The opportunity for mobile marketing is exploding in 2014. Analysts predict worldwide mobile subscribers will reach an estimated 7.5 billion by the end of this year and will swell to 8.5 billion in 2016. Those are astounding numbers for marketers who want to make one-to-one connections with customers on their personal devices.
But there’s a catch.
A recent study by mobile marketing firm Hipcricket revealed that 66% of customers surveyed say they’ve received text messages and mobile alerts from brands in the past six months, but only 45% found those alerts useful.
“Personalization is the first step towards relevance,” says Doug Stovall, chief operating officer of Hipcricket. “Brands must deliver relevant and personalized campaigns, or they’ll miss out on a growing share of the market.”
The study surveyed more than 1,200 consumers; 46% of respondents said brand messages weren’t relevant to their interests, 52% said the alerts felt overtly intrusive or downright “spammy,” and 33% said the brands’ texts didn’t offer any value.
Stovall says marketers can please customers by simply making mobile messages more personal and by including relevant offers. “A phone number reveals information like a person’s area code, which allows me to make offers based on location,” Stovall explains. “Additionally, marketers should note that customers are interacting [with brands] over time. So they can figure out what [consumers’] shopping patterns are. All of those things allow us to personalize the content that we’re sending to the users.”
Marketers need personal insights on customers to craft relatable campaigns. “Data is the key to building a relationship [with customers],” Stovall says. “The wonderful thing about mobile is that it [provides marketers with] a lot of data. Every piece of data is a piece of the puzzle for a marketer to build those relevant messages.”
Also revealed in the study, 41% of those surveyed say they’re willing to share more information about themselves if incented with offers or coupons. Stovall recommends that marketers reward customers who volunteer information with special offers. “Make that coupon available only to those who provide additional information,” he says. “Response rates are always better if there’s an offer or prize. The consumer needs to get something [for volunteering his information].”
The study also notes that 60% of consumers say they engage with as many as 10 brands a month across various channels, including email (81%), text messages (47%), Facebook (47%), push notifications (19%), and Twitter (12%). Stovall says all of these channels, especially mobile, allow marketers to listen to customers. “People have multiple devices and will continue to have multiple devices,” he says. “Through these channels, listen to your consumers. Consumers have a true voice, and marketers can hear it. Do what they ask for, and that’ll be a great tool for a marketer. The sky’s the limit.”