Only a few years ago, online marketing was relatively easy. Getting a website up and running, buying a few ads on search engines, reading  a book or two on SEO, and the job was more or less done. And then, in the blink of an eye, the online landscape changed dramatically. Consumers started using social media, building a social graph and bringing their everyday lives online. And at the same time, new devices were massively adopted such as smartphones and tablets, allowing users to go online wherever they are.

The combination of both trends causes what I would call a “marketing singularity”. New opportunities arise  for marketing managers, to communicate with customers in a manner that has never been possible before. But in order, to do so successfully, a new paradigm needs to be embraced, the “SoLoMo” or “SoLoMoCo” paradigm.

SoLoMo stands for Social, Local and Mobile. For some businesses, “Co” is added to take Commerce into account, resulting in SoLoMoCo. When we combine social, local and mobile in our marketing strategy, singularity occurs and a completely new relationship is built between a business or brand on one side, and the consumer on the other.

Social

Businesses and brands need to embrace social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare and start a conversation with their audience. Social media amplifies word of mouth, and businesses can no longer afford to ignore what people say about them on social media. Social media monitoring is a first step in learning what people share about a product or brand and allows organizations take part in the conversation and manage their reputation online.

But social media is of course much more than a liability. Through social media, viral campaigns can be created, reaching an unprecedented amount of consumers. A viral campaign is a campaign that spreads as a virus: when 10 consumers share a message with 10 friends, and these 10 friends share with 10 of their friends, we already reach 1000 consumers. The challenge is, that this exponential effect is only achieved if the campaign by itself is original and relevant to the target audience.

Another opportunity of social media is to integrate it in your website, mobile site and mobile apps, allowing visitors to share information – such as news items or special offers – with their friends. One step further is implementing a login through social media, for example using Facebook Connect. This provides both a benefit to the user and to the business. For the user, it means easy and secure login, without the need to register over and over on individual websites and in apps. For the business it means getting access to the social graph of the user, or in other words, the ability to get introduced to the user’s network of friends. A typical example is using Facebook Connect on an eCommerce website: once the customer purchased a product, this can be automatically shared with all friends of the customer.

Local

More than 50% of all searches on Google mobile have local intent, for example looking for a shop or business in the immediate vicinity of the user. That’s not a surprise, a smartphone is used to find information “here and now”, and for a mobile presence to be successful, a business needs to support this new use case. Therefore, building a mobile presence is much more than making a website fit on a smaller screen. Instead, we need to rethink which information users are looking for based on their location and which interactions are relevant based on the user’s context.

Let’s look at for example a retail chain: the website will typically contain a lot of information on product collections, brands etc. That same website accessed on a smartphone, should provide direct access on the home screen, to features such as a shop locator (find the nearest store), driving instructions, opening hours etc. Based on the user’s location, other features can be pushed, for example a mobile coupon when the user is close to a shop, or a digital loyalty card when the user is in the store.

Ultimately, each mobile site and mobile app needs to be location-aware and context-sensitive, and adapt its content and features based on these parameters.

Mobile

It should be clear by now that a mobile presence for a business opens up exciting new marketing opportunities. Already more than 15% of all internet access is done through a smartphone or tablet, and this percentage will continue to rise fast.

By redirecting the user from a mobile site to a native app, the mobile presence can be further improved. A native app is a permanent presence of a business or brand, on the smartphone of the user. A native app provides a better user experience, deeper integration with the smartphone’s features – for example a QR card reader to compare products in a store – and allows for direct communication through push notifications.

Typically the user is made aware of the app through a popup on the mobile site. This popup will first check which device is being used – e.g. an iPhone or Android phone – and suggest the user to download the native app from the app store accordingly. While some users will choose to continue using the mobile website, others will opt for the app, especially when compelling features are integrated that provide immediate benefit for the consumer. These benefits can range from special offers or point earning for customer loyalty, to product comparison features or full-fledged mobile commerce.

Conclusion

Businesses need to rethink how they communicate and interact with consumers through mobile, deploy a mobile presence accordingly, and embrace the SoLoMo paradigm. By combining a mobile site – that supports the “here and now” use case – with a compelling native app, businesses can use mobile marketing to communicate with consumers in a personalized and relevant manner, increase customer loyalty, leverage social media and eventually boost sales.