a basic level, there are adverts to be optimised for viewing on mobile devices, but the nature and complexity of mobile devices means that it is so much more than that. Mobile marketing can include:
- SMS text messaging
- MMS multimedia messaging
- Push notifications from downloaded apps
- In-app or in-game adverts
- Mobile websites
- QR code scanning to provide further information
- Use of location-based services to send adverts or offers
- Email that is optimised for mobile
- Social media
- Mobile apps including games, fitness and productivity
- Mobile video
These aren’t the only things that could be considered mobile marketing though. Bear in mind that pretty much everything that is possible to do on a desktop PC can now be done on a mobile device – and this presents a whole world of opportunities (and challenges!) for marketing professionals to make the most of.
History of mobile marketing
While we think of mobile phones really being adopted by consumers, we generally think of the mid to late 1990s onwards. That’s when they really started to get affordable, with Nokia introducing Snake on millions of devices from 1997. However, the concept of a mobile phone was around much, much longer than that.
In 1908 there was a US Patent issued in Kentucky for a wireless telephone, and the first mobile telephone service was offered to first class passengers on the Deutsche Reichsbahn (the German National Railway) in 1926. From there on, mobile phones were technically a possibility from the 1940s onwards when AT&T engineers created cells for mobile phone base stations.
Despite the technology being available from the first half of the 20th century, there wasn’t any real movement towards phones launching until 1973, when Motorola started to mass produce the first handheld mobile phone. After that… well, the rest is pretty much history as other brands caught onto the demand for the technology and began releasing their own models, but here are some key dates in the development of mobile phones:
- The first SMS was sent in 1992 in the UK, and read “Merry Christmas”
- Emojis were invented in 1999 by Shigetaka Kurita in Japan
- The first camera phone launched in 2000 in Japan – but Europe had to wait until 2002
- 3G began to be adopted worldwide in 2003
- Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007, followed by the first Android (the T-Mobile G1) in 2008
- 4G launched in Slough in 2009 – with a connection of 150 Mbps
- WhatsApp also launched in 2009
- 5G was a long time coming, and was first available in the UK in 2019 – as we write this post there are 98 major towns and cities in the UK with 5G coverage
Challenges of mobile marketing
There are a number of challenges with mobile marketing – but the biggest problems tend to centre around one issue: privacy. The collection of data, the need to gain consent from the user and chance of identity theft are all major issues with potentially major consequences. Not only that, there are many customers who consider location tracking of private individuals to be just a step too far – and we’re inclined to agree in most cases. After all, why should an app need to know where we are?
Secondly, there are just so many opportunities for mobile marketing – and so establishing which will be the most effective can be tricky, especially where activity can be marketed towards desktop as well. Knowing target customers, and the aim of the marketing activity can help to narrow down the right strategies. Some of the activities that count as mobile marketing can be expensive, yet with the exception of Mobile SEO, expensive doesn’t always mean effective – which is often established too late to make a difference.
Next is customer perception of mobile marketing. Some consider the use of mobile marketing as spam-like in nature, and highly intrusive – especially for pop-up notifications that are triggered by location services. Those who hold this opinion will almost certainly have a negative opinion of a brand that sends too much to their phones – which can be a problem when trying to find the right balance.
Even once a mobile marketing strategy is implemented and is perceived to be working well, it is really hard to quantify the results of the strategy. Many customers that receive mobile marketing will also interact with a brand through desktop and in person, meaning that it is difficult to know how much of a sale is attributable to the mobile marketing activity.
Finally, if you’re a marketing professional, we’re sure you’re already aware of this, but we can’t not mention it! Businesses that want to use mobile marketing in their strategy should be meticulous in gaining consent from their customers before sending marketing messages. Misuse of personal data can lead to hefty fines – particularly since the implementation of the GDPR in 2018.
With all that in mind… let’s jump into the big stuff – the statistics that really count when it comes to mobile marketing.
Types of mobile marketing
As we said, there are lots of ways that mobile marketing can be implemented into a business. In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the tactics and their effectiveness.
SMS and MMS
SMS stands for Short Messaging Service, and is commonly known as text messaging. More than 3.6 billion people worldwide can receive SMS messages, with 90% of them being opened within three minutes. Compare that with the speed that email gets opened at (around 90 minutes), and the fact that texts have a 98% open rate (emails get just 22% open rate) and it is clear to see why SMS marketing is so powerful. It should come as no surprise then, that SMS messages are up to eight times more effective for engaging customers than email.
MMS is Multimedia Message Service – and these are messages that can be sent peer-to-peer, from a mobile messaging service provider or from a website to a mobile phone. They differ from texts in that they can include text, photos, videos, audios, or GIFs. MMS messages get a 15% average click through rate, and they are eight times more likely to be shared on social networks.
Push notifications are messages and alerts that get delivered to the home screen of a mobile device, whether the app is open or not. They’re pretty reliable, and have a deliverability rate of 90% – although that doesn’t guarantee that the notification will be read or even looked at – since at least 8% of users ignore push notifications.
Around 70% of mobile users enable push notifications on their device, and a particularly useful point is that app users have a 190% higher retention rate when they get one or more push notifications in the first 90 days of having the app installed.
These are messages that are only displayed when the app is open. They can be used to direct the user through the app, to encourage users to tap through to different areas and to increase engagement. In-app notifications allow businesses to offer a more personalised experience, and because the notifications aren’t sent until the user is already in the app, this type of notification is often considered much less intrusive by customers.
In-app notifications are pretty effective – high performing apps with in-app notifications reach 45% of users. Some studies show that in-app messaging gets a 75% open rate – which is much higher than email and almost three times higher than push notifications. They help to increase retention of users (and customers) too, with in-app messages helping to boost retention by up to four times. Talking of apps – let’s take a look at some statistics about mobile apps and marketing.
Mobile app store statistics
Almost 90% of mobile internet time is spent in mobile apps – around 4 hours per day on average. Customers downloaded 204 billion apps in 2019, which is up by 45% since 2016. That’s pretty incredible, and highlights the importance of apps that work well.
There are two major app stores that get the majority of downloads – the Apple App Store, and the Google Play Store. Although alternative app stores are available, the market share is commanded by Apple and Google, so we’re going to focus on these in this post.
There are currently more than 2.9 million apps available in the Google Play Store, whereas there are nearly 4.4 million apps in the Apple App Store. The most popular apps are social media or communications apps, with Facebook Messenger being the most downloaded app worldwide, and WhatsApp the top mobile app worldwide by monthly active users.
An average of 100,000 new Android apps are added to the Google Play Store each month – which is three times faster than they are being published on the Apple App Store. Only 30,000 new iOS apps are added to the Apple App Store each month. This might be a result of the lower costs to add to the Google Play Store, but also because there are more Android users worldwide.
In 2019, the categories that were most downloaded from the Apple App Store were:
Social networking (5%)
Photo and video (4%)
In comparison, the categories that were most downloaded from the Google Play Store in 2019 were:
Social networking (2%)
Although games is the biggest category for both stores, just 66% of smartphone users have games apps installed on their phones – which suggests the market for gaming apps is pretty flooded.
The majority of apps (92% of apps in the Apple App Store, and 96% of apps in the Google Play Store) are free, or freemium. Despite that, mobile apps were expected to hit $581.9 billion in revenue in 2020 – although this number was predicted prior to the pandemic, so it is likely this figure will be utterly smashed, with customers killing boredom at home during lockdowns.
Most users have more than 10 apps installed on their phones in addition to pre-installed apps. That doesn’t always tell us the true picture though – as having them installed doesn’t guarantee the app is actually in use. (indeed, we know we have a few installed that we never use!) That brings us to our next point though – more than 39% of people say they delete apps is because they are not in use, with limited storage and excessive advertising being the second and third most common reasons for uninstalling apps. For marketers, this speaks volumes – if the app doesn’t work well, isn’t engaging, takes up too much space or has too many annoying ads, it won’t stick.
Mobile consumer behaviour and usage
There are more than four billion unique mobile internet users in the world – which is a little over half of the entire population. By the end of 2020, the number of smartphone users is projected to reach 2.87 billion.
Users are checking their mobiles an average of 150 times a day and the average smartphone user is on their phone for more than 4 hours a day. That is pretty incredible, and 50% of smartphone owners now check mobile devices as the first thing they do in the morning – something we’re often guilty of!
Collectively, we’re moving towards mobile internet in favour of desktop too – mobile internet usage is increasing while desktop internet use is falling. 70% of all web traffic comes from a mobile device, with just two hours a day are spent on a desktop or laptop internet browser. What are we doing on our mobile phones? Well, they were designed for being social… So let’s take a look at mobile social media and messaging stats next.
Mobile social media stats
Social media is everywhere – and worldwide in 2020, 48.3 percent of the global population were social media users. This number is expected to rise to 56.7% of the population by 2025. Mobile social network penetration rate is highest in Eastern Asia at 70%, followed by Northern America and South America (both at 61% respectively) and Northern Europe and Central America at 59%.
Social media covers quite a few different networks though – so let’s take a look at some of the biggest.
Let’s get straight to the point – Facebook is on mobile everywhere. 98% of active Facebook user accounts access their feed from a mobile device, 19.1% of users say they use both phones and computers to access their account, while a huge 79.2% say they only use a smartphone to access their feed. This clearly illustrates the importance of optimising Facebook content for mobile viewers.
11% of Facebook posts are video based, but 85% of Facebook users watch video without sound – which has huge implications for the type of video content that can be put out on Facebook. 65% of Facebook video views are seen on mobile devices.
In terms of ads, 94% of Facebook ad revenue comes from mobile customers, but mobile-first video ads account for over 50% of Facebook’s video revenue.
A little under 1.1 billion people use Instagram daily, and the platform was designed as a mobile-first photo sharing app. Desktop clients were first available in 2016, when the client could be downloaded from the Windows Store.
71% of businesses are using Instagram, and 80% of businesses consider Instagram engagement to be a really important metric, even though Instagram is currently hiding like counts and video views in seven countries. More than 50% of Instagram users are following at least one business, which has an impact on their behaviour – more than 80% of customers use the platform to make purchase decisions.
LinkedIn has 675 million users, of which 310 million are active monthly. The app has been downloaded more than 100 million times, while 30 million companies have joined the platform.
57% of B2B customers are accessing LinkedIn through a mobile device, and for 60% of all LinkedIn traffic. LinkedIn use is pretty influential in terms of purchase decisions – 50% of customers say they are more likely to buy from a company that they can communicate with on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is 277% more effective in generating leads than Facebook. That’s a huge amount – and there are brands that will use ads to get even more from LinkedIn, with 65% of B2B companies have gained customers from LinkedIn paid ads.
Twitter has 186 million monetizable daily active users. Compared with other social media networks, that isn’t a huge number, but more than 80% of tweets posted on Twitter were sent from mobile, and Twitter ad engagement is up by 23%, while cost per engagement is down by 12%. That means more bang for your buck – and isn’t that what we all want from our marketing activity?
While we’re talking about Twitter, an interesting point is that 90% of Twitter video views happen on mobile. Videos auto play on Twitter, which means there is more chance that users will continue watching when videos start – so if you’re already creating video content, you can get a bit more return on investment by sharing it on Twitter too.
Worldwide, there are 322 million monthly active Pinterest users, and 85% of Pinterest users access the platform from their mobile, which is why in 2019, Pinterest added Mobile Ad Tools to allow businesses to create their Pinterest activity from their phones. Audience-targeted campaigns on Pinterest generate a 28% improvement in engagement, but 50% of impressions occur in user’s home feeds.
Pinterest expects to surpass $1 billion in advertising revenue this year. 61% of users making purchases from promoted pins, and considering that pins are available forever (pins may be returned by the algorithm indefinitely if they are appropriate for the user), Pinterest is a valuable social media platform for businesses to use for marketing on mobiles.
More than four billion snaps are created every day, but marketing professionals say that it is a difficult platform to succeed on. For those that do manage to succeed, it can be highly lucrative platform – with up to 90% in-store sales lift for some businesses. Interestingly, 38% of Snapchat users aren’t on Facebook or Instagram, and 90% of 13 to 24-year-olds use Snapchat – so for businesses that are targeting this demographic, it is worth putting the effort into.
We tend to count messaging apps in their own category separate from social media, although we know some people put them together. Wherever you think messaging apps fit, there is no denying the opportunities that mobile messenger apps present for marketing professionals – especially when you consider that 86% of global internet users have used a chat or instant messaging service on their mobile device.
The most popular global mobile messenger apps (based on number of monthly active users) are:
WhatsApp (2 billion monthly active users)
Facebook Messenger (1.3 billion monthly active users)
WeChat (1.2 billion monthly active users)
QQ (694 million monthly active users)
Telegram (400 million monthly active users)
Snapchat (398 million monthly active users)
Considering that only Facebook has more users than WhatsApp (2.6 billion compared to 2 billion WhatsApp users), marketing professionals need to use these as an opportunity for their businesses – even if it is just a way for customers to interact with them.
Businesses are cottoning on to this too, since there are now in excess of 40 million monthly active businesses on Facebook Messenger. Facebook say that 80% of the messages sent to brands are asking questions about a product or service before a purchase is made. As well as providing great customer service, this is valuable information for businesses as they can use those questions to improve listings and information on their websites. B2B businesses and their customers are using these messaging apps too – WhatsApp for Business was launched in 2019 and now has more than 5 million users.
More than 56% of messaging app users have messaged brands to get more information during their journey to purchase, and when a brand is available on a messaging app, 66% of customers feel confident about their purchase. Just to compound this further, 51% of mobile messaging app users say they prefer to contact brands via mobile messages – all of these add up to illustrate that it is worth the investment! In China, WeChat gives us an indication of how messaging apps offer huge potential. 50% of users open it 10 times a day. Just 15% of total WeChat revenue comes from advertising at present, but that is likely to grow as advertisers are admitted to the closed network.
By the end of 2020, the average revenue from messaging apps is expected to exceed $15 per user – and that figure is likely to continue to increase year on year.
Mobile video marketing stats
We can’t talk about social media without talking about video too. By the end of 2020, it is estimated that over 75% of all mobile data traffic will be video. That’s probably because people are 1.5 times more likely to watch video daily on their smartphone than on their PC, but also due to the convenience factor – watching video during travel is one example that springs to mind.
More than 70% of YouTube video views are from mobile devices, and YouTube claims that it reaches more 18 to 34 year olds on mobile alone than any TV network anywhere worldwide. That tells us a lot about how video is likely to be consumed in the future, and 92% of mobile video viewers share videos with others – which helps marketers to increase return on investment.
Creating video content for mobile is pretty different to creating for other devices. Smartphones aren’t small TVs, and viewers watch content very differently on their phones. On Facebook, the majority (85%) of viewers are watching with the sound off, while on Instagram, 70% of Story posts are watched with the sound on – which clearly highlights the need to create video content consciously for different platforms.
Mobile video marketing is effective for brands too – since 30% of mobile shoppers in the US say video is the best way to find new products, and 48% of Australians say they’ve bought something after seeing a branded video. People are even using video when they are shopping in store – 55% of shoppers say they use online video while they’re shopping in a retail outlet.
This trend applies to bigger purchases too. Mobile watch time of test drive videos on YouTube has grown by more than 70% over the last two years, so when selling a car, having a video test drive and review could give you the edge you need.
Mobile eCommerce stats
Shopping on the internet through a mobile device seemed pretty unlikely until just a few years ago. Today mCommerce, M-commerce or mobile commerce, as it is sometimes referred to (essentially shopping from a mobile device) accounts for approximately 51% of online shoppers now completing their purchases on their smartphones.
An estimated 40% of online transactions are completed using a mobile device, with mobile eCommerce purchases predicted to be worth $3.56 trillion by 2021. Mobile eCommerce sales are expected to account for 72.9% of all retail sales by 2021. In the UK, the mobile commerce market is worth approximately £82.57 billion, which is made up of a little more than half being completed on a mobile device. Additionally, up to 9% of e-commerce in the retail industry is anticipated to come from mobile advertising methods.
The trend towards mobile commerce is illustrated by eCommerce website platform Shopify, who state that more than 81% of traffic and 71% of orders are from mobile traffic. 51% of customers say that they use their mobile phone or tablet to discover new brands and products.
While some traditional retailers view eCommerce, and particularly mobile commerce as a threat to their business, there is evidence to show that this may not give us the whole picture. 80% of customers now use smartphones while they are in store, and 70% have bought an item in a shop after they have used their phone to find out more information about it. Further to this, 69% of customers are likely to buy from stores that have mobile sites that answer their questions, supporting the idea an omnichannel strategy is likely to be beneficial to a business. Recent restaurant app statistics show that even Pizza chains reported an 18% increase in mobile orders vs phone calls which I find personally intriguing as I always like to ring my local takeaways and ask them for free custom additions.
Having a poor mobile experience is particularly detrimental to the success of a business too – slow page loading times can lead to 97% of mobile shopping carts being abandoned, and 40% of customers will buy from a competitor if they encounter a bad experience with a mobile website. 75% of teenagers regularly make purchases online, but they aren’t patient – just 26% of 18 -24 year olds will wait 4-6 seconds for a web page to load. That means retailers need to make sure their website loads flawlessly on mobile devices, especially on slower network connections.
B2B mobile marketing statistics
While mobile marketing is important for B2C businesses, it is just as important for B2B businesses to provide a great experience for their customers. More than 60% of B2B customers say that mobile has influenced purchase decisions, and 60% of B2B buyers expect their mobile use to increase in the near future.
The success of a B2B business can be impacted by great mobile marketing – it can accelerate the time to purchase completion by up to 20%. In addition to that, 90% of B2B buyers say they will purchase again from businesses that have great mobile experiences, which is probably influenced by the fact that 92% of senior executives have a smartphone for business, and 80% of B2B executives research products and services on a tablet in the evening.
Although good mobile marketing is essential for B2B businesses, so is having a great all-round experience from your website and app – since 75% of customers use several sources to assess and make decisions about their B2B purchases.
Mobile payment statistics
With customers shopping both on their mobiles and in store comes the need to pay for those purchases – and we’re not holding back from spending on our mobiles! Consumer spending on mobile payment applications now exceeds a massive $930 billion (US). It is expected that annual growth of mobile payment apps will continue at a rate of around 27%. 92% of European millennials say they will be using mobile payments by the end of 2020 – but we suspect the COVID-19 pandemic may drive this figure much higher.
Of the payment apps, it probably comes as no surprise that Chinese apps dominate – the population of China is pretty big, and they are fast adopters of technology. Apple Wallet, Google Wallet and Baidu Wallet all have less than 20% market share – except for in India.
Alipay has more than 1.2 billion users worldwide
WeChat has more than 1.151 billion users worldwide
Apple Pay has approximately 441 million users worldwide.
PayPal has 305 million users worldwide
Samsung Pay has 51 million users worldwide
Amazon Pay has 50 million users worldwide
Google Pay has 39 million users worldwide
Although mobile payment apps are popular internationally, in the UK, there are still just 8.3 million mobile payment users from just under 68 million people, suggesting that UK consumers aren’t confident with the technology yet. The UK is just 14th in the list of mobile payment adoption by country – way behind China, Denmark, India, South Korea and Sweden, who all have more than 35% adoption. The average transaction value per user is expected to reach £4,431 by 2023.
When it comes to payment apps being used in the UK, PayPal still dominates:
PayPal has around 2.4 million monthly active users (MAU) across Android and iOS devices
Google Pay has just 214 thousand monthly active users (MAU) across Android devices
Klarna has 460 thousand monthly active users (MAU) of the app across Android and iOS devices
Regionally, there are some interesting points to note too. Predictably, London is the biggest adopter of mobile payments, accounting for 5.7% of all transactions. The East of England uses mobile for 3.3% of transactions, the South East 3.2% and Yorkshire just 2.9%.
Mobile email stats
Although the usage of instant messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook messenger is growing, email use is still on the rise. In 2019 there were 3.9 billion email users, and that is set to grow to more than 4.48 billion by 2024.
Apple iPhone is the most popular mobile client for reading emails. More than 29% of all email opens happen on this platform – even though Gmail is the most-used email service with more than 1.5 billion users.
Three out of every five consumers use their mobile to check their email, and mobile email clients accounted for 61.8% of email opens in 2019, compared with 9.8% on desktop and 28.3 in webmail clients.
Just 39% of companies create mobile responsive email templates – and considering that 64% of email recipients prefer to open their emails on mobile devices, and having a mobile responsive email design can increase unique mobile clicks by 15%, that is a lot of missed opportunity.
Paid mobile advertising stats
By this point in the post, we suspect you’re running out of enthusiasm for the figures – and so we’ll keep this brief!
Statista suggests that mobile ad spending globally will outpace desktop ad spending by 2022, reaching a massive $240 billion by 2022. Location-targeted mobile ad spend is expected to grow to $32.4 billion by 2021.
Social media counts for a huge percentage of ad spend:
Facebook accounts for more than 18% of global mobile digital advertising
Instagram Story posts accounted for 10% of total Facebook Ad spend in 2019
Average CPM (cost per impression) costs $3.50 on Twitter compared to an average CPM of $0.59 on Facebook
Snapchat ads cost from $3000 per month
The number of paid advertisers doubled on Pinterest in 2019 – likely due to the average revenue per user increasing to $1.22.
71% of marketing professionals believe mobile marketing is essential for their business, and they are spending 51% of their budget on mobile ads. Although mobile ads are undoubtedly successful, there has been quite a bit of push back from consumers – mobile ad blocking is increasing by 90% year on year – so there is a need to both be careful with mobile marketing, and to innovate with new techniques.
Mobile marketing is here to stay as long as mobile devices are relevant for customers. And realistically, there isn’t going to be a change to that any time soon – especially since we don’t believe the world has reached peak mobile use. As technology evolves and smartphones become ever cheaper, and mobile internet signal increases (Elon Musk is intending to create near global coverage by 2021 with the Starlink project), there will be more and more dependence on our phones – which all adds up to more opportunities for brands, businesses and marketing professionals. To ignore the value that mobile marketing presents is to miss out significantly – both now and in the future.
Last Updated on November 8, 2022
Aires Loutsaris is a content marketing specialist working with some of the world’s biggest VC funded startups and eCommerce companies. He has 15 years of experience in organic search optimisation and content writing with over 2500 students enrolled in his Udemy SEO course. An ex-head of two award-winning agencies, he has lectured at the University of the Arts, London College of Fashion on content marketing and has consulted for all three of the Universities he studied at: The Open University, The University of Hull and Kings College University of London. Feel free to connect with Aires on LinkedIn or Facebook.