Make the most of mobile marketing

Is your business making the most of the marketing potential of mobile phones? Smallbusiness.co.uk reports on ways it can work for you – just be careful not to get on customers’ nerves.

Is your business making the most of the marketing potential of mobile phones? Smallbusiness.co.uk reports on ways it can work for you – just be careful not to get on customers’ nerves.

Now that 97 per cent of the UK population own a mobile phone, marketing through text messaging is fast becoming an integral part of many businesses’ strategy. After all, people carry their phones with them everywhere and text messages are always read. But how can you make the most of this clever marketing tool without pestering potential customers or annoying your existing ones?

See also: Eight effective tools to amplify your mobile marketing – kickstart your mobile marketing and make your brand stand out in a sea of advertising saturation

Mobile marketing can serve many purposes: it can help gain new customers, retain existing ones and enhance customer relationship management. Most current marketing is done through SMS (short message service) text messaging but the gradual advancement of 3G phones means that picture and audio messaging and mobile internet are becoming increasingly popular.

Text marketing has six core applications for businesses:
1. Interactivity: the biggest category comprising anything that generates a dialogue. Typically, competitions and votes run by TV or radio stations. They primarily exist to keep consumers watching or listening, although they can also generate revenue.

2. Content: providing a product, be it tips and advice; alerts of upcoming events, sports results, evictions from Big Brother house; computer games; or, should you really want it, the Crazy Frog ringtone.

3. Sales promotions: also known as text ‘n’ win campaigns, an example of which would be Walkers’ competition on crisp packets that promised to give away an iPod every five minutes – it generated millions of responses.

4. Direct response: this involves putting a text number on an advert that consumers can use to find out more information. Renault used this to promote the Laguna; interested texters would send the word “Laguna” to the number, a reply would ask them for their name, first line of address and postcode and, if that was forthcoming, a brochure would be sent to their address.

5. Internet advertising: much the same as internet advertising, with banners and links, only on mobiles through WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) or GPRS (General Packet Radio Service).

6. Customer relationship management: texting as part of the service. The most famous example being Orange Wednesdays; the two-for-one cinema offer from the eponymous phone company. Banks are also taking advantage of this, with alerts warning account holders about to go overdrawn.

Keeping it legal

‘Mobile is the most personal medium for marketing,’ believes Nick Fuller, chair of the Direct Marketing Association’s Mobile Marketing Council. ‘This is partly because of the direct and instantaneous way it reaches the consumer, who can send and receive texts while walking down the street, and also because the relationship is instigated by them. People should never get messages they have not opted in for.‘

Mobile marketing is subject to the same legislation as email marketing, whereby individuals must expressly give consent to receive communications from the company concerned. Exceptions to this are if the company already has their details from a prior sale and the message relates to products similar to those previously purchased, or the marketer has provided a means of opting out within the initial message and all subsequent ones. Mobile networks also have their own further rules to cut out unwanted texts.

Once consent is gained, all communications must identify the sender and a method for opting out of further messages. For example, ‘From Cheapflights – win flights to Turkey for footie final. Visit www.cheapflights.com. Reply ‘STOP’ to opt out of marketing.’

Fuller claims unsolicited messages are very rare, saying that people sending mobile spam are ‘crooks, not businesses’. He continues: ‘Legitimate ventures are very careful to stay within the law and not alienate customers. Mobile marketing is extremely valuable and it would kill the market if spam became prevalent.’

Getting started

When setting up a mobile marketing campaign there are two options at the outset: to do it yourself using off-the-shelf software that can be downloaded to your desktop, or outsource the project to one of the many specialist mobile marketing firms around.

Going for the in-house approach is much faster, with a campaign possible within hours of inception, much used by radio stations dealing with topical, up-to-the-minute issues. Outsourcing should give a more thorough and professional service, with accurate tracking methods to give a clear picture of return on investment.

Aquaterra Leisure, an organisation that manages leisure facilities on behalf of local councils, uses an outsourced text message system to remind members of bookings they have made, thereby reducing missed appointments, and to promote special offers.

‘The appointment reminder system has given my team an extra ten hours a month with members at peak times, which has a good effect on our retention figures,’ explains Craig McIntyre, general manager of Aquaterra Leisure Highbury. ‘Not only does it increase revenue by reducing failed appointments, it also enables us to communicate offers and updates directly with our members.’

Bluetooth marketing is another option coming to the fore as mobile handsets become more sophisticated. The technology enables mobile devices in a specific area (up to 100 metres radius) to communicate with each other for free, allowing marketing material to be sent to recipients in a very targeted area. One caveat is that those recipients will have the option to refuse the message.

Another specialist option is the unpleasant sounding but potentially extremely effective viral marketing, particularly among younger people. If this is your target market, it’s possible to create a desirable picture message, audio file or wallpaper (the constant backdrop of the phone) containing your brand that can be easily forwarded on, generating massive brand recognition in a short space of time for relatively little outlay.

If outsourcing your mobile marketing, prices vary from just £30 for a very basic campaign of just a few hundred texts to more than £1,000 for major campaigns. Many include a certain number of free texts with extras sent costing between 4p and 8p per message.

Useful websites

The Direct Marketing Association: The UK trade body for the marketing and communications sector – dma.org.uk.

The Mobile Marketing Magazine: A specialist in the delivery of mobile marketing and tech news and research, and an established host of professional mobile marketing events in the UK and overseas – mobilemarketingmagazine.com.

Related Topics

Mobile marketing

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