February 24, 2010
Frank Powell is president of Vis-Solutions
By Frank Powell
For the past few years, there has been strong growth in mobile marketing and this trend will continue.
As marketers engage customers on their mobile devices, it is important that they focus on the five advantages that mobile marketing has over traditional Web marketing. These advantages enable marketers to “hold conversations with fans,” but can also create relationship hazards if not addressed properly.
When mobile marketers focus on these five advantages, they can provide the most value to their customers and engage at the deepest levels.
Most mobile phone users are within an arm’s reach of their devices over 90 percent of waking hours, including times when other media are not available.
With mobile phone penetration near 90 percent for U.S. adults, conversations are possible all the time with everyone.
The concept of “mobile” literally means “not in one place.” Mobile devices become part of a person, not “part of one of their locations.” This is a powerful concept, for two opposing reasons:
• Customers can almost always be reached
• Customers can almost always be interrupted
Since mobile marketing can be an interruptive channel, increased marketing efforts in this channel may be disconcerting to many consumers who vividly remember the days of unregulated outbound telemarketing nationwide.
Thus, it is very important to let mobile consumers determine how and when to hold conversations.
Reduced targeting errors and improved data management
In comparison to other personalized messaging channels, having a unique ID – phone number – will dramatically improve CRM integrity for marketers who have historically relied on inexact transaction linking techniques such as:
• Using cookies which are periodically deleted by 20 percent to 50 percent of all PC users
• Using flash cookies (LSS) which are sometimes deleted and often considered a privacy invasion
• Using IP addresses which are often dynamically allocated by internal routers or Internet service providers
• Using postal addresses which require standardization, change-of-address management and special matching logic to achieve even 98 percent matching accuracy rates
Mobile phone numbers are the core delivery addresses used by wireless carriers for all information transmission thru them.
By having this ID available during marketing conversations, the ability to reference prior interaction history can improve personalization and meet customers’ conversation expectations.
It is important to acknowledge that the growing use of WiFi with mobile devices will decrease the data linkage value of mobile phone numbers.
In spite of this, the overall customer data integrity and quality of customer relationships will improve due to having phone numbers in many mobile interactions.
Improved time relevance
The always-on and always-aware nature of mobile devices provides more timely communications than any other channel.
In addition, the use of mobile SMS/MMS and mobile micro-blogging tools enable informality, message brevity and spontaneity to support conversations that seldom existed in prior Web marketing.
The average response time for SMS messages is dramatically less than that of email or postal mail.
This improved time relevancy is likely to enhance the quality of marketing conversations, though the marketing benefits may be reduced if consumers determine that message filters should be used to separate their personal and corporate conversations.
Knowing someone’s geographic location can be critical to engaging in a relevant conversation with them.
Location provides both proximity data and contextual information, and both of these must be considered when using location-based services (LBS) to converse with customers.
For example, when Joe is sitting in a downtown basketball arena, there are many restaurants and retail stores nearby that want to engage with Joe.
Yet, the context of attending a basketball game may mean that Joe will not want marketing interruptions while the game is being played.
Combining both proximity and environmental context will be hard for many marketers to address, but consumers will grow to expect them together.
Location-awareness can be via broadcast services such as Bluetooth, or embedded within other transactions such as QRS codes.
Either way, it is important to remember that mobile is a permission-based medium, with customers proactively choosing (or not) to engage with functions such as LBS at any specific time.
Increased intimacy with the device and via the device
Sharing of mobile devices is not unheard of, but is less common than sharing of personal computers.
Mobile devices are often part of the intimate identity of their owners, who may personalize or accessorize their devices.
Mobile devices also allow people to seek private locations for personal communications.
As a result, many consumers prefer to hold their most intimate conversations via mobile phones instead of landline phones.
Whether these conversations cover medical, financial, amorous or other sensitive concerns, a mobile device can become a primary channel for dealing with emotional issues.
All conversations on this “intimacy platform” require a further degree of trust.
Wherever intimacy is involved, it is important that conversations are based upon trust and respect.
Thus, mobile marketing conversations require a higher level of sensitivity and with less intrusiveness than found in other marketing channels.
As Robert Stephens of Geek Squad puts it, “There is a big difference between spooky and creepy.”
Consumers expect marketers to dazzle them with personalized oh-wow moments, yet offer no forgiveness if a marketer becomes too intimate.
These five advantages of mobile marketing are the key to holding conversations with customers via their mobile devices. When mobile marketers focus on the benefit and specific concerns of each, they will be more likely to turn customers into fans.
Frank Powell is president of Vis-Solutions, Minneapolis, MN. Reach him at .