Mobile Marketing: How to Develop an Appropriate Mobile Strategy?

Importance of mobile marketing has been increasing year by year both in marketing academy and among marketing practitioners. This paper starts with indicating the importance of mobile marketing and continues with identifying key issues in mobile marketing. Furthermore, mobile marketing literature will be reviewed and after reviewing the literature, paper will try to detect gaps in mobile marketing literature that require managerial and research attention. At the end of the study, a three step model will be presented in order to develop an appropriate mobile marketing strategy.

1.1. Why Mobile Marketing?

Google and Ipsos OTX conducted a survey among 5,013 adult smartphone internet users. Some of the key findings of the survey are;

  • Among participants 81% browse the Internet, 77% search, 68% use an application, and 48% watch videos on their mobile devices
  • Among participants %39 used mobile devices while going to bathroom, %33 while watching TV and %22 while reading newspaper
  • %79 of the participants use mobile devices while shopping, %70 of the participants use them in store, %74 of the participants make a purchase based on a mobile device search. Nine out of ten mobile device searches results in an action (purchasing, visiting a business, etc.)
  • 95% of participants have used mobile devices to look for local information, 88% of these take action within a day (61% call, 59% visit a business).

According to KPCB; In 2010 Q4 smartphone + tablet shipments exceeded PCs. Landlines were surpassed by Mobiles in 2012. Global mobile internet traffic reached %25 of total internet traffic at 2014.

According to Mobile TC Group when unit sold in first ten years are compared between other technological devices: when mainframe computer had sold 1 million, minicomputer 10 million, PC 100 million, Desktop internet 1 billion, mobile internet is sold 10 billion in first ten years.

All these numbers explain how important mobile marketing is now, and how it will be in the future. For instance, Google and Ipsos’ survey results showed that; mobile devices have become an integral part of users’ daily lives and their everywhere usage in different activities made them a very important shopping tool that should be analyzed. Also, response rate and response time of users who make mobile searches show that mobile devices have an incredible power to lead their users into making purchase, in other words effect decision making process of their users. Moreover, KPCB report shows that mobile internet usage is taking over desktop internet usage which can be evaluated as a shift from using internet at home to using internet everywhere. Lastly, Mobile TC Group’s research findings put forward that; number of mobile internet sold in first ten years show ‘the mobile revolution’. All of these numbers clearly indicate that mobile is an important tool that should be analyzed within marketing discipline.

1.2. Definition and Key Issues of Mobile Marketing

There are different definitions about mobile marketing in the literature. Shankar and Balasubramanian (2009) defined mobile marketing as a two or multi way communication that takes place between a company and its customers by using a mobile medium, device, or technology. Similarly, Scharl et al., (2005) define mobile marketing as using a wireless medium to provide consumers with time- and location-sensitive, personalized information that promotes products, ideas and services. Shortly, mobile marketing can be defined as all kind of marketing activities (mobile advertising, mobile sales promotion, location based mobile offers, etc…) that are performed via mobile devices.

There are different marketing tools that can be used through mobile devices. Barutçu (2008) classified these tools into four as; Mobile Advertising (SMS, MMS, MobAd), Mobile Sales Promotion (coupons, discounts), Mobile Entertainment (video, music) and Mobile Shopping (shop anywhere, anytime). In addition to these tools; Mobile Payment which can be defined as type of payment transaction processing in the course of which the payer employs mobile communication techniques (Kungpisdan et al., 2004) and Location-Based Mobile Services which can be defined as services in which the location of a person or an object is used to shape the application or service (Duri et al., 2001) can also be classified as mobile marketing tools.

According to Shankar and Balasubramanian (2009), all mobile devices incorporate one or more of the following capabilities: audio, text/data, and video. Beside them, they put forward three key characteristics and properties of mobile devices that have key marketing implications.

  1. Location-specificity: Shankar and Balasubramanian (2009) asserted that; many mobile devices have GPS capabilities to identify their physical location and this property enables marketers to construct location sensitive promotional offers to mobile device users
  2. Portability: Shankar and Balasubramanian (2009) believed that; mobile devices are easily carried and thus, it becomes easier for marketers to quickly communicate with the user anytime
  3. Untethered/wireless feature: According to Shankar and Balasubramanian (2009), because of mobile device is not connected by wires for the majority of the time that it is in use, marketers can have more opportunities to convey marketing messages.

Barutçu (2008) identified 4 forces supported that supported the emergence of mobile commerce and marketing:

  • rapid growth of mobile devices,
  • convergence of mobile telecommunication networks and Internet,
  • transition to 3G (Third Generation Mobile System), and
  • the emergence of location applications and services

Up to this point, importance of mobile marketing, its definition, and key issues in mobile marketing are examined. In the following part of the study mobile marketing literature will be reviewed in order to detect possible subject(s) in mobile marketing literature that require managerial and research attention.

2. Mobile Marketing Literature

When studies regarding mobile marketing are examined, it can be told that literature has been mostly accumulated under three headings;

1- Mobile Marketing Theory

Varnali and Toker (2010) aimed to organize the literature on mobile marketing and for this purpose they reviewed 255 peer-reviewed journal articles from 82 journals published between 2000 and 2008. They divided mobile marketing literature into four headings as; theory, strategy, consumer behavior and legal & public policy. They told that; under theory category, there are conceptual articles which attempt to constitute the foundations of mobile marketing. Most of the studies deal with conceptualizations of mobile marketing and mobile commerce (such as; Fouskas et al., 2005), differences between e-commerce and mcommerce (such as; Maamar, 2003), the dimensions of mobile market place (such as; Balasubramanian et al., 2002), and future forecasts regarding mobile marketing (such as; Denk and Hackl, 2004). In the studies that are categorized under this heading try to identify key issues about mobile marketing and conceptualize the mobile marketing and commerce subjects.

2- Mobile Marketing Strategy

Studies in this category tried to construct a strategic point of view regarding mobile marketing and commerce. Some of the studies dealt with business models for mobile services (Haaker et al., 2006), some other deal with the results of specific mobile marketing activities such as SMS campaigns (Dickinger and Murphy, 2005), mobile web advertising (Hairong and Stoller, 2007), mobile direct mail coupons (Kondo & Nakahara, 2007). Moreover, several studies focused on firm-level adoption of mobile marketing practices (Doolin and Ali, 2008; Okazaki, 2005a).

3- Adoption to Mobile Marketing and Attitude Toward Mobile Marketing

Most of the studies in the mobile marketing literature addressed to consumer behavior issues toward mobile devices, mobile commerce and mobile marketing. Within these studies, some of them dealt with the determinants to the adoption to mobile marketing such as demographics (Bigne et al., 2005), social and peer effect (Lee and Murphy, 2006), the content received via mobile (Wang et al., 2006), context of the marketing message received via mobile (Barnes and Scornavacca, 2004), culture (Harris et al., 2005), mobile device’s usefulness and ease of use Pagani (2004), perceived risk and complexity (Kleijnen et al., 2004) . Similarly, some other studies dealt with the factors and their effects to consumers’ attitudes toward mobile marketing such as; entertainment and information value (Bauer et al., 2005), informativeness and credibility of the message received via mobile (Haghirian and Inoue, 2007), message sender (Wais and Clemons, 2008).

In this part of the study mobile marketing literature is reviewed under three main headings, and most popular subjects under these three headings are presented. As Varnali and Toker (2010) asserted; the literature on mobile marketing is accumulating and the stream of research is still in the development stage. Since the aim of this study is to detect possible subject(s) in mobile marketing literature that require managerial and research attention, studies are reviewed according to the subjects they were addressed. After evaluating the distribution of the subjects that were studied by scholars regarding mobile marketing, it is detected that there is a study needed to link the consumer behavior toward mobile marketing and mobile marketing strategy construction. To fill this gap, in the following parts of the study a conceptual model will be put forward.

3. Conceptual Framework

In order to construct the appropriate mobile marketing strategy, customers and their attitudes toward mobile marketing and mobile marketing tools should be analyzed carefully. For this purpose, in this study a-three-step road map will be presented as can be seen from figure 1.

Figure 1: Three-step strategy construction

STEP 1 — Analyzing/Understanding Determinants to Mobile Adoption

In order to talk about mobile marketing first step should be having customers who adopt using mobile devices. That’s why in constructing an appropriate mobile marketing strategy first step should be analyzing and understanding the drivers of mobile adoption.

Shankar and Balasubramanian (2009) dealt with the ‘adoption of innovation’ subject while examining the drivers of mobile marketing adoption and asserted that the key drivers of adopting a mobile device or service include the relative advantage of the innovation, the innovation’s fit with existing usage patterns, the perceived complexity of the innovation, the ability to try out the innovation, the perceived risk related to adoption. Similarly, Henderson et al. (1998) found that the usefulness and enjoyment derived in using an innovation will likely lead to increased loyalty and future use.

Besides adoption to innovation, most of the scholars dealt with directly mobile marketing adoption.

  • Merisavo et al. (2007) indicated that the utility and relevancy of mobile advertising messages affect customers’ adoption to mobile marketing.
  • Pura’s (2005) survey showed that conditional value (such as context), commitment, and monetary value had the strongest influence on behavioral intentions to use mobile services.
  • Pagani (2004) found that perceived usefulness, ease of use, price, and speed of use were the most important determinants of adoption of multimedia mobile services.
  • Kleijnen et al., (2004) found that perceived risk, followed by complexity and compatibility were the most important drivers of adoption
  • In their study, Nysveen et al. (2005) demonstrate that the intention to use mobile devices can be driven by perceived enjoyment, perceived usefulness, and perceived expressiveness. They also asserted that; the strengths of these influences varied across four mobile service areas: person-to-person interactive text messaging, contact services (which extend text messaging to a larger social network), payment services, and gaming services.In addition to drivers to mobile adoption, some authors also mentioned about the barriers to mobile adoption.
  • In his study, Barutçu (2008) put forward that; main barriers to mobile marketing are the mobile web browsers, technological skills, perception of risks and traditional shopping culture, lack of awareness of the benefits provided by them.
  • Fenech (2002) asserted that security, tangibility, and the lack of experience are also main barriers of mobile commerce
  • Shankar and Balasubramanian (2009) believed that low penetration of mobile devices’ video capability and lack of trust in mobile marketing are the major hurdles for mobile marketing.

To sum up, after evaluating the results of different studies regarding mobile adoption, it can be told that; drivers and barriers of mobile adoption changes from person to person, device to device, application to application, channel to channel, service to service, etc… Mostly drivers like utility, relevancy, context, ease of use, price, usefulness, speed of use, perceived risk, compatibility, enjoyment, and expressiveness are being mentioned in the literature. Also, perception of risks, lack of awareness of mobile benefits, lack of experience in using mobile devices and services, low penetration of mobile devices’ extra feature capability and lack of trust are presented as the major barriers to mobile adoption in the literature. In order to construct an appropriate mobile marketing strategy, marketers must understand major drivers and barriers to mobile marketing adoption as a first step. It shouldn’t be forgotten that these drivers and barriers vary among customers, devices, services and channels, so marketers should analyze these drivers and barriers in their target market context.

STEP 2 — Analyzing/Understanding Attitude Toward Mobile Marketing and Role of Mobile Marketing in Customer Decision-making

After analyzing and understanding determinants to mobile adoption, customers’ attitude toward mobile marketing and role of mobile marketing in customer decision-making should be examined by marketers.

Like determinants to mobile adoption, findings regarding customers’ attitude toward mobile marketing also vary in the literature:

  • In their study, Bauer et al. (2005) asserted that; developing a positive attitude towards mobile advertising leads to the behavioural intention to use mobile services.
  • Barwise and Strong (2002) suggested that being simple and inexpensive develop a positive attitude towards mobile marketing.
  • According to Barutcu (2007) price-consciousness and more involvement provide attitudes towards mobile marketing tools overall.
  • Haghirian and Inoue (2007) believed that informativeness and credibility of the advertising message have the greatest impact on consumers’ attitude towards mobile marketing.
  • Wais and Clemons (2008) found that; customers perceive marketing message positively if it came from another person than if it came from a company.
  • Shankar and Balasubramanian (2009) examined role of mobile marketing in customer decision-making and asserted that marketers should affect each of consumer decision making process (need recognition, information search, alternative evaluation, purchase and post-purchase) by mobile marketing initiatives.To sum up; findings of the studies regarding customers’ attitude toward mobile marketing show that up to know several factors that affect customers’ attitude toward mobile marketing were detected. On the other hand, just like findings regarding drivers and barriers of mobile adoption, factors affecting customers’ attitude toward mobile marketing vary among customers, devices, services and channels. For this reason after analyzing drivers and barriers of mobile adoption in their target market context, marketers should also analyze factors affecting customers’ attitude toward mobile marketing according to their target customers’ characteristics and mobile marketing tools that they offer to their customers. Shortly, as Barutçu (2008) claimed; in order to successfully market products and services via mobile, marketers understand mobile phone users’ attitudes, perceptions, characteristics, and shopping patterns. Then, marketers should construct their mobile marketing strategy according to these attitudes, perceptions, characteristics, and shopping pattern. Step 3 will deal with this issue.

STEP 3 — Develop an Appropriate Mobile Marketing Strategy in Accordance with Step 1–2

When a firm analyzed the determinants to mobile marketing adoption and factors affecting attitude toward mobile marketing as a third step, firm should construct its mobile marketing strategy according to results/findings that is obtained in step 1 and 2. Figure 2 shows an illustrative strategy map that a firm may use in constructing a mobile marketing strategy.

Figure 2: An illustrative strategy map

Figure 2 represents an illustrative strategy map that can be embraced by any firm in order to construct an appropriate mobile marketing strategy. It consist of five strategies and each strategy should be constructed by each firm according to their target customers, products/services they offer, market structure in their sector, mobile marketing tools they offer, and etc… In other words this illustrative strategy map should differ from firm to firm to embrace the best practice.

STRATEGY 1 — Work to switch ‘not mobile users’ into ‘mobile users’

This strategy should be constructed according to the findings regarding mobile marketing adoption that were mentioned in Step 1. As mentioned in step 1, drivers and barriers of mobile adoption changes from person to person, device to device, application to application, channel to channel, service to service, etc… So each firm should analyze their target customers in order to obtain drivers and barriers to their mobile marketing adoption. In this strategy each firm’s major aim should be switching ‘not mobile users’ into ‘mobile users’, because in order to talk about mobile marketing, first of all we should have customers who use mobile devices.

In order to switch ‘not mobile users’ into ‘mobile users’, following questions that are presented by Shankar and Balasubramanian (2009) should be answered;

  • Are the inhibitors to mobile adoption related to:
  • A lack of knowledge about these services? A lack of confidence in the customer’s ability to use these services? An inability to project the cost of using these services?

According to the answers to these questions, strategies regarding switching ‘not mobile users’ into ‘mobile users’ should be embraced.

Strategies that can implement in this part are more suitable for the firms that are already in mobile sector such as telecommunication and mobile device manufacturer companies. For instance, if a mobile device manufacturer firm detected that their target customers do not use mobile devices because of lack of knowledge then as Varnali and Toker (2010) suggested, they can manufacture more user-friendly devices.

STRATEGY 2 — Work to increase customers’ mobile services usage

This strategy should be constructed according to the findings regarding mobile marketing adoption that were mentioned in Step 1 and factors affecting attitudes toward mobile marketing that were mentioned in Step 2. As mentioned in step 1 and step 2, drivers and barriers of mobile adoption and factors affecting attitudes toward mobile marketing change from person to person, device to device, application to application, channel to channel, service to service, etc… So each firm should analyze their target customers in order to obtain drivers and barriers to their mobile marketing adoption and factors affecting attitudes toward mobile marketing. In this part of the strategy, it is assumed that customers are using at least one mobile marketing tool (such as SMS, web, App., etc…) and firms are trying to increase the number of mobile services their customers use.

In order to increase customers’ mobile services usage, first of all, firms should present high quality service in the channels where firms are already implementing marketing strategies to customers. In other words, if a firm is implementing SMS marketing strategy to its customers who only use SMS service of the mobile devices, firm should present a high quality SMS marketing service in order make these customers also mobile application user. Here the question is how to obtain ‘high quality’ marketing? Answers vary according to their target customers’ attitudes toward mobile marketing. For instance, if firm’s current customers are developing a positive attitude towards mobile marketing when the mobile service is simple and inexpensive (Barwise and Strong, 2002), then it can be suggested to this firm to offer new mobile marketing services user-friendly and inexpensive. Moreover, if firm’s current customers are developing a negative attitude towards mobile marketing when the messages are irrelevant or irritating (Merisavo et al., 2007), then it can be suggested to pay particular attention to the utility and relevancy of mobile advertising messages (Merisavo et al., 2007)

STRATEGY 3 — increase variety of mobile services that are offered to customers

In this part of the strategy, firms should seek for increasing the variety of mobile services that they offer to their customers. While doing this, as Shankar and Balasubramanian (2009) told, firms should also rethink the value proposition in the mobile context. For instance, firms should not transport its Internet marketing strategy to mobile marketing strategy but construct their unique mobile marketing strategy. Thats because it will be most effective if it is ‘native’ i.e. memorable, and well-coordinated with time and the user’s location.

STRATEGY 4 — use adequate mobile marketing tools to affect each stage of customer decision making process

In this part of the strategy, firms should seek affecting each stage of customer decision making process. As mentioned earlier, Shankar and Balasubramanian (2009) examined role of mobile marketing in customer decision-making and asserted that marketers should affect each of consumer decision making process (need recognition, information search, alternative evaluation, purchase and post-purchase) by mobile marketing initiatives.

In order to affect need recognition part, marketers may use lots of tools like SMS and email marketing which includes promotion messages. Here the important issue is the utility and relevancy of mobile advertising messages (Merisavo et al., 2007). For instance, sending a customer a promotional SMS at 03.00 a.m. might be irritating. Similarly, sending a promotional message regarding Ankara to a customer who locates in Istanbul will be evaluated as irrelevant and might affect this customer attitude negatively to further mobile marketing campaigns of that firm.

In order to affect information search part, firms may offer mobile applications which give lots of information about their products/services. For instance, every year IKEA launch its yearly catalogue as a mobile application which enables its customers to reach product info anywhere and anytime they want. If mobile devices are compared with traditional media such as TV and print regarding information search, mobiles devices lacks the persuasive power of the print and TV media due to the highly constrained screen size but better than traditional media location-based advertising can provide timely and actionable information to customers (Shankar and Balasubramanian, 2009)

In order to affect alternative evaluation part, marketers may use content marketing strategies that are reachable via mobile devices. This is possible if firms have mobile web- sites which have rich information regarding their services/products. Google’s survey results indicate that %79 of the participants use mobile devices while shopping, %70 of the participants use them in store. This findings show that; having a user-friendly mobile web- site which has rich information is a ‘must’ for firms. For instance, when a customer is in Best Buy to buy a MP3 player, he/she likely evaluate alternatives on his/her mobile device. So companies that lack of mobile web-sites fall behind in the competition.

In order to affect purchase part, marketers can use mobile payment tools which give customers. As Dahlberg et al. (2003) asserted mobile payment solutions provide several benefits such as being more secure, easier and faster to use than competing (traditional) solutions. For instance, with Google Wallet (a mobile payment product launched by Google) a customer may pay in a store in a more secure, easier and faster way and this experience provided in the purchase time increases customer satisfaction.

Lastly, in order to affect post-purchase part, marketers may provide consumer-generated content tools such as blogs, forums, and etc.. Several studies in the literature found that people are more open to messages that come from another person rather than a company. For instance, as mentioned earlier Wais and Clemons (2008) found that; customers perceive marketing message positively if it came from another person than if it came from a company. In order to give an example: let’s consider a customer who bought a digital camera. After purchase, the consumer compared it with similar products and had a tension or anxiety (Cognitive Dissonance) regarding to his/her purchase. At this point mobile marketing tools that have consumer-generated content might decrease customer tensions and convince this customer that he/she made the right decision (for example after he/she watched a you-tube that is uploaded by another customer and the positive comments below the video might decrease this customer’s anxiety about the purchase)

STRATEGY 5 — Integrating mobile marketing strategy with firms’ holistic marketing strategy

In this part of the strategy, firms should seek integrating mobile marketing strategy with firms’ holistic marketing strategy. That means every firms mobile marketing activities should be in accordance with their overall marketing activities. To give an example; if a firm is launching a new product and promoting it in traditional media like TV, radio and print, this firm should also incorporate promotional messages sent via mobile devices. As Merissa et al. (2007) claimed; most successful mobile marketers worldwide like Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and mobile operators, have successfully incorporated the mobile channel into the promotion of their goods and services.

Based on these facts it seems that it is much easier for a customer to get into a dialogue with a well-known and established brand than with an unknown one. Thus, companies should strengthen their brand among consumers in order to develop trust. By doing so, the addition of new marketing channels, such as mobile devices into the promotion mix becomes easier.

4. Conclusion

At the academicians’ side, it can be told that; the literature on mobile marketing is accumulating and the stream of research is still in the development stage. In this study, it is detected that; there is a study needed to link the consumer behavior toward mobile marketing and mobile marketing strategy construction.

In order to link customer and firm under mobile marketing context, a conceptual model is presented in this study that consists of three steps. According to this model; firstly each firm should analyze and understand the drivers of mobile adoption in their target market context. After analyzing drivers and barriers of mobile adoption in their target market context, then marketers should analyze factors affecting customers’ attitude toward mobile marketing according to their target customers’ characteristics and mobile marketing tools that they offer to their customers. Finally, after analyzing the determinants to mobile marketing adoption and factors affecting attitude toward mobile marketing, firms should construct their mobile marketing strategies according to results/findings that are obtained in step 1 and 2.

In step three; an illustrative strategy map is presented in the study which consists of five strategies; 1- firms need to work to switch ‘not mobile users’ into ‘mobile users’ 2- firms need to work to increase customers’ mobile services usage 3- firms need to increase variety of mobile services that are offered to customers 4- firms need to use adequate mobile marketing tools to affect each stage of customer decision making process 5- firms need to integrate mobile marketing strategy with their holistic marketing strategy.

Mobile devices have become an integral part of users’ daily lives and they have become a very important shopping tool that should be analyzed. Their power to lead customers into making purchase and affecting each stage of decision making process of customers got both marketing practitioners and academicians’ attention.

As a conclusion, mobile marketing have become one of the most important topics in contemporary marketing issues. Numbers and statistics show that its evolution will be continuing in the future. Since the importance of mobile marketing will be increasing in the future, both scholars and practitioners should work together in mobile marketing subject. This study tries to contribute the literature by linking consumer behavior side and firm strategy constructing side. As a further research, model presented in the study might be implemented several sectors and backed by qualitative and quantitative researches and case studies.

Author: Z. Eren Kocyigit

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Originally published at erenkocyigit.com on February 15, 2015.

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