This article originally appeared in the July 2012 edition of the Marketing GPS Newsletter.
Step outside and look around you. How many people do you see who are using their smartphones?
Believe it or not, but – according to the Mobile Marketing Association – more people worldwide own smartphones than toothbrushes! And most of them are using those phones to check their mail, find restaurants and other businesses, scan QR codes, shop and, of course, to text and be texted.
In fact, mobile Internet use is on track to overtake desktop Internet use – by 2014. That was one of the startling statistics NSI Partners’ COO Tom McClintock used to wow attendees at a mobile marketing workshop presented by Colorado Springs Marketing Group and NSI in June. McClintock spoke on mobile app usage, along with Ian Lee of QRlette, who discussed dynamic QR codes, and Greg Hickman, founder/CEO of Thumbfound, who spoke about SMS.
More than 4 billion mobile phones are in use right now, said McClintock. Three of five searches are performed on mobile devices, and half of all local searches are made by mobile device users.
That represents a huge opportunity — one that even small businesses can and should take advantage of. But you have to do it right, McClintock said.
There are three ways to develop mobile apps:
Native Apps, which allows you to access specific mobile device functionality such as cameras and GPS
Cross-platform development, which makes it easy to redisplay web content, and
Prebuilt apps, which make it simple to get started in app development.
Mobile apps and other mobile strategies, however, should be part of your overall marketing plan and should fit in well with your other marketing efforts, McClintock stressed. There are several important “rules” for building a mobile app that you should consider before plunging into mobile marketing. These include:
Building an app people will want to use
Providing simple content
Refining and supporting the app continuously
(If you’d like more information about developing your own mobile app, contact email@example.com.)
QR codes can greatly assist businesses and organizations in getting people to engage with their brands, Ian Lee of QRlette said. They can connect people to each other and to multimedia digital content.
QR codes can help your business in a variety of ways. QR codes transform any printed piece into a digital item, allowing you to streamline content in print ads and other marketing collateral. Clickable codes can be used on websites to direct viewers to additional content. QR codes can even be used on business cards to connect potential clients directly to a website.
One of Lee’s clients placed a QR code on a hanger that he leaves on people’s doors. The code directs potential clients to five different informational videos. The code has helped him bridge the communication gap with his customers.
The only limitation on the use of QR codes is one’s imagination, Lee said.
When scanned, static QR codes direct people to a single URL. Lee’s company creates dynamic QR codes, which can be reprogrammed when a business desires to change the destination. That saves money, because there is no need to redo expensive print material when the destination is changed. Scan-tracking enables customers to see exactly how each destination is performing and to update destinations to the most effective channel.
SMS Text Messaging
The power of mobile marketing is the ability to deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right customer, in the right context, Hickman said. SMS is one of the most effective ways of getting your message to clients and potential customers, because up to 98% of text messages are read within 4 minutes of their arrival.
SMS can be used to invite customers to opt in for mobile coupons; remind them about promotions; acquire more data about customers; and engage them in other loyalty programs.
One of Hickman’s clients, a shopping center, used SMS to gather votes for fashion vignettes during a six-hour special event. The campaign generated 3,000 votes, 638 new participants and 574 new members. Another center used an SMS promotion to get people to come to the mall at 6 a.m., where they’d receive a $50 gift card with a $100 purchase. Even at that early morning hour, the promotion was hugely successful, boasting a 13% conversion rate.
Text messages give the most reach of any mobile medium, Hickman said, but he cautioned that businesses that want to use SMS shouldn’t just jump right in. It’s crucial with SMS, as with QR codes and mobile apps, to:
determine first how your customers are using mobile devices and what tools are most appropriate for them;
set one specific objective for your campaign;
define your target audience by developing three or four detailed customer personas; and,
define your own identity so you speak to your audience with an appropriate voice.
Hickman said an important first step for companies who want to get into mobile is to make sure their website is mobile-friendly.