The ABCs of Mobile Marketing, Part 3

Mobile is but one channel in a brand’s cross-media marketing communications program. It’s a means to target a consumer anytime and anywhere via the highly personal mobile device. Mobile programs have been offered across the globe, on some scale, for the past few years. So what have we learned from existing campaigns to date? And what lessons and information about the mobile channel can be shared with the brands, content providers, and agencies that are just entering the space?

I decided to touch base with mobile marketing veteran Jim Manis, a SVP at m-Qube and chairman emeritus of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA). Manis has been involved in mobile marketing since 1998 and with m-Qube since January 2002.

“The amount spent by media companies and brands has increased dramatically in 2005 and continues to escalate in 2006,” says Manis. “It’s no longer a question of should you integrate mobile into your campaigns but rather a question of how you integrate mobile into your campaigns.”

So what have we learned from those who came before us, and how can we leverage this knowledge to ensure our own mobile successes?

First and foremost, mobile is a channel, not a strategy. It’s critical to leverage mobile marketing’s unique capabilities within the context of an overall marketing campaign. That means integrating the mobile element into print, on-pack, and TV spend. Mobile is but one component of a cross-media marketing communications campaign. It offers the ability to target consumers when and where they’re ready, willing, and able to engage with your brand and, potentially, make a purchase. Mobile doesn’t stand alone.

Second, drive opt-in. Consumers are in control of their mobile experience and their interaction with your brand. Encourage them to engage in your campaign by offering benefits that will appeal to them. These may include content, information, contests, entertainment, novelties, offers, and so on. Programs must also be easy for consumers; they must offer a high-quality, easy-to-use experience that equates to minimal effort and hassle; privacy protection; and ease of data entry. Your mobile campaign must be simple to use and understand. Then, once you’ve engaged the consumer, keep the dialogue going. Mobile offers an opportunity for exclusive, unique interaction — so keep the consumer engaged!

There are a few misconceptions about the mobile channel. Let’s straighten them out with the facts:

  • Belief: Mobile is best suited for the teen market.
    Fact: Though mobile is certainly better suited for those 35 years of age and under, it certainly spans age groups. New campaigns and initiatives are focused on the older demographics and include automotive campaigns, loyalty programs, fundraising, and sports and entertainment marketing. The mobile demographic is beginning to skew more broadly, so don’t feel restricted by age. M:Metrics research also shows the majority of mobile users are employed full time. That means the mobile demographic has a higher basis of disposable income. Determine your segment, and develop the campaign accordingly.
  • Belief: Mobile is an extremely difficult channel to use and is hard to understand and navigate.
    Fact: Due to the commonality of standards and the adoption of industry best practices, mobile is a very easy channel to use, once you find the right partner to help guide you through the process.
  • Belief: Mobile makes for fast campaign deployment.
    Fact: Mobile marketing programs do require lead time and may even require more lead time than you anticipate. Plan accordingly. Integrating mobile into a campaign requires as much preplanning as print or TV.

Bottom line: adding mobile to your initiatives is a process of iterative refinement, not reckless creativity. “The mobile channel offers substantial benefits to agencies, brands, and consumers. Don’t delay, move now!” says Manis. “If you have not yet begun to learn about the benefits mobile can provide, start to learn now. Mobile is simple, start now.”

Mobile is now a mainstream marketing element. On “The Apprentice” this past Tuesday night, Donald Trump encouraged the candidates to boost consumer participation in a text-based campaign for Gillette. If The Donald is doing it, shouldn’t you be, too?

This concludes the three-part series on the ABCs of mobile marketing. Future columns will focus on the issues, technologies, and opportunities facing our mobile marketing ecosystem. Stay tuned.

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