Mobile: Upwardly Mobile
Perhaps only a small minority of your customers are trying to access your website via mobile devices right now. Maybe those people don't seem worth worrying about yet. However, mobile use is skyrocketing. At some point, you will be expected to have a mobile site just as much as you're expected to have a website now. You need to consider where the greatest opportunities lie for your brand.
By implementing the following strategies, you will invite some of your customers to try mobile response for the first time. You may need to pull your customers along to get them to recognize what the future of mobile could do for them, but being that leader will give customers a better impression of your brand. It's a smart way to outshine your competition. And even if your mobile efforts don't achieve the ROI you hope for immediately, it's much better to be ahead of the game than left in the dust.
Polish Your Presence
Texting and mobile Web browsing are the top two activities on mobile devices, and email is the third. Within that usage space, how you present yourself to consumers on their mobile devices has huge impact on how they will interact with you. If your site isn't optimized for mobile, they'll go elsewhere and may never return. According to a 2008 study conducted by ad agency AKQA's research and insights department, more than 50 percent of responders said they wouldn't return to a mobile site if they had a poor experience.
A mobile site is often a light version of the desktop site, but you don't need to limit yourself that way. A top-notch mobile destination can enhance customer experiences and improve loyalty because your customers can choose how and when to interact with you. Think about what being mobile might mean to your customers. The whole concept of your mobile site could be very different from your main site.
Also think about the emails you send. Are your customers ready for mobile? How do you approach mobile viewing? You could put a link to a mobile version of your email on the email itself, or it may be more effective to let your email "read" the mobile device and send exactly the right version for a BlackBerry, iPhone or Android. You may even be able to customize the experience for each type of device.
Diligently optimize and test your emails to be sure your messages are shown to their best advantage on the various mobile devices.
Promote the Space
Once your mobile site is optimized, drive traffic to it using offline and online media.
Consider newer technologies like QR codes. These simple and cost-effective engagement devices can be used in almost any offline medium to drive visitors to your mobile site—outdoor billboards, print ads, direct mail and more. It's a very inexpensive way to increase involvement, stimulate demand and drive more sales.
Mobile display advertising gives you another opportunity to reach an incremental and unique audience, and it can provide a direct link to your sales channels. If your sales depend on calls or clicks, mobile display advertising can be very advantageous because it enables high sales-channel integration and post-click engagement.
Mobile advertising, by necessity, is streamlined. But it's possible to do a lot in a small space. For example, our organization created a mobile customer acquisition campaign for one of our clients that asked responders to click to call a customer service representative. It worked very well, but we also created a mobile site for people who wanted to know more before calling. That site has several videos that explain the benefits of the product in more detail, and it gets three times as many sales conversions as the click-to-call campaign. It's all about providing consumers an enhanced, relevant experience.
Just because people are on a mobile device doesn't mean they need less information or an over-simplified experience. The challenge is to create a rich experience that can be appreciated within a very small frame.
Text with Care
Texting is twice as popular as browsing or apps among mobile consumers. SMS and multimedia message (MMS) marketing also represent a selective—and therefore cost-effective—opportunity. But you must keep certain things in mind before launching an outbound SMS campaign.
First, a phone number is more intimate—and more expensive—than an email address, which means you have greater opportunity to make customers unhappy by contacting their phones. Second, you must have opt-in consent to send a text message to a phone—and an opt-in approach is much more positive for your brand.
The Mobile Marketing Association has clear standards for marketers who want to send text messages:
✔ You must get consent with an explicit opt-in—just as you do for email.
✔ That permission is tied to a specific marketing program unless you make it clear that future texts may also be sent as a result of opting in.
✔ You must make it easy to unsubscribe at any time as part of the message—for example, by including copy such as "text STOP to XXXXX to unsubscribe."
It may make sense for certain businesses and brands to get a more general opt-in from their biggest enthusiasts. A text inviting enthusiasts to a special event in their area would probably qualify. However, a daily text might turn into an annoyance.
Don't limit yourself to text messages alone in an SMS/MMS campaign. You can offer a much deeper brand experience by linking from your text message to a mobile landing page or a microsite with mobile-optimized video.
You can also use text messaging for inbound marketing with short codes. One of our clients promoted a complex product offering by enhancing traditional media (print, radio and direct mail) with a short code call-to-action. The campaign generated 6 percent more incremental leads as a direct result of the SMS call to action. Plus, between 46 percent and 67 percent of SMS responders re-engaged with additional text messages. Although consumers could also respond via 800 number or online, SMS generated the highest level of engagement for the campaign.
Essentially, the convenience of SMS moves the consumer closer to the point of purchase by lowering the hurdle to gain additional information.
It takes creativity and imagination to get the details right in a multi-platform environment. Take out your mobile phone and look around. How are other companies—maybe even your competitors—marketing to it? How can you make the experience for your prospects and customers even better? It's time to pull your customers into the future, before the early adopters of mobile multichannel integration push you out of consideration.
Spyro Kourtis is president/CEO of Hacker Group, a Seattle-based direct and digital marketing agency. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit Hacker Group website or Hacker Group mobile site.