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The principles of permission-based mobile marketing


The principles of permission-based mobile marketing


The savvy consumer of today has become adept at avoiding being unduly influenced by even the cleverest advertising techniques. Apart from having an increased desire to control the frequency and type of marketing messages they receive, consumers prefer to maintain some degree of control over the use of their private data. Reversing the normally adversarial consumer/marketer relationship requires a new approach, one that makes the consumer part of the marketing effort.

Marketers are eager to exploit the potential of mobile devices, which consumers use with increasing intimacy and engagement. Finding a way to access the myriad consumers using the mobile channel is the lingering problem. The solution to this problem may lie in a marketing strategy called permission-based mobile marketing.

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) defines permission-based mobile marketing as: ‘The practice of gaining consent from consumers in advance of a continuing marketing dialogue taking place on mobile devices and in return for some kind of value exchange.’

To understand permission-based mobile marketing better, we can look at it as a four-stage process:

Step 1: Gaining consent

Getting the principles of permission-based mobile marketing right will enhance value for consumers and effectiveness for advertisers. Building trust and engagement through permission-based mobile marketing begins with offering the consumer a clear choice to opt in. It should be communicated to consumers why they are being asked to opt in and what it entails. This is important because consumers will want to know the value behind giving their permission, such as the opportunity to connect with their favourite brands, get timely information, save money, etc.

Consumers should be able to remain in control of their data and to easily change permission and the information they share. The layout of the permission page should be clear and concise so that consumers are able to access and modify their preference profiles, as well as determine the frequency of messaging. Each opt-in message should include the ability to opt out via an immediate full unsubscribe or to unsubscribe from certain categories of messaging.

Step 2: Creating a database of preference profiles

Striking a balance between keeping the registration barrier low to encourage opt in and gaining enough information at opt in to create a rich database is what marketers must do. At the point of opting in, the amount of personal information collected from consumers should be limited. This will encourage them to opt in since it doesn’t take too much of their time. As time goes by, the tendency of customers sharing more information can be leveraged by marketers. They can combine this initial information with insight gleaned through user behaviour to enhance each consumer’s preference profile in the database.

Categories of data that can be collected include:

  • basic demographics: gender, age and income or spending habits,
  • interests: content categories such as news, entertainment, travel, dining,
  • attitudes: values, opinions and lifestyle,
  • location: home, workplace and real-time location, and
  • behaviour: tendency to use coupons, enter contests or engage with content.


Step 3: Establishing mobile as a commercial media channel

Advertisers and media companies plan and buy media based on reach and target audience. Hence, preference profiles of opted-in users may be sold as media directly to brands, media agencies or ad networks. They may be sold or resold through a variety of entities such as media agencies and companies, as well as technology providers and mobile advertising networks. The challenge, though, for providers of opt-in databases is achieving enough volume to provide the reach that these advertisers want.

The categories of preference and behavioural data that will provide the most effective permission marketing database depend on the requirements of the company. Profiles must be rich enough to determine message relevance without being so restrictive that sufficient audience volume can’t be obtained. Third-party providers of databases of opted-in consumer preference profiles should work with brands, agencies and mobile marketing companies to determine the best mix of demographic, psychographic and behaviour data points to meet brands’ objectives.

Step 4: Ongoing enhancements of preference profiles

To achieve the greatest relevance for consumers while providing the best response for brands and advertisers, it is essential to continue building each preference profile. Bearing in mind that although consumers have the tendency to share more information about themselves over time, it is also important to check, maintain and re-establish value with consenting consumers on an ongoing basis. This will help to maintain a high-quality database of engaged consumers that can be used for successful permission-based mobile marketing.

The database manager can build the profiles by adding information gleaned from each consumer’s actions and responses, or lack thereof. Once a relationship is established, brands can invite the consumer to help fine-tune its preference profile. Each consumer’s response during the conversation with the brand will provide the latest and most up-to-date preference information.

Up until now, much of permission-based mobile marketing is delivered through the messaging channel. As smartphones become the predominant mobile device, the transition towards using apps, the mobile web and other mobile functionality will allow for rich media and increased interactivity. These four principles of permission-based mobile marketing show how this form of mobile marketing occupies a unique position, in that it secures and maintains the explicit agreement of the consumer to receive communication from and engage in dialogue with the brand.

Rohit Dadwal

Managing Director, Mobile Marketing Association Asia Pacific Limited

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