Mobile Marketing – The World Has Gone Mobile

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Mobile marketing all over the world

The world is not ‘going mobile’; it has already gone!

There are more than 4.6 billion mobile phones worldwide today, one for each of 67% of the world’s population. This is about four times the number of desktop and laptop computers.

Over 50% of internet searches worldwide were conducted on mobile phones in 2010 (T.Ahonen Consulting). SMS Text messaging is the most widely used data application today! Most people will not go anywhere without their mobile phones. A lost credit card is reported within one day, but a lost mobile phone is reported within 30 minutes (VISA 2009). What does this mean for Australian businesses?

Firstly, it means understanding the implications and opportunities of mobile phones, and mobile marketing is critical now. For example, any business that has a website must ensure it is compatible with mobile search. Approximately 10 – 15% of all internet searches in Australia today are done via mobile phones.

Beyond that, it means that a mobile phone communications strategy needs to be embraced and implemented. N Many Australian customers and clients use their mobile phones to find services, search for products, make purchases, and stay informed about their favorite places and brands.

The speed at which these changes have taken place, particularly the adoption of smartphones and mobile internet browsing in the last two years, has left many Australian businesses in its wake. There is a general understanding that the mobile phone is strategically important and presents new opportunities. Still, the question is: “What does it mean for me, and how can I start using it to benefit my business?”

Mobile Marketing

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Mobile Marketing: Where to start?

The first thing to know about mobile marketing is to not think about it as marketing. A much better description is mobile engagement. This is not just semantics; it is important to think differently when considering incorporating the mobile phone into today’s communication strategy. The word ‘communication’ suggests having a direct conversation with your customer. Marketing has traditionally followed the broadcast model:

Tell your message to as many people as possible, and hope it will be relevant to a few. That model is rapidly becoming less acceptable to many customers and less effective in today’s crowded and diffused media environment. The opportunity exists today via mobile systems to have a direct one-to-one relationship with every customer in a way that has never been possible before and at a cost that has never been possible before.

We all know there are now more mobile phones in Australia than people. We understand that no one leaves home without taking their mobile phone and that it is seen as a personal and private ‘space.’ It is unnecessary to ‘market’ to customers via phones by ‘engaging’ with them; instead, the results and rewards can be well beyond what can be achieved through any other media. It is important to remember that the customer has been permitted to engage directly with them in their personal space, which must be respected.

Your customers have permitted you to contact them via mobile because they want to hear from you. They want to know what is happening with your brand and products. They don’t want to be ‘sold to’ because they are already ‘sold.’ They are loyal, engaged customers who

wish to be kept informed. This goes to the heart of what is different about engaging with customers and clients via the mobile phone: you know that they already have a relationship with your business and that by giving you their mobile number, they have said, “I am interested and want to hear from you. I trust you.” If this is the case, and given that it is seven times easier to sell to an existing customer than a new one… it is time to start talking!

Most Australian business owners and marketing managers say they want to start using mobile marketing, but many don’t know how or where to start.

The easiest way to ‘put a toe in the water’ is by using SMS. It is fast, easy, inexpensive, effective, and widely accepted. It is possible to stay in touch with a customer every month for less than $2 per year using SMS. That means putting your brand in their hand and head every month for just a few cents! If just one of those messages influences their behavior once during the year, then your payback will be very significant. The ROI from SMS engagement is well above any other form of marketing.

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The mobile phone’s primary use is no longer for voice calls; it is for text messaging. In Australia, we send, on average, five SMS messages per person every day. It is very widely used and accepted. SMS messages are quick, easy to ‘consume,’ personal, immediate, and not intrusive.

Most of us have now experienced receiving an SMS appointment reminder or a reminder for a bill that needs to be paid. These are personal – they relate specifically to be – relevant and helpful, so we are happy to receive them. Applying the same rules when considering mobile communications with your customers will ensure that SMS messages are welcomed and seen as delivering improved customer service.

A simple “Thanks for purchasing from us yesterday. If you have any questions about your purchase, please call us on…” can have a powerful impact on your customers, increasing their loyalty, repeat purchases, and recommendations to others. Please don’t imagine that you must type this out each time on your phone and send it manually; today’s systems will do this automatically.

Mobile Websites

Every SMS message can also include an active link to a mobile website. More than 60% of phones in Australia today are internet-enabled, and approximately 10-15% of internet searches today are from mobile phones, up from nearly zero a couple of years ago. Within another 1 – 2 years, these numbers will grow exponentially again.

The simple SMS message is the starting point for much broader and deeper customer engagement. The mobile site can include information about new products, promotions, and competitions or contain photos and videos. Alternatively, you can ask for feedback, request a survey to be completed, or provide contact details and a map showing your location.

Mobile internet is not used in the same way as desktop internet. Over 50% of mobile searches today are used by people who want to call or locate a business they already know: they are not doing ‘research’ and want to find you. The mobile site must have contact details and prominently display the ‘Click to Call’ and ‘Click to Find’ buttons.

This also means that the best way to get visitors to come back regularly to a mobile website to see updated information is by sending them a regular SMS with a link to the site.

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Things to watch

One of the most often asked questions regarding Mobile Marketing is: “How frequently should I SMS my customers?” The correct answer is, of course: “It depends on. ” Communicating too frequently or not frequently enough can both be bad.

For some businesses, sending a message every week is OK. If there is something new to say each week, customers will not mind hearing about it. The overarching principle is that all messages must be relevant, helpful, timely, and engaging.

On the other hand, too infrequent communication can make it look like the relationship is not important. Messages are only sent ‘when you want something,’ for example, when another Sale is on. For many businesses, a message once per month is well accepted and appreciated by customers.

When a business uses mobile marketing for the first time, its customers must know that they control what arrives on their mobile phones. Tell them how to opt-out. Be clear that receiving the messages does not cost money, and they can easily opt out of receiving them anytime. This puts your customer in the driver’s seat, and they are more likely to stay happily ‘opted-in.’

Under Australian SPAM legislation, people must opt in to receive communications from a business and easily opt out of any electronic communications. If you use one of the service providers, it is important to check that they are SPAM Act compliant in all areas.

When to start

Engaging with your customers more often is a great way to do it, and using the mobile phone is a great way to do it. It is personal, cost-effective, and widely accepted. It improves customer service, loyalty, repeat sales, and the bottom line.

So, whether we call it mobile marketing or mobile engagement, one thing is certain: every business should consider the mobile phone as an important part of their communication strategy in 2011 – because the world is not going mobile… it’s already gone.