Go Mobile Marketing Takes to the Wireless Web
By Brian Howard
In the not-too-distant future, direct marketing may come to resemble something of a high-wireless act. Exponentially more Americans, young and old, are going mobile—using smart phones, palmtop computing devices and laptop computers that can access the Internet wirelessly—to conduct business and make social arrangements. As this trend develops, reaching customers at the right place may become as important as reaching them at the right time, and just as challenging.
All of this, of course, is contingent on marketers not mucking it all up.
Mobile devices, by their very nature, are intimate things. They're kept on or near users' bodies—in pockets, purses and briefcases—at nearly all times of the day. This "always-on" nature makes them powerful vehicles for marketing messages. But unlike home phones and e-mail, each incoming message on a mobile device costs its user airtime and money. This makes such messaging strategies very dangerous to employ, indeed.
Boston-based company m-Qube, a service and software provider for mobile marketing, begins its Mobile Messaging Code of Conduct (available at www.m-qube.com) like so:
... the key to a thriving, long-term mobile messaging industry creating value for marketers and carriers is the active, zealous protection of consumer interests, rights, and privacy.
To sidestep the pitfalls that threaten e-mail marketing (spam) and telemarketing (calls at dinner), permission and respect are the utmost prerequisites of wireless marketing.
Sending Out an SMS
The wireless medium that's farthest along the adoption curve is mobile messaging, which uses a protocol called short message service (SMS) to send text messages to phones and other mobile devices (e.g., Palms, Blackberrys) equipped to receive them.
According to Mike Troiano, senior vice president, business development, m-Qube, there are approximately 150 million mobile phone users in the United States and about 100 million of them have two-way SMS enabled phones (this means they can both send and receive text messages).