How Mobile Marketing Works and What Makes it Different?
What is Mobile Marketing?
Mobile marketing is the use of a mobile device or network enabling individuals and organizations to interact using various electronic applications. Mobile marketing’s introduction in 1993 began with the first cell phone capable of sending and receiving text messages. There were some minor technical advances with cellular phones up through 1996, but the first major technical breakthrough came with the development of web access through the cellular phone. This innovation was followed by short message service –text messages (SMS) being sent using cellular phones via wireless providers in 1999.
Fast forward to today’s innovations and technological breakthroughs, and we see a multitude of mobile innovative technologies, applications, and marketing platforms used to reach millions of subscribers. The vastness of mobile marketing according to comScore.com in 2011 involves over 234 million mobile phone subscribers. Mobile marketing ranked third just behind televisions and computers as the most used media according to a 2011 Microsoft Advertising Mobile Consumer Usage Study. The study also noted that “58% mobile consumers” use browse and search “most of the time” and “mobile browse drives stronger ad recall, ad clicks and store purchase than apps” (p. 6). Furthermore, “8 of 10 mobile users visited an offline retail store after seeing an ad on their mobile devise” and “60% of mobile consumers used their mobile devise to purchase entertainment related items” (p. 5-6). Statistics such as these validates that mobile ad exposure effectively drives store visits and profits. In part, the success of mobile marketing centers on its utilization of multiple platforms, accessibility by wireless providers and their mediums, to reach a vast number of subscribers simultaneously. Mobile marketing connects directly to consumers, providing personalization through multiple delivery methods, and this has positively changed the way businesses reach and interact with consumers.
Mobile marketing’s multi-medium capacity gives users the ability to search for and interact with communication messages at any time of the day or night. Marketers can strategically develop creative targeted messages because of the variety of different platforms they can utilize to get their message out. Although mobile marketing appears comparable to other forms of electronic communication; namely, email and twitter. It’s much different. One main variance with mobile marketing lies in its ability to intermix with several other media platforms; that is, short message service (SMS) promotions can be combined with radio, billboard, internet and television ads among others. Multiple platforms may include, colorful, eye-catching graphics, that incorporate interactive user participation through instant text messaging, e-couponing, digital photos, contests and sweepstakes, as well as unique call answering and direct response processing capabilities. This means mobile marketing campaigns can readily be incorporated with current promotion strategies. Further, successful mobile marketing campaigns are focused on timely delivery of pertinent content resulting in value for both the source (sender) and receiver of the message.
How is mobile marketing different than email and Twitter?
Mobile marketing is a highly interactive medium that allows marketers to send special offers, coupons, event alerts, and other personalized information to targeted customers. Mobile marketing, email and Twitter, although similar, have some differences in format, delivery, execution and service. The first major difference between electronic mail (email), short message service /text messaging (SMS) or Twitter is the various message lengths that can be sent. Email can be of any length the sender chooses, while text messages have a 160 character limit, and Twitter is roughly 140 characters (with new limits recently expanded). The second big difference is the resources used for delivery of the message. Email and Twitter are delivered through an internet provider, while texting is delivered through a wireless provider or carrier. Likewise, an email is sent to an email address, while a text message is sent to a phone number. Nonetheless, Twitter can be programed to send direct messages (DM) to your cell phone as a text message, and email can be mobilized to send complete messages to mobile phones.
Other variances include that email predated Twitter, and they differ in the communication process. Moreover, Twitter is a service offered by one company while email is an integrated set of technologies that facilitate the transfer and retrieval of messages. Also note that, Twitter users belong to the same group, similar to an email alias, and most twitter messages are broadcast to a group of subscribers (followers) one message at time.
Emails are structured similarly to traditional Direct Marketing (DM) letters or memos; in that, they are directed at selected individual(s) verses a group of followers. Regardless of similarities and differences in the mobile marketing platforms, verses those with Twitter and email, one major advantage of mobile marketing is that the content can be delivered using multiple platforms. This means the subscriber can utilize the internet for web browsing, access audio/video streaming-live audio/video and download various applications, utilize short message service -text messaging (SMS) and multimedia messaging (MMS), and interactive voice. These different formats allow the marketer to package the communication message with preference on how the target audience prefers to receive and interact with the message.
What makes mobile marketing delivery methods unique?
Traditional advertising reaches a target audience through a single medium such as print, video or audio. For example, newspapers, magazines, billboards, and direct mail all use one print medium. On-the-other-hand, mobile marketing reaches individuals through multiple mediums as follows.
- Mobile Web Browsing – mobile internet, allows users to access information and purchase mobile content from a mobile device. Microsites (a separate page from a Web site) allow organizations to run a specific marketing campaign for a few months. For example, a museum can run a promotion about a special exhibit.
- Audio/Video Streaming (VOD) or Live Audio/Video and Download, connect with users through audio and video ads which are eye catching and effective in attracting viewers. For instance, product launch webcasts, training programs and live televised sports events.
- Short message service (SMS) or text messaging, allows for short text messages to be sent. Despite the 160-character limit, it is a rich-interactive medium which is the basis of mobile marketing. For example, coupons, trivia programs, charitable donations, voting services, are but of few interactive methods utilized by businesses. It also can be used as a billing medium for content consumption (games, applications, ringtones, and images).
- Multimedia Messaging (MMS) allows users to receive text and images on their cell phones. Multimedia objects such as scannable coupons, images, audio, video or rich text allows organizations to send attention grabbing visuals to individuals.
Although each approach to mobile marketing has its advantage, the earliest form (i.e. SMS – text messaging) continues to be effective because hand held cell-phones are easily accessible and readily available. The New York Times stated “text message may be the closest thing in the information-overloaded digital marketing world to a guaranteed read” (para. 1). Jed Alpert in The Mobile Marketing Revolution states, more than “5 billion text messages are sent each day” to both individuals and organizations (p. xi). Over 35% of all cell phone users are texting.
Mobile marketing is a very effective method of communicating with a target audience; however, sending and receiving message is only part of the equation. Truly effective communication ensures the message is also read and understood. Thus, dynamic two-way communication can be initiated from the consumer or from the organization through mobile technologies. For example, a mobile consumer may visit a website, download an application, and make a phone call simultaneously using mobile technology. Additionally, an organization may send a message about a sale or new product offering, dinner tips or a special event, creating a “call to action” to encourage a consumer response even while they are talking on their mobile devise. Mobile marketing statistics are staggering; specifically, “1 in 3 mobile searchers are local” [and] “61% of users called the business” [and] “5% visited” (mobithinking.com, 2012, p.1). Response rates for this type of rival direct marketing at 4.4% (Direct Marketing News, 2013, p. 1). Mobile marketing is clearly winning consumers over with its easy accessibility with unlimited access to anything imaginable. Customers and marketer’s find mobile marketing most useful when the right offer is presented at the right time.
Why is there value in mobile marketing with customers?
Mobile marketing is most successful when organizations identify their target audience and focus first on their wants and needs. Perhaps you provide products such as antacids and your customers are looking for immediate solutions on how to eliminate stomach discomfort while eating at a restaurant. What the best nutritional supplement may be in preventing such stomach ailments, or tips on how to prevent acid reflex. Mobile marketing successfully strives to deliver the “right message at the right time to the right person via the right channel” (Yaniv, Guy, International Journal of Mobile Marketing, p.2). For example, St. Jude’s marketers targeted their supporters at a conference during the downtime between presentations. The marketers created questions that were presented on the large screens through the conference. Attendees could send text messages answering a number of questions and win prizes. St. Jude’s provided an option for attendees to sign up for future communication, of which, many did. Other valuable mobile marketing use models might include scenarios such as finding the latest networking events, places for the elderly to socialize, coupons for the latest new styles, current restaurant specials or any number of other interests, all without the requirement of a computer based platform.
Organizations such as Nike, Cole Haan, Macy’s, Living Omni Media, St. Jude, Walmart, Starbucks, Baltimore Aquarium, Obama and Romney campaigns, and the California Department of Health, among others, have all increased awareness and profits through mobile marketing campaigns. Mobile marketing is more than advertising; it engages an audience through multiple layers and methods of delivering effective messages. Consumers engage with organizations through interacting with targeted messages that are of interest to them. Messages that they deem valuable, stimulating, and informative, encourages them to interact. It might be a deal to a local restaurant, a discount to an event, an app to track health goals, the ability to vote on something important, or donate to a great cause; the list is endless. The key is to combine an effective message that sparks the interest of your target audience and compels them to respond while leveraging the various delivery resources available through mobile marketing.
Mobile advertising allows organizations to dynamically connect with their customers and interact with them 24/7/365. The evolution of mobile technology appears to be the new standard method of advertising within the US, and consumers have readily adapted to it. Mobile marketing takes the lead in producing more results than other marketing channels with no signs of slowing down. Marketers fully understand the value of mobile marketing because it greatly improves brand awareness and the revenue stream. Creative marketers strive to increasingly entice consumers by providing more timely and dynamic access and insight about products, services, attractions, and news through mobile technology.
Alpert, Jed (2012). The Mobile Marketing Revolution.
Cohen, Mark (2009). Text-Message Marketing, The New York Times retrieved: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/24/business/smallbusiness/24texting.html?…
ComScore.com (2011) retrieved from: http://www.newmediatrendwatch.com/markets-by-country/17-usa/855-mobile-devices
Schiff, Allison, (2013). DMA: Direct mail response rates beat digital. Direct Marketing News. Retrieved from: http://www.dmnews.com/dma-direct-mail-response-rates-beat-digital/articl…
Mobithinking.com (2012). Global mobile statistic 2012, Part D: Consumer mobile behavior. Retrieved from: http://mobithinking.com/mobile-marketing-tools/latest-mobile-stats/d
ROI Research, Inc. & Microsoft, Multi-Country Mobile Advertising Resaerch study, March 2011. Retrieved from: https://advertising.microsoft.com/WWDocs/User/en-us/ForAdvertisers/2011-Microsoft-US-MoAd-Insights-Study.pdf
Yaniv, Guy, (2008). Sold On Mobile Marketing: Effective Wireless Carrier Mobile Advertising and How to Make it Even More So. International Journal of Mobile Marketing, Vol. 3, No. 2, p.2.
By Bonnie Akerson, MBA