Mobile marketing vs tablet marketing: Do you know the difference?

6th Aug 2012

Ingrid Froelich from SDL explains how to improve customer experience on smartphones and tablets. 

Mobile marketing and tablet marketing are often discussed in the same breath, mostly because they are both relatively 'new kids on the block' and they are both 'mobile'. However, to reach target audiences, it is important to discover the way in which people use these devices to determine the best marketing methods for these mediums. Currently, the complexity of tailoring the experience to the medium is a real challenge for marketers.

Marshall McLuhan, a prolific contributor to media theory coined the phrase “the medium is the message.” If you were to transpose this theory to today’s smartphone and tablet possibilities, you could say that both of these mediums offer unique and specific customer experiences. They offer experiences that can be used to build brand, optimise the way products are presented and sold – as well as enhancing the goods and services that you market.


The real potential of mobile marketing emerged with the commoditisation of smartphones. This carry-everywhere phone/navigation tool/address book/browser/mp3player/camera/text messaging system/game device/email system is now in everyone’s back pocket - if not in their hands. Smartphones are virtually fused to our every day existence.

This 'extra limb' has fundamentally changed the game when it comes to reaching audiences anywhere - at any time. Marketers are starting to take advantage of this trend by providing an ever-increasing number of location-based offers. Applications are also being created that take into account weather, time of day and personalised interaction that make purchase decisions easy and instinctive because they match an individual’s behaviour and preference.


Tablets provide size and interactivity, and their touch screens offer a larger real estate than smartphone screens - immediately presenting great marketing opportunities. But indicators show the real difference is in how people use them. Tablets are inherently 'leisure devices'. With the exception of job-related tablet use, most people associate tablets with time when they’re relaxed. While smartphones are 'on the go' devices, tablets are about down time.

Typically, tablet owners spend an hour or more on their tablets per day. They use their tablets at home and have decreased their computer use in favour of the tablet. In addition, research shows that the average purchase on a tablet is much higher than purchases online or via mobile.

One approach does not fit all

This fundamental difference between smartphone and tablet use means that, while marketers need to create a cohesive and consistent experience - regardless of device, they must also tailor their marketing tactics, based on the actual behavioural preferences people show when using them. When deciding how you want to use smartphone or tablet opportunities to meet your goals, traditional marketing principles apply:

  • Know your target audience: What is best suited to their experience: an app or a website?
  • How can you best apply your message to the medium to create an immersive experience?
  • When visitors interact with your brand on a tablet or mobile phone, what do they do and what do they want to do? Is the best vehicle to interact with them an application, website or advertisement?
  • How can you best reinforce your brand image and identity? Are there innovative ways in which you can use this to reach your markets?
  • How can you synchronise your channels to provide a cohesive experience?

This comes back again to customer experience management and tailored delivery to exceed customers’ expectations.

Technology should enable

Customer experience management has emerged as a new paradigm that crosses an organisation’s strategic goals and the entire customer lifecycle. This means that marketers need tools that empower them to use any medium. A truly cross-channel approach ensures consistency of brand messaging and more powerful, effective, campaigns. This approach also builds a more solid customer experience that goes well beyond a customer’s initial product acquisition or service interaction with your organisation. 

Therefore, the best approach for marketers is to combine rich content marketing data - within their content management system, customer data stores, marketing campaign management, email delivery, and rich media assets. The key is to capture customer attention by reflecting what customers want to do, how they want to interact with your brand and by tapping into their likely behaviour, based on what you already know about them.

This also means that marketers need to access and utilise the increased number of multimedia, text and application assets they want to use to engage with customers - across all communication channels.

For smartphones, this may involve offering a special deal based on where that customer is located - at that moment. It may involve allowing the customer, using their smartphone, to enter a photography contest that was originally promoted through an ad campaign on a bulletin board’s QR code. Or it could be creating a really immersive experience when a customer visits an online shop by combining the power of video, games and interactive views of products.

Ingrid Froelich is senior marketing writer at SDL web content management solutions. 

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