More and more successful mobile marketing campaign demonstrate that it is possible to dispose an advertising message with only 160 signs - but what is its real secret of success?

Mobile marketing is based on concepts that aim at having forceful One-to-One marketing taking into account the whereabouts and the personal predilections of the customer.
Technically involved are mainly the three mobile transfer protocols GSM, WAP and GPRS as well as in the near future the UMTS technology. From a user’s point of view the protocols differ primarily by the used bandwidths and the respective transfer rates but vary as well regarding educible signs.

According to experts mobile marketing has the potential to initiate a new era. One reason for the optimism is for sure the growing number of mobile phone owners. Gartner estimates that there will be around three billion mobile subscribers in the world by 2010, a doubling of current subscriber levels and the largest proportion of growth will come from the Asia/Pacific region.

An eMarketer report supports this prediction by claiming that 39 percent of Asian mobile owners received the highest number of commercial SMS. Could this be interpreted as a fact that advertisers in Asia embrace the mobile marketing trend more than the rest of the world?
Even though marketers still agonize over how to reach people on a device that's very personal, mobile marketing could be the "silver bullet" if done right.

Mobile marketing should be timely, relevant, valuable, and requested to be effective

What’s true for email marketing applies analogously to mobile marketing. Let the spam problem in email marketing be a lesson to us and let’s send out commercial SMS only to consumers who agreed to receive it.

The Mobile Marketing Association reacted fast and created its own code of practice for content providers, advertisers, brands, technology partners and carriers to master the threat  and released the so-called Six C’s of privacy:

  • Choice: mobile marketing is acceptable only to consumers that opt-in to receive it.
  • Control: consumers who opt-in must have any easy way to opt-out of all mobile marketing.
  • Constraint: consumers should be able to set limitations on messages received.
  • Customization: analytical segmentation tools will help advertisers optimize message volume, ROI and relevancy to the consumer.
  • Consideration: consumers must perceive value in any mobile marketing campaign.
  • Confidentiality: Privacy policies must be aligned between the carrier and the brand.

As in email marketing, the only way to fight the perception of mobile spam and stop it from the beginning is to cooperate and embrace generally accepted guidelines which are supported by creative enforcement mechanisms and technology that closes private carrier gateways to unsolicited marketing while opening them to messages consumers want to receive.

In order to guarantee a perfect mobile marketing campaign, customers should receive messages at a time when it is of most value to them, for instance, sport news during the game or real estate news on a Sunday afternoon at peak time for the property market. In addition, please always take into consideration the different time zones when planning mobile marketing activities and only send relevant messages to consumers or at least those that are valuable in the literal sense such as a coupon or digital content.

Mobile marketing is an excellent channel for consumer response

Mobile is an ideal medium for consumer response as it allows a consumer to respond to the campaign instantly from wherever they happen to be.  No more manual data entry.  No more delays from postal mail.  Higher response rates because it is immediate and simple to do.

With mobile as the response channel, brands can build a relationship with both new consumers and current customers. Mobile campaigns can capture the same types of data as from a post card, from e-mail addresses to post codes and can send instantly feedback that their response has been received. Even mobile content as an incentive can be delivered immediately.

Mobile Marketing is the perfect new media for Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Developing customer loyalty is one of the most valuable and challenging tasks in marketing. Whereas television or print media campaigns offers only one way communication, a mobile marketing campaign offers consumers the choice to respond and provides a new way to initiate communication for service, support, comment or anything else. Messages can easily be personalized and communications can be directed to either automated or live customer response agents. For consumers it’s better than waiting on hold and for service centres and it is an easier way to manage the quantity of calls. By using mobile marketing, brands and marketers get very obviously the chance to communicate directly with their consumers, develop an opt-in database and use mobile phones as a channel.

The reverse after careful consideration

Despite all positive predictions in favor of the new marketing form it has to cope with some obstacles to set the ball rolling. In particular, the still technically poorly conceived formats prevent the breakthrough. Today's WAP mobile phones with their small displays and slow transfer rates would tax users’ patience and smart phones have still to come more into vogue. In addition, company databases haven’t yet collected enough detailed customer information to allow direct address. And a lack of information slows down the development of mobile commerce as well. That’s why the in general perfect service instrument mobile phone remains quite often unused. Besides this, the legal position currently still blocks out the application of mobile advertising messages on a grand scale, although there is no unequivocal ban up to now – only the mentioned Code of Conduct. But as long as the question of legitimacy for mobile advertisements isn’t finally cleared, many enterprises are still reluctant to use the medium. Only if it is guaranteed that the data control remains in the hands of the citizens, the necessary mutual trust can be created to push mobile marketing a step forward.

However, not only end users have reservations. The lack of trust on the part of some businessmen is often caused by the fact that mobile marketing is still misunderstood as a "direct-mailing via SMS”, according to Berlecon Research. But mobile marketing is capable of doing much more.
While traditional advertising communication mainly aims at influencing the consumer prior to the purchase - developing the image of a brand, creating needs, and communicating stimuli - mobile marketing allows to have an impact on the whole process.

Let me give you an example:

  1. Through mobile marketing it is possible that a customer ad libitum gathers information about attractive holiday resorts via mobile phone.
  2. At the push of a button he is connected with the Call Centre of the tour operator where he receives further information,
  3. And can confirm finally the offer with another push of the button,
  4. The payment procedure is also very comfortable as the accounting takes place by the invoice for the mobile phone usage,
  5. And at the airport the SIM card serves as a ticket,
  6. After the journey the customer can be interviewed about the service and quality of the offer via SMS.

Here mobile add on services contribute to develop customer loyalty and introduce new target groups to the company’s offers. Furthermore image and brand generation, as well as market research, are other promising areas of application for mobile marketing. And due to the fact that the actual purchase can be conducted via mobile or the consumer has the choice to use the mobile phone in every store in order to receive relevant information and to clinch the deal, mobile marketing has a high standing in the product policy. If we last but not least take into consideration that particularly the intuitive decisions, which precede approx. 70% of all transactions, can be controlled in this manner there is no doubt anymore that mobile marketing works. You have only to understand that mobile marketing has the power to enhance existing marketing by adding a dynamic and interactive consumer response mechanism and then continuing the communication offering consumers a personalized dialogue - then doubts will disappear and businesses can start to take credit and revenue for mobile marketing.

By Daniela La Marca