Mobile Marketing: Can You Reach Me Now?

Mobile marketing is an exciting, relatively new channel for reaching consumers, especially if you target teens and 20-somethings. Unlike the now-ubiquitous URLs on ads, mobile short codes are immediate. They’re the ultimate direct response tool to connect you to consumers.

Mobile marketing is a complementary medium. It can be incorporated into a marketing program in a variety of ways:

  • Branding. Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty,” a cause-related branding effort, has out-of-home, TV, print, interactive, and PR components. It also has a mobile aspect. A Times Square billboard allowed consumers to vote on their handsets. Votes were reflected on the billboard in real time, a nifty technological feat.
  • Direct response. This can take several forms:
    • Nestlé’s Nesquik campaign integrated a mobile promotion directly into its packaging, supported by marketing in-store and across other channels. Leveraging mobile, it gave consumers the opportunity to instantly learn if they won prizes at the point of sale. According to Jeffrey Glass, president and CEO of m-Qube, “Since the program ran for an extended period of time, it was a key to Nestlé’s marketing and also had a chance to create in-store sales lift.”
    • With a rate base of 850,000, Teen Vogue added mobile to its 55,000-plus “It Girl” panel for contests, surveys, and quick-hit questions, as well as other features, such as birthday reminders and mini-moblog (define) journals.
    •’s upcoming MIDIRingTones promotion will extend the reach of its Funkmaster Flex‘s TV, radio, and event marketing. This includes on-site event promotion with Verizon Wireless’s street marketing teams and data cards with a short code for a free download.

  • Interactive traditional media. “Reaching a prime mobile audience, Teen Vogue‘s turnkey program enables advertisers to extend the reach of their print buy without increasing their spend,” says associate publisher Jane Grenier.
  • Revenue generation. Personal involvement with devices translates to consumer willingness to pay for mobile ring tones, images, and content. According to Alexander U. Conrad, president and COO of Dwango Wireless, content can be promoted directly through the device, on the carrier’s storefront, on the content provider’s site, or with promotional materials. Both pay-per-piece and subscription mobile content are billed through mobile carriers, eliminating many payment and collection issues.

Mobile marketing helps build consumer relationships in a direct, measurable way. The medium truly puts the consumer in control. As cell phones are more personal than email, carriers have a heightened awareness about privacy and protecting consumers.

Mobile marketing differs from interactive marketing in that content delivery occurs over closed wireless networks, requiring substantial carrier- and handset-specific knowledge, as well as carrier approval. Content formats and ranking can vary from carrier to carrier. The devices, their capabilities, and consumers’ ability to use them all vary widely.

Adding mobile to a larger campaign requires detailed, careful project management to ensure flawless execution. On top of the many carriers and handsets that must be accommodated, not much content from other campaign aspects can be repurposed. Before implementing a campaign:

  • Consider your target demographic. Mobile skews younger.
  • Identify cross-media promotional opportunities. Cross-channel integration yields optimal results.
  • Understand the Mobile Marketing Association‘s (MMA’s) guidelines. Participating carriers individually approve each application.
  • Identify appropriate partners. Many campaigns use third-party suppliers to handle marketing integration and mobile implementation.
  • Develop measurable campaign goals.

Analyzing Mobile Campaigns

When planning a campaign, consider how to measure success. Review current campaign analytics to determine which indicators can be adapted to the mobile component. Due to the many ways mobile marketing may be used, approaches may vary. Mobile marketing extends the reach and interactivity of other media, so you may not get complete or unique measures. Adding a mobile component to a branding campaign, for example, can increase the effect and recall due to unique features and word of mouth. But it can be hard to separate mobile from other brand metrics.

Because the medium is relatively new, the analytics are still in flux. As with any new marketing channel, measures will evolve over time. Suggestions for beginning this process:

  • Respondents. Measure the number of people who participate or purchase content. Unlike interactive advertising, you may not be able to get a measure equivalent to CTR (define). The number of people who respond to a short code on a billboard may be very small compared to the total number of impressions and not reflect of the number of people influenced by the code.
  • Continued interactions. Sending a reply message or directing consumers to a landing page or microsite helps track on-going interactions.
  • Revenues. Because consumers pay for messaging and downloads, some campaigns generate direct revenues:

    Revenues per respondent = total revenues/number of respondents

  • Costs. Due to its complexity, mobile marketing often involves outside suppliers and internal tracking and project management resources. To understand the value, measure all relevant costs, including internal resources:

    Cost per respondent = total mobile marketing costs/number of respondents

  • PR. Mobile campaign guerilla features attract word of mouth and media coverage, which increases reach. Track PR using traditional media placement metrics and buzz-related tools, such as Google News, PubSub, and Technorati. Gary Towning, OgilvyOne’s senior partner, says Dove’s Real Beauty campaign mobile voting in Times Square generated both PR and buzz.

Marketers are using mobile to extend campaign reach or engage consumers in a very personal way. Right now, mobile marketing can help a campaign break through the clutter with immediate engagement and word of mouth. As it matures, the novelty factor will fade, requiring other forms of creativity. For now, mobile marketing is an excellent, if somewhat challenging, way to get a message noticed.

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