Not All Mobile Campaigns Work The Way They Should

Most news surrounding mobile campaigns consists of telling how successful the campaign was overall and how much better they are when compared to other forms of advertising.  In reality, not all mobile campaigns are created equal, and have the results that were hoped for.

Case in point- a local Jiffy Lube in Ames, Iowa and its recent mobile coupon campaign that had less than favorable results.  The retailer was convinced by a local radio station to conduct an SMS-based coupon campaign where listeners were urged, at the end of Jiffy Lube commercials, to use their mobile devices to text the word JIFFY to a 5-digit number.  All participants received mobile coupons for various Jiffy Lube discounts and services such as oil changes, wiper blades, tire rotations and filters.

The campaign ran for the last two quarters of 2008, and garnered nearly 175 SMS messages per week- resulting in over 4,500 responses overall for the campaign.  The disappointing part is the fact that out of those 4,500 respondents, Jiffy Lube only saw about 30 digital coupons actually redeemed.  This seemed odd, given the fact that some coupons were for free oil changes and heavily discounted services- so what could have caused such a bad response rate?

Andrew Storjohann, general manager of the Jiffy Lube of Ames, Iowa, knew that almost every other campaign launched through HipCricket, the provider of the digital coupon platform used in the campaign, had much better response rates.  The only explanation had to be that the problem lied with his specific business and campaign integration.  “The people either didn’t value our coupons or forgot about them,” he said. “It told me either our coupons weren’t very good or…maybe it’s the fact that you only get your oil changed every two months or so.”

The coupons expired in 30 days.  So, if a winner of a free oil change recently had the job done they wouldn’t be interested, Storjohann suggested.  However, that theory doesn’t explain the no-shows by those who won coupons for discounts on other services and products.

HipCricket Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Hasen said the problem with the Jiffy Lube redemption rate might have been timing. “I know it was coming up to winter in Iowa,” he said. “Perhaps folks put it off.” He also said people are still getting accustomed to mobile couponing. “Mobile is relatively new and the first objective is to get folks to respond to a call to action.”

This just goes to show you that not all mobile marketing works the first time around with better-than-expected results.  The type of business obviously has a lot to do with the success, and has to be matched effectively with the type of mobile campaign used.