Mobile marketing goes mainstream


In a fragmented media landscape, companies have to fight for consumers’ attention. A new report looks at how mobile marketing can create dialogue and build loyalty
[Article written by Peggy Anne Salz, andpublished in The Review, Feb 2013]

It’s time for compa​nies to rethink how they connect with their customers. The rise of the empowered consumer, particularly digital natives who grew up online, has turned up the pressure on marketers and mobile operators to embrace strategies that respect people’s desire for content, marketing and communications on their terms.

Out with the old and in with the new. The “old school” sledgehammer approach, which was all about shoving unwelcome messages at consumers, is broken. The “new school” is all about earning people’s interest through encouraging engagement and building trust and loyalty.

This approach, which aims to change the communication paradigm from interruption to conversation, is particularly well suited to mobile. It allows companies to reach out to customers wherever they are. And who doesn’t like hearing that beep when a new message comes in?

But people aren’t a captured audience, eagerly awaiting marketing messages as they move through their daily routine. They also expect that any exchange with marketers or mobile operators will be personal, relevant and transparent. More importantly, they must have chosen to receive these messages, rather than being sent them without permission – because they’ll only go into the spam folder otherwise.​

Mining the data

This is the main message of Conversational Marketing and Commerce: Best Practices To Engage Your Customers and Empower Advocates, a new white paper produced by Gemalto with independent analysts MobileGroove and Portio Research. Based on a 2012 online survey of more than 2,400 consumers in France and the UK conducted by Ifop, a Paris-based market research and opinion poll company, the report examines mobile mega-trends, identifies best practices and reveals consumer attitudes about mobile advertising.

It highlights the pivotal importance of text messaging, a form of ubiquitous, direct and personal communication that allows companies to get closer to consumers than any other channel. According to Portio Research, text messaging is the king of non-voice communications because of its six core qualities: it is easy, cheap, quick, simple, universally acceptable and discreet.

Mobile messaging is also completely aligned with established consumer behavior, and even the rapid advance of smartphones hasn’t changed consumers’ dependence on it to connect with the world around them.

From banks to boutiques, an increasing number of companies are beginning to integrate the principles of permission-based mobile marketing into their strategies to connect with customers.

One company that “gets” messaging is Coca-Cola, which has declared it “the number one priority” in its comprehensive strategy to reach a global audience and increase customer engagement. The brand’s “Move to the Beat” campaign tied to the London 2012 Olympics was rolled out across more than 100 countries and exceeded expectations in all markets, with Canada reporting that “engagement rates averaged about 45%.”

Achieving results like these requires companies to implement strategies that put the consumer in control of his or her experience.

Permission is everything


The report shows that the vast majority of respondents are “annoyed” when they receive messages from companies that have not asked permission first. A whopping 82% of survey respondents said that opt-in was a condition for them to accept marketing. The vast majority of respondents (90% in the UK and 87% in France) also demand an easy way to opt out of re​ceiving messages they find neither relevant nor interesting.

But the real news is how marketers are missing the mark with messages that recipients don’t perceive as valuable. About 80% of respondents gave a thumbs-down to the messages they receive because they simply “do not offer any attractive benefits.” It’s a dangerous disconnect that marketers and mobile operators could avoid by using a more conversational approach – supported by opt-in – to explore what their customers really want.

Ifop also conducted 718 face-to-face interviews with consumers in Brazil to find out what they thought about messages sent by marketers and mobile operators. Again, the vast majority of respondents (91%) said they prefer messages from companies that have asked permission for the privilege. Specifically, 95% want the messages they receive to be relevant, and 96% want to be able to opt out easily.

All these observations lay the groundwork for three key best practices, or “golden rules,” that companies must follow to create compelling value for their customers.

Respecting these three golden rules is not only a courtesy to your customer; it’s a business imperative if you want to reach an audience that is genuinely interested in hearing what you have to say. The survey found that 60% of respondents are keen to accept and act on relevant messages and offers from their preferred brands.

Executed correctly, companies succeed in laying the groundwork for more than effective marketing; they can boost loyalty, build relationships and maintain competitive advantage.

The three golden rules of mobile marketing


  1. Ask for permission first: Mobile may be able to deliver more data and context, but the best insights come when companies simply ask their customers outright.
  2. Continue the conversation: Start by asking for basic information, such as interests, personal preferences and motivations, but don’t stop there. Companies should use text messaging to refine and improve their customer segmentation, ensuring they get personal and relevant information and communications that are essential to boost customer loyalty.
  3. Build engagement on trust: Respect individual privacy, meet consumers’ requirements for relevant messages and implement strategies that put the customer in control.