Mobile is a booming channel. According to Nielsen’s State of the Media: Consumer Usage Report 2011, there are more mobile phone users (232 million) than computer users (192 million). It also reports 43 percent of those mobile phones are smartphones. That works out to nearly 100 million people walking around with full-featured mobile Web and app access all the time, even without counting tablets—like the iPad—which are exploding in their own right.
So, the mobile channel certainly exists, and roughly half of it has advanced connectivity and media access. What can marketers do with that? Here are some of the top mobile marketing techniques, and some vendors who can help you use them.
Text Messaging and Short Codes
The most flexible form of mobile advertising is texting. Even the oldest mobile phones can send and receive simple text messages (SMS), and almost all can receive multimedia messages (MMS). Short codes are five-digit phone numbers that allow users to opt-in to your text marketing and interact by simply texting to it. Once a prospect opts-in, you have a very reliable line of communication—text message campaigns can have open rates around 95 percent, with messages opened within four minutes of receipt. Many effective campaigns have a contextual element—for example, offering the chance to enter a contest during an episode of a TV show or to interact in some way at a live event.
There also are reasons text and short codes have never reached the popularity of email marketing in North America. Many mobile users have limited text messaging, so they essentially pay for each message marketers send them. Phone carriers also exert far greater influence on the channel, making it more like telemarketing than email in some regards. All mobile campaigns in the U.S. must comply with the Mobile Marketing Association’s (MMA) standard of double opt-in and easy removal/complaint tools. Owning an entire short code can be very expensive, so most marketers buy into a shared short code where several companies use the same code, but each gets the traffic from a specific keyword users text to that number. This brings the cost down considerably, but adds another level of complexity and oversight (by the code owner).