Mobile Marketing – Interview with author Daniel Rowles

I am pleased to introduce Daniel Rowles, author of the book Mobile Marketing and a respected personality within Digital Marketing. As well as being a course director for the CIM, Daniel has helped a number of organisations of all types to use digital marketing effectively, working with all sizes of business from SME’s through to global brands such as Vodafone, Mastercard, Warner Bros and Boots. He is the voice of the Digital Marketing Podcast, a worldwide top ten business podcast in iTunes and Managing Director of

My interview with Daniel focuses on his own career path and how he progressed his digital marketing career to discussing mobile marketing, his new book, and the latest mobile trends to consider as you plan your strategy. The emphasis quite rightly focuses on the need for digital marketers to realise that organisations should not chase fthe “next shiny new digital tactic” but focus on strategy first, tactic second. We also discuss organisational structures and the what this means to adapt to “Digital Transformation” –  acknowledging the fact that organisations aren’t where they need to be to get this stuff right. Taking a step back and looking at digital capability is essential.










Tell us a little about Daniel

I’m a digital marketing consultant, author and lecturer. What I really do on a day by day basis is help lots of global companies plan and implement their digital marketing and run a digital marketing elearning business. This involves producing a lot of digital marketing content and building and scaling a startup. I love what I do, although it is frequently exhausting and terrifying.

I live by the sea in Brighton in the UK, and spend the very little free time I have with my family.

CIM Course Director
Google Squared Trainer
Host of the Digital Marketing Podcast
Lecturer Imperial College London and Cranfield Business School
Judge of CIM Marketing Excellence Awards


When did your career in digital start and what type of organisations have you worked for?

It started as soon as I graduated University  (Computer Engineering) and I decided to start my own business because I couldn’t get onto any graduate programmes. I was ignorant enough to not be afraid of what I was doing. It was a great success. Until it was a disaster. At this point I was broke and I got a job as an “Online Marketing Manager” ,which was basically a web developer. I was quickly put in charge of all marketing, of which I knew nothing about, so I learnt quickly.

I suddenly had knowledge of the web and marketing  at the very beginning of digital marketing. I joined an agency of three people and within a few years there were 30 of us and I was Managing Director. Once you’ve been MD, you get more MD jobs and I realised after a few of these roles I didn’t like it (and wasn’t very good at it in my opinion). It involves lots of HR, Finance and Board meetings and very little actually doing, so I went back to self-employment. I became a full time trainer and consultant and gradually built a great network and a solid reputation. After several years of this and travelling all around the world to deliver talks and training I eventually started an elearning business. This is scaling up and keeps me very busy. We have a small a perfectly formed team and I get to direct the business, do lots of training ,speaking and lecturing, write books and create content. Its very successful and I love what I do.


For digital marketers, the breadth of different digital channels to master and understand has exploded over the past 5 years. Do you have any advice on the best way to develop a digital marketing career – e.g. should you focus on a specific vertical or take a broad approach?

My success has been based on being a generalist. There is plenty of need for specialists, but somebody that can bring all of these channels together, understand the strategy as well as the tactical implementation issues will find themselves in demand.  Also, don’t underestimate the need for soft skills such as getting buy-in, building allies and negotiation. I’ve found being nice  to people works really well.


You recently published the book, mobile marketing – could you provide us with a summary on the book who it’s geared towards?

It’s certainly not an advanced book, but if you wont a good overview of  what mobile marketing really is and the key channels involved, its hopefully and easy, fun and informative read. I enjoy writing a lot and the feedback I’ve had said this comes across and makes it easy to read. You can judge this for yourself but its not a text book by any stretch of the imagination.













Towards the beginning of the book you refer to “Technology for the sake of Technology” which I think sums up very nicely the views many digital marketers struggle with in convincing organisations that they should not chase for the “next shiny new digital tactic” but focus on strategy first, tactic second –  would you agree?

We are always obsessed by what is new and it can be a huge distraction. In reality there is a severe lack of taking a step back and thinking about core objectives and target audience. Focus on this and most everything else falls into place.


What I like about the book is the importance of organisations having a robust digital strategy in place before diving straight into delivering different tactics – do you see there is still a long way to go for organisations to change their mind-sets to ensure they’ re setting a robust digital strategies?

Most organisations still don’t have a joined up  strategy, but what is reassuring is the amount of talk about “Digital Transformation”. Although it’s yet another buzz term, it does indicate acknowledgment that organisations aren’t where they need to be to get this stuff right. Taking a step back and looking at digital capability is essential.

(we write about this here:


The mobile marketing tactical took-kit –(e.g. search, social, analytics) are there new principles to learn in best utilising these tactics for a mobile audience?

I think if I wrote the book again now, not that much has changed. I’d probably talk about measurement more and digital capability, but I got to talk about that in the next book I wrote Digital Branding (subtle plug eh?). There are of course some small tactical changes and the stats change. Wearables would need discussing more with fitness trackers and the Apple Watch and NFC will finally come of age now that its in iPhones as well as Android phones. iBeacon is exciting too.













Creating an online value proposition seems more of a necessity when creating a mobile marketing strategy – would you agree?

Its actually a necessity for any effective digital strategy in my opinion. Without it its very hard to define what we should be doing and to do something that actually provides value to our audience. Once you get that right it becomes much easier to do everything else.


Following on from OVP, I recently read the book, CTRL, ALT, DELETE by Mitch Joel who refers to the need to create Utilitarianism Marketingdefined as “providing a true value and utility: Something consumers not only would want to use (constantly and consistently) but would derive so much value from it that it would be given front and centre attention in their lives – this seems more so with mobile?

Mobile devices are already at the centre of our lives so anything that is on this device and is used regularly can be very powerful. Bearing in mind 90% or free apps aren’t in use after 30 days, we clearly haven’t cracked this in many cases yet!.


So the question that seems to appear most often – is it best to invest in a mobile website or invest in mobile app strategy?

You have to have a mobile optimised site if you need a website. An app is optional and should only be used if there is a very good reason to do so.


The opportunity for brands to drive customer impulse purchasing through mobile handsets has similarities to the rise in interactive TV (SKY OPEN) with customers purchasing their Dominos pizza or pay as you go handset from Carphone Warehouse through the red button – nice and simple – do you see such similarities with mobile?

I definitely think that we are a LOT more comfortable buying via our phone and this will only increase. I also think that physical retail will be radically changed into amuch more exciting experience by NFC and iBeacons as well as universal adoption of visual search technologies.


Will the growth in mobile marketing only benefit the established digital brands to further expand their proposition or do you see mobile providing an opportunity for the start-up with a channel to disrupt?

Mobile brings disruption and many established brands are proving very slow to respond. The universal adoption of mobile payments via NFC, accurate location based technology via iBeacon and an increase in wearables will make for exciting and changing times. Don’t forget that the current iPhone  would have looked like sci-fi 10 years ago. We have very exciting times ahead with lots of disruption and change to come.


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