Mobile Marketing 101

Many believe that mobile marketing will finally have a chance to shine this year. According to ABI Research, mobile marketing revenue is expected to reach $24 billion by 2013. Other studies indicate that there are four times as many mobile phone users as Internet users, and that mobile advertising has eight to 10 times higher CTR (define) than online advertising.

To further support mobile marketing on the rise, there have been recent deals by some of the big technology names. Google just reported its $750 million acquisition of AdMob. Then there was Apple’s reported $275 million purchase of Quattro Wireless, putting both companies in a good position to spur on growth of the mobile advertising market.

Benefits of Mobile Marketing

The main appeal of mobile marketing is that it’s a direct response communication that can be sent to countless people. Armed with GPS and location-based features, mobile devices allow users to find what they want, when they want it, and within their proximity. This introduces many new opportunities for marketers to reach out to mobile users. According to research by Morgan Stanley, 91 percent of mobile phone users had their phone close to them 24 hours a day. Not to mention that their phones are always on.

Payment on mobile phones is also a key benefit to marketers. Billing can be handled through the users mobile network, and if their phone allows them to surf the Internet or contains “apps” (more on that later), there are even more opportunities to allow people to purchase.

Types of Mobile Marketing

Marketers can reach out to mobile users in several ways. Below are some examples of different technologies that can be used to interact with various types of mobile phones and their users:

  • Short message services (SMS) – text messaging. SMS, or texting, has been the primary tool for mobile marketers, with 60 percent to 70 percent usage. SMS is available on all GSM-enabled mobile phones. It allows mobile users to send short text messages, about 160 characters, to each other. Mobile marketing via SMS means you give mobile users the opportunity to opt in and choose to receive communications from you. Examples would be receiving sports scores, news updates, invitations, and promotions. Mobile users can then respond to your communication by sending back feedback or maybe to vote. “American Idol” pioneered this with AT&T by allowing viewers to vote on their favorite contestant.
  • Multimedia messaging service (MMS). Multimedia messaging service is similar to SMS but has more features. It allows users to go way beyond simple text messages and use rich media like pictures, video, and audio attachments. With newer and multimedia feature-rich phones, this opens the doors for even more possibilities. It also allows for better branding opportunities for marketers. SMS is still the king because it’s available on all mobile phones.
  • Bluetooth, wireless, and infrared. With most mobile devices armed with Bluetooth, wireless, and/or infrared, there are many possibilities for marketing to mobile users. Proximity marketing is one of the leading methods. The idea is to be able to reach out to mobile users in a defined area (e.g., a restaurant, the airport, or a sports event). To illustrate this better, check out what the Connecticut Sun WNBA team is doing. Photos, video content, audio ringtones, and special offers can be delivered to fans at home games via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. It points out that traditional signage has become somewhat transparent to fans where proximity marketing breaks through the clutter. It offers an interactive experience that is new and engaging for fans and sponsors.
  • Mobile applications. The iPhone phenomena began back in January 2007 when Apple first introduced these devices to the market. Since then, Apple has sold more than 50 million iPhones. These devices have pioneered new opportunities to engage with customers. They each have the ability to do text messaging and MMS, but take it a step further by allowing developers to produce applications that create a richer experience.

Early in the ’90s, companies saw the importance of having a Web presence. Now many major brands are seeing the importance of having an app for the iPhone and other smart phone devices.

Surfing the Web on a small device isn’t as easy with a small window to browse in. Having an application designed specifically for interaction between company and customer provides a much better experience. Banks, for instance, allow you to locate a local branch and do online banking. E-commerce sites like Amazon, news sites like USA Today, and social media sites like Facebook each have apps that are designed specifically for an experience within a small window.

The iPad, which was just introduced this year, already has .03 percent marketshare. It promises a more immersive and integrated user experience that takes advantage of the device’s 9.7-inch touch screen.

Also recently announced was the iAd mobile advertising network. It was designed to introduce rich media ads within the app instead of taking the user to somewhere else, like a browser. Other platforms, like the Android and BlackBerry, also have app stores and are hard at work trying to provide new ways to provide a rich experience for users and advertisers.

Whether or not 2010 is the time for mobile marketing, become familiar with this channel for your own business and explore what possibilities exist for you as a marketer. This is just a brief overview and should help introduce you to the possibilities.

As always, if you’re aware of other resources or case studies, please post below.

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