05/31/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Holy Grail of Marketing

The Holy Grail for mobile marketers now is to create campaigns that have an impact on consumers because they arrive when they're most needed and, crucially, wanted. Pivotal moments in our lives, such as the passing of our driving test, the purchase of our first home, or the birth of our child, offer us, as marketers, an opportunity to created 'trigger-based' models that appeal to consumers' 'real interests'; improving response rates as a result.

Cross sections of industry opinion cite that those who engage in trigger-based marketing programs see as much as a 400% improvement in response rates. As an independent mobile marketing consultant, I am starting to see some interesting examples of trigger marketing in action: One of the major mobile providers in the UK, Orange, launched the Orange Wednesday campaign, which is a great example of a sensibly targeted campaign that identifies a genuine interest and creates an exemplary user experience to close the deal.

Orange's recent alliance, with soho-based advertising company Film Club, created a bespoke iPhone commercial around the Orange Wednesday offering, further demonstrates a clear knowledge of user interest and preference. Orange Wednesday is one of the longest running mobile campaigns and has helped Orange differentiate itself in a crowded market and create customer loyalty. Orange estimates over 14 million uses of the service and can boast the claim that it has made Wednesday the busiest cinema-going day of the week. In fact, the campaign has been so successful that it has now been extended out to Pizza Express.

The clever part is that trigger-based marketing does not need be confined to the internet. It can work just as well in digital print-based direct mail, or in text messaging. All these mechanisms share a direct two-way communication channel between the brand and the individual, maximizing the potential for one-to-one response. Consequently, a trigger-based campaign can use all these media - web, direct mail, SMS, in any particular permutation or combination. Also, once these campaigns are set up, they run themselves. The benefit being the client is able to send out huge volumes of messaging without the need for a huge in-house marketing team to manage it.

When looked at this way, it becomes clear that there are endless possibilities for precision-matched marketing. For example, if an individual is sent a direct mail piece to which they don't respond, that event can act as a trigger for further direct mail activity with a slightly different offer. Alternatively, it might act as a trigger for the generation of an SMS message or the dispatch of an email - or all three. The possibilities are endless, giving marketers a chance to design campaigns that precisely match their audience's unique needs. This, in itself is a problem that needs to be solved as it is complex for marketers to adopt mobile marketing beyond being a niche within the overall 360 approach to marketing.

What is required to make mobile marketing reach its tipping point is a trusted open and neutral infrastructure to enable adoption of what is possible on mobile. This includes both low investment and risk, but also allows interoperapility between all technology components, and across all applications and geographical locations.

This day will come very soon.