The winds kicked up out of the south last week, bringing spring temperatures to most of the United States. The earth started its annual rebirth as flowers started peeking through the ground and people once again ventured outside.
Marketing seems to be going through a rebirth of its own, and the season is called mobile. The mobile season has marketers donning bonnets of marketing ideas and gathering baskets of cell phone numbers.
It's not surprising. Research shows that mobile marketing will play an increasingly important role for companies wanting to get messages out to consumers. More than 250 million Americans carry a cell phone today, and more than half of those phones have Internet access. The Direct Marketing Association believes that mobile will be the fastest growing app over the next five years.
Most marketers understand that they can no longer count on email as the only channel for communicating with a diverse customer base. Sure, customers may be able to read emails on their phones, but they increasingly are using Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Message Service (MMS) to send and receive information.
According to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), Americans sent approximately 1.8 trillion text messages in 2010. Another 56 billion multimedia messages were sent. So how can email marketers capitalize on this trend?
Start by designing mobile campaigns that respect the customer. Unlike other marketing channels, mobile marketing demands customer attention almost immediately. Annoying customers by sending unwanted messages that interrupt their lives is a quick route to losing customers.
Email marketers can take some initial steps to ensure a good user experience including:
1. Ask permission. Don't assume that just because customers opted in to receive your email, they also want your SMS messages. Obtain opt-in approval from customers before sending SMS or MMS messages. Also, be clear about how subscribers can cancel the service. Regulatory compliance is even more stringent for mobile marketing, so make sure you've thought through privacy and permission practices before launching a mobile marketing campaign.
2. Integrate marketing channels. Create campaigns that deliver consistent messages across various platforms. Give customers the ability to choose how they want to receive information from your company.
3. Get to the point. Marketers must be much more concise in SMS messages. Feature only one main call to action, or consider a series of SMS messages if there are multiple calls to action. Time multiple messages so an appropriate amount of time passes between delivery of multiple messages. Use links to landing pages to provide more detailed information.
4. Recognize that mobile devices are limited. HTML emails optimized for large screens may not render appropriately on mobile devices. Long text messages are a problem, too, because mobile carriers usually break them up into smaller messages. Avoid alienating customers by designing messages that are easy to read and concise.
5. Track what works. Review metrics from mobile landing pages and short codes to determine the kind of information that interests your subscribers. Respond by developing more relevant content.