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In The News
Breaking it Down: A Glossary for Mobile Marketing

March 10, 2010

Published by 1to1 Media
Written by Tom Hoffman

Mobile marketing campaigns are a great way for companies to differentiate their brands from the competition and to more deeply engage customers and attract prospects. According to Juniper Research, mobile retail opportunities in coupons, smart posters, and advertising will collectively create a market worth more than $12 billion by 2014 -- up from $4.1 billion in 2009.

Additionally, more than 227 million U.S. cell phone users can be reached via text messages, 40 million via mobile Web, and about 20 million through smartphone applications. A recent survey conducted by the Direct Marketing Association found that 70 percent of consumers who responded to a mobile-based offer say their response was triggered by a marketing text message.

But before marketers jump headlong into the fray, it's important for them to understand the different types of mobile marketing approaches that resonate with consumers. Here's a rundown on some of the more popular mobile marketing tactics and how they can be applied.

SMS and MMS: Short message service, i.e. text messaging, is the second most commonly-used mobile marketing approach after voice. MMS, or multimedia messaging services, is a standard approach to sending messages with multimedia content such as photos and ringtones. Sixty percent of all mobile phone users are using text messaging services, and usage rates are as high as 90 percent within some markets and demographic groups, according to Michael Becker, global board vice chair at the Mobile Marketing Association and vice president of mobile strategies at iLoop Mobile.

A growing number of subscribers are purchasing "all-you-can-eat" text messaging plans, thus providing mobile marketers with an extensive reach for mobile messaging campaigns without adding to consumers' monthly mobile services costs. But be warned: Marketers need to be careful not to inundate consumers with text blasts that don't provide perceived value.

Mobile Web: Mobile devices equipped with browsers for accessing the Web. The mobile Web can support direct digital marketing strategies such as SMS and MMS messages that can be clicked on to open up a Web page, says Bryce Marshall, director of strategic services at Knotice. But mobile browsers are still very much a work in progress and they don't provide the kind of interactive experience that's more common with desktop devices. Mobile marketers need to be careful not to send texts or emails that make mobile browsing a chore for target customers.

Mobile applications: Made popular by Apple's iPhone, mobile apps include downloadable games and videos. Since mobile apps are typically tailored for a particular device (i.e. iPod, Blackberry), their reach is limited. However, top applications will often gain popularity through word of mouth. Even so, only a fraction of the 270 million-plus U.S. mobile phone users are equipped with smartphones like the iPod and the Google Droid. As such, mobile marketers should be reminded to cast a wider net to standard mobile phone users and create campaigns that foster convenience, simplicity, and brand awareness, says Marshall.

Location-based technologies: Technologies such as Bluetooth, GPS, and RFID provide interactions that incorporate the user's physical location in marketing campaigns. Common promotions include coupons or advertisements for local retail outlets. Restaurant chain Subway, for example, sends mobile coupons to opt-in customers for lunch specials available that day. Users often share these coupons with friends, creating a viral pass-along effect.

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