Beginners guide to mobile marketing

The mobile phone is an incredibly versatile device. It can take photos and videos, and send them anywhere in the world, instantly. Many devices know where you are, the more advanced ones even know in which direction you are facing. A quick search on the mobile Web will help you find the nearest branch of your favorite store or restaurant chain and a mapping app will guide you there. A well-targeted offer via mobile ad or SMS might tempt you into this outlet rather than another. In store, you can compare the price of a product here with prices elsewhere simply by scanning the barcode on the packaging. When a print, TV or outdoor ad interests you, mobile gives you the chance to find out more, sign-up, interact or make a purchase there and then.
With virtually all consumers carrying a mobile phone in their pocket all the time, it’s no wonder that all shrewd marketers are looking to engage with customers via mobile, but with a bewildering choice of options, and numerous pitfalls, it is understandable that companies don’t know where to start. These basic tips will help you get your mobile strategy started off on the right foot.

The author for this guide, David Murphy is organizing Mobile Marketing Live in London, UK, October 03, 2013. mobiThinking readers can receive 20 percent discount for this event with the code “MOBIT20”

Seek permission
When you consider how personal a device the mobile phone is, it’s easy to see how powerful it could be as a one-to-one marketing tool. But also just as clear how much damage you could do to your brand if you abuse that power. So the watchword for anything you do on mobile, particularly in terms of messaging to customers and prospects, is permission. Just because a customer gives you their mobile number, it doesn’t give you the right to send them unrelated marketing messages via SMS – that’s the fastest way to make them ex-customers. If, on the other hand, you ask them to opt-in to receive relevant, targeted marketing messages, you will be pleasantly surprised by how many of them say yes. This is a strategy that UK high-street retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has adopted. And despite attracting a customer demographic that is slightly older and predominantly female, M&S had over 1 million people who had opted in to receive marketing messages on their mobile phones. In fact, M&S says its mobile customer relationship management (CRM) program and mobile-optimized site has helped it increase its sales via the mobile channel by 300 per cent over the past two years.

Start with the strategy
With an array of cutting-edge technologies – e.g. augmented reality (AR), near field communications (NFC), location-based services (LBS) – mobile offers lots of enticing, exciting opportunities, but please resist the temptation to get carried away with the technology and all the whizz-bang things you can do in the mobile channel. Start the same way you would if you were evaluating anything else, by identifying your objectives. Are you looking to win new customers or keep your existing ones happy and loyal? Or do you see mobile as a transactional channel, making it easier for your customers to buy from you on the go?
Ask yourself these questions, then evaluate all the different ways that mobile might be able to help you achieve them and, indeed, if mobile can deliver these goals more effectively than other channels. That way, you’ll end up with something of real value to your customers, rather than a fancy app that does some amazing things, but is no use to anyone. That said, let’s look at some of the ways you can use mobile, if they fit your strategy.

Build a mobile website
If you have an analytics package on your website, it should be able to tell you the proportion of visitors arriving at your site on a mobile device. According to the research firm, ComScore, 8 million people in the UK access the internet from their smartphone every day. The UK department store, Debenhams has stated that 20 per cent of its online traffic now comes from mobile devices.
If you haven’t yet built a mobile version of your website, take a look at it on your mobile phone. No matter how smart your phone, you’ll find it’s not a particularly pleasant experience. Compare this with the mobile-optimized sites of UK retailers New Look, Marks & Spencer and Debehams. If your competitor offers a more rewarding mobile experience, why would your customers struggle to make your site work on their mobile device? As Jay Altschuler, director of global media innovation at Unilever, puts it, when asked why he has put so many of Unilever’s brands on mobile: “We just go where our customers are.”
Google estimates that by next year, there will be more Web traffic via mobile, than PCs. Yet despite this, only 15 per cent of companies currently have a mobile-optimized site.

The power of apps
Apps are wonderful things, or at least they can be. But with almost a million apps in just the two largest app stores (iTunes for Apple and Google Play for Android), the world doesn’t really need too many more. And while consumers may download a lot of apps, the vast majority of them are ignored after the first few uses. In fact, the analyst firm Flurry says that 75 per cent of apps lose their audience after three months, and 96 per cent after 12 months. It also reports that 85 per cent of apps are only used once.
The apps that succeed are those that offer real value, in the form of information, entertainment or utility. Before you build an app ask your customers if they would like one and, if so, what handsets they use and what they would like to see in it. Let your customer research inform the design of the app, but don’t be afraid to go beyond their expectations and give them something they didn’t know you could deliver. Consider the Tesco shopping app that lets customers add an item to their shopping basket simply by scanning its barcode, or the FindaProperty app that brings up details of the houses for sale in the neighborhood simply by holding the phone up and pointing it in the direction you are interested in.
An app can be an incredibly valuable marketing and loyalty tool. The trick is in the thought and planning that goes into it, and the rationale behind the use of any of mobile technologies involved.

Mobile advertising
Mobile advertising is one of the marketing world’s best kept secrets. You may not have a mobile-optimized site yet, but thousands of publishers have, from national newspapers to hobbyist magazines. So in those few minutes of downtime, when you see the people around you staring at their phone, they may well be catching up on the news and gossip on whatever interests them, on mobile sites devoted to football, rugby, ballroom dancing, tropical fish and hundreds of other subjects.
These sites are more often than not funded by advertising. A year or two ago, the advertisers were primarily companies selling mobile content, such as ringtones and wallpapers for mobile phones, or promoting mobile apps, but that is starting to change, as mainstream brands have seen the opportunity to reach consumers on their mobile phones.
Advertising on mobile phones can be straight forward. Mobile ad networks such as InMobi, Mojiva and Millennial Media run self-service platforms that enable advertisers to choose the types of mobile publications they want to advertise on, create the ad, then run it. You can target the advertising by a variety of factors such as age, gender, interests and location, and you can cap your spend in the same way you do with online advertising. And the very precise location targeting that’s possible with mobile advertising makes it a highly effective medium for local businesses such as shops and restaurants, trying to drum up business, especially since most mobile advertising is sold on a cost-per-click basis, so you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.
You can make your advertising as simple or as sophisticated as you want, incorporating video, links to social media pages or money-off coupons, delivered direct to the mobile phone. You can also advertise in mobile apps too. This is a great way to target your ads at people with specific interests.
Of course, if you advertise on mobile, you need somewhere to send people when they click on the ad. If you don’t have a mobile site, don’t despair. You can build a mobile landing page quickly for very little money. In fact, using Google’s Mobile Landing Page Builder solution, you can build a mobile landing page in a matter of minutes, at no cost.

Loyalty tool
Small and large businesses alike have found that mobile is an excellent loyalty and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool. The object is to collect mobile phone numbers of existing and potential customers, while asking their permission to use the mobile as an ongoing communications channel. Some of the most effective CRM programs use the humble, but all pervasive, text message. Companies such as Textlocal and Txtnation offer self-service platforms that enable business owners to collect and manage their database of mobile phone numbers, then use them to create marketing campaigns. It could be a restaurant that finds itself unexpectedly quiet one night sending a text message that says: “Happy hour – visit us before 9pm tonight to get 2-for-1 on all main courses.” The there’s the shrewd dentist or hairdresser that sends an automated message to customers a day, or an hour, before hand reminding customers of their next appointment. It’s hard to quantify how much customers value these types of message, but if you’ve ever received an SMS telling you when the engineer or delivery you’ve been waiting in for will actually arrive, you will appreciate their power.

Location-based services (LBS)
Location-based advertising is of particular interest to brands with retail outlets. It takes advantage of the mobile phone’s ability to pinpoint the user’s current location, and even the direction in which they are facing. Knowing this, through an app or a mobile advertising campaign, the brand can target customers as they come within a few hundred meters of one of your outlets and tempt them in store with a money-off offer, or just a message about what’s on offer today.

Measure it
Whatever you do in mobile, it is measurable, and should be measured. Whether it’s the number of people clicking on an ad, responding to a marketing text message, or downloading your app, the mobile marketing firms you work with should be able to provide you with detailed analytics that will help you to refine your mobile marketing campaigns and make them work harder to deliver the maximum return on investment.


This guide was contributed by David Murphy, editor of Mobile Marketing Magazine. If mobiThinking’s UK readers wish to learn more head on down to Mobile Marketing Live in London October 1-2, 2012. mobiThinking readers can receive 25 percent discount for this event with the code “MOBI25”.

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