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Mobile marketing response: Fad or future?

By Jeannette Kocsis

Mobile marketing is so much fun. For those of us who have been in Internet marketing for a number of years, mobile reminds us of those "good old days" when click-through rates on banners averaged 10 percent. I remember being horrified then at 2 percent banner response rates, and what I wouldn't give for that now.

I recently found some old reports for paid search -- campaigns from years ago -- with click-through rates averaging 12 percent to 15 percent, and they weren't even ecommerce related.

Mobile marketing today is much like those early days of Internet marketing. No clutter on pages and everything feels new and interesting.

Looking at conversion and redemption rates from mobile campaigns, one can feel the consumer's engagement. It is common to see conversions or redemptions at more than 50 percent, and click-through rates on mobile ads today are closer to the rates of Internet ads in the 1990s.

Is it a fad? Will it all go away as surely as the click and conversion rates of old? The answer may lie in the device itself -- the mobile phone.

Unlike Internet advertising on search engines or portal sites, the mobile phone is a personal device.

I often refer to a mobile device as a personal extension. Most people never leave home without it, and don't want to mute it, much less turn it off.

And once consumers start texting, using Twitter and applications such as Facebook or MySpace on the phone, their usage will typically increase even more. It is a two-way connection that goes everywhere with you.

And what about marketing?

Consumers have learned to tolerate spam in their email inboxes. We expect it, and since we don't necessarily feel a personal connection to our inbox, it doesn't bother us that much. We can filter messages or click delete if we don't want to read them.

Optics on opt-in
Text messages are different, in that many of us pay for them or may only be able to receive a limited number in a given period.

Plus, the marketing message is right next to a text from a friend with a message we really want to read.

In the case of mobile marketing, we expect relevant messages and if we don't get them, we are more likely to opt-out. That relevancy centers on content, timing and intent.

Sending mobile messages at the right time of day, with relevant content and an offer that makes sense for a mobile audience is the winning strategy.

It is so important to remember also that this is an opt-in medium.

If people ask to receive something on their mobile phone, they are likely to respond to it. When they don't want it anymore, they will opt-out.

And the industry will probably have to view opt-out differently going forward, since it is not the brand necessarily that people are opting out of -- it's the fact that the message is on their phone.

As long as we adhere rigorously to opt-in rules and best practices, it may be possible to continue to achieve mobile response that mirrors the Internet's results of long ago.

After all, mobile users are requesting mobile as their channel and content choice. I am looking forward to much more fun in the future.

Jeannette Kocsis is vice president of digital strategy and media at direct marketing services firm Harte-Hanks Inc., Yardley, PA. Reach her at .