Be Neutral
A Publication of the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution


This is one in a series of marketing articles that will explain e-marketing in layman’s terms.  This information is provided to help you modify your online presence to get your practice noticed.

Mobile Media 101

Do you remember when you got your first cell phone … or mobile phone as we used to call them?  Do you remember call rates of $1+ per minute?   Well we’ve come a long way baby.  According to a report last week, there are over 302 million cell phones in use today in the United States.  Even when adjusted for those people who carry multiple phones (work, family, etc); with the current population pegged at 311.5 million that means roughly 90% of the U.S. owns a cell phone.

But wait … it’s not just a cell phone anymore – for roughly 28% of all cell phone users that’s now a smartphone such as a Blackberry, iPhone, or Android.  Now your phone doesn’t just take & make calls for you, it holds your calendar, handles your e-mail, gives your kids a way communicate without knowing how to spell, allows you to take pictures almost anywhere (and never in focus!), and with the introduction of the infamous “apps” your cell phone can replace your computer for many desktop functions.

Then just when you mastered your smartphone, along came the iPad, and the tablet computer was born.  Suddenly you weren’t restricted to that little 2”-4” screen on your phone.  If you could carry 1-3 lbs. extra (and seriously ladies, with the size of some of those purses, why wouldn’t you have room for an extra pound or two!) you could have more computer power in your purse than many folks have on their desktop.  Suddenly people weren’t squinting to read mail on a tiny screen; they were watching YouTube videos embedded in e-mail on a 7” or 10” screen with color as good as any big screen TV.

What does all this mean to you and your marketing efforts?  Consider:

What does your website look like on a smartphone screen?   
Try looking up your website on a Blackberry ... the chances are it isn’t a pretty site.  One of the reasons the iPhone was adopted so quickly was that you could see any site as it was designed (or little pieces of it if the reader enlarged it enough to be able to read it) but you can’t count on everyone to have an iPhone.  While the boys at Apple capture an astounding 50% of the smartphone revenue, they only sell about 5% of those phones. 

The result?  You need to make sure your site is usable from a smartphone or a tablet.  If a large portion of your market is accessing your site through these devices (there are analytics out there that can provide you with that information) then you need to consider either having a separate site designed for the mobile user or at least make sure your site can be read even if it isn’t pretty.

What does your web address look like?          
When everyone who accessed your website was doing it from a desktop computer typing in a 30-character-long URL wasn’t a huge problem, although keeping it memorable was important as was keeping a keyword or two in that domain name.  However, have you ever tried to type a long character string on one of those tiny smartphone keyboards?  Worse, have you tried to remember some of the more difficult domain names?  If users type in and your domain name is really, they aren’t going to be as tolerant as they would be if they were doing it from a normal-size keyboard. 

The lesson from this?  If you have a long domain name, register a second one that is as short as possible and redirect the second one to the first.  At the same time try to make that short URL as memorable as possible – don’t worry about including a keyword in it this time. Mobile users are going to use your site because they remember it – not because they found you with a Google search!

How quickly do you respond to an online inquiry?     
Remember when you used to be able to leisurely sit down at your desk once or twice a day and answer your e-mail?  Well now that smartphone users are carrying all this power around with them in their pockets and suddenly has access to your website instantly regardless of where they are, they expect you to respond just as instantly.  If you don’t have the luxury of an administrative assistant, then you’ve got to turn on the autoresponder function for your e-mail.  Even if they don’t get a personalized response, your prospective customers need to know you got their e-mail by receiving a nice instant reply stating that you are out of the office but normally reply to all e-mails within 12 hours (or that you’re on vacation for 10 days, etc.)  If they don’t get a quick response, these prospects are going to move on to the next name on their list.

Certainly this mobile evolution can’t be all bad ... what are the opportunities?           
Along with all the challenges inherent in these new mobile devices, they also present some interesting marketing opportunities.  Remember the astounding amounts of money that the Red Cross raised for Haiti by letting people just send a text message to a 6-digit address?  Have you ever gotten an unsolicited text message?  Interestingly enough, lists of cell phone numbers can often be easier to acquire than lists of e-mail addresses.  While text-message marketing has to be used judiciously, we are at the beginning of a mobile marketing revolution.  Text-message marketing is just beginning to take off, and why not when you consider that 302 million cell phones are in the hands of users today – the bulk of which have texting capabilities even if they are not Internet enabled. 

For the average mediator, text-message marketing isn’t going to be an appropriate marketing venue.  But for some of you whose market niche is defined by prospects age 35 or younger, this is something you can’t ignore.  When surveyed, last year’s freshman college class indicated that they considered e-mail to be “old fashioned” and by a wide majority they indicated that text messaging was their preferred method of communication because it was faster (btw – most of those same kids had never owned anything but a digital wristwatch ... and many had never used anything but their cell phone for time functions!).  The same results come back every time we survey users under the age of 35 – texting is the preferred communication method so adjust your marketing campaign accordingly if this is your target market.

Is ignoring the mobile evolution going to destroy your marketing efforts or send all your prospective clients off to your competition?  Probably not today, but this market is moving so quickly that you need to at least address the issues revolving around your website quickly – at least if you intend to still be practicing five years from now.

Coming next month:  QR Codes ... Your 1” Marketing Opportunity


Michele Gibson is a Georgia-registered neutral and a certified emerging media consultant.  She is the president of Digital Smart Tool, LLC – an e-marketing firm offering website design, SEO, electronic newsletters, social media coaching, and marketing training seminars.


Phone: 404-592-3367  E-mail: