Dispelling Mobile Marketing Myths IV: Expand Campaign Reach with Wireless Site

Instead of using off-line marketing tools – such as SMS shortcodes - to drive users to their mobile programs, marketers should create and deliver far more cost-effective mobile extensions of their brand's Web sites.
Mobile marketing is generating significant coverage this year in the media. In fact, it seems as though everyone is jumping on the bandwagon - with players such as Adidas, Bacardi and Ford leveraging the medium. Yet in a recent survey of 253 marketers, Forrester Research found that only 11 percent of respondents are using mobile marketing and 57 percent reported they have no plans to leverage the technology over the next year, preferring to stick to more traditional methods, such as search or e-mail marketing. It's an interesting statistic that seems contrary to the hype. But is it?

With the world becoming increasingly mobile all the time, it seems to make sense that advertisers and marketers would be interested in finding ways to take advantage of the medium's growing popularity. So why the discrepancy?

Still Young
The truth is, the mobile Internet is still in its infancy and, in many ways, is unproven territory. There are challenges on figuring out how to deliver content to mobile devices. For example, consider how difficult it is to deliver the same message to a multitude of platforms with varying screen sizes, or the complexity of running a campaign on these varying devices across multiple carriers with different advertising schedules and requirements.

The most well-known mobile marketing campaigns don't rely specifically on the mobile experience itself. For example, television networks and movie studies use a wide, multi-channel approach that includes television and numerous interactive Web tie-ins along with a mobile component that may include texting, ringtones and wallpaper.

Other companies such as Absolut, Coca-Cola and Frito-Lay have combined outdoor advertising with SMS codes. These types of campaigns tend to have a few things in common: a target audience of 13-25 year olds and the hefty price tag associated with the proliferation of information to drive people to the mobile platform.

Media hype seems to indicate that these factors are necessary for a mobile campaign to be successful. Plus, it's difficult to deliver a complex marketing message through a shortcode. I suspect this could be why so many marketers are still reluctant to use mobile in their promotional efforts.

Market Through Site Mobility
For the 57 percent that are not yet considering mobile, I would tell them to take a step back and to re-evaluate mobile marketing from a different perspective. First off, what is the primary driver of marketing content for most companies?

The Web site.

In nearly all cases, marketers use the Web as their primary vehicle to deliver a wide variety of information and content to their users. Regardless of the medium used, consumers and businesses know that if they want to get information on a product or company, they can go right to the Web and type in a URL.

So if I saw a billboard for Doritos in Times Square, I may not have noticed the shortcode in the corner, but I could be curious enough to check out Doritos.com to find out what the promotion is about.

This offers marketers a different and far more cost-effective way to look at what mobile can do for them. Instead of using off-line marketing to drive users to their mobile programs, they should be considering how to create and deliver a mobile extension of their Website.

Car manufacturers have already figured this out, with nearly all the major brands delivering optimized mobile showcases to users on smartphones or PDAs. Feedback Research reported last fall that over 58 percent of car buyers use the Internet to research car purchases.

They use the Web to compare models and specifications, get list prices and locate dealers. Imagine the power if you could take that information mobile. With a mobile showcase, buyers can use their smartphone to pull up information while they are physically viewing the cars on the lot. When companies give users the ability to take key information with them wherever they go (both online and offline), they unlock a powerful customer touch-point.

When marketers are considering using mobile to extend their Web Sites, they need to think about delivering the messages in a way that provides the best consumer experience. Taking content to mobile devices can be tricky — the small screens of most mobile devices have driven the popularity of SMS. Fortunately though, technology is expanding and with the push to access more complex types of data, smartphone sales are growing.

IDC recently released its Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, which indicated that smartphone sales are up 67.8 percent from last year. And with new models such as Motorola Q available, that number is set to explode - giving marketers the opportunity to provide rich, interactive content to an entirely brand new audience.

About the Author
As senior director of AvantGo at iAnywhere (a Sybase subsidiary), Neil Versen works with advertisers and content providers to deliver mobile marketing strategies through the mobile Internet service. Prior to joining AvantGo, Neil was executive vice president at AdSmart Corporation. Before that, he held the positions of associate publisher and vice president of sales and marketing at IDG. Versen is currently a member of the Mobile Marketing Association Global Board of Directors.

This article was first published on PDAStreet.com.

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