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Overcoming fear of mobile marketing

By Jeannette Kocsis

Everyone knows that mobile is hot, and many marketers are trying to understand how to leverage the technology. We hear about high response rates and higher levels of engagement and we want in. And yet, it's still difficult to take the step.

Many brands are trying mobile in limited doses. Agencies may create one-off campaigns that have mobile elements, and in the context of those campaigns, the mobile portion performs its intended purpose.

If it was executed well, mobile may have lent to the success of the overall campaign. Or perhaps the brand is using mobile as a standalone channel and is seeing some success, but is not sure about making it mainstream as a communication channel for their company.

In some cases, the roadblock to greater adoption is fear. The economy is tough. Online media costs are rising. Spending is down in some categories, making decisions about marketing budgets more difficult. It is hard to justify new mediums and it is hard to change thinking.

The rational questions to ask about mobile are, "What is my ROI going to be? How many customers will I acquire? How many customers will I retain? How much should I spend on mobile?"

Great questions, but unlike email or direct mail -- which have years of marketing history and measurement behind them -- there isn't yet a definitive answer for mobile.

I could launch into discussion on how to measure ROI for mobile marketing, but we can't yet easily predict what that ROI is going to be.

As with all types of marketing, factors such as customer demographics, timing, product and brand reputation, potential market and costs over revenue also apply to mobile marketing.

But with mobile we need to add in factors such as channel adoption, technology requirements and opt-in requirements unlike anything marketers have had to manage to in the past. It's no wonder that mobile is challenging to say "yes" to as an investment.

Now let's consider the upside:

? The adoption rate is incredibly high
? Unlike the Web, this medium is starting out with a very high usage rate. The Web started at zero; 80 percent of U.S. adults have a mobile phone
? The mobile Web continues to increase in usage
? People who choose this channel will respond to relevant offers given the stringent opt-in requirements

When thinking about mobile today, we need to realize that it is part of the future of marketing. It is better to gain experience now while the channel is new and competitors may be lagging.

A single, one-off campaign may not show the results you need to prove the value of the channel to management. Marketers who approach mobile marketing from a multichannel perspective and integrate it with other mediums will likely have more success with their mobile campaigns.

These marketers will also be quicker to benefit from the value that mobile marketing has to offer.

The best advice is to take the leap and pilot a program. The cost of entry may be fairly low and your return may be high, but you won't know until you try.

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