How to Deliver an Engaging Mobile Campaign

We have discussed how to use mobile Internet advertising to target consumers and how to manage the ROI of a mobile campaign using various optimisation techniques in previous columns. After reaching the desired consumers, we must think about what to deliver and how to keep them engaged.

Before that, we first need to understand user-browsing behaviour on mobile. Although more and more users today are signed on to 3G networks and mobile screens are getting bigger, browsing experience is very different between fixed and mobile Internet. We have always heard how the mobile phone can become an extension of the computer and how mobile Internet is an extension of fixed Internet. And yes, today’s consumers access Internet content and services through their mobile phones frequently. However, their browsing behaviour and mentality are very different.

In most cases, people accessing mobile Internet are on the go and lack motivation to switch on their computers or go to net-cafés.  A recent survey in China indicated that 64.4 percent of Chinese consumers surf mobile Internet from home and 47.3 percent are on the go, according to DCCI 2010.  Unlike sitting in front of a computer screen, mobile screens are usually small and most mobile devices do not support pop-up windows.  So you can imagine that users would be much less patient than when they are surfing on fixed Internet as they are looking for information that is directly relevant or interesting. And this behaviour affects how mobile campaigns are designed.

So what kind of mobile Internet campaigns work? In short, simple and clear.

Advertisers might want to skip the fancy intro Flash or the whole brand history when advertising on the mobile screen. If you want to promote a new product, you might just list all the benefits in the first page of the mobile campaign site, and the next one should tell consumers where they could get it. If there is a campaign to drive consumer participation, make sure to review and simplify the Internet campaign mechanism before moving it to mobile.

Most brand advertisers are often looking for sexy new ideas on mobile. However, this sometimes makes the mobile campaign too complicated for most mobile users to understand and participate.

But this is not going to work well on mobile in most cases.  There are too many actions and steps.  And by the way, this all has to be done on a little mobile keyboard.  You might already want to give up. So why would a mobile user want to go through all the trouble?

Using this as an example, how do we make it right for mobile users? Let’s revisit the mobile users’ browsing behaviour. They are in information hunting mode when looking at mobile screens as opposed to an information-browsing mode when looking at computer screens. The key phrase here again is “simple and clear”. Interaction design should be simple, and the action required should be clear. Leave the photo selection and upload job to the fixed Internet campaign site where consumers will have enough time to pick their favourite shots and have enough bandwidth to upload it (in case mobile users are not on 3G or WIFI network).  When users are away from their computers, they could be encouraged to check and vote for each other easily on the mobile campaign site, where it won’t take too much time and a few simple clicks will do. It’s good to have more functionality on a mobile campaign site, but it’s always better if you can let the consumer instantly recognise what you want them to do before they get confused and finally quits.

But how do we evaluate if a mechanism is too complicated for a mobile campaign? To answer this question, we need to look back at the target audience profile. For campaigns targeting youths, it could be fun to integrate different mobile technologies – having them download a mobile augmented reality game or sharing the activity they accomplished to SNS and micro blogging sites. This group of people are most likely technology savvy and early adopters, so it won’t be too hard for them to do all of this. But if the campaign is targeting housewives, then providing a mobile coupon download or discount information subscription on SMS could be the best way to communicate with them on mobile. Housewives may not be familiar with mobile phone technology, but this customer group is interested in sales information and saving money.  This type of campaign design would be easily accepted and can keep them engaged.

Finally, mobile interaction design should be relevant to user behaviours as well as to the brand or product benefits. Don’t develop a mobile campaign site just because other brands are doing so. Think about how to use mobile media and its capabilities to create value for the target audience, provide them what they want, and link it back to the brand (i.e. mobile game featuring your products for youths and coupon download for housewives).

When marketers are talking about digital marketing today, it is no longer just Internet marketing but Internet plus mobile – otherwise it is not a complete digital strategy. Because consumers carry their mobile devices anywhere and anytime, mobile has also become the best interactive tool in an advertiser’s media investment.

In our next issue, we will discuss more about how mobile can be used as an interactive tool and what a mobile integrated marketing solution should look like.

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