It’s evident that as an increasing number of brands shift their marketing spend from traditional to digital methods of communication the allure of mobile marketing continues to grow. Interest in mobile marketing is driven by the fusion of pinpoint targeting ability and the very personal nature of wireless devices. If done correctly, mobile marketing delivers tremendous value to both brands and consumers.

Mobile phone penetration in Australia is close to 100 percent and – depending on to whom you talk – over half of these device-carrying consumers have a phone that is less than one-year-old. The processing power of mobile devices is continuing to grow and the purchase cost is decreasing (and mostly subsidised by the telco). What we have now are powerful processing/connectivity devices equal to a desktop PC from a just a few years ago.

This article is about the steps required to successfully use the mobile/wireless device to connect brands and consumers.

1. Engage your mobile agency in the strategic planning process

It’s pretty clear through my experience of delivering mobile campaigns since 1999, that bringing in your mobile agency earlier in the idea generation process increases the effectiveness and innovation of your mobile campaign. Too often agencies/brands approach a mobile solutions provider late in the game, limiting the ability to effectively engage the consumer. One of the benefits of mobile is the ability to get up and running quickly; however, there are some limitations that your mobile specialist will help you sort through.

The mobile experience is not the same as the web experience. As with many examples of cross channel integration (ATL, BTL, digital, direct, mobile…) it’s not about forcing a creative idea into the channel. The mobile user experience (like digital extension from traditional) is not the same as the interruption-based ‘awareness generation’ mechanic of traditional marketing. There is a need to understand the limitations of the device (e.g. small form factor, screen size, data speed). Your mobile agency can solve these issues for you and enable results-based communication and connection. You shouldn’t simply repurpose existing creative for the mobile medium.

By engaging your mobile solution provider you can gain valuable knowledge about the possibilities of the wireless medium. There are many case studies that show real tangible use of the mobile medium to realise brand goals.

Also, check out some of the exciting stuff happening with your mobile device. Go and visit some newer WAP sites. Get a new 3G phone with a good camera. The world is moving quickly and people are increasingly using the mobile device to connect, live and shop. It’s a marketer’s responsibility to be across the process of utilising these channels to connect with their audience.

2. Identify your target goals

Mobile is not easy for every brand. It is imperative that you can identify what your goals are within the mobile channel – or, in other words, what do you want to achieve through mobile? Is it brand extension or user interaction, customer acquisition, mobile commerce/content delivery or as part of your customer relationship management ongoing communications? Mobile is a great complement to other marketing channels, providing the opportunity to drive real-time direct response from TV, outdoor, radio, print and increasingly in conjunction with other digital efforts.

Like any channel activity, the goals and expectations must be clear in order to assure the appropriate programs and KPI metrics. As you work with your mobile solutions provider to develop your mobile strategy, carefully consider how mobile will extend out of your existing channel activity. Make sure you share and discuss your KPIs and ensure that the channel activity will support these goals.

3. Create a mutual value exchange

Timely message delivery and relevance are only a part of success within the mobile marketing consumer experience. You as a marketer need to think of your consumer as the media savvy consumer they have become. Consumers know all about engagement (perhaps not in the buzzwords sense we marketers use), but we have to be able to effectively answer the question ‘What is in it for me?’

We have to show some respect and have a mutual value exchange as all of us have less and less time these days. Brands can help consumers in a wide variety of ways, but it is clear that we can’t expect consumers to want to interact with our brands and product. Make sure your content and messaging are relevant and respect your consumer’s lifestyle and capacity to interact.

A great example of this value exchange can be to reward consumers through the delivery of free or brand-subsidised mobile content that is relevant to them. Additionally brands can give back to consumers through subsidising data charges – either through effectively zero rating mobile internet experiences or rewarding interaction/engagement through free minutes or talk credit.

Another example that is starting to occur more often is to promote simultaneous use of multiple media platforms. Encourage mobile internet interactivity while watching TV by delivering content that matches the audience’s need state. For example, when watching a TV program, interaction on the handset can give extended information about the content (be it music artists or behind the scenes character information), or even live engagement or chat with other community members also interested in the show. Offer free downloads of branded games and graphics that are designed specifically for the mobile device. These experiences foster loyalty and brand value as well as providing the consumers with a good experience.

4. Extend beyond ‘SMS 2 win’

Above all, you need to experiment. Dont be afraid to try out different programs to see how your consumers respond. Based on consumer response, you can adapt the mobile program, incorporate new elements and launch into more advanced areas of mobile marketing.

The most obvious, but often forgotten, investment is to make the most of traditional media through mobile by closing the loop on communication campaigns. As TV communication continues to lose its effectiveness and cut-through, the immediacy of mobile allows one to jump a few steps (if done correctly) in the purchase process. Make sure your mobile call to action is clear and obvious – burying the number or the address in the small print is a classic mistake.

There is a difference between the mobile and the desktop internet. Key for the brand is making sure there is something new and interesting waiting once a customer interacts. Techniques that have succeeded on TV or even the internet don’t translate instantly to effective mobile campaigns.

Move into rich media. There are several examples discussed within this issue regarding how to use the advanced features of the mobile device to connect. Think about MMS, mobile web, mobile branded content, mobile advertising, mobile search, social networking tools or mobile games… The sky is the limit.

5. Mobile analytics

Its not about waiting ‘til the end of the campaign to see what works. Mobile provides the ability to get real-time feedback. Constantly think about your KPIs and see what is working. Change the messaging, change the offer, continue to see what works and what doesnt. You can look at this as similar to how old DM testing through segmentation communication worked. It’s important to talk about your KPIs with your agency partners. Discuss how the activity is going during the campaign.

Three valuable KPIs to most businesses when engaging via mobile are to:

  • drive traffic to traditional retail bricks and mortars stores
  • drive social interaction among phone/net users, particularly if that can involve the brand advertiser, and
  • engage in ongoing CRM-based communication through the mobile channel (not just outbound).

Despite the constancy of change in advertising and marketing today, a few things do remain consistent – most importantly, a good campaign can really work. New techniques and channels like wireless mobile marketing shouldn’t be viewed negatively – be open to the possibility of success through innovation. After all, with methods of connecting with consumers (such as mobile) we have a new method of challenging the inefficient interruption-based methods of the past and embracing transparent mutually value driven communication techniques.