The mobile channel is playing an increasingly strategic role in marketing. According to Gartner, worldwide sales of mobile devices were up nearly 14% in the second quarter of 2010 over the previous year. Sales of smartphones, too, are booming despite the lackluster economy.

To address the challenges associated with the growing mobile market, companies have to take a hard look at technology strategies, not only business ones.

It used to be that companies had to worry only about adjusting their website format to fit mobile devices. Today, they must consider how to incorporate geo-targeting, profiling, and time- and location-based marketing to better support and engage customers anytime and anywhere.

The mobile channel should be integrated uniformly into all of your systems. The goal is to have customers enjoy a consistent, branded experience, whether they're engaging via desktop, laptop, or smartphone—or even a company-managed online tech center or community forum.

Marketers should be mindful of the following 10 key design issues when choosing a technical platform for the mobile channel:

1. Examine the current systems architecture to ensure it can support potential use scenarios, now and in the future. The design of your content management system (CMS) should consider all needs related to governance, localization, device type, and communication. Minimize the potential for disparate systems by ensuring robust read-and-write functionality to all deployed back-office systems.

2. A components-based CMS is ideal for supporting the mobile channel. Web-page components, such as content, digital assets, or applications, can be easily repurposed within channel-specific templates—simplifying the content-management and release processes.

3. Localization, localization, localization! The global marketplace demands that a CMS enable companies to create language variants easily and manage the translation process and regional go-to-market strategies. But it's also important to consider how each content variant will interact with the limited screen space of a mobile device. Creating customer-experience variants for devices with different form factors will help companies increase savings, management efficiencies, and time-to-market speed.

4. Companies want to be able to repurpose content from a single source to across multiple channels. The CMS can enable companies to do so easily by separating content and application components from the presentation layer. The marketer need only follow the rules for that specific channel. For mobile, companies should also address presentation technologies that vary by device, network, and operating system.

5. Size does matter! At a minimum, a CMS should offer templates that ensure proper component resizing, and it should offer pre-sized assets to be uploaded and approved within your workflow before they can be used for a specific channel.

6. The best CMS user interface is browser-agnostic. Most content creators and approvers work at a standard workstation, whereas designers, developers, and managers of the mobile channel often work with different types of technologies.

7. Customer engagement can vary greatly based on the device in use, so companies should consider all devices used to browse the mobile Web. It is essential to capture device specifics, such as browser type, screen resolution, JavaScript/cookies enabled, etc., before serving back the requested content. At the time of the request, the device/browser identifies itself, allowing the CMS to read its specifics from a database and render the appropriate experience.

8. Publishing models vary depending on the company and its objectives. A CMS that renders and publishes static mobile pages seems good enough if a company needs a limited mobile strategy that delivers a finite set of transactions. But considering how quickly the customer experience is changing, will that be enough? Can your CMS support dynamic or even hybrid publishing scenarios? Your CMS should build pages dynamically based on login, personalization and referrals if it is to deliver a personalized experience that is also relevant to multiple audiences.

9. The CMS should let users preview the mobile content in a multitude of renderings, typically in a low, medium and full-experience view. Preview functionality supports the content author and provides workflow benefits for content approvers by showing content rendered specifically for a channel.

10. A mobile site may not be enough. Marketers may want to allow content to be displayed via an app or published to a location from where it can be packaged using the appropriate SDK (software development kit). Throughout this process, your CMS should track usage by creating a content audit trail, and it should deploy updates to all needed locations.

By increasing the functionality of its mobile marketing channels—archive management/compliancy, login/security, personalization, and profiling—a company can enhance customer engagement and enjoy increased value. Don't be afraid to use the mobile channel. Just be sure to implement a unified marketing platform first.

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Mobile Marketing: Top 10 Technical Design Considerations

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Robert Carroll is CMO of SDL's Web Content Management Solutions in North America ( SDL accelerates delivery of multilingual content to global markets. Contact him at