mobile marketing

How Brands can Create a Better Service through Mobile

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It seems obvious, but as an ‘always there, always on’ channel, mobile gives brands the opportunity to give their customers a better, more frictionless service. Mary Meeker has highlighted the media shift from traditional channels to mobile and tablet devices. Google has shown that mobile is used at every stage of the consumer journey, and 80% of users are doing that in conjunction with other media. For example, their recent in-store study found that customers often use their smartphones as an assistant to check information whilst they are in-store.

Mobile service may seem obvious, yet many brands fail to do it. An IAB study found that only 63% of the top 100 brands have a mobile optimised website. Even where there are mobile sites, there is a limited mobile experience. A recent DMA study highlighted an often over-looked area for brand service. Making a phone call! Simple services such as click-to-call buttons or scheduled call-backs were top of the consumer priority list.

In spite of this, some brands have understood the need to create a mobile-optimised experience across their whole service – from Marks and Spencer to Nike to Starbucks. The following Slideshare shows the issue and how brands can gain some quick wins from a simple, yet optimised mobile service:

How Mobile Can Deliver Better CRM

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Mobile is the most personal, direct and emotional of all channels. Whilst many brands integrate mobile as another vertical channel, there is an opportunity to create a deeper, richer engagement by taking a more horizontal approach across all channels. What happens if consumers see an ad on TV, or use their device in-store?

Numbers show that brands in the UK are so far struggling to grasp this opportunity. For example, Experian’s ‘Global Data Quality Research Report’ in 2012 surveyed 300 UK organisations, and found that 40% of UK companies currently fail to collect any mobile data at all.

Consumers today are connected to the world 24/7, and this constant use of mobile devices provides brands with pervasive customer data, all of which can help them understand the changing consumer behaviour. Using the example of a consumer that performs a mobile search after seeing a TV advert, what if you could pick up where the TV advert left off and continue to tell the brand’s story on mobile ?

With insight and an understanding of consumers’ contextual behaviour, brands can actually adapt and tailor their approach so that they can be more relevant, timely and useful to consumers than ever before, thus building stronger customer relationships.

BrandEmotivity’s whitepaper on marketing to situations and contexts (below) explores the problem with mobile as a vertical channel, the advantages and challenges brands are faced with in integrating mobile horizontally, and how mobile and mobile data can work to improve brand’s CRM strategies. Or you can download it from here 0n SlideShare.


Bursaries for Mobile and Digital Media Courses

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The DM Foundation in conjunction with Birmingham City University as created four bursaries worth £4000 each for students to enrol in their Future Media courses. I have had a hand in writing the modules around mobile and will be lecturing on the course. The aim is to create a practical course that delivers real vocational training.
The BCU courses are:
Future Media: Pro (available as an MA or MSc) has been created with McCann Erickson to help graduates develop an exciting career in the digital communications industry. Unlike other courses, Future Media: Pro actually recreates the experience of working full-time to briefs within a digital communications agency over a year. Taking place in the University’s city centre training facility, NTI Birmingham, the postgraduate course provides highly specialist postgraduate training for the next generation of Marketing Assistants/Managers, Brand Strategists, Digital Designers, Content Producers, Web Analysts and Media Sales Executives.
Students awarded the DMA Scholarship will get 50% off the cost of their course fee (normally £8,000 for EU students). To apply for the Bursary, simply apply for Future Media: Pro via by 10th August 2012. Eligible applicants will then be offered the chance to be interviewed for the bursary award.
For more information, including bursary eligibility criteria, please go to and look for ‘Bursaries’. Good luck!

Mobile Predictions for 2012

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How will mobile and mobile marketing progress in the next twelve months?

The coming year will look something like this … a majority of people will have smartphones (older people will be an important demographic), shops will undergo dramatic change,  mobile ads will get richer and more interactive, and advertising will be more responsiveMobile voice control becomes a practical reality and new screens will appear with texture and gesture interaction. The tablet market will continue to rapidly expand, with users interacting (and buying) more than on mobile.  In the meantime, governments and brands will need to open up their data and provide APIs for the rest of us to make sense of it all.

Predicting the future is never easy. I have focused on the key trends from 2011 and considered how they are likely to impact on 2012 and beyond. Whilst most of the trends I predicted for 2011 were pretty accurate, there were a few notable exceptions (I have changed my mind about the future of tablets, and Samsung’s Bada hasn’t been exactly earth-shattering).

Everyone gets smarter (especially older people)

2011 was the year that the smartphone took off. Sure, smartphones aren’t exactly new, but in the UK (and elswhere) we reached 50% penetration. Even the developing mobile economies are showing a high rates of adoption and will soon seen a majority of people with smart handsets. The adoption of smartphones by a majority of people changes things everything for brands – as Mary Meeker pointed out in 2011, we have reached critical mass. All advertising a can be responsive. Consumers will ‘Tweet’ and ‘Like’ brands where ever they are. And they can compare prices or stock whilst they are standing in a shop.
One of the most interesting trends is the rapid rate of adoption amongst older adults. Typically early technology adoption has been focused on younger and often male demographics. That has been true of smartphones to date (although BlackBerry skews more towards women) and earlier this year, a UK study found that age, not income was the greatest barrier to smartphone adoption. However data from Nielsen in the US in November showed that the 50+ age group are some of the fastest adopters of smartphones. Although only 18% of the older age group owned a smartphone, they were buying them faster than almost anyone else.
In many ways this is not surprising. Fifteen years ago older adults weren’t using the internet. When they found they could get cheap flights, compare insurance prices or see pictures of their grandchildren, they got online. For example over 20% of UK aged 60+ are on Facebook. Why? They use it for photo sharing with their grandchildren. Similarly, ten years ago, SMS was considered a young persons’ medium but now every demographic sends texts – Comscore report that it is 90%+ across all ages. When technology is useful, old people will adopt it. What is useful about smartphones to an older adult? They can compare prices in shops or provide alerts for things like medication. It’s still early days, but expect the 50+ age group to be an important demographic in the world of mobile marketing.

Shops won’t be shops

2011 saw retailers getting into mobile, largely through the mobile web. Many of them quickly found that over 10% of their sales (Amazon, M&S and Halfords to name just three) were coming from mobile devices.
A consequence of the growing smartphone adoption is the role of shops. A Google IPSOS study this year found that over 70% of people use their smartphones in shops to compare prices. 22% of smartphone owners changed their purchasing decision in the shop as a result of using the device. That changes the game for retailers; shops will become more like showrooms. But it works the other way round as well. Shops no longer need a retail location. The much touted Tesco Homeplus in Korea is a fine example of that. Others have followed though. Net A Porter created pop-up shops in London and New York using image recongition and augmented reality (IR/AR). In Brighton, John Lewis took the Homeplus model to a Waitrsoe store, and the likes of Debenhams and eBay followed Net A Porter’s example. 2012 will be the year when the very idea of a shop is challenged by smartphones.

Mobile advertising gets rich

The disparity between the time people are spending in mobile media and money spent on advertising in it, has been highlighted a number of times in 2011. A study at the end of 2011 found that more ‘media time’ is spent in mobile than in print. However ad spend is less than 1% of the total in mobile, yet 27% in print. There is an argument to say that brands don’t invest in mobile because it simply doesn’t offer the returns. There is a parallel though. When the internet first got big there was no successful advertising model. Then along came Google’s model and they made it big. Arguably the same thing needs to happen in mobile.

Although the mobile ad networks are happy to talk up the channel, so far it hasn’t proved to be massively successful. Click-throughs on display advertising in mobile are currently lower than desktop and the future of  Apple’s iAd doesn’t look great, (and their share is falling). However, what Apple did was to show how mobile advertising can be rich, interactive and integrated to the content. If you want to win eyeballs in mobile then you need to be both interesting and unobtrusive at the same time. The best way to deliver that experience is using HTML5. Not only can it deliver rich media but it can also access handset functions like the GPS or accelerometer. It means that adverts can become more like mini-apps, minus the downloading part. 2011 saw a number of rich HTML5 ads from the likes of Tuborg, Autotrader and many more. Google announced that its HTML5 ad support and will shortly be bringing out a (free) creation tool.

The other boost to mobile ads will come from Facebook. Unlike some of their other initiatives, the social network are being cautious and rolling it out slowly. It seems as though mobile advertising is too important for them to get it wrong. Will Facebook ads be rich media? We don’t know at this stage, but such a major ad initiative from them will move the channel forward.

Ads and Everything Become Responsive

When a majority of people have a smartphone in their pocket, they can respond immediately to advertising and brands can use channels such as web or apps to continue the customer journey. There are many ways to get a response. SMS has been an obvious choice for over a decade, but for the last few years advertisers have been keen to use QR codes. There have been many issues with them, not least, the lack of consumer understanding, but it would appear that both brands and consumers are beginning to get QR. For advertising it’s about finding the right context and call to action. For consumers they offer an obvious advantage over SMS. You can respond to an ad without giving out your mobile number and risking endless text messages. In the last year or so, campaigns from Heinz and Kellogg’s have shown that when presented in the right way, QR works.

However a more interesting trend has been image recognition combined with augmented reality (IR/AR). A few apps appeared in 2011, such as Blippar and Aurasma, which allows users to scan an image onto which are over laid more information. Campaigns from the like Marmite and Heinz (not to mention Net A Porter, eBay and Debanhams) showed where IR/AR could go. One interesting thing about the technology is that unlike QR, it is backwards compatible. Any Marmite label would work with the Blippar app, for example. It also lends itself to some more guerilla campaigns. Fiat in Spain used the technology to promote their EVO by making road signs responsive – clever.

The other response mechanism that may be big in 2012 is NFC or Contactless. Although many are touting it as a form of payment, the potential of contactless as a brand communication should not be underestimated. We are seeing NFC appear in many handsets from BlackBerry to Google’s Nexus and there are strong rumours it will be in the iPhone. We are already seeing NFC enable bus stops and posters. In the UK for example, adverts for the 2011 X Men film allowed contactless users to ‘touch in’ for more information. It goes beyond advertising though. NFC chips are so cheap they can be embedded in almost anything. If your washing machine breaks down, you could simply ‘touch-in’ and you will be connected to your nearest mechanic.

Data goes open

This prediction is probably a case of wishful thinking rather than a real trend. Governments opening up their data is not so new and in the last few years people have done some clever things with that open data. However, the potential on mobile has barely been explored. Take London, for example. There are some useful apps around the cycle hire scheme and information relating to the tubes and transportation. But there is so much more that could be done. In early 2012 the Ordnance Survey will provide HTML5 and iOS APIs to their maps. That could create some really fun, interesting applications.

However, where governments are leading, brands should be following. Why shouldn’t every brand create an API to their non-sensitive data? The supermarket, Tesco, already have one for products and barcodes. That’s a start, but it could go so much further. If everyone had an API then developers will create great apps that brands never even thought of.

New Interactions: voice and screens

Last year I wrote about this as a prediction for some way in the future, but it looks like we are already moving beyond the touch screen. First off we have voice interaction. Although Google had voice control, Apple upped the ante with Siri, a more intelligent version. Not to be outdone, Google are looking to create an even more powerful voice interaction tool.

On the new screen front, things are also moving quickly. Although an both Sharp and an Indian company announced the development of 3D mobile screens, there is little demand for them. A more interesting development is that of gesture control. What we have in our Xbox today, will be in our phones tomorrow. In 2011 an Israeli company announced that they were developing technology which would allow mobile handsets to be controlled by gestures, not just touch.

Another technology that has been worked on since the 1950s is ‘electrovibration’, or the ability to change the screen’s texture (or at least the feeling of texture). Nokia have been working on the idea for some time, and a company called Senseg announced that they would be bringing out a texture sensitive screen in 2012. What’s the point? There’s a lot you can do with a texture variation screen. You can create friction, making it harder to pull your finger across different parts of the screen. That’s great for gaming, but it is also useful for maps or other applications where you cannot easily look at the screen, such as driving. From a brand perspective, as mobile advertising becomes richer and more interactive, the new screens will open up a new world of possibilities.

Tablets take off

In spite of my previous pessimism about the potential of the tablet market, the last year has shown how significant it could become. There was a 440% growth in tablet sales from the end of 2010 until November 2011 according to Google. That’s a faster rate of sales then the iPod or iPhone. Some countries we have already seen tablet sales outstripping PC sales. It has largely been driven by the iPad, but other devices are beginning to get a look in. Early reports of the Kindle Fire show strong sales, although much like the iPod, Apple’s tablet will still expected to dominate the market.

But it isn’t just the adoption of the devices, it’s what people are doing with them. The fast, interactive experience of the tablet means that it over indexes on the usage of web browsing and apps etc. Google tell us that 91% of usage is for personal use. These are fun items, not work tools, used to browse, view and shop! A study from the Macquarie Group found that 77% of the total ‘mobile’ data traffic volumes comes from tablet devices.

Similarly when it comes to advertising, engagement in through tablets is considerably greater than smartphones. Take paid search, for example. Macquarie Group found that whilst mobile CPCs were 108% that of desktop, tablets were only 85% of the cost, yet offered a higher click through rate. Google highlighted that even more than smartphones, users want interactive, rich ad content. Whilst magazine subscriptions have struggled on the iPad, but that is as much about the revenue model – consumers don’t value it as much as print. However, when you look at Flipboard, it’s clear that there is a strong market for iPad-based reading. It’s just a case of finding the right format. The iPad is also an important two-screen device. It’s the thing you use when you’re watching TV.

Where does this leave mobile in 2012? There are two things to keep in mind:

Firstly, with more smartphones in everyone’s hands, mobile can be the connective tissue between all brand channels: traditional, digital or social.

Secondly, when it comes to brand engagement, most consumers will reach for their mobile before anything else. Brands now need to think in terms of ‘mobile first’.

Is Open Data the Future for Brands?

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It may sound very dull but open could represent the future for brand engagement. There’s plenty of talk about the UK Government’s Open Data initiative. Just a couple of years in and there are already some interesting projects. Take London’s Cycle Hire Scheme, Boris Bikes. Within days of the announcement there were iPhone apps-a plenty telling you where the nearest bike parks were, how many were there and so on. That was all thanks to open data. Boris and his chums didn’t need to build a complex app, all they had to do was get the information out there and someone would do something interesting with it.

One exciting development is the open data initiative from Ordnance Survey. Last year they opened up an API to their maps, but it was only Javascript. However, they have announced that they will be releasing an iOS and HTML5 API in January 2012. That means that any developer can take the maps and do something interesting. ‘But we already have maps on smartphones’ I hear you say? Yes we have some good road maps, but OS is very different. It gives footpaths, field boundaries and every building is shown regardless of whether it’s in the city or countryside. That’s far more detail than anyone else. And think of what could be done with all that fantastic map data? Hiking or off road cycling apps are an obvious example. But in the end, you don’t really know what you’re going to get. That’s the fun part of open data. Someone somewhere will probably come up with something interesting.

So on to brands. Rather than spending lots of time and energy developing apps or mobile sites, why don’t they just open up their data and let other people use it in interesting ways? If consumers like it they’ll use it, if they don’t they won’t. Tesco’s already did this to some extent a few years ago, by creating an API into their online shopping, Besides online stock and ordering they also have included their barcodes as part of the interface. They have around 1000 developers registered. And the great thing for Tesco’s is that their .com service can be used by any developer. It’s like a (free) affiliate scheme only much better.

Many online and social media brands know the value of open data. Google has a number of APIs, but the new kids on the block like Foursquare or Instagram have them from the word go. You only have to go to their sites to see how many great applications independent developers have created with this. Take Instagram. Someone I know has just produced a great little app called Instabam. It uses your location and shows photos from near where you are. Great, simple and fun.

So why doesn’t every supermarket do the same as Tescos? And whilst they are at it, they could do even more. Besides prices, stock and barcodes, why not include delivery logistics or store layouts? Someone will develop an app that shows you where your delivery van is, or takes you around the store via the fastest route based on your shopping list. It’s not just retail though, every brand should be doing it. How about banks? OK, they’re not going to open up APIs to our personal accounts, but what about all the other data they publish? Interest rates, insurance offers. Even the salaries of their directors – if they really think they are acceptable, then they should make them open data and let someone make an app with it.

How will people use all this data? Well, we don’t know. That’s the great thing about open data. Of course brands will worry about people ‘mis-using’ their information. However it’s no different than how a brand should approach social media. It’s like saying ‘we shouldn’t have a Twitter presence in case people say something bad about us’ (of course some brands actually do say that). In reality people will think and say bad things about your brand wherever they are, so it’s better to know and address it, surely? The same can be said about open data. It can bring out all kinds of things you would prefer people not to know. One teenager used the government’s data about department energy use to produce a chart showing the best and worst ministries. Some departments looked very bad, but it allowed those poor performing ones to look at the problem and address it. In the end brands need to realise that just like your Facebook Wall, open data is about democracy – let people use it, don’t try to control it.

In fact, if brands opened up all their data, then they need not worry about developing apps or mobile sites any more. Brands should think about it this way – if you open up your data then some bloke in Shoreditch wearing skinny jeans will come up with an application that you never thought of. And it will be great and it won’t cost you a penny. The only problem for me is that as a mobile strategist, brands will no longer need me and I’ll be out of a job!

Privacy: Is This the Main Barrier for Mobile Marketing?

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Concerned about phone privacy? Here's one solution.

It’s an issue that brands often ignore, but over the last few weeks privacy in mobile and online has been at the forefront of the news. We had Google storing WiFi location information, we’ve had Android and iPhone storing users’ location data and Sony’s hacking problems which saw over 100,000 users’ data compromised. In a recent poll by The Wall Street Journal nearly 50% of 8,000 respondents said they were ‘very concerned’ that Apple were tracking and storing location information. This was confirmed by a Nielsen study which found that 52% of men and 56% of women also had privacy concerns about their smartphones.

From Apple’s perspective this was not a deliberate attempt to access this information but rather a bug in the operating system, that has been updated in a version of the iOS 4.3.3 which has just been released. Apple are different to Google. The latter are very much in the business of selling advertising, and location-based information is useful to that end. Apple, however are basically in the business of selling devices, their OS and apps (iAd aside).

However, it is significant that such a large number of people should show concern about the storing of location information. The internet has posed a threat to individual privacy for many years, not least of which, privacy issues from social media. But when it comes to mobile phones the issue of privacy is even greater. Mobiles are the most personal devices that we have – we don’t share them and it’s often where our most personal of communications happen. When brands get involved with mobile they are entering into, perhaps the most personal space of all. The same sentiment was obvious in a slightly different context. When we carried out our messaging study (DMA/IAB 2010) issues such as trust and control were important factors for people to accept brand marketing on their mobile phones.

We are now seeing a rapid growth in mobile marketing and advertising. Whilst privacy policies offer some consumer protection, ultimately it is essential that brands go out of their way to ensure that they are projecting their customers’ information as well as they possibly can. For many people, they clearly don’t feel that is the case.

More evidence that mobile retail is booming

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A new report from Google and the British Retail Consortium shows that mobile search for retail products grew by 181% during the first three months of 2011. That now represents 11% of all  retail searches. Those retailers not in mobile better start thinking seriously about it now.

More on the report here:

Operators are NOT the place for mobile marketing

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An Orange Shots campaign for Snickers

Who are the media owners/media channels in mobile these days? Is it the operators or is it the app stores and social media owners such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. Most agencies and brands would regard the latter as the place to buy their media. However the operators would like us to think different. Some mobile networks have made valiant attempts to create their own direct marketing channels, namely Orange Shots and O2 More. Both have a reasonable number of opt-in customers who receive marketing messages on behalf of companies. Whilst there are problems with the media planning and buying in these channels, they have a certain amount of brand appeal. Operator revenues are increasingly squeezed so these channels offer a potentially valuable source of income.

However, according to a YouGov report this week, it would seem that consumers are less than impressed with the idea. In short, over 80% of those surveyed said it was unacceptable for operators to include third party offers in their mobile marketing. Consumers will accept a limited amount of brand marketing on their mobiles: 38 per cent said they would want no more than one per month and 31 per cent saidless than that. 14 per cent were prepared to receive offers up to twice a month, but there was a significant difference between the ABC1 (8 per cent) and C2DE (20 per cent) demographics. The study found that whilst consumers are happy to accept a certain number of offers from their mobile phone companies, such as offers on new tarrifs or handsets, when it comes to third party marketing, they are risking alienating them and pushing them to other networks.

More on the YouGov report here.

The Business Case for Mobile Marketing

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This article is quite long, if you’re looking for mobile marketing case studies, I have linked each brand name to the relevant section:
Orange Wednesdays, Snickers, Lucozade, Colour Catcher, BMW, Fanta and Sprite, Shelter, Walkers Crisps, Carling, Barclaycard, Comic Relief, Wagamama, Marks and Spencer, Ocado and Amazon.

There are many barriers that appear to prevent brands and advertising agencies from using mobile marketing. The lack of data, benchmarking or measurement makes it hard to see the real business case for mobile marketing. Yet mobile clearly has potential. The following article shows how mobile marketing has increased response, sales, transactions and improved brand engagement and awareness.

The questions I often hear from brands or agencies tend to go like this: ‘if we include a shortcode in a TV ad how many people will respond’ or ‘what are the response rates for mobile marketing for specific sectors and in specific demographics’? These questions are hard to answer. It is certainly true that mobile marketing lacks historical data around sectors and demographics. However, it could also be argued that data about response rates is similarly hard to quantify in other marketing channels.

The situation for mobile is improving though. Data from specific campaigns is giving marketers a better understanding of the mobile channel and industry studies, such as the upcoming IAB/DMA research into SMS marketing are beginning to shed more light on the sector. There are also research companies, such as Comscore who are adding to the pool information on mobile user activity. In fact since the introduction of Mobile Media Metrics the mobile web is probably the most accurately measured digital channel.

On a technological level measuring mobile marketing isn’t that hard, but there are no standards across the sector, and different platform providers offer different measurements. When it comes to looking at the impact of mobile across a range of direct marketing channels then measurement is more problematic. For example, text to call is a simple yet effective way to increase response rates from advertising, particularly TV and outdoor. I was speaking to a DM agency about a successful text to call campaign that they ran. It was to get people to make donations to a national UK charity where a text to call number was shown in a series of TV adverts. The response was good, with an increase of over 60% against adverts shown without text to call. However, they were unable to measure the effectiveness of the different TV channels because the call centre only recorded the time that they first spoke to the caller, rather than the keyword used in the initiating SMS. As a result it was impossible to identify which advert had generated which response and it prevented them from tailoring the time slots accordingly. It isn’t difficult to track the origin of the SMS, but the call centre had never seen a need for it and their systems simply couldn’t handle that data. There is an example from Colour Catcher below, where tracking response rates to TVRs was done successfully, allowing them to fine tune their campaign. For anyone looking at a mobile marketing campaign the lesson here is to choose your platform provider carefully.

The good news for mobile marketing is that many companies have taken the plunge. Although they are not always willing to share their results, there are numerous case studies to demonstrate that mobile marketing works.

One Campaign We All Know About

If you’re in the UK, then think about a mobile marketing campaign you’ve heard of. Let’s make that a bit easier. Think of a day of the week. Maybe Wednesday? Now think of a colour. I hope it was orange. And hopefully you are now thinking of Orange Wednesdays. The mobile network operator’s campaign has been running successfully for six years now and it is firmly in the public consciousness. The concept is simple: a free cinema ticket to any Orange customer who takes any friend, on any Wednesday. It is redeemed by texting to a shortcode; something that over 14 million people have done. This has given a strong boost to Orange’s customer retention, and has firmly associated the brand with film going. And Wednesdays. The reason that Orange chose that day of the week was simply because it was the quietest day for cinema audiences and therefore the best time to offer their customers free tickets. However, since the campaign has been going, Wednesday has become the most popular day to visit the cinema outside of the weekend. In fact some film premieres have been moved back to Wednesday rather than Thursdays due to the popularity of that day. That is in part due to the Orange customers, but more significantly the mobile marketing campaign has changed the broad public perception of that day of the week and film going. Mobile marketing has effectively changed consumer behaviour.

Low Cost, High Response

Mobile is a relatively inexpensive medium. Take SMS for example. The cost to send a text message is around £45 per 1000. Even though that is more than sending emails, the read rates for SMS are 95%. True, many mobile users don’t need to open their SMS to actually see it, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that most people read their text messages. What’s more they usually read them immediately. Email fares less well, with 17-25% of emails actually getting read. So although the cost per email is less, the response rates make SMS a compelling option for some campaigns. Email, of course, has its own advantages: it can provide much more information than SMS, it can be media rich and opening rates (rather than just delivery rates) can be measured. However, for some brands and services, SMS can generate a much higher response because of the immediacy of the call to action.

Away from their film campaign, Orange have created a direct marketing channel by offering customers free premium content in return for receiving limited, targeted marketing offers. As customers have opted-in to receive only what they are interested in, they regard it less as marketing and more as useful information. As a result, Orange Shots have reported response rates from the channel. A recent Snicker’s campaign featuring ring-tones with Mr T saw 39% of those who received the message downloading their content. Who wouldn’t want Mr T as their ringtone? And who isn’t going to show it off to their friends? It makes for a nice piece of brand engagement.

The high response against low cost has been of benefit to a number of brands. Lucozade, for example ran a campaign in 2008 giving away free bottles of their fizzy drink. It ran across a number of channels, including mobile. The mobile campaign used an SMS response which delivered a voucher code to the user’s phone which could be redeemed in shops. There was also a click through link from the SMS to a mobile site. Of those who received the SMS, 10% clicked through to the site, an excellent rate when compared to other channels. More significantly, 35% of the requests for vouchers came from the mobile channel, yet only 1% of the marketing budget was spent on it.

Working Across Media Channels – Mobile at Its Best

Colour Catcher is not the coolest product on the market. They are sheets, made by Dylon, that you throw into the wash to stop colours running. It has a bit of a naff image, thanks in part to some cheesy pan-European creative. Worse still, many people just didn’t think it would work. In order to challenge that perception the brand offered a free sheet for anyone to test. Promoted through their TV advertising, the sample could be ordered by sending an SMS to a shortcode. A Yahoo study in 2010 (Yahoo APPetite) found that over 80% of people in the UK watch TV and access mobile media at the same time. So, the mobile is right there with the TV viewer, and text offers the most immediate response mechanism. Colour Catcher expected to send around 4,000 samples in response to their adverts. They ended sending 34,000 samples during the first wave of advertising.
Unlike the campaign I mentioned at the start, Colour Catcher segmented the audience and response by using different keywords for the inbound SMS. From that they were able to track and refine the responses against TVRs. The highest response rate was in the North West of the UK and the lowest were in London and the East Midlands. The result was that in the second round of adverts, they were better targeted and 105,000 samples were sent out. And the samples resulted in increased sales: over 300% against baseline during the campaign and 60% increase post campaign.

Increasing Sales

The car manufacturer, BMW, has been one of the most forward thinking in their mobile marketing. One campaign in Germany focused on the requirement for drivers to use winter tyres in the snow. Customers who bought a car from BMW that year were sent an MMS reminding them about the tyres when winter began. The MMS showed a picture of the model of car they bought, in the colour they bought it with the winter tyres on. They sent 120,000 messages and the result was a 30% uptake. That’s actual sales, not responses. That equates to sales of $24 million from a marketing budget of less than $50,000. What’s interesting about this example is that it shows two key elements to mobile marketing: it needs to be personal and relevant. Mobile phones are amongst the most personal items we own. On the whole we don’t share them and they are with us all the time. So, the most successful marketing campaigns on mobile are those that engage with those facets.
The current Sprite and Fanta campaigns have also had a high level of uptake. Their approach is to offer something that every young person wants. Money. Or at least, the next best thing, phone credit. Purchasers of Sprite and Fanta text a code to a shortcode shown on the tab of the can. They immediately receive 50p phone credit (or 50p on their subscription bill). Hardly surprisingly the first campaign saw over ½ million redemptions. The phone credit is a big attraction, but the success is also down to the simplicity and the immediacy of the campaign. You don’t have to send off for a voucher, or go somewhere to redeem it, or wait a week for the credit. It works because you can get the 50p right there and then. Figures haven’t been announced for this campaign yet, but all the indications are that it has made a significant addition to sales.
It’s not just cars and soft drinks that have been able to use mobile to increase their sales. Some charities have been very successful at it. Shelter, the UK homeless charity relies on direct debit donations for some of their income. Many of these direct debits are made through street collectors; typically the collectors are good looking out of work actors. Unfortunately many people cancel their direct debit without making a single payment. They obviously enjoyed their conversation with the actor, but were less committed to the charity. In order to reduce the first payment ‘no shows’ Shelter sent reminder texts to donors. Rather than harassing the donors into giving though, what they did was to tell stories about how they have helped homeless people. These stories were highly personal and relevant. The result was a reduction in first no shows by 30% and an income increase of 6%. As with BMW, the campaign tapped into the personal, relevant and immediate nature of the mobile channel.

Changing Consumer Behaviour

Orange have already shown how mobile can change consumer behaviour on a macro level, but there are other examples where this has been done on a micro scale. The crisp manufacturer Walkers, has been using mobile as a marketing channel for a few years. A campaign in 2009 used a text response number as part of a rolling competition. The company gave away an ipod every hour to people who texted a code on shown on their crisp packets. One of the things that Walkers did was not just notify the winners but they also sent a response message to the losers. On one day they sent a message to the losers: ‘Did you know that 34% of the winners yesterday came from Barbecue Beef?’. The following day 78% of the entries came from that very flavour. Whilst that particular example didn’t have any specific impact on the brand overall, it shows how the immediacy of mobile can be used to direct customers to specific products or offers.

Increasing Brand Engagement

For many the perception of mobile marketing is as a response and acquisition tool, but many brands have used mobile as a brand engagement channel. The numerous reality TV shows have shown that text voting is popular, and brands have been using it as a customer survey and feedback mechanism. If you make a customer service call to T-Mobile in the UK, it will be followed up with a text-based satisfaction survey. Walkers Crisps took the customer survey concept even further. In 2009 they ran a competition for customers to vote for their favourite new flavour, from a whacky range of choices submitted by the public (Cajun Squirrel was one of them). The campaign started with TV advertising, followed text and online to for the vote itself. The SMS response was massive, with over a million people voting from their phones. In fact most people in the UK will have heard of the ‘Do Us a Flavour’ campaign, because it caught the public imagination to the extent that the winning flavour was announced in news bulletins. For those who don’t remember, the flavour that won was Builders’ Breakfast. The immediacy offered by mobile allowed the brand to both engage with the public and at the same time create massive PR valued at over £4 million. As a result, sales of their crisps rose by 14% in 2009.

For many brands, apps and iphone apps in particular are the favoured way of mobile brand engagement. One of the earliest pieces of brand engagement from a UK brand on the iphone was from Carling. Based on a US app, the Carling ipint offered users a simple game to play from which they would fill and drink a virtual pint of beer. It quickly become the most popular free app in the store. The genius behind the branding though was that the only reason to have the app was to show off to your mates, whether they had the iphone or not. It wasn’t the kind of thing that you were going to sit and do on your own on the sofa at home.
Barclaycard have had even greater success with their Waterslide game. As one of the first companies to use contactless payment technology, their TV advertising used dramatic images of a man using a waterslide built around a city. This concept was then taken onto mobile in the form of the iphone Waterslide game. The app is relatively simple, but highly engaging, where the user navigates down the waterslide by tilting the phone and collecting points on the way. The game has seen nearly 10 million downloads from the app store making it the most successful brand app ever. The Barclaycard app is far from perfect. The branding is very light, and there are no options to continue the customer journey. It is also worth keeping in mind that just 5% of free apps are opened once or never at all. Nonetheless this doesn’t detract from the significant brand value gained from 10 million people downloading the app.

Mobile as a Transaction Tool

Marketing is one thing, but for many brands it’s all about the buying. Increasingly mobile is becoming the medium for transactions. Premium SMS has been around for a long time, but is limited in both what it can be used for and the low payouts that vendors receive. In the UK it has also been the subject of a number of scandals, particularly where TV voting has been concerned. However, where there is user trust, the potential of premium SMS payments has been realised. Charities, in particular have achieved good results with this. The 2009 Comic Relief campaign had an option to donate by text option. Users could send an SMS to give £5 to the charity. The campaign was greatly helped by the fact that the government waived the VAT and the networks gave a 100% payout to Comic Relief. As a result they raised nearly £8 million through SMS donations.
However, we are seeing other more trusted forms of payment coming through on mobile. In 2009 Wagamama, the noodle chain put an app into itunes which allowed customers to order take-aways through their phone. Significantly, for the first time, this app included payment by credit card, and along with it the facility to store that information. Apple has taken it one stage further and is now allowing in-app payment through the itunes store, so users don’t even need to re-enter their card details. For now these are focused on app upgrades from free to paid versions, but it won’t be long before users will be able to pay for all kinds of things.

As mobile users get used to the idea of paying through their phone, then the possibilities for brands to create applications for transactions becomes easier to realise. In 2010, Marks and Spencer became the first UK high street retailer to launch a full mobile site. The site is simple and intuitive with all the functions you would expect from a good site: browse and buy 24,000 products, find my nearest store and a quick purchase button for customers who have registered their card through the site. Much to the surprise of Marks and Spencer, the transaction values in the first month were high. Rather than spending £5 or £10, people were buying beds and spending nearly £1000 through their mobile site. Since then, purchases up to £3000 have been made through the site. Ocado have focussed on the mobile apps to deliver their mobile commerce, which is a good route given their customer demographic. The evidence is in the fact that their iphone app accounted for nearly 5% of their orders. Ebay have used both apps and the mobile web for transactions. The app has been so successful that people have bought boats, Bentleys and even a $350,000 Lambourghini through their phone.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said, ‘The leading mobile commerce device today is the smartphone’ and so he should. The online retailer has revenues of over $1 billion per year from mobile transactions. A friend of mine used to go into Borders and find books he liked. He’d then order them for less from Amazon from his phone, in the shop. No wonder Borders went bust! The next development in mobile transaction are contactless payment phones. With it, mobile users will see transaction as a normal, safe way to make payments. When it comes to mobile retail in particular, all the evidence is that the customers are there and willing to buy.

Putting it Into Practice

So there you have it. Brands in sectors including FMCG, high street and online retailers, banks, automotive manufacturers, entertainment, telecoms companies and charities have all benefitted from mobile marketing. They have seen increased response rates, increased sales, improved customer relationships, created better brand engagement and greater brand awareness all through the mobile marketing channel.

In spite of all these great examples of successful mobile marketing, that of course doesn’t guarantee that other campaigns will necessarily live up to it. There are no guarantees with any marketing campaign regardless of the channel, but there are enough examples to show that mobile is a successful and engaging media channel. There is a lot to developing good mobile marketing campaigns: understanding users, understanding how personal the medium is and developing engaging concepts. Most of all, it needs to be consistent the business objectives and brand strategy. Not only that, but as with any new channel, marketers need to be prepared to fail and to hone their campaigns. That is exactly what the brands mentioned in this article have done. When other brands do this too, they will see that mobile marketing works.

More info: How to Build The Perfect Mobile App, Time for Retail to go Mobile