Two decades in the device space have proven that the huge promise of mobile is typically exceeded by delays and slow market adoption. This is finally reversing, given the recent boom in consumer use of smartphones and social media. As a result, it's now probable that within three years, companies will generate 50 percent of Web sales via their social presence and mobile applications, according to Gartner Inc. Small business can now offer new context-aware, mobile-based information and promotions that can be accessed either through a browser or installed as an app on a phone.
Mobile Marketing: The Basics
The basics include mobile directory and map listings, and optimizing your website for mobile. The next level includes mobile email and text messaging campaigns, QR codes and strategizing for mobile search rankings. These first two levels are good for display ads and couponing, but generally suffer from ineffective conversion rates and eroding profit margins. Further, marketing that deploys email and text messaging is limited to existing contacts in your database or rented lists.
Maximize Your ROI
Indeed, marketers have been hard-pressed to secure reliable ROI on social media and early mobile investments; some surveys show only 20 percent of social/mobile tools are delivering return on investment. Small-business owners and their marketers need to move up the food chain to mobile apps and "SoLoMo" engagement. SoLoMo is shorthand for “social-location-mobile.” It refers to the newest products that combine the best of location-based and mobile technologies. While these are the most challenging, they are also the most lucrative, because they offer the most potential ROI.
Mobile apps present three challenges. First, to be useful, a business owner’s mobile app must be different from its website, and sufficiently entertaining/engaging to be "sticky," so your customers will keep the app open and in the foreground. Second, they are expensive and time-consuming, because they must be developed for numerous platforms and multiple operating system versions. Third, because many mobile users have app fatigue, it will be difficult and slow to develop a growing and loyal user base.
Choose Your Strategy
Before selecting a SoLoMo strategy and vendor, your business must balance mobile user expectations, business measurement metrics and SoLoMo integration with the other elements of your marketing campaign and mobile strategy.
1. Mobile User Expectations
Regarding user expectations, it's critical to remember the Three A's. Mobile devices are: always on, always near and always dear. The corollary is that users have an intimate and deep relationship with their mobile device, and they don’t want marketers to disrupt that relationship.
Privacy. Respect user privacy. Make sure to ask your vendors whether their solution requires the consumer to share her phone number or email address, as chances are she doesn't want to share personal data with third parties.
The customer in in charge. Acknowledge that the user chooses when to engage with your brand. So in evaluating vendors, ask yourself these additional questions:
Are the user’s preferences, purchasers or habits used by the vendor or made available to the merchant or third party? Can the user elect to block communications based on time, place or identity?
2. Reliable Mobile Metrics
The original mobile offerings suffered from the same problem as early Internet advertising: eyeballs and even clicks did not grow sales or profits. So you should also look for SoLoMo tools that can track and deliver legitimate business metrics (“Mobile Metrics”), including number of new customers created, incremental revenues, profitable sales and customer satisfaction. The better new products are specifically designed to help your business achieve these outcomes, so you should require your SoLoMo vendors to identify and deliver on their Mobile Metrics.
3. Integration with Your Overall Marketing Strategy
It's also important that SoLoMo, as a new mobile channel, complement the other elements of your overall marketing campaign and omni-channel strategy. You should press your internal and external social, digital and ad teams first to review how your SoLoMo choices will coordinate with plans for advertising and engagement via social networks and other digital media.
Finally, SoLoMo’s promise has an attendant cost: end-to-end customer engagement carries with it implicit labor costs. With requisite training, most of these may be shifted from current departments, such as in-store and online sales, customer support, product specialists and social media staffers.
Read more about mobile marketing.
OPEN Cardmember Timo Platt is the Founder and CEO of Pokos Communications Corp, a communications company whose Social Messaging™ mobile platform delivers new text, broadcast and brand-marketing solutions for smartphones. Read his earlier blog post on SoLoMo.