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June 30, 2014
Don't Waste Your Money on Mobile Marketing If You Won't Do It Right

According to a 2014 Gartner report, spending on mobile advertising will hit $18 billion by the end of this year and grow to $42 billion by 2017. Combined with other mobile marketing activities, such as mobile apps, test-message campaigns, mobile websites, and QR codes, companies are moving considerable resources from traditional advertising and marketing to mobile.

As this shift occurs, companies need to ensure that they aren’t flushing their new budgets down a mobile black hole. While mobile can help achieve great return on investment, there are hurdles that all brands need to avoid. Here are a few tips to ensure that you are doing mobile marketing and advertising the right way.

Do It Legally

For brands used to direct mail, traditional advertising, or digital retargeting, mobile presents a new realm of legal regulations that, if not followed, could cost you big time.

The most important guideline to follow is the “opt-in” regulation for text messages. Any text message you send can only be sent to a user who explicitly opted in to your message service. Meaning, no buying lists or automatically enrolling loyalty club members into your text message database. Each text message you send to someone who didn’t opt in can cost you up to $1,500.

Illegally collecting children’s data through mobile apps can also result in hefty fines. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act proscribes a fine of up to $16,000 per infraction.

The Mobile Marketing Association, Direct Marketing Association, and other industry advocacy groups are great resources for ensuring your mobile marketing efforts are compliant.

Make It Relevant

Relevance is one of the most underestimated components of a mobile marketing campaign. Your offers must resonate and be relevant to the recipient and their lifestyles. Untargeted communications offend subscribers and lead to resentment and disengagement with your brand.

This can be seen in the results of a recent survey we conducted. It found that while 66 percent of respondents received a branded text message or mobile alert, only 45 percent found that message useful.

52 percent said the message felt “intrusive or spammy,” 46 percent claimed it wasn’t “relevant to their interests” and 33 percent said the message didn’t “offer any value.”

These numbers should never be this high! One of the major advantages of mobile as a marketing channel is the ability to individually personalize messages based on existing customer data.

Analyze your data across channels to create and serve relevant content to your customers or potential customers. Build around your opt-in text message database. Once you have a person’s cell phone number, you can use that personal identifier to connect the dots with your CRM, loyalty programs, and even users’ social media profiles. The more you know about your consumer’s buying habits and engagement, the better you can serve them pertinent and relevant information directly to their smartphone or tablet.

Relevancy isn’t just in the type of content. It’s also the channels and the time of day when the content is delivered.

For example, many states have hand-free driving laws. So sending a text message during rush hour probably won’t have the same impact as sending one during the downtime of the mid-afternoon when, let’s be honest, we’re all mindlessly checking our phones.

The same goes for sending a message containing a five-minute-long video first thing in the morning. It’s not relevant to most of our habits and routines. Better to save that kind of marketing outreach to evenings or weekends when users have time to consume and engage with it.

Mobile marketing and advertising, done legally and relevantly, has tremendous potential to reach customers on devices that they always have within arm’s reach. It allows you to pinpoint messages and engage with consumers on their terms. Just don’t waste your money on it if you’re not going to do it right.

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Doug Stovall is a 15-year veteran of the mobile industry. He is currently the president of Hipcricket (www.hipcricket.com), a mobile marketing and advertising company.
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