Ever since the rise of the SMS (short message service) in the early 2000s, businesses have viewed it as an additional avenue in which to reach out to their consumers, initiating the first forms of mobile advertising/marketing. Over the past few years, there has been an exponential uptake of this marketing channel, partly due to the current economic climate and the need to find ways in which to effectively reach brands’ target audiences at minimum cost in order to increase their ROI - a few benefits of the mobile platform.

With over 4 billon mobile users worldwide, the humble mobile phone has over the years evolved from a means of communication to a multi-faceted device which allows the user to manage a variety of tasks – from surfing the web to viewing rich multimedia content. We are now moving into an era of smartphones and the Apple iPhone, and application developers are working diligently to develop applications for numerous platforms.

But with the ever growing possibilities of connecting with the consumer that the mobile device offers comes the key challenge of overcoming the threat of breaches of consumer privacy that fraudsters, spammers and phishing attacks present. Taking everything into consideration, building trust and faith amongst consumers is central to building a relationship with the brand.

The mobile device at its very core is essentially a highly personal and intimate device. When subdued and controlled, it is a powerful tool for marketers to reach out to their consumers. Experience has shown that ever since the inception of the mobile device, the tagline of ‘never leave home without it’ has emulated the mindset that people have when it comes to this most personal of devices. However, brands using mobile as a channel to reach out to their target market should do so with caution and avoid crossing over from effective mobile marketing to ‘spam’. In light of this, the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) has set in place guidelines which will further enhance the consumer experience of mobile marketing and help to build a level of trust.

In order to tackle this issue the MMA has set down a Global Code of Conduct and Consumer Best Practices which aim to ensure that the mobile marketing experience that consumers receive is a positive one. The MMA also strives to provide consumers with recourse to convey concerns and criticisms of brands which do not adhere to these guidelines. The basis of MMA’s Code of Conduct and its Consumer Best Practices which are constantly reviewed and updated every six months to ensure that new practices are taken into account are: choice, control, customization, consideration, constraint and confidentiality.

  1. Choice. The consumer must “opt-in” to a mobile marketing programme. Consumers have a right to privacy and marketers must therefore gain approval from consumers before content is sent, and include clear directions on how to unsubscribe from communication should it become unwanted. This ensures consumer pull rather than consumer push.
  2. Control. Consumers should have control of when and how they receive marketing messaging on the mobile phone and must be allowed to easily terminate or “opt-out” of an unwanted programme.
  3. Customization. Any data supplied by the consumer must be used to personalise content (e.g.: restricting communications to those categories specifically requested by the consumer), making content as relevant and useful to the consumer as possible.
  4. Consideration. The consumer must receive or be offered something of perceived value in return for receiving the communication (product and service enhancements, requested information, entry into competitions, discounts etc.)
  5. Constraint. The marketer must effectively manage and limit mobile messaging programmes to a reasonable number of programmes.
  6. Confidentiality. Commitment to not sharing consumer information with non-affiliated third-parties.

As the global economic downturn causes brands to rethink their advertising/marketing strategies, businesses will look to mediums such as mobile marketing that have achieved effective and quantifiable results. As the industry continues to grow and more brands engage with the mobile channel, we must ensure that all players in the ecosystem behave responsibly and self-police in an effective way, ensuring that every communication that the consumer receives is a positive one. At the very heart of the matter, the MMA believes that in order for the mobile marketing channel to continue to grow and provide return on investment for brands, the industry must be accountable, making sure that all information that is passed on to consumers is interesting, relevant, valuable and above all, requested.

By Rohit Dadwal, Managing Director, Mobile Marketing Association – Asia Pacific