How small-to-midsize companies do mobile cost-effectively with minimal risk
October 21, 2013
A scene from an iPhone 5 commercial
For a smaller-sized company, mobile may look intimidating and costly at first glance, but with thoughtful and strategic planning, a small-to-midsize company can – and should – leverage mobile to boost its marketing.
A smaller company should probably not jump to create a mobile wallet or even a mobile application, but all companies can create a mobile-friendly site and SMS campaign on a fairly small budget. Companies need to view mobile as an investment similar to any other channel, one that requires time and planning, but can ultimately benefit a campaign.
“Many of the smaller clients we work with know they need a mobile strategy but are in the very early stages,” said Susie Ketterer, principal of Simantel, Peoria, IL, and president of the Advertising and Marketing International Network. “There's also a trend in online marketing where technologies become buzz words, and everyone reacts to needing a solution to accommodate.
“We've seen this happen with mobile where company managers demand their company ‘go mobile’ and as a result, teams react quickly without thinking through the strategy first,” she said. “In these cases, we are faced with having to re-architect their mobile presence as their first attempts miss the mark.
“Smaller companies with limited budgets need to focus on the areas of mobile delivery that have the largest capacity to impact customers. Understanding both strategic objectives and customer behavior is key to determining where and how to spend their dollars. For these companies just beginning, it makes sense that they would first consider investing in efforts that have high adoption.”
Investment by adoption
When a company is first setting out to enter the world of mobile, it should first and foremost look at its target audiences to see where theyare and what they are doing.
For starters, the general audience has vastly adopted SMS and mobile Web, while the majority are slow to adopt mobile wallets. Take this information into account, and start where your consumers are.
“When cost considerations drive mobile marketing, understanding user behavior is very important in determining the best use of marketing dollars,” Ms. Ketterer said. “Therefore it makes sense to invest in marketing efforts that have high adoption and low cost, which are the items toward the bottom of the [Edelman Digital] pyramid.”
The Edelman Digital pyramid
When you take investment and adoption into consideration, the obvious first moves are towards a mobile-friendly site and an SMS campaign.
Beyond the general trends of SMS and mobile Web, even smaller companies can find cost-efficient measurement and tracking methods to see how their target consumer behaves.
“We very often get asked early in an engagement to do a lot of benchmarking competitors,” said Stephen Burke, vice president of mobile at Resource, Columbus, OH.
“But you really need to look at your own backyard,” he said. “What are the trends for your mobile site, if you’ve run an SMS program how did it perform. We always advise, look at your own data as your core benchmark.
Drafting a strategy
Once a company has a deeper understanding of your consumer, it should begin to plan its mobile strategy.
According to Mr. Burke, every company needs to outline an 18 month road map that prioritizes five mobile marketing touch points: mobile advertising, SMS, mobile Web, app and testing.
Determine whether or not your goal is ROI or brand awareness.
“If they’re looking for ROI, they should look at things that drive conversions to purchase, and SMS is good for that,” Mr. Burke said. “If you’re a CPF brand, and you’re not driving directly to purchase, you might invest in an awareness campaign, which would be a mobile-friendly site linked to display advertising that.”
The most important thing to remember when drafting a strategy is the consumer.
Josh Walsh, founder and EVP of AdTheorent, New York, suggests that companies always ask themselves the following two questions: “Will my ad be shown to my core audience?” and “Will my core audience want to engage with this ad?”
To determine the answer to these two questions, testing is a must.
“Evaluate what targeting and creative options are available, test (don't be afraid to ask for a lower test budget. If the test proves fruitful you will become a long term customer), learn, repeat,” Mr. Walsh said.
“There is no ‘one size fits all’ mobile strategy based on revenue,” he said. “Companies need to take many factors into consideration when planning a mobile strategy such as the specific goals in terms of reach and actions, and really need to first look at their goals holistically and drill down to which strategies will support those.”
At the end of the day, a smaller company is going to be more concerned about budget than a Walmart-sized one. However, that does not mean that mobile is impossible.
For a company that has $200,000 to $500,000 to spend annually, Resource’s Mr. Burke advises that they analyze their own data and the data of three or four competitors. As appealing as it might seem, skip over an app; it is not worth prioritizing.
Improve your Web site to be mobile friendly, and then look at SMS.
Mr. Burke pointed to an SMS campaign that Sherwin Williams ran which yielded more than 50,000 opt-ins. The company spent less than $10,000 on the campaign.
In general, Mr. Burke estimates that a company can do SMS for under $50,000; an enhanced Web site for $100,000-$200,000; and an app for $200,000 plus. For a standard mobile ad campaign, he suggests taking 10 percent of your online budget and applying it to mobile.
Within mobile advertising, standard banners will be the cheapest, rich media the next most expensive and video the most costly.
“If I’m dealing with someone who has a modest budget, I try to start out with those two or three things that will show that it works,” Mr. Burke said. “For a low budget, getting their toe in the water client, start with a strategy, it does not have to be grandiose, update that strategy every year based on data you’re developing and industry benchmarks.
“My advice to CEOs is always find the person who has the clearest customer focus on your team, somebody who really knows your customer, and have them lead,” he said. “Make sure they have goals, and reward them if they achieve it.”
“You have to look at mobile as a capital investment, right now it’s being looked at as a series of tactical investments. Stop looking at mobile as tactical investment, and view it as strategic investment that is worthy of the CEO’s time and attention.”
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York
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