Mobile marketing helps advertisers and brands 'close the loop' (Commentary)

by Alex Romanov

iSign Media

Mobile marketing has moved far beyond SMS campaigns. Instead of risking costly settlements and struggling to time campaigns for optimal results, new mobile marketing allows us to capture campaign-related phone data and make adjustments in real time. Besides superior demographics access, we see mobile marketing growing to link with the area of digital signage, in addition to TV-to-mobile hybrid marketing. Mobile marketing isn't just closing "the loop" for advertisers and brands: it's inventing new ways to do it.

Statistics Supporting Mobile Marketing Efforts

Mobile statistics show that Americans are using their cellphones more than in previous years, and they are engaged more often with Bluetooth-enabled devices specifically. Phones that are Internet-capable now make up the majority of mobile purchases at 55 percent, as reported by Nielsen. In 2014, mobile Internet usage will overtake desktop Internet usage, and current statistics about use show that 86 percent of mobile users are also watching television — the perfect opportunity to offer a captive audience a multichannel marketing experience (Digital Buzz).

It is advantageous for marketers that 91 percent of all mobile Internet use is related to social networking. Mobile marketing campaigns can boost sales online, and in a JWT survey, 67 percent of Americans responded that they consult social networking sites prior to shopping. In addition, 55 percent of millennials (aged 20-33) are more likely to make a purchase if it were previously recommended by a friend (Neworld).

The social aspect of digital interaction in 2011 is an essential part of mobile marketing now and in the future. Revenue from daily deal sites is estimated to increase 138 percent this year, according to Local Offer Network. Using mobile communication and the right approach, it will become easier for consumers to share deals offered through marketing outreach. As we've noted above, the redemption of these deals is much more likely when "liked" or recommended by a friend.

A Step Further in Mobile Campaigns

As with any campaign, demographics studies are necessary to determine budgetary details about new mobile marketing efforts. This is where the importance of real-time results comes in: Marketers will need to be able to determine how mobile trends apply to their targeted audience. In retail proximity marketing using PAN (Personal Area Network), which can monitor the number of phones (and the types of phones) within a given radius of a retail location and communicate with them, it's possible to analyze customer activity and device type with real-time campaign management.

The multichannel marketing approach is one that should not be overlooked. With consumers spending so much time engaged with a mobile and in front of a television, this is a great opportunity for multichannel marketing to make the most of both mediums, and for less. Since at-home campaigns can easily be linked to in-store deals, we see an even greater opportunity to connect in-home multichannel marketing (TV-to-mobile) to the digital-out-of-home market (via proximity marketing and digital signage).

Again, coupons and sample offers, as proposed by mobile marketers for use with TV-mobile marketing and in retail proximity marketing, are already showing to be popular in 2011. Statistics show that limited-time deals are most popular in the areas of food and drink (26 percent) and beauty, spa and massage (20 percent), two categories easily found in ideal venues for DOOH marketing, such as retail plazas, shopping malls and hotels.

Why Mobile Is an Ideal "Loop Closer"

When mobile phones are used in proximity marketing campaigns, they provide an ideal link to digital signage. Digital signs don't interact with shoppers on their own or adjust to match demographic information, but when paired with mobile phone data obtained from proximity marketing campaigns, they can better suit the needs of consumers, including top shopping times and preferred device. With a strong link between digital signage and mobile, marketers can transition to interactive digital signage, which also requires tailored information for ideal ROI.

There have been questions posed about the safety of mobile marketing in this digitally-focused environment. Some wonder if Bluetooth-enabled device interaction is not intrusive, and question whether traditional email marketing leaves consumers with a greater sense of safety and privacy protection. In reality, mobile marketing with Bluetooth communication is actually safer for consumer data than in other schemes.

A number of lawsuits have stemmed from SMS spam marketing, leading large companies to settle out of court for what amounted to hundreds of dollars per number: In 2010, Twentieth Century Fox settled for $16 million, which amounted to $200 per mobile phone number, and Burger King settled for $510,000 in 2009, which was equal to $250 per number. These lawsuits are real, and they can hit companies big and small—but they don't have to with Bluetooth-focused proximity marketing. Using an opt-in technique with no human identifiers, the need to collect phone numbers or email addresses is eliminated. Instead, consumers are asked whether or not they would like to participate — and even if they do, sensitive user data is never harvested, stored, transmitted or analyzed. While the technology supports consumers' concerns, it also allows businesses to benefit from competitive marketing at a lower cost.

New privacy-protecting proximity marketing technology is the future of mobile marketing. Campaigns can be changed at any minute to suit the demands of consumers, leaving buyers happier, and superior privacy controls protect both parties. New developments link digital signage, television and traditional marketing campaigns to mobile, distinguished further by their extreme cost-effectiveness. Mobile marketing isn't only closing the loop, but quickening the pace of marketing as we know it.

Romanov is president and CEO at iSign Media Corp.

To learn more about digital signage and mobile, visit our Mobile Interactivity research center.

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