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Mobile Marketing Magic: Making the Most of the Hot New Trend

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The term "mobile" tends to confuse a lot of business owners. Questions pop up like "Do I really need it?", "Is my site mobile ready?" and, "What do consumers expect from mobile?" Deciding to go mobile is, for many, no longer an option. With staggering numbers of people accessing content on their mobile phones, mobile is a must. I asked Tania Mulry of DDx Media to spend some time breaking mobile down for us.

Q: Why is mobile marketing so important today?

Admit it. Your mobile phone is a remote control for your life. No other form of media can compare to its power in your life. It is your most personal device, and you almost never share it, unlike TVs, radios, newspapers, magazines and computers. Your mobile phone is always on, always with you and most likely, you even sleep next to it!

According to Wireless Intelligence, there are over 6.4 billion mobile connected devices in the world as of this writing. Considering the world population just crossed 7 billion, that's pretty amazing! A survey conducted by the Cellular Telephone Industry Association (CTIA) determined that 92 percent of Americans simply do not leave the house without their cell phones.

Make no mistake about it. Mobile is not a marketing trend. It is an imperative. Analysts predict that mobile advertising spend will meet and then exceed online advertising spend next year. It is here to stay and it is working for many companies. Here's why:

Mobile has enormous potential to connect advertising in the physical world directly to response and commerce opportunities on the phone. Mobile is a bridge that makes advertising more accessible and actionable to each consumer and therefore, it has the potential to increase the ROI of every marketing channel to which it is cleverly connected.

Luth Research and the Mobile Marketing Association, surveyed marketing thought leaders on the trends, issues and future direction of mobile marketing and offered these compelling statistics:
  • 82 percent of marketers are using some form of Mobile Marketing;
  • 71 percent of marketers increased their Mobile Marketing budgets for 2012
  • The 79 percent of respondents using Mobile Marketing in their loyalty programs are deriving great value
  • 51 percent of respondents state that they receive higher ROI from mobile than traditional marketing programs

One of the most compelling benefits of mobile marketing is that it invites your prospective customer into a very intimate conversation, and provokes nearly instant attention and response. Once you are invited into an ongoing mobile conversation with a customer, you have a golden opportunity for high engagement and if you cultivate that relationship well, it can be a fruitful one.

Q: What can be done with mobile marketing? Can you give some examples?

Think of your phone as a mini computer -- in fact it is probably better equipped and more powerful than a computer you had 10-20 years ago. This miniature marvel is a tiny gift from the marketing deities because it can help you share so many cool experiences with your audience:

  • Sharing exclusive content -- pictures, videos, songs, podcasts, voicemails
  • Collecting leads and automating follow-up from advertising, trade show exhibits, etc.
  • Inserting your branded message in apps, mobile websites, text subscriptions through mobile media placements which can range from text to static banners to rich, interactive display ads
  • Providing optimized content when your consumers search for your type of business through hundreds of mobile search engines
  • Welcoming the consumer on your mobile website
  • Providing the ultimate, permanent branded experience on your mobile applications

Q: What's the number one thing I need to do to make more money with mobile?

Sometimes the simplest things make the biggest difference. Your first order of business when building a mobile marketing strategy is to think of ways you can use existing assets to build your mobile contact database. Mobile calls to action can be added to just about any campaign -- print, outdoor, TV, radio, social media, online, events, or even banner ads. You can even collect leads from trade shows and events.

Why start here? According to CTIA, nearly everyone is open to text marketing:

  • 72 percent of Americans text message across all demographics
  • 77 percent of customers would like to receive mobile alerts or reminders from companies they choose
  • Twice as many people text message than own a television set

When clients first start working with mobile messaging, they wonder if customers will truly read their messages. The answer is a resounding, "Absolutely!"

Because people are so tethered to their phones and use text messaging for urgent conversations with family and friends, nearly all text messages are read within six minutes of receipt. Mobile coupons inserted into text messages, therefore, have a 97 percent Open Rate and a 20x higher redemption rate than paper coupons! Mobile coupons can be used to increase repeat business, drive revenue spikes on slow days and promote viral sharing of the offer.

According to a study by the International Journal of Marketing, mobile marketing campaigns produced response rates of 31 percent while email marketing campaigns yielded 6 percent and print yielded 0.55 percent response.

According to Gartner, and as reported by CNN, in 2012 over half of the U.S. population, approximately 180,000,000 people, will have used their mobile devices to download coupons and make online purchases. You might as well be sending them something to get them to buy from you!

The most effective form of mobile engagement is through time sensitive special offers or discounts (referred to as mobile coupons) are most likely to lead to a purchase in store or online (ordering physical products or mobile content such as applications, music, eBooks and games).

Q: Are QR codes really hot and what gets a better response, text or QR codes or both?

It appears that QR codes are all the rage these days -- as their deliciously geeky boxes of black and white pixels are appearing everywhere from billboards, to TV, to fashion items and packaged goods. QR stands for quick response -- and that is a good simple description of what they are meant to do -- they are meant to encode simple instructions as a symbol that can be scanned and interpreted by a QR reader. The scanning process drives the user to a specific task on their phone -- opening a website, sending a pre-formatted text or email message, calling a phone number, or downloading an app.

In a head to head test between QR Codes and text instructions, we normally see three to four people texting for every person who scans the QR code. It is still a bit clumsy for someone to find the QR code reader on their phone, orient and scan it.

That being said, if QR codes add 25-33 percent to your response, they are worth including! QR codes are inexpensive to create and manage and don't really add to your printing costs.

Q: Is having a mobile site important and how can you easily get one?

The mobile web gets more traffic and engagement than mobile apps. Google/Ipsos ran a U.S. consumer Mobile Movement survey in April 2011 and found that mobile advertising means business. Of people who react to seeing a mobile ad:

  • 42 percent click on the mobile ad
  • 35 percent visit the advertiser's site
  • 32 percent search for more information on their phone
  • 49 percent make a purchase
  • 27 percent call the business

Despite these conclusive findings, 79 percent of large online advertisers still do not have a mobile optimized site, according to Google/Kelsey in a 2010 study.

Mobile web traffic is growing tremendously, and like the desktop-based web, is driven in great part by search. Mobile web users expect content to be relevant to their location, load quickly and be easy to navigate or they are on to the next search result.

Is your business website ready to be found through mobile search? Here's an easy test you can do. Open your website on a mobile web browser:
  • Are there clear action buttons, neatly organized in order of importance to a mobile local searcher? If so, good job!
  • Or -- is it your full website shrunk to fit the screen with big missing chunks because you used flash banners? If so, you really need help!

I recommend investing in a custom-branded mobile website. There are free and low cost mobile website builders that will convert your content into a decent looking mobile website, but you will have to live with their formatting options, their advertising and limited branding.

Q: Do I have to have an app?

I'm often asked by clients if they should focus on building a mobile app or website first. Mobile technology has been converging quickly, and now there are affordable ways to tackle both projects at once for a very affordable cost.

Successful apps fall into two major categories. They are either extremely useful or extremely entertaining. Ideally, you would want to provide a mix of both factors in any app you launch.
For many businesses, a starting point is to port the essential content you have on your website and social media outlets to a mobile website including your shopping or ordering options. Then identify one or two truly unique, useful or entertaining app-powered features that could make a mobile application a special differentiator for your business. These could be features that tap into the phone's features like the camera, voice or GPS, for examples. (You can read more about apps for businesses here: "7 Reasons Your Business Needs an App.")

Getting your app published in the popular mobile application stores is a huge rush and it does provide you with a brand new distribution channel to reach a highly engaged, income qualified target audience. You can give away your app for free to encourage downloads (a great branding strategy), charge for the app, or provide a free app and charge for premium content upgrades, so it can also be a new source of revenue for your company.

Q: What's Next for Mobile Marketing?
After many years of promising trials, mobile marketing is finally seeing the commercialization of Near Field Communications (NFC) mobile devices. NFC will enable a wide range of innovative consumer experiences. First, we'll be able to create device to device content or payment exchanges. Next we'll be able to inspire consumers to use their phones to interact with "smart tags" attached to posters, magazine inserts, in store displays and more to enable cool things like downloading music, apps, games, mobile ticketing, mobile payments, entertainment services and couponing. Major phone manufacturers and mobile network operators and popular operating systems are beginning to make pushes in this area. Stay tuned!

Q: Any Last Thoughts?

Mobile is a complex area of marketing, and you may want to reach out to an experienced consultant or agency to help you navigate it properly. If you want to get the best results and have control of your campaign, you'll probably want to work with a team that will take your wishes into consideration.

Before you jettison less responsive channels, think of how they can work together with mobile. A print ad or email can invite someone to join your text list with a special incentive, and a mobile text can remind someone to check their email or tune into a radio or TV broadcast. Think of and use mobile messaging as the connective tissue facilitating movement between other channels. That's where the mobile magic lies.

About: Tania Mulry is an award-winning mobile marketer and the founder and CEO of DDx Media, Inc., a marketing consultancy that specializes in working with businesses to develop mobile marketing campaigns, websites and mobile applications.

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