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Beginner's guide to mobile marketing

3rd Jul 12 8:20 am

Want to get stuck into mobile? Let the editor of Mobile Marketing magazine get you started with his favourite tips and tricks

Any business that keeps half an eye on advances in technology to find out how it might help, or indeed harm, their business, has probably heard, or read, someone, somewhere, urging them to go mobile.

The problem for many businesses, however, is understanding exactly what going mobile entails. As a marketing tool, the mobile phone is an incredibly versatile device. Unlike your PC, the modern smartphone knows not only where you are, but in which direction you are facing.

It can take photos and videos, and send them anywhere in the world, instantly. It can help you find the nearest branch of your favourite shop or restaurant chain. It can enable you to respond to marketing messages you see in other channels, such as print, TV or outdoor. It can even enable you to compare the price of something you’re interested in buying in one store with the price elsewhere, simply by scanning the barcode on the packaging.

All of which is great, but it make mobiles intimidating.

So here are a few tips to help you get started on your mobile journey…

Seek permission

When you consider how personal a device the mobile phone is, it’s easy to see how powerful it could be as a one-to-one marketing tool. But also, how much damage you could do to your brand if you abuse that power. So the watchword for anything you do on mobile, particularly in terms of messaging to customers and prospects, is permission.

If you have access to customers’ mobile phone numbers through their dealings with you and suddenly start sending them messages, you’ll have a lot of unhappy customers. If, on the other hand, you remind those customers that you have their mobile number, or ask them to give it to you, and ask their permission to use it to send them relevant, targeted marketing messages, you will be pleasantly surprised at how many of them say yes.

This is a strategy that the retailer, Marks & Spencer, has adopted. And despite the slightly older, more female demographic of its core customer, at the last count, it had over 1 million people opted in to receive marketing messages on their mobile phones. In fact, Marks & Spencer recently stated that its mobile CRM programme and mobile-optimised site had helped it increase its sales via the mobile channel by 300 per cent over the past two years.

Start with the strategy

Augmented Reality, Near Field Communications, location-based services – if there’s one thing mobile isn’t, it’s boring. But you should resist the temptation to get carried away with the technology and all the whizz-bang things you can do in the mobile channel.

Start the same way you would if you were evaluating anything else, by identifying your objectives. Are you looking to win new customers, keep your existing ones happy and loyal. Or do you see mobile as a transactional channel, making it easier for your customers to buy form you on the go?

Ask yourself these questions, then look at the different ways, if any, in which mobile might be able to help you achieve them. That way, you’ll end up with something of real value to your customers, rather than a fancy app that does some amazing things, but is no use to anyone. That said, let’s look at some of the ways you can use mobile, if they fit your strategy.

Build a mobile website

If you have an analytics package on your website, it should be able to tell you the proportion of visitors arriving at your site on a mobile device. Anecdotal evidence suggests that for the average UK retail brand, 12 months ago, that figure was around 6 to 7%. In June, as it announced plans to offer free wi-fi in all its stored, Debenhams revealed that 20% of its online traffic was coming from mobile devices.

And the trend is not confined to retail brands. In fact, according to the research firm, comScore, 8 million people in the UK access the internet from their smartphone every day.

“Google estimates that by next year, there will be more web traffic via mobile, than via PC”

If you haven’t yet built a mobile version of your website, take a look at it on your mobile phone. No matter how smart your phone, you’ll find it’s not a particularly pleasant experience. Now try newlook.com, marksandspencer.com or debenhams.com on your phone to see the difference for yourself.

A mobile-optimised site enables your customers or prospects to engage with your brand when they have a few minutes to kill. If they’re not engaging with you because the experience is not a good one, chances are, they will engage with a competitor instead. As Jay Altschuler, director of global media innovation at Unilever puts it, when asked why he has put so many of Unilever’s brands on mobile: “We just go where our customers are.”

Google estimates that by next year, there will be more web traffic via mobile, than via PCs. Yet despite this, only 15% of companies currently have a mobile-optimised site.

The power of apps

Apps are wonderful things, or at least they can be. But with almost a million apps in the two major app stores (iTunes for Apple and Google Play for Android), the world doesn’t really need too many more. And while consumers may download a lot of apps, the vast majority of them are ignored after the first few uses. In fact, the analyst firm, Flurry, says that 75% of apps lose their audience after three months, and 96% after 12 months. It also reports that 85% of apps are only used once.

“75% of apps lose their audience after three months”

The key to building a successful app that customers will use and go back to and value, is to create something that offers real value, in the form of information, entertainment, or utility. So if you decide an app is for you, talk to your customers to ask them what they would like to see in it. Be led by this, but not blindly. They may not have done the research you have done into what you can do with a mobile app, using the phone’s unique capabilities.

So let your customer research inform the design of the app, but don’t be afraid to go beyond their expectations and give them something they didn’t know you could deliver.

Like the Tesco shopping app that lets customers add an item to their shopping basket simply by scanning its barcode. Or the FindaProperty app that brings up details of the houses for sale in the neighbourhood simply by holding the phone up and pointing it in the direction you are interested in.

An app can be an incredibly valuable marketing and loyalty tool. The trick is in the thought and the planning that goes into it, and the rationale behind the use of any of the whizz-bang technology.

Mobile advertising

Mobile advertising is one of the marketing world’s best kept secrets. You may not have a mobile-optimised site yet, but thousands of publishers have, from national newspapers to hobbyist magazines. So in those few minutes of downtime, when you see the people around you staring at their phone, they may well be catching up on the news and gossip on whatever interests them, on mobile sites devoted to football, rugby, ballroom dancing, tropical fish, and hundreds of other subjects.

These sites are more often than not funded by advertising. A year or two ago, the advertisers were primarily companies selling mobile content, such as ringtones and wallpapers for mobile phones, but that has all changed, as mainstream brands have seen the opportunity to reach consumers on their mobile phones.

Advertising on mobile phones is simple. Mobile ad networks such as InMobi, Mojiva and Millennial Media run self-
service platforms that enable advertisers to choose the types of mobile publications they want to advertise on, create the ad, then run it.

You can target the advertising by a variety of factors such as age, gender, interests and location, and you can cap your spend in the same way you do with Google AdWords. And the very precise location targeting that’s possible on mobile advertising makes it a highly effective medium for local businesses such as shops and restaurants, trying to drum up business, especially since most mobile advertising is sold on a cost-per-click basis, so you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

You can make your advertising as simple or as sophisticated as you want, incorporating video, links to social media pages or money-off coupons, delivered direct to the mobile phone. You can also advertise in mobile apps too. This is a great way to target your ads at people with specific interests.

Of course, if you advertise on mobile, you need somewhere to send people when they click on the ad. If you don’t have a mobile site, don’t despair. You can build a mobile landing page quickly for very little money. In fact, using Google’s Mobile Landing Page Builder solution, you can build a mobile landing page in a matter of minutes, at no cost.

Loyalty tool

Small and large businesses alike have found that mobile is an excellent loyalty and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool. The trick is to collect customer and prospect mobile phone numbers, and ask their permission to use the mobile as an ongoing communications channel. Usually, this is in the form of a simple text message.

Companies such as Textlocal and Txtnation offer simple, self-service platforms that enable business owners to collect and manage their database of mobile phone numbers, then use them to create marketing campaigns.

It could be a restaurant that finds itself unexpectedly quiet one night sending a text message that says. “Happy hour – visit us before 9pm tonight to get 2-for-1 on all main courses.” Or a dentist or hairdresser sending an automated message to customers a day, or an hour, before their next appointment. Or a text message to say that the engineer you are expecting today for the service visit is on his way, and will be with you in the next hour. Or that your order has been dispatched, and will be with you tomorrow.

It’s hard to quantify how much customers value these types of message, but if you’ve ever received one yourself, you will appreciate their power.

Location-based services

These are of particular interest to brands with retail outlets. They take advantage of the mobile phone’s ability to pinpoint the user’s current location, and even the direction in which they are facing. Knowing this, through an app or a mobile advertising campaign, you can target customers as they come within a few hundred metres of one of your outlets and tempt them in store with a money-off offer, or just a message about what’s on offer today.

Measure it

Whatever you do in mobile, it is measurable, and should be measured. Whether it’s the number of people clicking on an ad, responding to a marketing text message, or downloading your app, the mobile marketing firms you work with should be able to provide you with detailed analytics that will help you refine your mobile marketing campaigns and make them work harder to deliver themaximum return on investment.

So there, in a nutshell, are some of the many ways in which you can join the growing number of companies and brands that are going mobile. Not all of them will necessarily be right for your company, so work out your objectives, see where mobile fits the bill, go for it, and then get ready to reap the rewards.

To find out more about mobile marketing, make a date to attend Mobile Marketing Live on 1 – 2 October at the Business Design Centre, London www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/live

Mobile Marketing magazine's 10th edition is now out

Mobile Marketing magazine’s 10th edition is now out

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