Cell phone penetration in the U.S. has now passed the 100% mark. And with that kind of reach, this is a must opportunity for marketers.
What is mobile marketing? It started as text messaging but as the capabilities of mobile phones have grown, it now extends to any form of marketing that can be done through the web. In fact, Gartner, a respected research company, predicts that mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common device used to access the web worldwide by next year.
Benefits of Mobile Marketing
Because most mobile users are tethered to their phones 24/7 and ready to interact, many consider mobile marketing to be the ultimate direct response tool. Some of its more attractive benefits include:
- Immediacy – Mobile users usually keep their phones within easy reach, so your message can be received within seconds of it being sent. Even if the device is in standby mode, your message will be seen as soon as the customer or client turns the phone on.
- A 100% opt-in form of marketing – Unlike direct mail, where businesses can purchase a mailing list, a customer has to provide their phone number in order to receive mobile offers. In most cases, these consumers are previous customers who have a history with a business and want to receive offers from them. This results in less waste and higher response rates.
- Personalization – Because messages are only sent to customers who have opted-in, personalized offers and content can be sent to increase response rates. Marketers can even open up direct dialogues with users via text messaging and get instant customer feedback.
- Mobility – Customers can receive your message on their mobile device anytime, anywhere versus needing a computer, radio or TV to receive it. There are even programs that can generate an offer any time a customer gets within a specified distance of your business.
- Affordability – Mobile marketing can be very easily and economically integrated with most business’s marketing programs to help increase response rates. And, like most mediums, the more customers you reach, the lower your cost per lead.
- Effectiveness – According to many surveys, text messaging has over a 90% open rate (83% within one hour) and, generally speaking, mobile response rates average around 15%.
- Highly trackable – User response can be tracked almost instantaneously. Plus, mobile marketing can be used to track other marketing methods by including a direct call to action (e.g. “text ‘WINBIG’ to 12345″) in a radio or TV commercial.
- Viral potential– Like email, mobile marketing is easily shared with friends and family. So marketers can get a whole lot more exposure with no additional cost or effort on their part.
Ways to Integrate Mobile Marketing
Now that prices are coming down on mobile marketing, there are a number of ways local businesses can incorporate it into their current marketing programs.
- Mobile-friendly websites – One of the best ways to tap mobile users is to make sure your company’s website is mobile-friendly. This means tweaking elements of your website so that any visitor using a mobile browser is able to navigate your site. Another option is to create a specific mobile version (e.g. m.dexknows.com) of your site that looks good on mobile browsers and features your most popular content or functions. Google is featuring mobile-enabled sites on their mobile search browser. So the sooner you can optimize your site for mobile, the more likely you are to appear in the coveted top mobile search results in your category.
- Text messaging – This is perhaps one of the most used methods of mobile marketing, in part because of its high response rate. Text messaging involves sending out short messages (160 characters or less) to phone numbers of prospects and/or customers who have provided their phone numbers. These numbers are often collected through contests, opinion polls and in exchange for consumer discounts.
- Email messaging – These days many customers also read their emails on their mobile devices, so you should keep your main message short and within the screen so they won’t have to scroll down. Another tip is to provide a link to your website within your email so customers can instantly bring up your page without having to remember to visit it the next time they log in on a computer.
- Mobile GPS coupons – Thanks to a struggling economy and numerous new mobile marketing applications, the concept of distributing digital coupons to customers’ mobile devices has really taken off. These new apps automatically retrieve coupons via GPS, eliminating the need for consumers to browse for offers, remember text codes or juggle ZIP codes. Consumers simply use the apps to download a coupon and redeem it by showing their phone screen to the store cashier.
- Mobile commerce – This function allows customers to purchase or order something directly through your mobile site or application. While it may not make sense for many businesses, with more consumers using their mobile devices for shopping, it might be something to consider.
- Reputation management – At the very least, make sure your business listings are correct and up to date on directory sites such as Dexknows.com, reviews sites like Yelp, as well as social-sharing sites such as Facebook or Foursquare. Mobile users turn to these sites when they are out and about shopping or looking for entertainment. Keeping track of this data and making sure it best reflects your business is known as reputation management.
- QR codes – A simple form of street-level marketing, these squiggly codes can be put on a sign in a shop window, on a poster, a label or a print directory page listing. Scanned with a mobile phone, they take the user to your website to view the details about a product or an offer. To find out how to get one for your business, Dex Media can help.
How to Get Started
Like any marketing tool, the first thing to determine is whether it makes sense for your business and its goals. Mobile marketing works best when it is integrated into your whole marketing program. It is not a magic bullet that will solve all your marketing problems.
Once you’ve determined what you want your mobile marketing to accomplish, you’ll want to get connected with a Dex Media local marketing consultant.
If you haven’t already, start collecting customers’ mobile numbers and follow all industry accepted privacy practices (your marketing consultant should be able to help you with this). Then, make sure the offers you send out are truly valuable and unique and not something customers will find elsewhere. Also make sure that your offers are consistent with the rest of your marketing program. Make your messages fun, with plenty of polls, trivia, sweepstakes, freebies and other great discounts that customers will want to forward to friends. Then, start keeping track of which offers and messages receive the best response.
Due to its opt-in nature, highly personalized offers, high open rate and low cost-per-customer rate, mobile marketing is one of the top marketing trends to keep an eye on. Local business owners owe it to themselves to discover whether mobile marketing is something they should be incorporating into their marketing mix in the months and years ahead.