Making Mobile Marketing Work

The following is a guest post from Jeannette Kocsis — senior vice president of digital marketing at The Agency Inside Harte-Hanks.  She has contributed to Social Media Marketing for Dummies and Mobile Marketing for Dummies.  She was named to Mobile Marketer’s Women to Watch 2010 list and serves on the DMA Mobile Marketing Council.  Harte-Hanks, Inc. (NYSE:HHS), San Antonio, TX, is a worldwide, direct and targeted marketing company that provides direct marketing services and shopper advertising opportunities to a wide range of local, regional, national and international consumer and business-to-business marketers.  Contact Kocsis at (845) 339-0022 or via e-mail.

While mobile is best viewed from a multichannel perspective, the relevance and value of the channel in and of itself is clear.  Mobile, as a delivery mechanism, may be exactly the right way to communicate specific offers.

While many brands are moving from test campaigns to mobile messaging as a way to reach customers with relevant communications, marketers are often challenged by the complex rules of engagement and various options available through mobile.  What are the trends and best practices for ensuring that mobile is an effective marketing tool?

LOCATION-BASED:  Location-based marketing is one of the greatest values of mobile.  With Foursquare at more than four million users and growing rapidly, it’s obvious that consumers are onboard with letting others know where they are.  Facebook’s offers at check-in bring considerably more opportunity, with more than 150 million mobile users with the check-in feature pre-installed in their mobile applications.

Companies need to pay attention.  They may already be getting check-ins at their   locations and should be thinking about whether this presents an opportunity.  On other levels, location-based marketing gives marketers the ability to send offers to people as they are walking into a store (if they are opted in).  That said, we as marketers have to be mindful of how the rules of marketing apply and need to question the timing of such offers.

MOBILE SITES:  With smartphone usage estimated at 28% market penetration in the U.S. – with 41% smartphone penetration in recent sales – every company needs a mobile site.  But marketers should be thinking about what the end users need on their phones rather than just “mobile enabling” existing web sites.  The important features, such as locators tied to mapping software, or other tools that help consumers get information quickly are key elements to consider for a mobile site.  A marketer can always include a link to the full web site for people with phones that are capable of seeing the whole site and who may need more information.  Mobile sites require a strategy – and probably user research as well – to make the most of them.

MOBILE APPS: Mobile applications are great ways to engage customers and provide content using the built-in technology of the phone.  But some companies forget that they need to market their applications.  The application stores are full and sometimes it’s difficult for consumers to find what they want.  App marketers need to ensure their intended customer can find their applications.  It may make sense to use an SMS strategy to do that, to let customers know how to search for the application when they are in consideration mode.

SMS:  Short message service (SMS) is becoming more main stream for multiple generations of users.  But SMS is more than delivering a coupon or a store event alert.  Using SMS is about creating meaningful marketing campaigns that use this method of communicating because of its timeliness and relevance.  Marketers should consider how customers could text questions to them or get alerts that help them with their busy lives.  The possibilities are endless but the two most important considerations are these: 1) be sure you have permission to send text messages, and 2) have a mobile strategy in place that provides relevant content that is meaningful to the recipient.

Mobile marketing is no longer an emerging trend – it is one that is already here.  As the mobile industry moves quickly and new technologies continue to evolve, regulations and guidelines are likely to evolve as well.  A word to the wise: it is vital to stay on top of this industry by getting involved.  Mobile marketers should join the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), the DMA Mobile Marketing Council and attend events that are dedicated to furthering the industry.

Above all, remember that at the end of the day, the consumer will decide whether to participate and remain in mobile programs.  Sophisticated marketers will keep best practices in mind to get the most out of their marketing investments.