Mobile marketing is especially intriguing – and the subject of considerable exploration right now – because of the high potential for intimate, timely, and extremely valuable interactions with a consumer.
As with any marketing strategy it is important to ask the essential questions: Who is the audience? What does the ideal audience look like? What is the communications objective? What is the mobile channel uniquely adept at delivering? What is the best consumer experience and brand perception to create?
Answering these questions is important. However, here is a helpful device to streamline the strategic thinking process – phrase the strategic approach for mobile marketing in the terms of a simple equation:
Content + Time + Place = Valuable Interaction
Content is the message. Time and place are the context. All three components are crucial to defining a sound strategic approach and aligning the appropriate tactical solution(s).
SMS is ideal for extremely immediate and relatively disposable content. With SMS the goals are to reach the broadest range of consumers, at the most precisely targeted time and place. SMS is great for migrating consumers seamlessly between off-line and online experiences, whether the marketing is responding to audience preferences or trying to gently influence their behavior to benefit the brand. SMS is analogous to email in traditional digital marketing in that it is a proven channel for driving eyeballs and qualified traffic to a Web experience.
It is the time + place part of the equation that gives the SMS/MMS channel so much power. With 160 characters it is difficult to be persuasive or directly influence consumer decision-making. But 160 characters can dramatically impact a consumer’s impression of a brand or product. Some examples include delivering valuable information through SMS subscriptions with timely discounts at meal time, delivering retail store location information on demand, reminders and alerts for important events like delivery appointments, shipping status alerts, etc.
Conversely, mobile Web and dedicated apps represent content-on-demand. Here the marketer is focused on delivering information and interactivity, but the content is edited to fit within the small box of a mobile device. Technology advancements aside (and recognizing the iPhone and dedicated apps as relative outliers to this point) the “third screen” of mobile devices is ridiculously small relative to the other screens in our lives. Remember when the Sony Watchman portable TVs were all the rage in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with the three to four inch screens? We loved them because they were new and sexy. But in retrospect, they were laughable. Today’s mobile devices are not that different, we just think the experience is sexier than it may really be.*
If you ask too much of a consumer – their time, their attention, or for them to “figure out” the Web content – you are misappropriating the medium. The audience may be staring at that mobile device simply to kill time while in a lobby, airport, or elevator, while on a train, in a cab, or simply to look busy in front of their peers. If they had a laptop or TV in front of them, they would not be on that mobile app! Waste their time and they will bail on you and kill their time on Facebook and Twitter. Given the many possible consumer uses for a mobile device, conversion events and calls-to-action should be dreadfully simple. Pushing them to the 800 number is not a sin. Remember, mobile phones are also good at connecting voice calls!
If created intelligently, mobile Web and apps are drivers on the “content” part of the equation. The key is to guide consumers to interact with these assets at the most relevant time and place. This can be simply based on time-of-day, or timeliness in relation to a particular event. The place can be within a local retail store where you can influence a purchase decision with information or coupons, or at a precise physical location to provide information relevant to the area around them. The toolbox of SMS subscriptions and alerts, mobile banners, and mobile search advertising is ideal for providing this guidance, to drive interaction with your content at the most relevant intersection of time and place.
A central theme throughout Mobile Week is that mobile marketing is not a technology puzzle per se. It’s an issue of relevance in communications – as with any digital channel. Understanding the technology is important, but it’s simply one leg on the stool. Your content can be good, but if the targeting with time and place is poor, the content is wasted. Interaction at the right time and place, but with irrelevant content, also destroys the equation. Strategic mobile marketing is a waste of time and money if there is no consideration for the tactical decisions inherent to the “Valuable Interaction” equation.
Everyone at the Lunch Pail hopes you have enjoyed our first Mobile Week. There is a great deal of additional information to share about mobile marketing, and we will share it, don’t worry! But, there is also a great deal of additional information to share about direct digital marketing, too!! Drop us a comment with your thoughts, questions, and suggestions.
*Before you post a comment, let me say I realize there are enormous differences between a circa 1987 Sony Watchman and a 2009 Blackberry Curve. I take the liberty of juxtaposing the two only to illustrate that the screens on which images are rendered on the two devices are about the same size. This is important to keep in mind as you craft your mobile strategies.