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Mobile marketing is steadily progressing toward much greater significance, according to [pdf] a new study from marketing technology provider Unica.

One-Third of Marketers are Mobile
When asked if their company currently uses or plans to use mobile marketing tactics, such as mobile messaging, applications and/or websites, 33% said their company currently uses these tactics. Another 24% said their company plans to use mobile tactics within the next 12 months, and 13% said they will use mobile tactics in more than the next 12 months.

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Only 20% said their company has no plans to use mobile marketing tactics, and another 10% don’t know. This means the combined percentage of respondents whose companies definitely or possibly will not use mobile marketing tactics (30%) is smaller than the percentages of respondents who currently use them (33%) or will use them within the next 12 months or longer (a combined 37%).

Broken down by region, more European respondents said their company currently uses mobile marketing tactics (37%) than North American respondents (29%), reflecting Europe’s more advanced and entrenched mobile infrastructure.

Mobile Channel Adoption Will Double in Next 12 Months
Looking at specific mobile marketing channel usage and adoption rates, the use of the three major mobile marketing channels of SMS/MMS/WAP, mobile websites, and mobile applications should all roughly double in the next 12 months.

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SMS/MMS/WAP has the highest current usage rate, 37%. Another 38% of respondents plan to use SMS/MMS/WAP in the next 12 months, and 15% plan to use it in longer than the next 12 months. Only 5% of respondents have no plans and 5% don’t know.

Although mobile websites and applications have lower current usage rates, they are both expected to grow in proportion to SMS/MMS/WAP in the next 12 months, and grow at a slightly higher rate beyond that. Thirty-three percent of respondents currently use mobile websites, with 33% expecting to use them in the next 12 months and 17% planning to use them beyond the next 12 months. Eight percent of respondents have no plans to use mobile websites and 7% don’t know.

Mobile applications have similar response rates to mobile websites, with 31% of respondents currently using them and 32% expecting to use them in the next 12 months. Mobile applications have the highest percentage of respondents planning to use them beyond the next 12 months, 22%. Eight percent of respondents have no plans and 7% don’t know.

Mobile Device Popularity Surges
The popularity of mobile marketing tactics has been rapidly growing as the popularity of smartphones, 3G devices and other advanced mobile applications surged in the US during 2009, according to comScore mobiLens data.

Between December 2008 and December 2009, the percentage of US mobile phone subscribers with unlimited data plans increased from 16% to 21%, with several phones now requiring an unlimited data plan subscription at the time of purchase. During the same period, smartphone ownership increased from 11% to 17%, while 3G phone ownership increased from 32% to 43%.

About the Survey: The Unica Global Marketing Survey was fielded to more than 150 online and direct marketing professionals in partnership with Salloway & Associates. Online surveys were completed in Q4 2009 within two geographic regions among Unica customers and prospective customers. North America represents respondents from the US and Canada. Europe represents respondents from 12 European countries that are large technology markets.

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