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The minefield of mobile marketing

By Jonathan Bass, Managing Director of Incentivated

Mobile is proving to be one of the most effective channels for travel companies to communicate directly with their clients. It’s instant, targeted and gets results. SMS messaging is used by many to communicate a range of information, from ticket and flight information to payment reminders. The Mobile platform is also being used to send group alerts carrying details of special offers on anything from weekend breaks to winter sun deals or competitions to win a trip to Lapland. Customers are becoming much more responsive mobile contact and it works.
Text messaging (SMS and MMS) is no longer seen as something just for the youth market; its applications extend much further. The sector is growing, and in many cases we’ve only just scratched the surface.  The female market for example has massive potential and is a definite growth area and one to watch in 2006.

Choosing The Agency

Many agencies specialise in mobile marketing, providing the tools and techniques to “roll out a really successful campaign.” Some focus on one technology, such as barcodes, and others offer complete mobile data services (since a campaign often involves many elements). 
There are agencies that are restricted to UK reach while others have the experience to go Pan-European. Many agencies specialise in providing “content” such as mobile TV and some provide the tools and technology for a DIY campaign - where marketing departments can use the agency’s platform to set everything up and check results during a campaign. This is an extremely popular option for many of Incentivated’s clients.
So, with all this choice and all this expertise, which do you choose and how do you begin your campaign? What are the golden rules?

This is a question I have been asked many times, and my answer is always the same.


A Mobile Marketing agency should be prepared to make speculative pitches, in other words the company should supply the materials for an advertising agency to present to their client as part of a marketing campaign. Including live demos of the concept or similar. Choose an agency that has read and digested the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (2003) as well as the Data Protection Act.  The soft opt-in needs to be understood carefully and opt-outs handled right.  The agency should also confirm that consumer data does not leave the EU (for DPA reasons) and that messaging is direct to UK networks (if a UK campaign) for practical reasons (delivery receipts, instantaneous messaging and guaranteed delivery.

Use an agency that has all the mobile data services under one roof (SMS, PSMS, short-codes, WAP Push, Mobile Internet sites, Location Based Services) or has a proven track record in project managing suppliers if bringing in other patented technologies/hardware such as 2D barcodes and bluetooth broadcasting.

If you are using existing customer lists your agency should be able to clean the database before the campaign. It should be able to recognises the type of mobile a consumer is using and serve content that will work on the handset/network combination. A good agency should know when to charge and when not (including how much) and be prepared to estimate response rates for the campaign and corresponding return on investment (ROI).

Campaign Roll-out

So, now you’ve selected your agency and you’re ready to communicate with your market, what do you do next? Follow this advice and you can’t go far wrong:

? Keep your text messages simple and use plain English

? Include a call to action in the message by way of a telephone number, website or WAP site link

? Avoid over zealous use of exclamation marks and capitalisation

? Do not put spaces in telephones numbers but include them as a single number so they can be dialled easily from within the message

? Always reply instantaneously when someone sends your organisation a text

? Mine your data to ensure messages are relevant and thereby avoid excessive messaging
? Plan your communications in advance and keep a record of what you have offered to whom

? Offer a mobile option alongside other response methods advertised in traditional media - let the consumer choose

? Promote the mobile option on all marketing communications to reinforce the option
? Consider an incentive for choosing the mobile channel, especially if your operational (acquisition/service) costs are reduced through this medium

? Allow opt-outs via text, web and through your ‘front desk’ and highlight these clearly

? Train all customer-facing staff in your permission/privacy policy including how to manually record of opt-outs

? Clean your database after three broadcasts (using delivery receipts) or if a large campaign then in advance (using our network look-up product)

? If you want a better response rate buy opt-in lists of mobile numbers from the professional data companies not ringtone vendors

So, don’t be put off by the minefield of mobile marketing agencies. Remember, mobile marketing is highly effective, direct and immediate - and offers superb ROI. Follow the rules before engaging in any campaign and reap the rewards.

Jonathan Bass is the managing Director of Incentivated, the mobile marketing agency that provides software for simple integrated marketing activities and campaign management services.  Incentivated’s solutions are used by leading brands to improve the effectiveness of communication between organisations and consumers and to increase ROI through the mobile medium.