Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mobile Marketing is NOT a branch of Web Marketing

Since I started in mobile, I've been preaching that web-based marketing activities and mobile activities are completely seperate media channels. Looks like I'm not the only one who thinks this.

An article by Rob Payne in the Business section of The Australian newspaper makes the same arguement:

It's tempting to think of mobile marketing as something to address once you're comfortable with online marketing on the traditional internet. Likewise, marketers might be forgiven for thinking that they can allocate a budget to "digital media" and a small amount can be hived off to mobile.

Not so. The unique benefits of mobile combined with the current and projected growth rate of mobile internet usage mean that we must see it as a channel in its own right; a channel which deserves dedicated expertise both client-side and agency-side.

Read the full article here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Text Messaging - for Old People, Too

Text messaging and mobile usage statistics are really difficult to find, mostly because the arena is changing so fast.

Numbers appear to be all over the map. One source I read suggested that in the US there were 5.3 billion texts sent in December 2008. Another suggested that there are a billion sent per day. No matter which you believe, the numbers are big. And more importantly, they are growing exponentially.

For example, Canadians send approximately 100 million texts per day. This is over double the amount sent only one year ago.

But who is sending all these texts? According to Bob Bentz, President of Advanced Telecom Systems, 82% of adults aged 18-24 are avid text message users. And 72% of adults 25-49 use text messaging.

Bentz also claims that 53% of text message users are over 35.

Now, this is one of those funny stats that can be misleading. While it's quite probably true that 53% of text message users are over 35, they absolutely don't send 53% of all text messages. If I had to guess, the 35+ age group probably sends 10-20% of text messages.

However, for marketers, all it takes for a consumer to receive a brand communication via text message is that they have access to text messaging, and that they open/read text messages that they receive. And since text messaging is expanding across generations, marketers can be assured that they can reach almost anybody with text message communications.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Keeping it Simple, Stupid

I do a lot of reading on mobile marketing. Some evangelists like to spout off about the newest technologies: QR codes, proximity, iPhone apps, widgets, multimedia messaging, GPS coding, etc etc. Technology, we are told, will make mobile marketing successful.

Recently, a small business owner asked me how he can get his retail business involved in mobile. And if he should be thinking about all these new technologies that are available.

I told him - yes he should be thinking about them. But not for now, for the future.

As we know, other parts of the world are way ahead of where we are with mobile marketing. But why is that? Why can't we use the same technologies to attract consumers that they use in Japan? We have the same phones, the same networks, the same hardware capabilities.

The answer, as I explained to my friend, is that the consumer is not ready for those technologies. Yet.

But why is this, exactly? Let's examine.

When cellular phones were new in North America, the cost to pick up the phone and make a call was significantly less than it was elsewhere in the world. We payed pennies a minute to make a call. Other areas payed dollars a minute.

When text messaging became available, consumers in other areas took to it as a way to save money. Here, not so much.

And in terms of consumers coming to understand their phone as more than a phone, but as a complete mobile communications device, text messaging is the first step. North American consumers have only recently woken up to text messaging. But that's as far as most consumers have gone.

All the other technologies are nice to know about. Especially as marketers, since we need to be aware of what's coming down the pipeline.

But the answer to my small business friend, is that the best way to get started in mobile is with bulk text messaging. That is the lowest common denominator, in terms of enabling consumer access to your brand information. The fancy new technologies available right now are much too advanced for the average consumer.

So keep it simple. Start with text messaging. Worry about all that other stuff later.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Burning the Bacon with Barrett

Check out Phil Barrett's blog on mobile and interactive marketing. Phil has some smart things to say, and I expect to be referencing to his posts from time to time.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sex + Texting = Sexting

Last week I wrote a blog post about morning-after pills available to high-school aged girls via text message to the school nurse. After posting my usual announcements on Facebook and Twitter, my blog received more traffic that day than any day since I started. Apparently, sex does sell. Let's see how this post does.

This post is about 'sexting' - the act of sending nude or suggestive images/video via text message or MMS (multi-media message). Apparently, this is the new way to flirt.

The dangerous component of this is when teenagers, who are heavy text message users, are participating. Nude photos of underage people are illegal, and distribution, even via text message, can lead to a jail sentence.

Further, anybody participating in this type of activity should be very careful about who they send the photos to. Anybody who receives them can simply forward them to everybody on their phones contact list. Who of course can forward them to everybody on their contact list. And so on. And so on.

Does this mean that mobile has come of age?

Consumer Preferences

Recently somebody asked me why I feel so strongly that mobile will become a huge part of brand marketing over the next few years.

There are many answers to this question, but one of the key benefits that makes mobile so powerful is the ability for it to allow the consumer to set their own preferences.

At least in North America, mobile is following a very strict no-spam policy. That means everything is opt-in, with easy opt-out options. This is obviously a benefit to consumers, ensuring that they only receive message that they want. But importantly, this is also a huge benefit to marketers.

What? Consumers can restrict the messages they receive? How can this possibly be good for marketers?

It actually makes mobile a very powerful tool for marketers. And here's why:

1) No Wasted Messages

If a marketing department sends out a piece of direct mail, blanked to all residents within certain postal codes, they know that a certain percentage of people aren't interested in reading it. Most likely a large percentage of people. But they send it anyway, and it costs them money to send it, even to those who don't read it. Mobile only costs marketers money to send to consumers who are actively seeking communication from that brand. No wasted costs on messages to consumers who aren't interested.

2) Enthusiastic Recipients

By empowering the consumer to choose what they want to receive, mobile marketing inherently provides marketers the opportunity to reach consumers who are enthusiast about receiving communications from their chosen brands. Since the consumer is so keen, response rates to promotional offers are significantly higher than other types of media.

3) Trackable ROI

Why is ROI so important these days? Let's face it, in today's economy, marketers need effective ways to measure different types of marketing. On a more specific level, advertising agencies need to demonstrate to their clients, just as marketing-department types need to demonstrate to their supervisors, that their marketing activities are being successful. Since consumers can opt-in and opt-out at any time they want, mobile activities demonstrate, on a message-by-message basis, what types of offers generate the best response, what types of messaging holds the consumers interest, and even what types of message drive the consumer to unsubscribe. For a brand, this can be very valuable lessons, and the knowledge gained can be applied to future mobile activities, as well as to their other media spaces.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Happy Easter

Here's a little Easter holiday test you can try. Write up a brief text-message Easter greeting and send it to everybody on your phone's contact list. See how many people respond - you might be surprised.

I'm heading out of town for a couple days, for my first ever visit to the West Edmonton Mall. Of course, I'll be keeping my eye out for mobile marketing opportunities within the mall environment.

Enjoy your holiday long weekend!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mobile Morning-After Pill?

There's nothing like a little controversy to generate some awareness. And somebody in the UK has definitely found a controversial use for text messaging.

According to an article in the Times Online, highschool-aged girls at select schools in the UK will be able to use text-messaging to request a morning after pill from their school nurse. This is a trial program at 6 schools in Oxford and Banbury, although the actual schools have not been identified.

Parents will not be informed of their children's request for the emergency contraceptive. However, child protection staff will step in if the girl is under the age of 14.

I can imagine the debate now between conservative religious types and the medical community. This debate will only be good for text messaging, as it will highlight its prevalence in society.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Awareness is the Key

There are several key ingredients to a successful mobile campaign. One of those is important above all the others.

Mobile campaigns must be engaging. Because of the opt-in/opt-out nature of mobile, engaging the consumer will ensures that they will want to continue to receive messages from a brand. But this is not the most important component.

Mobile campaigns must offer added value. Coupons, delivered wirelessly, are one of the best ways to achieve this. Without added value, a text message is just words on a screen. However, added value, although important, is not the top feature for a mobile campaign to be successful.

Above all others, mobile campaigns must promote themselves. The best-designed mobile campaign ever will be a complete flop if nobody knows about it. Awareness is key.

So how does a brand promote a mobile campaign? How does the consumer find out that they can text-in-to-win? The answer is simple - mainstream advertising. Print, radio, tv and web. All these mainstream media channels can drive consumers to mobile. The call to action of many mainstream ads of the future will be to text the keyword to the shortcode. After that, the mobile campaign can take over and provide the consumer engagement that it is so good at.

I've heard numerous mobile evangelists claim that mobile will take over from other types of media. They are wrong. Mobile marketers must be aware that their new media relies on the old media to be successful. Indeed, mobile will become another, important, part of the overall marketing mix.