The only hard part of Publishers Clearing House's mobile marketing plan is going to be getting that huge check to fit in those tiny cell phones. In June, PCH launched two iPhone applications—PCH Trivia and PCH Slots—to begin its push into the mobile marketing arena. Historically a direct marketing giant, PCH expects a lot from this marketing channel that fits in the palm of a hand.
Direct mailers take note: Despite the dismal economy, the strength of the mobile web is evident. As a result, it may be time to consider integrating mobile marketing—where ads are text-messaged or sent to mobile phones—into a future campaign. Just look at the statistics: Total U.S. mobile web users increased 3 percent between April and May this year, according to a mobile report from the Nielsen Co. In addition, retail mobile marketing promotional campaigns increased 6 percent between the two months, according to Millennial Media's May Scorecard for Mobile Advertising Reach and Targeting.
Shaquille O'Neal's call to Cleveland Cavaliers fans on July 2 held double meaning for the NBA franchise. That day, phones rang for 32,595 Cavs fans who then learned from The Big Witness himself that they could come watch the new center in his quest to "Win a Ring for the King."
When then presidential candidate Barack Obama used text messaging to announce his selection of a running mate, the event signaled a coming of age for mobile, particularly short message service (SMS), as a direct marketing channel. That the content of the SMS announcement—Joe Biden of Delaware was Obama’s choice—was trumped by leaks to the traditional media made the method of delivery no less significant. The campaign successfully used a promotion to build an opt-in mobile database of more than 3 million supporters with whom to communicate and motivate for the longer haul.
Challenge: Lead generation aimed at adding to the e-mail database, increasing the Facebook following, testing mobile marketing and driving traffic to the restaurants. Solution: Provide a free burger with contest sign-up; provide dessert incentives for e-mail and mobile sign-up; and give away a Toyota Prius for the best Ted’s Burger love story submitted online via video, image, audio or text document. Results: 6,622 entries, of which 52 percent opted in to the e-mail program. Ted’s Facebook page saw a 40 percent increase in fans during March, bringing the total to 1,996. Plus, 394 customers wanted to receive text messages.
How a year can change things. Thirty-eight percent of respondents to Target Marketing’s 2008 Media Usage Forecast boasted of an increase in their direct response media budgets, and only 16 percent anticipated a decrease. With the numbers now in for our third annual forecast, I’m sorry to report the economy has flipped those percentages on their heads. But the silver lining in this study is that the share of direct marketers whose budgets are remaining steady for the third year in a row has slipped only one point, to 40 percent.
Do you want the good news or bad news first? Since this is no time for denial, let’s tackle the challenges first. Where the projected increases and decreases in direct response media spend reported in Target Marketing’s Media Usage Forecast 2008 were rain clouds threatening an economic storm, 2009’s reversal of fortune for these figures could be foreshadowing the extent of the destruction. In 2007, 42 percent of respondents boasted a media budget increase; that number has dropped to 20 percent for 2009. Conversely, the percentage of respondents reporting a decreased budget nearly tripled between 2007 and 2009, coming in at 35 percent for the year ahead.
A long-term practice in direct mail was to compel respondents to complete some simple exercise as a way to further solidify their emotional investment, short of sending cash with order. For example, Time-Life Books and Prentice Hall asked respondents to initial order cards. And who could forget the punching out and affixing of product stamps to join Book-of-the-Month's and Columbia House's book/music clubs, or to purchase magazine subscriptions from Publishers Clearing House and American Family Publishers? (Hey, we can remind kids how tough we once had it; not only did we have to walk our orders to the mailbox, but we had to lick and stick the postage stamps, too!)
With the specter of a recession looming, results from Target Marketing’s second annual Media Usage Forecast reflect the caution that marks the start of 2008. The majority of direct marketers plan to hold the line on or even increase their budgets, which is good news. Still, the group of respondents tightening the purse strings on their media budgets rose 23 percent compared to last year, and the group planning a budget increase dipped about 10 percent. An intriguing development is that a smaller percentage (5 percent) of respondents are indicating uncertainty about their budget plans for this year contrasted with the response to this