By Rob Smith, Digital Director at Blueleaf Digital.
We are in an era where mobile phones are continually dominating our communications. 2ergo recently predicted that in the next 12 – 18mths, at current growth rate smartphones will have critical mass. What does this mean? That mobile marketing, will, finally, after around 6 years of speculation, be a viable concept.
Bearing all of that in mind, we need to approach mobile marketing differently. Other marketing channels generally do not take into account the context of a person's situation.
For example, I'm rushing out the door but need to find the postcode of the store I'm going to visit. I visit their website. I have to wade through all the ecommerce and promotional messages to the store finder to get what I need. This is not appreciating the context of my situation.
With mobile marketing we need to assume the context of the situation. We need to accept that generally, when people are using a mobile device they are:
o On the move
o Generally cannot complete complex tasks or do not want to
o Are looking to fulfil a specific, quick, need
o Are generally distracted by a whole manner of outside influencers
o Are filling time before something else
With these four points in mind we can formulate our mobile marketing plan. This is generally a 3-step process:
Step 1 - Objectives
What are our objectives for our mobile marketing? How will we measure these objectives to see the level of success we achieve? These questions are paramount to keep a mobile marketing project on track.
Step 2 – Who are we marketing to?
Thinking of the profile of our typical customer, how do they use their mobile device? Are they generally time starved affluents who will be using the device to fill in and complete tasks they didn't have time to do at home / write emails / make calls? Could they generally be part time / full time mothers who use their device to mostly keep in touch with family and other mothers?
Step 3 – What are their needs?
Now we have what we wish to achieve and whom we are marketing to. What comes next is the how, the idea. The reason that many applications on phones are utility based (i.e. accomplishes or help with a specific short task) is due to combining the above two points.
Example: MORE TH>N
They have produced an application where you can fill in the blanks on an insurance claim to record the details of an accident.
Step 1: Objectives seem to be to drive greater brand exposure, and probably keep reminding people they can renew / get a quote with MORE TH>N if they are not currently a customer
Step 2: We are marketing to anyone who has a car and therefore car insurance.
Step 3: There is a need to make sure that all the right details are collected at the time of the accident. This is often a time when people are shaken or upset and therefore having a guide will help significantly with the situation. Secondly you will generally always have your mobile device on you when in the car travelling somewhere.
Using this example it's easy to see how the pieces fall into place. If you can apply this simple 3-step process to you own mobile marketing or someone else's you should be able to see whether it looks like it will fail or succeed.
Diving deeper into the idea
We have discussed a simple framework for looking at mobile marketing. It's very similar to a lot of other marketing apart from the deeper appreciation of the context in which the device is used. This brings us to the idea – how do you formulate the ideal for the marketing? Generally in this section, we'll be focusing on mobile phone applications like those for Apple's iPhone and Android. You can easily build a mobile experience using mobile web browsers though, the same thoughts apply.
There are 4 elements that a mobile phone does a lot better than most marketing channels (especially today's smart phones), and therefore these form the cornerstone of a lot of mobile marketing.
Location: A lot of smartphones are location aware. This means that we can easily work out from the phone, how far away it is from a particular place. Even if the device is not location aware, generally the user is! This is why there are so many applications that incorporate finding the nearest 'insert thing here' – bar, restaurant, cinema, shop etc.
Communication: a phone was after all built to communicate. Phone, SMS, Email. Any application that can take advantage of the fact that phones are used regularly for short bursts of communication can do well. This is why there are a plethora of Twitter clients on the smartphones – they take advantage of people's need for connection and communication, and while they're at it, sell a few ads.
Alleviating boredom / filling time: There are plenty of times in people's lives where they are waiting. Waiting for a train, bus, partner, deliveryman, etc. Those times are gold dust for marketers as there is an opportunity to reach someone who is not too focused on anything else. This is the reason why games are so popular on phones. They can fill these time gaps.
Be the alternative: This one is a little difficult to describe. If you are targeting the current younger generation then there's a very different behaviour that can be seen in terms of multitasking.
While listening to music, watching TV or browsing the Internet, it's common to see this generation also using their phone at the same time to reply to a text, browse around Facebook or be playing a game without it using their full concentration.
This gives mobile marketers a much greater breadth of time to go after with this generation than others and is worth considering.
A lot of what we have spoken about above has been focused on mobile applications or mobile websites. This is mainly because this area is currently a very hot topic and the usage is very high with a couple of billion downloads of iPhone alone at time of writing.
However, many of these themes also apply to mobile advertising. There's no point for instance in showing an ad then when someone click the link, it attempts to load up your normal website with a long application form. Its highly unlikely mobile users will convert.
Make sure your mobile advertising is to the point, stands out and understands both your target market and the context they are currently operating in.
Mobile marketing needs to be targeted, context specific with strong KPIs for it's success. Take inspiration from a plethora of current clever ideas out there and try a lot of current applications/websites that are doing well to find out why. Above all realise that mobile marketing is here to stay.
As the boundaries between computer and mobile also continue to blur, it's important you're not burying your head in the sand and take advantage of this new channel.
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