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5 great ideas for standing out with mobile

Simon Vella
5 great ideas for standing out with mobile Simon Vella

Mobile marketing is a world of new possibilities with endless scope for interactivity, personalization, and sales opportunities. It's expanding at such a fast pace that it can be hard to keep up with everything that's happening, but the key is that the basics never change -- capture your customer and communicate with them in a relevant way. We've compiled here five great starting ideas for your next mobile marketing campaign and included the best examples of who's done it well. Whether you're just considering where to begin with mobile marketing or you're a seasoned mobile marketer looking for something new, this quick guide will help you make your next mobile campaign one to remember.

Customers love mobile coupons
Mobile coupons are the next evolution of the traditional printed coupon and they're growing in popularity. The YankeeGroup released a consumer survey report in November 2009, which found that 73 percent of respondents were interested in receiving mobile coupons via SMS or MMS. The same report also predicted that mobile coupon redemptions would increase tenfold over 2010.

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Mobile coupons can be sent to a targeted group within a mobile database, such as people living within a certain area, or who have demonstrated certain purchasing habits. Mobile coupons are also a great way to instantly lift business in slow times -- if a restaurant knows you have eaten there on one of its weekly quiet nights (such as a Tuesday) and there are few bookings for the evening, they can target those customers with a two-for-one coupon or a free appetizer to sent to their mobile database and increase foot traffic within hours.

In Mexico, coffee giant Starbucks sent 2D mobile coupons to its mobile database. Customers could easily redeem the coupons in store for Starbucks coffee products simply by scanning their barcode at the register. The highly successful campaign claimed a 60 percent redemption rate.

Similarly, McDonald's and Arby's restaurants recently promoted new products with text coupons. McDonald's customers took advantage of a free McCafé Mocha, while Arby's customers texted in to receive the new BBQ Bacon Cheddar Roast Burger with the purchase of a drink.

If you're a retailer, restaurant, or fast food chain, why not use mobile coupons to drive customers in store? Customers appreciate getting a discount or complimentary product, and you'll benefit with increased sales and the ability to instantly lift business whenever times are slow.

Holiday and festive day mobile marketing engages consumers via SMS
Holidays and festive days (such as Valentine's Day) are a time when families and friends come together to celebrate, but they're also a great time for you to communicate with your customers and add value to their lives and to your relationship. During the busy holiday season, people are often strapped for cash, but in good spirits and much more likely to interact with a fun or interesting text message offer. Helping customers out with a useful alerts program, for example, can be a great way to engage them -- you'll be building strong customer relationships and loyalty and might even build your mobile database at the same time.

Turkey producer Butterball re-launched its popular Turkey Talk-Line in 2009 with a brand new SMS alert component for Thanksgiving. Turkey Texts encouraged consumers to text the keyword TURKEY to a short code to receive tips for cooking their Thanksgiving meal. While simple, customers appreciated the extra help at Thanksgiving, and Butterball embraced a great opportunity to build loyalty and grow their database.

Another great way to engage customers and facilitate personal communication during the holiday season is to create a holiday greeting-based SMS based campaign. eBay used SMS last holiday season, giving consumers the opportunity to send wishes to eBay's Live Wishes Stream by texting to a short code. Another great marketing opportunity is Valentine's Day, where retailers like flower shops have successfully used SMS reminders and ideas for gifts to give love -- and sales -- a lift.

Text message reminders can work wonders for service industries
Reminders are one of the simplest uses of text message marketing, however, they have also proven to be one of the quickest ways for businesses -- particularly service providers -- to achieve an instant ROI. Mobile phones are carried everywhere, and the fact that it is very difficult to ignore the arrival of a new text message has ensured that people are no longer forgetting to drop off their car for servicing or arrive at the doctor's office on time.

Typically sent in advance by a day or the morning of an appointment, reminder services can be used by every industry you can think of: medical, beauty, entertainment, sports, conferences, and events. You will quite often see thank you confirmations and follow-up appointments also sent out as text messages, which is a nice customer service touch.

Kaiser Permanente, the largest non-profit healthcare provider in the U.S., has successfully used SMS reminders to significantly cut patient communication costs. Automated text messages sent to patients the day before an appointment have proven to be not only a cost effective method of communication but have reduced the amount of "no shows" for appointments. It previously cost the company $150 for each missed appointment, but Kaiser reported that its SMS reminder program saved the company $275,000 in one month at one clinic.

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Use SMS with email to capture customers and send out information
Mobile marketing can be very effective when combined with other marketing channels. One of the easiest ways is to package it together with an email response that can provide more text and multimedia content, as well as lend itself to further interaction.

For example, we have a feature called SMS 2 Email, which allows consumers to text in their email address and receive an instant text message response, as well as a full-color HTML email to the nominated inbox. For the consumer it extends the brand and information experience, and for the business it provides an enhanced dialogue that can be built upon. Importantly, it captures valuable consumer contact information and provides an opt-in for both the mobile and email channels. For this reason it is often used as a registration and subscription tool, getting consumers to join an opt-in database.

A good example is the Trey McIntyre Project, a not-for-profit touring ballet organization that promotes contemporary dance at many venues around the U.S. At each of its venue locations, the organization has been able to capture its customers' contact details through posters and TV screens showing a call-to-action to text message an email address to a short code. Through this approach, the Trey McIntyreProject has been able to build an incredibly valuable database for mobile and email marketing communications.
SMS with email is also often used by large consumer brands like car manufacturers, which offer product brochures, typically, through short codes advertised on traditional media efforts, such as on TV and the radio.

Mobile marketing with zip code and geo-location
Often seen as the Holy Grail of mobile marketing, geo-location can add incredible value to your customer experience, as well as what you know about your customers. While the days are gone whereby some marketers believed you could pinpoint any consumer location via their cell phone, there are some simple ways to use location in a mobile marketing context that gives consumers a richer experience.

If your business has multiple locations, a great service offering is to ask consumers to text in their zip code to find their closest store or service offering. RadioShack and the U.S. Navy have both offered consumers the ability to find the nearest store by texting an SMS short code. Another successful strategy is to ask consumers to register or sign-up to your mobile marketing database by texting in their zip code, which is an effective way to collect more valuable information for your marketing offers. It makes subsequent text message marketing (and other channels) more personalized and relevant, and enables marketers to refer to the address of the closest store within the message.

What's next?
So now you've heard some great ideas for your next mobile marketing campaign and some examples of how different businesses have implemented them, but what's next? It's time to look at your own organization, try some different campaigns, and identify how you can best use mobile marketing to your advantage.

Simon Vella is CEO of InvolveMobile

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