Text messaging as a form of general communication, advertising, and marketing has flourished throughout Europe and Asia but has encountered a slower response in America. Why? The answer is simple: in America talk is cheap.
Here it is easier (and often cheaper) to communicate via voice plans and landlines. Additionally, the prevalence of personal computers, with e-mail and instant messenger services, has outstripped the advantages other countries have seen with mobile data services.
That said, American mobile service providers have pushed diligently to bring text messaging into the mainstream. Tie-ins with reality television shows, sporting events, and value-added contests, coupons, and information have all introduced text messaging to the public.
So, why should corporations invest in mobile marketing? The answer is simple: it's a marketer's dream. The wireless world is upon us and mobile marketing offers the opportunity to reach out to individuals in a highly personal, highly interactive and portable manner as no other medium can. As such, the real question should not be "why" but "how much?"
Statistically, the response rates from mobile campaigns are significantly higher than from television, direct mail, and e-mail although the actual broad-reaching scope is more limited. The advantage of mobile being a permission-based marketing tool is the guarantee of reaching the right people, not just the masses.
The key to success, however, lies not just in offering mobile marketing, but in being among the few organizations allowing consumers access to their individual cell phone before the space becomes inundated with too much "personalized" information. Early-mover advantages, permission-based database acquisition, and sophisticated mobile campaigns should be a clients' focus as mobile is introduced into various campaigns as a viable component of the marketing mix.
However, a dark side counters this potential upside to mobile marketing. As people multitask more and more, marketers seek new ways to grab consumers' attention. Today's fragmented media environment is characterized by an exploding number of alternatives vying for peoples' time.
Unfortunately, people still have only 24 hours per day, which has necessitated their need to simultaneously use various media in order to keep pace. Thus, the danger of over-inundating people with a bombardment of ad messages from all angles, causing them to shut out all messages - and effectively destroying the personal connection - must be dealt with upfront.
Marketers using mobile marketing must work to avoid offending their intended targets in order to keep this channel thriving. Permission-based marketing, whereby consumers only receive information they have explicitly requested, is clearly the best way to avoid these pitfalls.
The key to successful mobile marketing is providing subscribers with value, either monetary or informational, beyond what is available through other media. The uncertainty surrounding whether consumers will accept mobile advertisements or not will dissipate as the technology becomes more mainstream. In addition, the highly valued ability of this method to send location-targeted messages to avid consumers is currently undervalued.
Although you might argue that they would already receive information about clients' various product and service offerings due to consumer loyalty or other elements of the traditional marketing mix, this is a short-sighted viewpoint. Mobile marketing is a value-added element of modern marketing because it meets the current, technologically-focused interests of consumers, communicating to them that corporations are hip to modern culture and understand the cross-media manner in which consumers today actively receive information.
In addition, the viral component of mobile marketing - allowing entrenched users to assist customer acquisition by forwarding campaign messages - is invaluable to client's marketing efforts.