Best Practices in Mobile Marketing

There are a few critical points in implementing a successful mobile marketing campaign that generates real ROI. All support at least one aspect of the golden rule of direct marketing: The right offer, at the right time, to the right audience.

Ask for Permission
Far and away the most critical component of a successful mobile messaging campaign, asking your audience for permission to market to them will help distinguish your campaign from SPAM. An aggravating nuisance in the wired world, SPAM in wireless networks is a far more sinister threat to undermining the value of permission-based marketing.
We need only look to email marketing to learn the value of obtaining permission. People are accustomed to being asked whether they'd like to receive additional offers/news when downloading content from the Web. This opt-in process is even more critical in the wireless world. Each campaign you send should feature a quick and easy opt-out process.

Optimize Content for Multiple Devices
There are myriad mobile device choices for today's mobile consumer. Consumer tastes are varied and there is a device to suit virtually every lifestyle, from simple, small SMS phones to highly sophisticated color PDAs. While SMS is surging in popularity, more capable devices are picking up steam as well. Beware mobile technologies that strip content down to the lowest common denominator to fit all devices. Your messaging platform should be capable of optimizing content for a variety of platforms, including J2ME, BREW, WAP, and MMS devices.

Track Your Results
Your mobile messaging vendor should offer Web-based reporting tools for campaign tracking. Metrics should be viewable at both the aggregate and individual levels.

Subscriber Personalization
The right offer, to the right audience, at the right time. To ensure all three criteria are met with your mobile marketing campaigns, give users the ability to control all three. You may be sending an offer for ½ off Harry Potter movie tickets to someone who has read every book, but if your message arrives at 3:00 AM on a Sunday, you have risked annoying one of your converted opt-in subscribers.

Target Your Audience
The most compelling benefit of mobile marketing is the fact that it is highly personalized and direct. The opt-in process should strike a balance between obtaining relevant demographic information and maintaining a simple, painless end user experience. As you continue to grow your opt-in list, periodically querying your subscribers for additional information and tracking user patterns becomes an essential part of the nurturing process.

Make the Offer Compelling
Mobile marketing is invasive. You'll be delivering messages to devices people rely on for a variety of activities. Unless your offer is compelling and contains an incentive or reward, people will opt-out in droves. Take great pains to ensure your offer is something your subscribers want. Fun marketing messages also facilitate viral marketing, the next best practice we'll discuss. A study conducted by Nokia indicated that nearly 9 out of 10 respondents agreed there should be an incentive to opt-in to mobile marketing campaigns.

Make it Viral
Viral, or word-of-mouth marketing, refers to what happens to your marketing messages after they are delivered to your targeted list. Strong offers prompt recipients to forward them to friends and colleagues, which in turn spike messaging traffic for operators and build brand awareness/increase sales for content owners.

Piggyback on Traditional Advertising Channels
Including an SMS number on traditional advertisements adds another way for people to respond. Aside from increasing ROI on existing media buys, SMS enables rich tracking and reporting functionality. Possible executions include:

SMS short code on print advertisements
Opt-in SMS number during TV/Radio commercials
SMS polling feature on product packaging
When an SMS campaign is carried out in a highly targeted, permission-based manner, consumers are accepting of the medium, do not find it intrusive, and are more willing to receive further brand promotions providing they are relevant to their lifestyle. Compared to direct mail, mobile marketing's closest competitor, it generates far better responses at a fraction of the cost. Delivery is more immediate, making it more suitable on a broader scale of use (for perishable items, for instance). Messages are also much more likely to be opened and read. And last, but not least, mobile operators benefit from increased SMS traffic and higher ARPU.

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