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Voice Services for Mobile Marketing: Lots of Options!

  |  July 26, 2007   |  Comments

The seven voice-based mobile marketing channels, and how to use them.

Let's talk voice-based mobile marketing. There are lots of opportunities for marketers to leverage voice for mobile marketing campaigns. Although when we think mobile, we immediately think of mobile data, we shouldn't forget voice. As Gene Keenan, VP Mobile Strategy for Isobar, states, "Voice is still the killer application. As an agency, we use voice because it has the largest audience and has the ability to entertain, engage and inspire in ways that text messaging can't."

Voice provides an opportunity to capture consumer interest, then engage them in more advanced services via text, video, Web, etc. Voice is easy for consumers to interact with based on their current experiences with their device. There's no learning curve. According to Keenan, "The numbers are staggering," for the performance of voice based mobile marketing initiatives. A single voice campaign can generate upwards of 200,000 consumer engagements (from a single campaign)! The viral aspect, generating an average pass-along rate of six to one, is also significant. So why not include voice as an important part of the mobile media mix?

What are the available options ?

Mobile Advertising Mobile advertising is also a consideration in the voice world. In the Jingle Networks' 1-800-FRE-E411 service, the company is selling ads in two places on their directory assistance (DA) calls. The DA call is free to consumers for listening to ads placed during the call, a 10-12 second ad on the front end of the service, and a 15 second ad just before the number is delivered. Today, the service generates approximately 21 million calls per month. Awareness is generated through viral pass along. Lyn Chitow Oakes, SVP marketing for Jingle, tells me "Pay-per-call lead is perceived as more valuable than a pay-per-click lead," by advertisers who are interested in leveraging their services due in part to the fact consumers are interacting with the service when they are looking for a specific product and are ready to buy.

Content Downloads Content downloads, through voice, allow the application to 'potentially' touch a broader base of consumers, given their familiarity with voice services. Companies like SingleTouch Interactive, who leverage Abbreviated Dialing Codes (ADC) for mobile, provide an easy means for consumers to access mobile content through voice services. The opt-in requirements for these programs is the same for voice as it is for data (as defined by MMA Consumer Best Practices), in order to protect consumer privacy and ensure repeatable experiences.

Streaming Content or Alerts As in text messaging or the mobile Web, consumers are able to access, via voice, streaming content or alerts on an on-demand basis. These are particularly interesting services for older demographics. Try #FOXN for streaming audio if you're based in the United States (again, leveraging the SingleTouch ADC).

Viral Voice Applications VariTalk is a company that has mastered voice campaigns that spread virally like wildfire! One of my personal favorites is from the Virginia Tourism Board that enables the consumer to enter information about them or the person they would like a voice call to be made to. The application creates a country song for the targeted recipient based on information provided by the consumer.

Premium IVR Still other voice applications have parents signing up to send pre-recorded calls to their kids from characters or celebrities for a nominal fee. Big Bird could soon be calling to say "Wow, you ate all of your lunch today." Imagine how that would make a consumer feel about their favorite character?

Voice Chat Services Companies like Lavalife use voice services in dating applications. Customers can access the prospective dates profile through Interactive Voice Response (IVR). Customers are able to listen to the profiles, leave anonymous messages, etc., all through voice.

Voice Search Services like the mobile DA service from Jingle Networks also help educate consumers on voice search. which hopefully will translate into higher usage rates for mobile search from the mobile Web.

Voice services will help raise awareness and ultimately, educate consumers who aren't familiar with mobile data services. Voice provides an easy means of access to an application where consumers can then be sent text messages, multi-media messages, or other access for the voice services.

Given the success of voice services, the industry is collectively working on what's next. Future considerations may include Premium IVR (already in place in Europe today), Single Short Code Access for both voice and data, and integrated Voice and Video Recognition (IVVR) (also already deployed in Europe).

According to George Rogerson, EVP at Cellfish Media, "Voice can be more entertaining than text, and can tell more of a story for the consumer." So, if voice isn't already part of your cross-media mobile campaigns, I'd encourage you to try it.

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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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