Going Direct With Mobile Marketing

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Wireless subscribers in the United States have finally caught the mobile messaging bug. From ringtones to photo messaging, to playing games or interacting with their favorite reality TV show, people are doing more with their wireless phones than ever before.

With this explosion in popularity, now is the time to use the phone as a direct marketing channel - advertising delivered right to your patron's hip or back pocket. Think of it as mobile marketing.

According to the Mobile Entertainment Forum, music firms "are really embracing mobile in a way that has not been seen before." The music industry is only one example of the potential mobile phones have to drive sales. Madonna recently sent text messages to fans to promote her new album and tour.

As new avenues of data services emerge on phones, operators, media companies and mobile marketing agencies need to educate themselves on how best to take advantage of this new channel and launch successful mobile marketing campaigns. Though the opportunity is great, it is important to understand the context in which mobile marketing performs best. Mobile marketing is a way to grow consumers in the wireless space, and it is optimized with specific technology that helps perfect the user experience.

NOT a mass marketing tool. Technically speaking, mobile phones let marketers reach a mass audience, but conducting untargeted marketing is very expensive. Wireless lets brands deliver a personalized message that is far more persuasive and effective than a broad advertisement designed to appeal to a wide audience.

NOT only about wireless advertising. Wireless does not only provide a means to deliver a promotional message, it is a channel that lets brands establish a dialogue and deliver a service to customers.

NOT standalone media. The "secret" to wireless marketing is in the integration of the communication with other media. The best campaigns are integrated marketing efforts that reach customers through various touch points. Align your mobile marketing with traditional channels to get the best results.

NOT a no man's land. People are sensitive, and they want their privacy protected. An unsolicited message could forever harm the relationship between the brand and its audience. Use wireless only to contact people who granted you permission to do it. And always prefer pull to push communication. You don't want to be accused of sending SPIT (SPam over Internet Telephony).

Using the mobile phone for marketing requires discipline and respect. Heed the words of Gartner G2 analyst Daren Siddall: "Wireless communication, using SMS, is quick and silent and can be very effective in capturing hot leads and initiating a dialogue with [shy] consumers who don't like to give away personal information to sales representatives. It's a lesson we learned the hard way with the Internet, but it's better to sound obvious and repeat it: wireless, like any other media, is not the marketers' panacea."

Here are some guidelines:

Make communication interactive. European operator Orange partnered with local movie chains in the United Kingdom to offer two-for-one theater tickets on Orange Wednesdays. The promotion works when users respond to an offer sent to their phone. When they respond, they get a free movie pass. As a result, ticket sales rose significantly on what was the theaters' slowest day. By developing an offer that required recipients to respond to take advantage of it, Orange increased the participation, which drove additional traffic because of the responses and forwarded content subscribers sent to friends.

Use focus groups and surveys. Just like any good direct marketing campaign, getting the right demographics for your target customers is vital. Conducting focus groups to determine which mobile applications will generate the most use among participants by age group, lifestyle and usage habits will help create relevant offers.

Find the right content intermediary that has experience with operators and billing. Cross-network connectivity and an intermediary can help determine the best revenue-sharing agreement possible.

Ensure the campaign can reach multiple subscriber bases and is not constrained by handsets. There are numerous mobile devices used by mobile consumers. Operators are starting to align themselves around this new channel to facilitate intercarrier interoperability and networks that can optimize content for various platforms.

Ask how long your push marketing message will take to reach subscribers. Large-scale push efforts can be used to send thousands of messages at once. When high quantities of messages are required for event-driven campaigns, it is important to know how long it will take to deliver the message.


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