Emerging TechnologyMobileCommon Mobile Marketing Questions

Common Mobile Marketing Questions

Marketers are hungry for information on how to use mobile marketing. Here are a few FAQs and their answers.

We’re always fielding great questions from clients. Here are some topics that come up so frequently that they apply to just about everyone.

How much of my digital budget should I devote to mobile?

Mobile isn’t exclusively a digital channel. Just because your BlackBerry makes beeping sounds and the screen is composed of pixels doesn’t mean the rules of digital are the only ones that apply. You should use digital to complement your print, out-of-home, radio, local, and even TV advertising. Consider using mobile as the response mechanism for campaigns that appear in static media; also think about mobile as a way to reach consumers at times and in places that TV and online can’t.

Mobile display advertising as part of campaign should be at least $150,000. Anything below that as a line item in a well-sized campaign will achieve limited reach, low interaction rates, and minimum effectiveness, among other things. Throwing $10,000 or $15,000 into a plan for mobile just produces one-off initiatives that rarely achieve returns or indicative results that provide a basis for future investment.

Do I need a mobile strategy?

No, you need a brand strategy with a plan for determining mobile tactics. The most effective mobile marketing happens when you’ve found the right roles for mobile in your strategy for reaching, motivating, providing value to, and interacting with consumers. Mobile is really an indicator of customer behavior. Consumers who can be reached through mobile behave in ways that require different tactics than other channels. Those tactics then require different creative approaches, messaging, and functionality. Figuring out the roles for mobile essentially comes down to determining when interactions, sharing, sight, sound, motion, discovery, or transactions are better served by allowing a consumer to do those things through a device equipped with Internet access, location-awareness, text messaging, data input, and other capabilities. And figuring out how mobile will improve and complement a campaign gives it options that aren’t possible through other channels in your plan.

I thought by now our customers would be paying for things with their mobile phones and I’d be able to text message everyone walking by my stores. What’s going on?

Before those things become commonplace, a myriad of technical, privacy, security, and infrastructure obstacles must be resolved. But there’s probably more going on than you think, and I’d like to see more brands and services adapt and build on the ones that do work to provide more functionality and service to customers.

Lots of tests are being run in almost every conceivable area of mobile-based convenience, including coupon serving, debit and credit transactions, dynamic shopping lists, and a breathalyzer that connects to the local cab company.

One example of a service available today is travelers using bar-coded airline tickets that reside on their mobile devices. The trick is airlines have the types of readers that can scan the screen of a mobile device; not all scanners can (retail stores have the same limitations with coupons). Also, airlines are working with the Transportation Security Administration to make the service work with federal laws and airport security standards. That’s only one example, but it can apply to many other behaviors and customer services. Marketers should be thinking about how to adapt the capability.

I can’t wait until we can use our mobile devices to control our other appliances, machines, and transactions. Who wouldn’t want to control the applications we love to use on our PCs, DVRs, thermostats, nanny cams, digital content, Twitter feeds, and so on, and make them work together — all from the one device that you have in your hand most of the day? The infrastructure and systems interoperability isn’t there yet, but it will be. And it will happen sooner if we initiate programs that creatively use mobile interactions to make customer experiences better.

The great news is that none of the questions we get are about why a brand should use mobile. With so little denial, it seems that interest, understanding, and motivation are high for mobile. Now we just need to convert the high awareness to more specific spending and initiatives.

Eric is off today. This column was originally published July 9, 2009 on ClickZ.

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