SUMMARY: Mobile marketing is becoming more attractive as smartphones and mobile Web browsing gain popularity. Many marketers are, or soon will be, experimenting in this channel for the first time.
by Adam T. Sutton, Reporter
Technology always increases in power and decreases in price over time. The multimillion-dollar supercomputer of yesterday is today's five dollar pocket calculator. Mobile phone technology is no different.
More people carry smartphones than ever before:
o 31.9% of all mobile subscribers used a Web browser on a mobile device in the three months ending in May 2010, according to comScore. That's up from 26% in comScore's September 2009 three-month average.
o 30% downloaded a mobile app in the three months ending in May, compared to 6.7% in the September 2009 three-month average, according to comScore.
"We're definitely past the discussion of whether mobile is mainstream. It's here," says Matthew Snyder, CEO and Founder, ADObjects, a mobile strategy consultancy and agency.
Snyder has worked in mobile and consumer electronics for more than two decades. He spent 12 years with Nokia and eight years with Sony, based mostly in Japan, a mobile technology hotspot. He now helps companies understand how mobile channels can improve business and marketing performance.
We spoke with Snyder to get his take on what marketers need to consider before testing mobile marketing initiatives. Here are the five insights he provided:
Insight #1. Start with a mobile Web presence
Snyder is a strong believer in the Web. The cornerstone of any mobile strategy should be a Web presence, he says, whether it is a single landing page or a full mobile site. Even if a marketer is experimenting with sending SMS messages, these messages should include a link to a page where mobile users can learn more.
Here are four types of mobile Web presences Snyder sees:
1. Mobile versions of existing sites
Companies have built mobile websites which offer nearly the same features as their traditional websites, but which are adapted to a handheld format. A textbook example is Facebook's mobile website (see Useful Links below).
2. Plug-in-based mobile sites
Similar to the first category, blogs and websites based on WordPress, Drupal or similar open-source platforms can use free plug-ins which format sites for mobile audiences (see useful links below).
3. Mobile landing pages
As the name suggests, these single-page entities can be created quickly to add a mobile-Web presence to a marketing campaign.
4. Dedicated mobile sites
These sites are standalone, multi-page entities, not mobile versions of a traditional website. They have their own designs and strategies to meet the needs of mobile visitors.
Insight #2. Consider all mobile options
Mobile networks and devices provide a range of ways to reach an audience -- such as text, voice and email. When your team is considering how best to incorporate mobile into its marketing, consider all the major possibilities:
- Short Message Service (SMS)
SMS is capable of sending minimal, text-based messages to your audience, which can include links to call a phone number or visit a website.
- Multimedia Message Service (MMS)
MMS is similar to SMS technology, but can also send content such as images, video and audio files such as ringtones.
Mobile phones have click-to-call functionality that enables audiences to reach you directly, or to click to request a call from your team.
Similar to traditional Web browsing, the mobile Web is continually adding pages of content designed for easy access from handheld devices.
- Proximity marketing
Smartphones with GPS and similar technologies are capable of broadcasting locations. Some marketers are taking the opportunity to deliver ads to mobile users in specific locations, such as when they're near brick-and-mortar stores.
Computer programs specially designed for smartphones are widely available and have their own marketplaces. Some marketers have directly integrated campaigns into their audiences' phones by designing and offering a branded mobile app.
Branded content -- including ringtones, images, videos and ebooks -- are just a few of the many different types of digital information marketers can provide in a mobile format.
As any business professional with a Blackberry will tell you, email is a mobile channel. People frequently receive and send digital letters through handheld devices.
Insight #3. Mobile does not stand alone
Mobile marketing does not succeed as an isolated channel, Snyder says. Instead, it works best when integrated with other channels and tactics to form a cross-platform strategy.
o Combining SMS or barcode calls-to-action in traditional advertising
o Mobile apps that integrate with television shows
o Mobile coupons for in-store sales
Mobile promotions should also be integrated with other channels. For example, mobile content should be promoted on your website -- e.g. if you're advertising a free whitepaper download and it's available in a mobile format, mention this in your website ads.
"Mobile, in general, is the glue that connects all media," Snyder says, "As smartphones become more prevalent, the more they will be associated and attached with existing media channels."
Insight #4. Mobile requires a well-planned strategy
It can be tempting to quickly test proximity marketing or a mobile website just to see what happens. But mobile marketing initiatives should be carefully planned, Snyder says. Otherwise, you risk wasting time and money, and possibly damaging your brand.
Areas to consider:
- Overall marketing strategy
Mobile devices are extremely personal. Owners carry them everywhere, and during all stages of the buying process.
Given mobile's "constantly-connected" attributes, you must understand the impact of making mobile information available throughout your entire marketing strategy. Your team should know:
o Which specific goals you want to achieve
o How the tactic will help achieve those goals
o What possible negative impact it could have
- Usage cases for your audience
Determine the ways in which your audience would, or already does, interact with your company on mobile devices. Put yourself in their shoes -- how could they use a smartphone to learn more about you?
By checking your website's analytics you may find mobile visitors are already accessing your site.
"I've seen anywhere from 5% to 20% of existing websites getting hit by phones today," Snyder says.
- Media buying and budget
Your team also will have to consider where mobile marketing fits into its media budget and priorities. You will have to gauge investment and potential return while ensuring the overall media plan is capable of meeting its targets.
Some mobile channels are inexpensive to test. For example, your team could easily add a call-to-action to your traditional advertising to ask viewers to send you an SMS message or visit your mobile site. Others are more expensive, such as mobile applications, which can cost between $20,000 and $100,000 to develop a quality product, Snyder says.
Useful links related to this article
Members Library -- Mobile Website Advice from Taco Bell: 5 Considerations to Reach More Mobile Devices
Members Library -- Consumer Behavior in the Mobile Channel: 4 Trends Marketers Should Note
comScore: May 2010 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share
Wordpress: Mobile plug-ins
Drupal: Mobile plug-ins
Mobile Marketing Association