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Mobile powerful loyalty/CRM tool: Mobile Marketing Day panel

NEW YORK " Getting consumer consent for on-the-spot or time-sensitive alerts, discounts, tickets or coupons is what makes mobile the most powerful tool for loyalty marketing.

That was a topic of discussion at the Direct Marketing Association's Mobile Marketing Day yesterday in New York during the panel titled "Loyalty Marketing: Adding SMS to Your Email, Mail and Affinity Card CRM Program." Panelists discussed how to incorporate mobile into multichannel CRM efforts and the rules governing contact with a wireless carrier's subscribers.

"If the mobile campaign is being used to build a marketing database for a loyalty program, use Web forms to capture consumer data," said Jeannette Kocsis, vice president of digital strategy for Harte-Hanks. "We ran a campaign for a retailer with two small clothing stores trying to get into the teen market using event advertising, posters and word of mouth to drive volume into the stores.

"Consumers were double-opted in, and a month later they received a mobile coupon, which achieved a 40 percent redemption rate," she said. "Most of the people who opted in were the teens' parents."

Bob Gold, CEO of mobile loyalty marketing firm Gold Mobile, moderated the panel.

Panelists asked the audience to text keyword DMA to short code 74700. Attendees received the following text messages:

"DMA Show: Welcome to the Loyalty Marketing Panel's Opt-In Demo (max 8x/mth).

"Reply STOP to end or HELP for help. Std msg charges apply."

"DMA Show: the 5 key opt-in components: Content Provider ID -- Program Description -- Alert Frequency -- STOP/HELP commands -- Rates.

"Reply Stop.DMA to cancel."

"DMA Show: This panel wants your feedback! Reply ?DMA' to receive the poll."

One attendee complained that when she tried to text in DMA to the short code, her iPhone's spell-check feature kept changing it to DNA.

The panel went on to discuss how to lure consumers to opt in to mobile loyalty programs.

"On the consumer side, the key is to offer appealing content such as stock quotes, sports scores and celebrity gossip, while on the marketing side, send out time-based offers such as alerts, retail offers and coupons," said Patricia Clark, senior vice president of 4Info. "Offer something they want and that's valuable to them -- think about what's going to resonate with them.

"Go gently in the beginning, but once you've got them to say yes, you can ask them to do a lot of different things, like sign up for alerts, receive coupons and make a call," she said. "They'll get turned off if you send too much, too quickly, though."

A very large church added a mobile call-to-action in its out-of-home direct marketing collateral: text keyword BELIEVE to 4Info's short code. Consumers were able to find the closest church to where they live, set reminders for Sunday service and opt in to the church's database.

"You can do this nationally, and there are ways to personalize it once you've done this nationally, such as geo-targeting," Ms. Clark said. "You want to make sure you have a good partner.

"Mobile doesn't have to have extreme mystique," she said. "It's relatively easy to get scale, and you don't necessarily need your own short code."

It helps to understand the mobile value chain: carriers, aggregators, agencies, application providers and companies that help with brands' overall marketing strategy.

"Look into short code extensions from carriers, standard five-digit numbers plus extensions for each campaign," said Alykhan Govani, CEO of U.S. for MX Telecom. "Also, the SMS demographic continues to expand.

"The international market started with a younger audience and expanded from there, and we continue to see that trend happening in U.S.," he said.

One panelist stressed the fact that SMS is the mobile channel with the widest reach.

"What works best, what's ubiquitous, is text messaging," said Tim Miller, CEO of Sumotext. "Compare ad-sponsored content and loyalty driven messages, generic content versus content that carries enough weight on its own to drive opt-ins.

"Ultimately, CRM opt-ins are driven by contextually relevant information," he said. "One of the most no-brainer plays is to issue the same call-to-action with a different keyword in each channel, and in a month you'll know what your best buy was.

"Don't try to do too much after the first opt-in -- if you get someone to text in, be happy, look at it as long-term, realize that there will be other opportunities and don't over-complicate it every time."