While the handheld revolution is causing more and more marketers to add mobile marketing to their marketing mix, surveys show that many marketers are just ramping up for mobile. To help kick-start your mobile effort, here is a collection of expert tips on how to approach and build a mobile marketing foundation.
1) Learn the 4 Basic Mobile Modes. Mobile marketing involves four basic approaches or channels: SMS text messaging, email, mobile websites, and mobile applications (apps). Begin by learning the forms and formats for each of these categories, then progress to the marketing do’s and don’ts.
2) Start with SMS. Short Message Service (SMS) sends text messages to a cell phone. As Involve Mobile’s “Mobile Marketing How-to Guide” explains, most companies begin with SMS text messaging and expand from there. There are compelling reasons why. The average open rate for text messages is over 90% compared with approximately 20% for email campaigns, and response rates are about five times higher. Also, while not every phone has Internet browsing capability, every modern mobile phone can receive and send text messages. SMS is effective, and conducting campaigns is relatively easy.
3) Long Codes, Short Codes, and QR Codes. SMS messaging enables you to offer coupons using long codes (11 digits) or short codes (5 digits) to which you can attach a keyword and to which users can easily reply. SMS short codes are shorter and easier to remember but, at $500-$1,000 per month to register, are more expensive than long codes. When a user sends a text message containing your keyword to the long- or short-code number, an automated response is triggered, and a coupon or other special offer is sent back. Rob Drummond’s guide can help you sort out the pros and cons of short codes vs. long codes. QR (Quick Response) codes perform similarly when a cell phone is used to scan a bar code-and can jump a user to an offer page.
4) Format Emails for Mobile Devices. The smaller screens of handhelds require different design approaches than for emails read on PCs. Readers must be able to read and respond to mobile emails easily and quickly. Elements such as subject headers, body text, images, and links must be optimized for small devices. The guiding principle is to keep all elements simple, short, and sweet. Providing plain text versions and alternate text for images is advisable. A good basic guide is AWeber’s “Mobile Email Design Tips.”
5) Text Only vs. HTML Messages. As G. Simms Jenkins relates, there is controversy among experts as to whether it is best to send text-only or HTML messages. Those who recommend text-only messages argue that the messages will always render properly, and that on average, yield a higher clickthrough rate. However, others argue that sending text-only messages limits design, branding, and wow-factor for the marketer. Products like watches benefit from recipients being able to view their images in emails.
6) Mobile Websites. A mobile website is optimized for viewing on handheld devices. Mobile sites can be viewed on regular browsers and many regular websites can be viewed on mobile browsers. Some companies merely optimize their existing corporate website for viewing on handhelds. Large, slow-loading sites with lots of images can make this untenable. As the Quirk mobile website guide advises, if you have the time, money and skills to create both versions with corresponding re-directs, that is the way to go.
7) Get Found on Mobile Search. Once you establish a mobile website, you need to be found by mobile search engines. This is especially important for local businesses that want to be found by people who are out and about in your vicinity. Mobile search engines are different than regular web search engines and require special techniques for your site to be findable. A good guide is on FirstMobileWebsite.com, which also offers services to help you get found.
8) Mobile Apps. An engaging mobile app can win customers and generate sales. Mobile apps can amuse (games, treasure hunts, etc.) or provide helpful information, such as the location of stores, restaurants, or pubs. Mobile apps have been built to guide users through festivals, plan agendas, access bank account statements, and report accidents. Creating a mobile app requires having a good idea plus programming skills in-house, or hiring a third party. Fortunately, numerous mobile app design firms have sprung up. If fielding a mobile app is too formidable an undertaking, fear not. Successful mobile marketing can be achieved without fielding mobile apps.
9) Mobile User Database. As txtin.com and other experts relate, building a mobile database “is the most important part of any mobile campaign.” Smartphones can be reached by dialing or email. You can acquire mobile phone numbers by asking your customers to provide them, and by adding a field to your forms for prospects and customers. You can ask the subscribers on your email list to provide their cell phone numbers, and incent them with special offers. Email addresses for mobile phones can be further segmented and profiled.
10) Apply Mobile to Your Unique Business. Learn and practice the mobile methods that are conducive to your particular type of businesses. For example, Heidi Cohen believes mobile marketing is a must for every business with a retail presence, or that competes with a business that has a retail presence, because users take along mobiles and tablets when they go shopping.