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E-mail, meet your new brother, mobile

Mobile marketing is gaining steam, and it has become one of the hottest new channels for marketers. It’s growing quickly, but not everyone understands how it can be used to benefit marketers and consumers alike. Luckily, the e-mail marketing industry was in the same position 10 years ago, and has some valuable lessons to share.

The Resemblance

Even with nearly a decade between them, the similarities between e-mail marketing and mobile marketing are evident. Think back to the year 2000, e-mail was still in its “early adopters” phase and marketers didn’t know where to start. Laws prohibiting spamming and e-mail databases didn’t exist. As the mobile industry starts to mature, it will become increasingly important for marketers to focus on best practices and regulatory compliance with an emphasis on consumer privacy. Furthermore, it is incumbent on marketers who have seen the pitfalls of batch and blast e-mail to emerge as the take away, to avoid making the same mistake twice.

But e-mail has come a long way since then and has turned into an important tool for building genuine and lasting relationships with consumers. In fact, e-mail’s legacy is the importance of crafting and delivering highly relevant messages that provide value for consumers. Now mobile is following right along in e-mail’s footsteps and marketers have learned some important lessons along the way.

Brotherly Guidance

Marketers need to keep in mind that consumers have become more sophisticated and expect highly targeted promotions. They won’t be very forgiving if marketers don’t get it right. Today e-mail is most successful only when marketers leverage customer data and add relevant content to their messages. For mobile, being able to connect cell phone numbers to a 360-degree view of individual consumers in order to provide relevant, useful content will be the industry’s great leap forward. 

But that’s not all mobile marketers can learn from their e-mail counterparts. Opt-in and consumer privacy rights are even more important for mobile than they’ve ever been for e-mail. People have their phones on them at all times — there’s no shutting them off or ignoring them — so when it comes to misdirected or spam messages through SMS, it can be seen as so intrusive that it’s borderline offensive. But as long as mobile sticks to the lessons on relevancy that e-mail marketers have learned, it can avoid those stumbles and provide incredibly targeted and timely benefits to consumers.   

As e-mail, mobile and social converge on one device, there is even greater opportunity for marketers to build on their relationships with consumers. But marketers can’t simply send the same message through each medium since the duplication will turn consumers away. Marketers will need to understand and leverage the inherent value of each medium. And as e-mail did before, mobile marketing will become an indispensable tool for marketers in the coming years and grow to be as big and strong as its big brother, e-mail.

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