The question that savvy marketers need ask is "what do people really want from their mobile marketing experience?" Without too much guesswork, you can probably figure out what people don't want: text-only access; having a wait time between sending and receiving information; navigating huge Web pages on a tiny screen; and not being able to access their data if they are disconnected.
With those factors in mind, it becomes apparent that people would ultimately prefer to have the same type of experience on their mobile device as they do on their personal computers. And what is the number one way marketers can reach their audience through a personal computer? The answer is simple - their Web site.
The good news for marketers is that mobile technology is improving all the time. The novelty of SMS will wear off as better devices continue to hit the market - devices designed to deliver a better mobile Web experience. It's only a matter of time before smartphones are no longer considered "smart," simply because at some point all mobile devices will be able to offer up the same type of experience.
With smartphone sales expected to rise 70 percent in 2006 over the previous year, according to InStat, the opportunity to extend the Web site experience to mobile is already here. Brands like BMW, The History Channel, HP, Microsoft and United Airlines are leading the pack in delivering rich visual content to mobile users.
Mobile marketing should encompass more than just building brand awareness. It needs to be a robust part of the overall marketing strategy, helping companies to not only manage their overall brand message, but also to improve customer relationships, educate customers about products and solutions, and essentially give the company even greater control over its sales funnel.
This might sound like a hefty promise for mobile to deliver. But it isn't, when you consider how having a mobile Web site strategy can help companies extend their existing Web site, bringing rich, interactive information directly into the hands of their customers.
Let me explain further. Web sites optimized for mobile devices have the power to:
Ø Identify who the customer is. Demographic details can easily be collected, giving companies and advertisers the ability to directly target a specific audience.
Ø Help the customer take information with them. This is especially important for customers who are in the middle of the buying process. They typically know what they want and do the research before they buy. For example, a customer searching for a new car would use a mobile Web site to search for dealerships, research models and request additional information. And, most importantly, the customer can do this while he or she has downtime, such as sitting on the subway or on a plane.
Ø Create a one-to-one shopping experience through incentives that customers can take with them. A retailer such as Best Buy may decide to offer a coupon to users through their mobile Web site. Customers show the coupon on their device while they are in the checkout lane, saving them from having to do any clipping or remembering to take the coupon with them.
Ø Educate the customer about technology, products and solutions. HP created an optimized mobile Web site to promote a series of Web seminars and connected white papers. They advertised the seminars via a splash page (similar to splash pages on the desktop Web), which allowed users to sign up for both the seminars and to gain access to the papers. Again, the user has the ability to read those white papers when they actually have time to do so while sitting at the doctors office, traveling in a cab or waiting at the airport.
Ø Deliver useful applications into the palm of the customers hand (literally). Microsoft entertained mobile users with advergames that were not only fun but that also helped educate consumers about Microsoft Office. Allrecipes.coms mobile Web site gives users the opportunity to look up recipes and create shopping lists that they can take with them to the grocery store.
One of the great things about smartphone and wireless PDA devices is that in addition to wireless connectivity, they offer mobile users one other important feature - the ability to download information and take it with them. This is especially important now as wireless connectivity is not always available or cost-effective and probably won't be for at least a couple of years. People want their information available at all times - and that means being able to sync wirelessly or through a desktop link is still crucial.
This situation creates an incredible opportunity for marketers who want to maximize the time that a user spends with their material. A cached mobile Web site means the customer can browse regardless of connectivity and take advantage of information and offers whenever and wherever they may be.
That means the Best Buy customer in my previous example didn't need to be connected to show their mobile coupon and the Microsoft user could play their Jeopardy-style advergame on the plane or while in line at the bank. For marketers, it means developing a strong mobile strategy around optimized mobile Web sites should be one of the most important factors to consider when looking to reach a targeted and most importantly, a receptive, 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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