QR Codes and Beyond: 3 Technologies Changing Mobile Marketing Today
There are approximately 312 million Americans, 266 million with Internet access via computer. More than 285 million people in the U.S., more than 91 percent, have mobile phones, and nearly 40 percent of those phones can access the Internet. It's predicted that within the next 12 to 18 months, the percentage of smartphones will reach more than 60 percent and the Internet as we know it will change. Businesses will soon be forced to pay attention to mobile marketing, and several new technologies offer the upside to do so now.
Multimedia Message Service (MMS)
Marketing to mobile phones has become increasingly popular since the rise of Short Message Service (SMS) in the early 2000's, when businesses started to collect mobile phone numbers and send opt-in—or not—text messages.
Today, MMS mobile marketing can contain a timed slideshow of images, text, audio and video. Nearly all new phones produced with a color screen are capable of sending and receiving standard MMS messages. Companies are able to send rich content advertising through MMS networks to mobile subscribers. Some mobile networks are also capable of sending sponsored messages person-to-person, allowing the message to be focused directly to the interests of that consumer.
Location Based Services (LBS)
LBS is offered by some cell phone networks as a way to send custom advertising and information to subscribers based on their current locations. The cell phone service provider gets the location from a GPS chip built into the phone, or through radiolocation based on the signal strength of the closest cell phone towers for phones without GPS.
The QR Code (see image at right) is a specific type of 2D bar code readable by camera phones or QR readers for commercial and industrial use. The information encoded can be text, URL, phone number, SMS message, calendar event or other kinds of data.
QR Codes have become more prevalent in advertising and have been integrated into both traditional and digital campaigns, including on billboards, in-store displays, trade shows, business cards, print ads, contests, direct mail campaigns, websites, email marketing and coupons. QR Codes allow a high degree of accuracy to measure and quantify the return on investment (ROI) for each campaign.
Mobile in Complex Sales
The fastest industry to utilize QR Codes for advertising was the Real Estate industry. Simply placing an oversized QR Code on the "For Sale" sign at the curb allows everyone driving by to take pictures of the QR Code with their cell phones—without leaving their cars—and may turn one of them them into a real buyer.
Next quickest to leverage QR codes have been car dealers. Dealerships are notorious for spending a lot of money on advertising. On the average, advertising it costs a dealership around $1,000.00 per new unit sold for things like license plate frames with the dealers name, brand(s), city or website URL; rear body decals; and/or website URL's lettered on the back window of their loaner cars. All of that is their attempt to let the public know where to shop and buy. By placing a QR code on the vehicles side windows, dealers can communicate with anyone who passes the vehicle, giving the dealership's address, geo location—including map & driving direction from where the customer is at that moment—sale announcement, or a phone number that can be automatically called so prospects don't have to dial their cell phones while driving.
In the car business, the first adapters of processes, methodologies and technology usually dominate their competition, but first adapters only comprise about 10 percent of the industry. The rest wait and see if the new ideas work, but by then, they are playing catch-up. It's the same in every other industry as well.
The mobile marketing sector is one of the fastest growing advertising segments in the United States. Within the last 6 months, the use of QR codes in the U.S. has increased by more than 1,200 percent. Businesses want more customers and customers want deals. Google has published its new rule—"Mobile First"—and Apple now claims to be "A Mobile Device Company." Right now, you have the opportunity to secure your organization's position in your market with mobile advertising, ahead of the trend.
Neil Gale is a business and Internet consultant who holds a Ph.D. from the London Institute for Applied Research in Business Management. He has founded his third consulting firm, DrGale.com, and can be contacted at Info@drgale.com or (800) -736-1036.