Key To Mobile Marketing Success: Make People Care

August 30, 2011

Is mobile marketing mainstream? Is this finally the “year of mobile“?

The answer to those questions is — and probably will be for some time — it depends. Are you asking about some specific part of the mobile marketing mix, like SMS communication or mobile app development? Or are you waiting for the non-mobile efforts to be left in the dust as people continue to clutch their smartphones at every waking moment?

See how this discussion can quickly get out of hand? More important than proclamations about the mainstream arrival of mobile marketing or anything of that sort, it’s crucial to recognize that a variety of mobile-oriented marketing tactics can have a meaningful impact on your organization.

That’s the declaration, the reminder, the call to action I feel compelled to share after attending the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association’s recent monthly meeting, this one focused on mobile marketing — “mobile relationship management” specifically, according to the event description. It was an interesting talk, delivered by Julie Roth Novack of Chicago-based Vibes, full of little tidbits and takeaways I found to be worth sharing.

My favorite moment of the talk was a single sentence that sums up much of what we digital marketers wrestle with on a regular basis: people who are fascinated with new stuff simply for the sake of new stuff. As Novack so simply put it, “The QR code itself is not a call to action.” You have to give people a reason to care and reason to act beyond the simple curiosity of the newfangled (for now) QR code.

More broadly, Novack explained the four realms of mobile strategy:

  • marketing: sponsorship activation, coupons, etc.
  • advertising: display ads, SMS ads, etc.
  • service: think mobile web/apps
  • experiences: service alerts, banking online, games, etc.

Tactically speaking, the following are four of the most fundamental elements of mobile marketing, in decreasing order of use:

  1. SMS
  2. mobile web
  3. apps
  4. QR codes
To use Novack’s metaphor, envision those four tactics as layers of a big wedding cake. SMS is the largest bottom layer — the foundation, the mobile platform with the widest reach — and QR codes are the top layer — the smallest section with the narrowest relative reach. To develop an effective mobile strategy, she says, don’t focus on any single layer; carve out a nice slice from each layer to offer your stakeholders and consumers a little bit of everything.

Finally, consider these ideas for simple ways to weave mobile into existing efforts rather than treating mobile communication as some separate silo:

  • activate existing marketing programs
  • complement email marketing with mobile alerts
  • launch mobile coupons/incentives
  • link social and mobile programs
  • use mobile to gauge customer satisfaction (survey research and similar, in the moment/at the location)

Fast Horse has several clients experimenting with or actively using various mobile marketing tactics. Developing an effective mobile marketing strategy is a process of constant experimentation, learning and adjusting — one we expect to continue for some time. Because this year — and last year, and next year, and so on — is the year of mobile.

(For more MIMA event recap — including a video of the full presentation and a quick follow-up interview video — check out MIMA’s blog.)