One resounding question remains that many mobile marketers still face: Can mobile actually build my brand imagery?
And from there, which mobile marketing tactics will work the best for my needs—and how can I make sure I am making the right choices?
Building an iPhone application just is not the best solution for everyone.
The best approach is to take a step back and compare mobile mechanisms regarding their capabilities, reach and potential to produce brand-specific results.
Let us break down the mobile marketing space by tactic, and take a look at cross-industry success stories for building brand imagery in each.
Text messaging, or SMS
The mobile channel is unique in its ability to accommodate industries across the board.
The ubiquity of texting in today’s market gives all brands an opportunity to reach their consumers through mobile. Even gambling establishments and the spirits category are taking a sip.
Guinness implemented an interactive program asking consumers to rate its Guinness pints via mobile phones. Consumers were asked to text their age, the bar they were in at the time, and their Guinness ratings on a scale of 1 to 10.
The campaign ran from Nov. 1 through the end of December 2008, and saw 1.46 pints rated every single minute during open bar hours over the campaign’s running time.
Between Happy Hour and closing time, Guinness received an average of 2.27 ratings per minute.
In late 2008, MGM Grand Hotel & Casino declared its mobile marketing goal: To acquire data through in-house groups in effort to build a large opt-in mobile database.
At the Prepaid Legal Conference in September 2008, approximately 300 attendees were staying at MGM Grand. MGM deployed a mobile pilot to this group of hotel guests, and ran voice messages with mobile calls to action via in-room phones.
MGM also ran mobile messaging on video screens, showing exclusive cocktail offers for some of the hotel’s main bars.
The hospitality chain was rewarded with a 69 percent opt-in rate, and saw a total of 551 redemptions – a curious statistic considering the campaign’s yield of just 208 opt-ins subscribers.
And therein lies the unparalleled viral power that mobile provokes.
Not only did these MGM guests opt themselves into the mobile program, but a sizeable number also voluntarily forwarded the text offer to others.
Try getting consumers to forward on a piece of direct mail, or even a newspaper ad. It just doesn’t happen.
Mobile Web, or WAP
For many brands, mobile Web advertising has proven to be an ROI-driven springboard into the mobile marketing space.
Hewlett Packard turned to mobile to increase Compaq sales and to boost a free Wi-Fi music receiver deal with the use of banner ads that directed traffic to a mobile Web site.
The campaign lasted 19 days and resulted in a 4.34 percent click-through rate and 5,920 leads.
In November 2008, Cricket Nirvana also incorporated WAP and banner ads in a campaign to popularize its mobile site among WAP users.
Cricket’s interactive mobile banner ads changed every 60 seconds, updating sports scores and promoting contests and polls.
Within a week, the site averaged an incremental 72 percent page views per day and within three months of the launch, it was generating 8 million page views per month.
The campaign recorded an average click-through rate of 1.58 percent, with a peak click-through rate of 3.58 percent.
Multimedia messaging, or MMS
Banner ads and WAP sites are not the only effective way to incorporate mobile marketing.
MMS is currently an under-utilized method for delivering rich, relevant messaging to open-armed consumers, whether through picture and video messaging or wallpaper and ringtone downloads.
PlayPhone partnered with RH Brands to promote the free download of Sony Pictures’ “Walk Hard” ringtones.
The offer was synthesized in RH’s “Call to Santa” Hotline, where callers were instructed to “press star” to activate ringtone downloads.
Approximately 77,073 people heard the offer, and 13.6 percent of callers opted in to receive the ringtone.
NBC’s Bravo has taken an unprecedented plunge into MMS to promote its “Real Housewives” television series.
Opt-in keywords are advertised during promotional TV spots for the reality show, and mobile subscribers receive video clips on their phones containing un-aired footage of the “wives” in action.
Although it is true that not all phones in consumers’ pockets today have the capability to receive this video content via MMS, Bravo’s decision to be an early adopter has earned the network innovation points with mobile consumers.
The iPhone and its App Store have definitely made a splash in the mobile marketplace, with 30 million iPhone handsets sold since its introduction in July 2007—and more than 1 billion downloads of 65,000 apps to date.
Hundreds of savvy U.S. companies have recognized this as a great opportunity to get their brand names tied to interactive game and tool apps, and can now smell the sweet aroma of positive results.
To support 2009 Mother’s Day sales, 1-800-Flowers.com launched a revolutionary, multi-tiered campaign to drive traffic to its mobile commerce WAP site.
The brand advertised its 20 percent-off promotion via text coupon codes to its mobile opt-in database, included mentions in newspaper and TV ads, and also in its catalog.
In addition, 1-800 Flowers.com promoted its Mother’s Day campaign via mobile banner ads, directing shoppers to the iTunes App Store where they could download an interactive mobile commerce app.
In another strategic move, the brand also embedded ad placements for the 1-800 Flowers.com mobile app within other apps.
The end results: 42 percent text program opt-in rate, 173 percent mobile sales increase over last year’s Mother’s Day period, and a 46 percent increase in app downloads.
IPhone apps are unique in their abilities to provide platforms that allow for strategic brand integration.
Target Corp. took advantage of this with its launch of the “Target Gift Finder” application, designed to make shopping even more convenient for its customers.
The app allows users to access Target.com merchandise, after conducting user-generated gift searches.
A user can enter specific gift criteria including information describing the intended recipient’s personality, gender, and age. The decisioning app also provides price parameters to better revise the search.
With this app, convenience is the name of the game.
MANY companies still believe that TV, radio and other traditional channels are more beneficial and cost-effective than mobile marketing in building brand imagery.
The fact is, today’s recession has turned the marketing world on its head—and now there are all new numbers to report.
In first-quarter 2009, total online advertising revenues dropped 10 percent from the previous quarter. National advertising spend for network radio dropped 12.6 percent, syndicated TV 18.8 percent, local magazines 23.6 percent and national newspapers 27.7 percent. All of this marketing pulls back even more as mobile expands.
Consumers are warming up to the thought of using mobile phones for more than just talking, according to a poll conducted by Harris Interactive.
In fact, people are embracing mobile even beyond basic SMS, MMS and WAP.
A shocking 71 percent of adults reported feeling that it is safe to buy items via their mobile phones.
In March 2008, 23 percent of all mobile subscribers said they had been exposed to advertising on their phones in the previous 30 days. About 51 percent of those subscribers responded to one in some way.
There is no doubt that mobile is gaining traction nationwide. Now it is up to your brand to make intelligent choices when it comes to determining which mobile mechanisms apply best to its industry and market positioning.
Each tactic has unique benefits in building your brand. It boils down to finding the right fit to best align your company’s brand position with your end-consumer’s mindset.