Collaboration Tools for Mobile Marketers

In the early days of direct marketing, I was fortunate to belong to a group called the Inbox Insiders. It was a humble listserv, with members from a variety of backgrounds and industries: vendors, marketers, agency people, client-side people. Through this network, I could ask a question – either philosophical or technical – and get a response in minutes. It was invaluable to my career and my Email Diva advice column days. The job I have today, in fact, came from a shout-out to the Inbox Insiders.

Today the group is called Only Influencers, and there is a group starting up for the mobile community. For selfish reasons (the more people that join, the better it works for all) and for your professional growth, I urge you to join. Right now there is a free six-month trial membership, so you can try it out. Warning: you may get a lot of messages, so you may want to use a secondary email account.

One thing I take exception to is the group’s ban on salespeople. Throughout my career, I’ve learned tons from salespeople. In a sophisticated marketplace such as ours, the vast majority of salespeople are looking to build relationships, not harass cold leads. You may even find that the product /service they offer is just what you need.

Let’s be honest – few of us can consider ourselves to be true experts of mobile marketing. Even those who can, recognize that the rules and players are changing daily.

Mobile connects channels to extend the experience. QR codes, for example, can connect print to YouTube, point of sale to mobile web, or direct response to Facebook. Research on a mobile device is more likely to lead to a desktop or in-store purchase than a mobile purchase. As JiWire’s Mobile Audience Insights Report (registration required) reveals, of those who did research on a mobile device:

  • 40 percent bought online (up 19 percent Q1 2011 versus Q4 2010)
  • 31 percent purchased in-store (up 5 percent)
  • 20 percent purchased on a mobile device (up 1.5 percent)

As a result, integration and collaboration are more important than ever before. In addition to collaborating with our peers in the mobile arena, we need to collaborate with our co-workers.

Most of us have suffered from the existence of corporate silos. With different departments responsible for TV, radio, print, DM, store ops, email, social etc., developing a coherent and cohesive customer experience is a herculean task. Need it be this way?

In most situations, silos rise up not because of what executives are doing purposefully but rather because of what they are failing to do: provide themselves and their employees with a compelling context for working together.

– Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable About Destroying the Barriers that Turn Colleagues into Competitors by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, 2006)

The companies I’ve known that transcended marketing silos developed an integrated marketing calendar, showing the primary messages each season and describing every department’s execution. Then they meet regularly to discuss each group’s efforts and pave the way for post-meeting collaboration.

One stumbling block is each department’s desire to put its own stamp on the creative execution, which is often determined by those with the longest planning cycles, i.e., broadcast and print. My advice to the latecomers: Get over it. Your job is to create a coherent customer experience, and the graphic look and feel is a huge part of that. The other stumbling block is the inability to share assets across agencies. Collaboration tools like Basecamp and Microsoft’s SharePoint are invaluable for this purpose and to foster inter-agency communication.

These are exciting times to be in the interactive marketing business. With collaboration and a strong support network, we can delight our customers and enhance our skills. I hope you’ll join me in Only Influencers for Mobile Marketers. I may have a question – or an answer – for you.

Related reading

A QR code which leads to the URL for the ClickZ article about QR codes. Meta.