When assembling your marketing mix, it’s important to understand the key differences between mobile users and audiences spending time on their desktops. After all, there are significant differences in their preferences and viewing and buying habits, and to take full advantage you’ll want to strategize your messaging accordingly.

Some 77 percent of Americans now own smartphones, according to Pew, compared to the 35 percent who owned them in 2011. And these days a growing 12 percent of Americans access the internet only via their smartphones, a population skewing toward younger adults, non-whites and lower-income Americans.

“Mobile marketing lets you reach your customers and prospects anytime, anywhere,” notes Jayson DeMers in Forbes. “And with sky-high open and click-through rates, your efforts are more likely to have direct, positive results.”

That said, the number of Americans who own desktops or laptops isn’t dissipating; it now stands at 78 percent. And most industry gurus are still recommending a mix of desktop- and mobile-targeted marketing to reach a broader mix of customers and needs.

A few basic tips for differentiating mobile and desktop audiences:

Mobile mania: Targeting the here and now

Mobile use is fairly even across race, with 77 percent of Caucasians owning smartphones, compared to 75 percent of Hispanics and 72 percent of blacks.

Mobile users are educated and relatively affluent. Eighty-nine percent are college grads, and 93 percent make $75,000 or more annually.

Younger Americans are more likely to own smartphones; 92 percent of those 18 to 29 are owners, compared to 42 percent of those 65 or older.

Seventy-nine percent of smartphone owners live in the suburbs, while 77 percent are urban dwellers and 67 percent rural residents.

Mobile users often use their smartphones to find answers to quick questions, providing marketers opportunities for what Google calls “micro moments” of messaging or information. That suggests content should be quick, succinct and highly relevant to what they’re likely to need.

QR codes can be an excellent marketing shortcut for quickly sending users to your targeted content.

Hyper-local marketing works well on mobile customers seeking geographically close businesses. Promote it by setting up hyper-local advertising, ensuring your mobile site is fortified with location-based keywords, getting listed in local directories and review sites and seeking mention in local publications.

Mobile coupons are becoming more and more popular; Juniper Research predicts mobile coupon users worldwide will grow to 1.05 billion by 2019.

Text messaging (SMS) can be extremely effective for mobile marketing. Sign up smartphone users through product discounts, then optimize texting for short promotional messages, announcements, appointment reminders, surveys, etc.

Don’t drop the desktop

The obvious advantage of advertising via desktop is having a larger screen for greater, more detailed visual impact for your messaging.

Desktop users skew older; one report indicates 51 percent are 65 or older, 27 percent 45 to 64.

Users often prefer desktops when researching topics, filling out forms, seeking more detailed info or making higher-ticket purchases that require more thought and less urgency. For example, auto companies see broader conversions from desktop researchers than from mobile users.

In general, experts recommend desktop ads for broader-interest campaigns combined with mobile ads for more highly targeted messaging.

Bottom line? A mixed-device strategy is probably still the way to go if you wish to optimize the advantages of both.

“When mobile and desktop display advertising are combined, the results are greater than the sum of the parts,” writes Patrick Moorhead in Ad Age. “Don’t make it a choice.”

Custom Toll Free can show you how to strike a healthy balance between your mobile and desktop marketing strategies. Call us at 1-800-CUSTOMIZE