Top 10 Things You Should Know About Mobile Marketing

The industry is buzzing about mobile again; your team is open to try the new channel. And you are wondering if it is worthwhile “to go mobile or not to go”. However, before you embark on a mobile marketing journey, here are top 10 things you should check against to make a better decision whether to add a mobile campaign to your marketing mix or develop a mobile app store.

 1. Is your audience mobile-savvy?  Does your customer actually use mobile beyond making phone calls? Does your research support the fact that your customers interact with any other brands, using their phones? If your audience is there, and savvy enough to have access to mobile web and is used to some opt-in interaction, you have a first pass checkmark. Alternatively, if your customer is also open to education in this area and does have mobile phones with data plans in possession most of the time; you can still have a chance of introducing this method of engagement.

 2.  What is the context/potential use case scenario for your customers to want to consume information or make a buy via mobile?  You know your customers and how they interact with your product (or might interact if it is new), when they buy and how they arrive at those purchasing decisions. Is mobile a good way to speed up their buyer cycle? Can your customer make a decision based on very limited information at that point while on the go? This is a very important step that has to do with a mobile user experience that differs from the desktop due to limitations of the small screen and the amount of information that can be communicated and perhaps customer’s ability to engage with the device using only one hand, while doing something else (telecommuting and drinking coffee, holding a bag and moving elsewhere, sitting in the wait room and so on). Also, considering that people’s behavior on mobile web is different from the desktop: no one is spending hours searching and surfing (as there is not a whole a lot to see and not so much fun clicking on and on). When it comes to mobile, people are at the “buy point” already and they need the info now and ability to make a transaction preferably within 1 or 2 clicks. This, in its turn, makes mobile the perfect channel to interact with the existing customers!

3. What is the value you can provide to your customers? You cannot simply throw your message at your customers. Mobile is a very personal channel as your audience is virtually available to you most of the time. People carry their phones and devices everywhere and accessible to them at times when other channels like desktop/web is out of the picture. And any message that you decide to communicate to your audience, must be within the context of mobile device and your product usage. It must be either of each:

a) location-based (it provides an address and a phone number to your business);
b) time-sensitive information (a new item in stock arrived that a customer was waiting for, or a limited duration sale is up);
c) making life/usage of your product/service easier information (ability for your customers to check-in into the flight while in route to the airport);
d) financial incentive (a free latte on Mondays);
e) affiliation/community/social popularity aspect (ability for your customers to share their product experience with like-minded people and being part of a bigger circle);
f) or at last, deliver some entertainment value (to kill the time on a commute, in line).

4. What are the legal implications, conditions that I should be aware of?  The U.S. CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 very much applies to sending unsolicited messages to people’s phones. This also logically leads to point 5 below. Other precautions include all other familiar suspects: copyright, trademark, right of publicity and privacy, misleading advertising, cases of what is “free” and “disclosed only in fine print.” Plus, all network carriers are very protective of their customers and have full control over the livelihood of your campaigns.

5. You cannot buy mobile phone lists and start marketing. Particularly, due to the anti spam law above and the issue of privacy. Thus, you will have to build those from scratch and invite your customers to participate via other channels, gradually but surely.

6. You will have no benchmarks. Mobile marketing is still emerging and only a few players already tasted its benefits and pitfalls. In addition, there are a lot of variables to make those benchmarks comparable if they were to exist (a.k.a variations in industry, consumer behavior, devices, networks).

7. You must integrate your mobile advertising or commerce into other channels for it to succeed. Yes, you need to promote this new channel and tell your customers about this option elsewhere: on the web, on your social networking apps, your billboards, TV, online videos, etc.

8. How to be seen/presented on mobile web? If you are a brand manufacturer, or a local small-business you might think of mobile site creation to represent your products, which implies deciding on whether and/how to build your mobile site, how to name it, or re-use (miniaturize) your current site. If you are an online merchant, you might think of creating an application for the most popular smart phones (iPhone and Android, for at least today’s date). Plenty of decisions here, since no matter where you go, the experience might not be the same for all users due to differences in how various devices and carriers render the code. 

9. Mobile search experience is different from the desktop. Mostly due to differences in what users choose to use to do the search: the pre-installed carrier cataloged pages or mobile search tools from Google and Yahoo. Even, if your audience decides to use Google, the results displayed are not the same and as controlled as the ones on the desktop. Different SEO and SEM strategies apply here.  More coverage on mobile SEO can be found here.

10. What is the right mobile marketing/commerce tool to use? The new channel comes with a pleasant assortment of tools that you can consider: voice, text, mobile search, mobile widget (entertainment, commerce, information or social network-based). The process of choosing the best or a mix of those requires a closer look at pros and cons of each kind. Once you discover what works for your product, do not forget to integrate your mobile marketing into other channels to start enjoy its benefits!

Craving more mobile? Check the insights from Kim Dushinski on her mobile marketing blog; she even has a handbook on that to expand on all the 10 points in extensive detail and more. Or review some of the best practices shared by Cindi Krum in her freshly released mobile marketing book (I got my copy today!). Also, if you are more inclined to consume the latest developments in mobile anything from the technical perspective, there is mobiForge for that too!