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Mobile Marketing: Back to the Basics

  |  November 16, 2006   |  Comments

Considering mobile marketing but don't know where to begin? Three steps to getting started.

Though there's much excitement around mobile marketing's advanced features, some of the most asked questions I receive regard the basics: What is mobile marketing? How do I get involved? What mobile marketing tactics should I utilize? What tactics are best suited for my brand category? Who do I call to get started? And even, what is a short code?

We're still in the early days of the mobile marketing industry, so the market must continue to be educated on the options and opportunities available to it. Although there is a large base of providers experienced in all marketing tactics, many are just starting to dip their toes in. I spoke at a J.D. Power & Associates event two weeks ago, and it was interesting to hear how many automotive manufacturers are recognizing that mobile has become an integral element in their campaigns, due primarily to the ability to connect with the consumer in real time.

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) defines "mobile marketing" as "the use of wireless media as an integrated content delivery and direct response vehicle within a cross-media marketing communications program." This means mobile is one of many media channels and the key to success is integrating mobile with other traditional and digital media elements. Mobile integrated with print, on-pack, TV, radio, and so on drives interest and response from your target demographic. Today, mobile marketing doesn't stand alone; it's best when integrated into those other media channels.

Define Mobile Marketing Goals

Some goals or objectives for mobile marketing are increasing brand awareness; generating a customer opt-in database (although the database can only be used by the brand for the specific purpose that's confirmed with the consumer); driving attendance or participation in events, visits, or purchases; increasing revenues; and improving customer loyalty. One of the most important places to begin in defining your mobile campaign or initiative is to clearly identify your campaign's strategic goals and objectives. Once these objectives are determined, it will be easier to determine what mobile tactics work best -- as well as what measurement criteria can be used to evaluate the campaign's success.

Select a Mobile Marketing Partner

After you define your goals, you must select a mobile marketing partner. The mobile partner can be in one of the following areas:

  • An agency, such as Isobar, R/GA, and Ogilvy, or a mobile-specific agency, like Kikucall, ipsh, and Enpocket

  • An aggregator, such as mBlox, m-Qube (VeriSign), and SinglePoint

  • A mobile application service provider (MASP), like iLoop Mobile, Vibes Media, Air2Web, and Soapbox Mobile

Be wary: carriers have a number of relationships (direct connections) with aggregators and will counsel you to approach one of the folks in the above categories. You can choose to partner with an MMA member instead. (For a list of MMA members, go here.) This ensures your partner will adhere to and be aware of the industry's best practices and guidelines.

Select Mobile Marketing Tactics

Next, select your mobile marketing tactics. The most common tactics to date include sweepstakes, instant win, polling/voting, picture messaging, WAP (define), text to buy, participation TV, trivia, alerts, coupons, text to screen, and mobile content promotions (ring tones, video, wallpapers). Each of these will deliver a different value and experience to your target consumer. Work with your mobile marketing partner to determine what's best for you to achieve your specific goals and objectives.

Richard Ting from R/GA recommends brands keep the following in mind when choosing their tactics:

  • Mobile is a unique medium, and campaigns should be developed and designed with that in mind. The mobile medium has its own unique set of interactions and learned behaviors. Leverage them in your executions.

  • Don't just repurpose content from other media. Create experiences that are mobile specific.

  • Experiment with the medium. Every medium should be treated as emerging, and this truly applies to mobile. See what works. Innovative ideas will generate buzz and PR for a brand while pushing the medium forward.

  • Don't forget the user. Make it usable!

Your mobile marketing partner will not only help you define your tactics and ensure your approach to the consumer is sound but also help you define promotion flow; manage the database; procure a short code, if required; conduct testing; provide ongoing customer support and monitoring; and provide campaign reporting and analysis. Most important, however, your partner will help ensure your campaign follows industry rules and best practices to protect the consumer experience and consumer privacy.

Good luck!

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Laura Marriott Laura Marriott is executive director of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), which works to clear obstacles to market development, to establish standards and best practices for sustainable growth, and to evangelize the mobile channel for use by brands and third-party content providers. The MMA has over 250 members worldwide, representing over 16 countries. Laura has over 14 years' experience in the high-tech industry. Prior to joining the MMA, she served as Intrado's director of marketing, where she was responsible for the development and delivery of Intrado's mobility products and service. Laura previously served as director of business development at Cyneta Networks and Cell-Loc Inc.

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