Thursday, January 29, 2009

Vis, Estee Lauder, Lancome, Clinique, Revlon...What Do You Recommend?

Customer reviews technology vendor, Bazaarvoice, got a recent write-up in Internet Retailer. They've introduced a new social commerce application, MobileVoice, that creates a mobile web site for a retailer, and populates it with customer reviews listed by product category. This mobile web site lets shoppers search by keyword or by SKU number. Having this information handy really enhances the buyer's choice at a critical point of decision: in the retail store.

One of the first retailers to launch mobile reviews from Bazaarvoice is Sephora USA, Inc. "In-store shoppers can simply read the reviews on any product, or use top-rated products as a guide," so says Julie Bornstein, Sr. VP of Sephora Direct.

Once again, this new site shows that two of the hottest topics these days, mobile marketing and social networking, combine in a powerfully complimentary manner. There are so many cool ways to promote these types of social m-commerce applications - the least of which should include campaigns to their customers who subscribe to their email marketing promotions. It's already been proven that including customer product reviews, buyer recommendations, and Top Rated products in promotional emails increases sales.

So with Sephora, there's a high probability that many of their customers are reading those emails on their mobile phones. Put a link to the social m-commerce site in the email, then. Even better, put a shortened URL generated by tinyurl,,,, or any others. This makes the URL more mobile-friendly.

Could Sephora also promote this site through SMS messaging campaigns? Sure; why not. But as I said before - there's a higher cost to SMS messaging than there is to email messaging. In today's down economy, budgets everywhere are getting squeezed. Just remember: mobile marketing isn't just SMS; using email for mobile marketing is a powerful compliment.

Do you use a social m-commerce site to get buying advice when you're in the store? If so, share your experience. If not, why not? Leave me your comment. I want to hear from you.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mobile Marketing In More Than 140 Characters

Last December, the Nielsen Company published their Top 10 Lists for 2008.

A fascinating list that stuck out to me was their Top 10 list of websites accessed over mobile devices.

Does it surprise you to learn that in October 2008, four of the top ten are for web-based email clients with two in the top three? Over 38 million people viewed their emails on their mobile devices in the month of October. If you are an Interactive Marketer, chances are that a substantial number of these people saw your marketing email. Note: these are personal emails, none of this corporate email stuff.

People checking their emails on mobile devices are probably doing it more frequently during the day than those who do so using their desktop computers. Would it not therefore behoove you, the Interactive Marketer, to create email campaigns just for mobile email readers? Think of the relevance! Think of the timeliness! All this talk about sending your emails at the "perfect" time of day becomes totally irrelevant. People reading their emails on desktop computers usually do it on set days and set times of the day. So as an Interactive Marketer, you have windows of time in which your subscribers and respond to your messages and engage with your brand. People reading their emails on mobile devices usually do it every day of the week (yes, even when they are on vacation) and frequently during each day of the week (and yes...even when they are on vacation!).

Text messaging campaigns are getting all the press when it comes to mobile marketing. I argue that email campaigns should not be discarded by the wayside. Consider these points:
- Email is w-a-a-a-y cheaper for you to send than SMS messages
(text messaging CPM rates are 5x to 10x more than email CPM rates)
- Email is quicker to deploy than SMS campaigns
(doesn't require the carriers to approve your email campaigns)
- Email is a richer experience than SMS campaigns
(pictures says a lot more than 140 characters!!)

Make your mobile messaging strategy mix to include both SMS and email messaging. The two are quite complimentary. Create HTML content for your emails that is formatted for the mobile screen. Thanks to the Apple, RIM, the Android Consortium and soon to be others, you have a lot more screen real estate than before.

I now want to hear from you! Do you read your personal email on a mobile device? How often? Daily? Several times during the day? Are you like me - do you read emails on your mobile device to "triage" your inbox and then view the remaining ones on your desktop computer later on when you have the time?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Death of Email is Greatly Exaggerated

I am often asked whether the popularity of text messaging means that email as a marketing channel will become passe. Gartner estimates that there were 1.9 trillion text messages sent across the major networks worldwide in 2007. But make no mistake about it - these messages were pretty much all peer-to-peer. Peer-to-peer communication always occurs on a vastly larger scale than does marketer-to-customer communication. Case in point: I can guarantee you that there are a heck of a lot more telephone conversations between friends and family on a Sunday night than there are between telemarketer and sales prospect.

The smart phone market is white hot right now. Devices from Nokia, Research in Motion, Apple, HTC, Motorola, Sony-Ericsson, Palm, Samsung, and many others are in high demand. To no surprise, people are using their mobile devices to read their emails. Just as the cell phone enables me to talk to anyone, anytime, and anywhere, the smart phone enables people to read their emails anytime and anywhere. Most people read their email when they are sitting at their computers - which can only be done on certain days and at certain times of the day. Imagine when more and more become emancipated from the temporal and physical constraints on the desktop computer thanks to their smart phones. What new, different, engaging, and more enriching types of communications could email marketers have with these people?

Text messaging as a marketing channel will not supplant email. There. I said it. This is a fact founded in Old-School economics. Carriers don't see 1.9 trillion text messages flowing across their networks. Instead, they see dollar signs, euro signs, yen and peso signs. They've discovered that they have a captive audience hence an inelastic economic model. In fact, they've doubled their text messaging rates even though the number of text messages have increased. And by the way, I'm refusing to drink the mobile carriers' Kool-Aid . All-you-can-eat data plans have absolutely nothing to do with why they raised their rates.

Text messaging is still in expensive channel - both for the consumer and for the marketer. Because it's so expensive as a marketing channel, the high cost causes low adoption. Email on the other hand is cheap; it's free for the consumer and very inexpensive for the marketer. The global economy is contracting and marketers everywhere are being asked to take a hard look at their ROI. Email will continue to prove itself an extremely effective marketing channel especially in the mobile world.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

There's a lot of spaghetti on the walls

Last year, Jupiter Research projected that firms would be spending up to $2.2 billion over the next four years on mobile marketing. So what's the big buzz? It's how to make mobile marketing messages relevant to the consumer and how to integrate it into the marketing mix. Seems to me that there's a lot of spaghetti being thrown on walls as marketers look for the few successful concepts that stick. Yogi Berra said it best, "This is like deja vu all over again."

Seems like there's a new agency specializing in mobile marketing springing up each week. But let's not forget about Email Service Providers - especially those providing agency services. (Full disclosure: yes, I do work for such a firm.) Email service providers have been providing insight into customer engagement for their clients over the past ten years. In my opinion, Marketing is a strategy, not a technology. Given the right strategy, the technology is irrelevant. And no technology - no matter how flashy - can rectify the wrong strategy.

I believe that email as a marketing communication channel will continue well through the next decade. Consider this: from its introduction in the summer of 2007 to the end of that year, the iPhone had captured a whopping 28% of the smartphone market by year's end. The numero-uno data function used by iPhone users? Reading email! And let's not lose site of the fact that reading email on mobile devices has been around for quite a long time thanks to the millions of devices running operating sytsems from RIM, Microsoft, Symbian, and Palm Source.

Mobile email is intriguing to me. No wait. It's REALLY intriguing to me. Consider this: people usually read their email being fettered by both a physical and a temporal constraint. The physical constraint is their computer - either tethered via a network/phone cable or at least within a Wi-fi hot spot. (Cellular modems? Oh pul-lease! WiMAX? Getting there but not yet as ubiquitous to my liking) The temporal constraint is the times of the day that they have access to their computers. Smartphones free us from the shackles of the physical and temporal constraints. People are checking their emails ANYtime and ANYwhere. (Those of you who check email while on The know who you are!) As a brand marketer, what communication strategy could you develop if you now know that you can reach your customer anytime, any place? Would you have a different communication strategy to those who are out and about on a Tuesday afternoon versus one to those that are checking their emails at 10:00 at night after the kids are all in bed?