“If your plans don’t include mobile, then your plans are not finished” – So warned Coca Cola’s VP of Integrated Marketing earlier this year.
How many times in the past few years have you been told “next year will be a big year for mobile”? Year after year we’ve heard people say this. Even yesterday someone told me that next year is when mobile will really take off. Mobile IS here, and has been growing for some time now.
Little by little people of all ages are finding it less appealing to turn on a laptop or PC and are instead turning to their smartphone for easy access to the internet. It has got to the point where I sometimes think that if I was Mr.Dell Computers, I’d be as nervous about my future as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Remember cassettes? Remember CDs? Me either….
But what is it that makes mobile so popular amongst consumers AND such a powerful tool for marketers? Smartphones provide consumers with a large amount of PC functionality in the palm of their hand; they can check emails, watch video and browse the web. Recent studies have shown that almost 40% of people now access the internet through their phones at least once a month.
From a marketer’s point of view, one can target and instantly reach consumers on-the-go. Some fear that mobile along with online will have a negative impact on traditional media such as print. Unlike online however, mobile provides marketers with an opportunity to integrate traditional media with new technology. Smartphones have eyes; they can use their cameras to read and recognise information e.g. the url within a QR code. Newspapers for example, can place a QR code at the end of a news story which will allow the reader to access additional content that is relevant to the story- perhaps a video on Youtube or a podcast, hence enhancing the reader’s experience.
Similarly, a smartphone has the ability to locate itself geographically through GPS. Again, marketers can provide consumers with useful items such as discounts and deals when they ‘check-in’ to a certain location using a location-based app e.g. Foursquare. While this is all well and good, the marketer is solely relying on the consumer to make the first move.
However, a step on from this is where companies are now providing marketers with a ‘Geo-fence’ service around a certain geographical area. Marketers can send very targeted and relevant text messages to consumers who are within this area e.g. a street, a shopping centre, an airport etc. This service allows marketers to go to the consumer, instead of waiting for the consumer to come to them by ‘checking-in’. Retailers such as K-Mart are already using this type of service to great effect by sending special offers to consumers (via text message) as they enter the store.
Going forward, marketers must realise that traditional mediums such as print, online, billboards and TV are not competing with mobile but instead can all act as a point of interaction for a consumer and their smartphone. We as marketers should be taking the view that mobile exists to make traditional media better, since it is enhancing the user’s experience. Marketers can use mobile to instantly communicate with consumers on-the-go, and by using technology such as geo-fencing they can deliver targeted, relevant and useful marketing messages which are more likely to trigger a direct response.
Author:Paul Healy @paul_healy