Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cross-channel Marketing

Mobile marketing works best as a compliment to your existing marketing mix. In today's blog, I'm going to discuss how web site analytics can play an important role in your mobile marketing campaigns.

If you've been in online marketing for a while, then certainly companies like Coremetrics, Omniture, and WebTrends are very familiar to you. (Google also joined the pack with their absorption of Urchin Software back in '05.) One thing that advanced web analytics packages can do is give you information regarding individuals who did something on your web site at some point in time. Interactive marketers have been combining web analytics with email marketing for a while now with great results. It's time now to combine web analytics with mobile marketing to boost your results.

Typical web analytics provides three types of data points for customers identified as email marketing subscribers. There is an action (e.g. Viewed, Carted, Abandoned, Purchased), a product (e.g. Product ABC, Prospectus XYZ, etc.) and a date/time stamp. Savvy interactive marketers use this information to construct highly relevant and highly targeted email remarketing campaigns. For example, you can send out a "reminder" email to your subscribers who have purchased laser printer toner three months ago that it might be time to buy some more soon. Include a personalized offer in that email and you're certain to boost your conversion rate.

The mobile marketing channel is another way to leverage the power of your web analytic data. A lot of mobile marketing initiatives I've seen don't go much further beyond sending alerts and offers to people who have opted in to receive SMS messages. Nevertheless, the same segmentation discipline that you use in your email marketing should be applied to your mobile marketing. Just like with an email campaign, you can create a "reminder" text message that is sent to any subscriber who has recently purchased a renewable commodity. And since it's a text message, schedule it to go out during the daytime when it's more likely that your subscriber is out and about and in a position to actually act upon your call to action.

As of today, web analytic data is compiled in batch mode and isn't available in real-time (please comment below if you know otherwise). But if in the future, it does become available in real-time, please heed my advise and DON'T CREEP OUT YOUR CUSTOMER! What I mean by that is, don't send your customer a real-time text message as soon as you discover that he abandoned his online shopping cart...""Why did you not buy,....Dave...?" Yes, it's still a good idea to send a follow up message to someone who abandoned an online shopping cart - just wait a bit before sending that message.

Any additional ideas on how web analytics can compliment mobile marketing campaigns? I want to hear from you!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Real-time Direct Response Marketing

Ten years ago, email marketing was pretty much the lone real-time direct response marketing channel. In the intervening time, search engine marketing and mobile marketing have joined the family. Being from the same family of real-time direct response, there are numerous ways that mobile marketing and email marketing effectively complement each other.

For example, mobile marketing is a fantastic way to grow your base of email marketing subscribers. To those of you who are experienced interactive marketers: you already know that growing your email subscriber list plays a very important role in your strategy for revenue growth. Using a mobile marketing campaign as one way of growing your subscriber list is a really good idea. It's really simple 'cause it's pretty basic to implement.

Start with a simple text-to-reply offer. You can have it displayed on your website, printed promotional pieces, ad banners, sponsored web search ads, and on your tradeshow signage. The type of offer will depend a lot on your situation. For example, if you're exhibiting at a tradeshow, it's common to have a text-to-register for a free prize. If you are a retail shop or an eatery, you display in your shop window a text-to-reply offer for a discount coupon for in-store purchases. Regardless of the offer, in your reply text message, invite the person to sign up to receive your email newsletter.

One way that the person would sign up for your email newsletter would be for him to text back a defined keyword (like "EMAIL") followed by his email address. Another way would be for him to enter in his mobile browser the URL that you provided to him in your reply text message. And speaking of URLs, use the shortened version that services like TinyURL and others will give you.

While you're at it, make note whenever people sign up for your email newsletters from their mobile devices. Why? Because chances are, they'll be reading your emails also on their mobile devices. This means that you have the opportunity to craft highly targeted and highly relevant email campaigns just for your mobile subscribers.

Any other ideas of how you can combine email and text messaging? Leave your comments!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Voice-Enabled Gift Cards?

Gift cards - we all get 'em and love 'em. Gift cards have sure taken the stress out of finding the perfect gift for Aunt Edna. They have also taken the stress out of receiving the perfect gift from Aunt Edna. "Gee, thanks for the coffee mug with matching sweater!" Can you ever imagine the day that gift cards will have the technology that enables you use them as a phone to call your Aunt Edna and thank her personally? Sound far-fetched? Perhaps. But let's turn it around a bit. Can you imagine the day that your mobile phone can be used as a gift card to make in-store purchases? Imagine no more. It's real and it's already being tested around the world. But what does this have to do with email? Lots - about $36 billion dollars' worth.

Thanks to the technology called Near Field Communication (NFC), financial transactions such as mobile couponing and gift card redemption can be done simply by touching your mobile phone to an NFC-enabled point of sale device and providing some type of security input. Simply put, NFC is one of the many varieties of "contactless technologies" being explored today. NFC is designed to operate over very short distances, typically less than 4cm, and is being seriously looked at in the world of mobile commerce - mainly because customers worldwide have confirmed that the mobile phone is the preferred form factor for contactless services.

Research firm Strategy Analytics estimates that mobile commerce conducted via NFC will facilitate over $36 billion of worldwide consumer spending by 2011. Nineteen of the world's largest mobile network operators (MNOs) have been working together in a Global System for Mobile (GSM) Association initiative to create and define a global approach to enable NFC services on mobile phones. Together, these nineteen MNOs represent about 45% of the worldwide GSM market, which addresses over 800 million customers.

So what does mobile NFC have to do with email? The fact that more and more consumers worldwide are reaching for their mobile phones for data services (including email) is already yesterday's news. Some consumers, in fact, are starting to use their mobile phones as their only means of viewing their emails. Emails viewed on mobile phones will be around for a long time. SMS messaging is very expensive for the marketer to do thanks to the market-killing practices of mobile carriers in the US.

Opt-in email marketing is the most cost effective channel today and will continue to be so tomorrow. Coupon promotions are well known to drive sales. But email is a digital medium hence coupon redemption is restricted to either digital transactions (e.g. a coupon code entered at time of purchase on an e-commerce web site) or it must be transformed into something physical (e.g. printing an email with the coupon to be redeemed at an outlet). New entrants to mobile marketing are experimenting with barcode images embedded within emails that are scanned by the point of sale reader. The details of this capability are still being worked out.

Mobile NFC will extend the power of email marketing to new heights. Brands - especially those having physical outlets - can extend all kinds of incentives and rewords to their customers. In the not-too-distant future, when you're reading your emails on your mobile phone, you'll see one from your favorite brand with a special offer to you. You click on the link where you go to a mobile site which will download the coupon or gift card which is now stored on your phone's SIM card. You go to the store, try on the size, style and color of the outfit you want, wave your mobile phone over the point of sale NFC reader and the coupon/gift card amount is automatically applied to your purchase. Security? Not a problem. Provide your thumbprint on your mobile phone's screen to verify the transaction and away you go.

Mobile NFC is still a tad in the future - at least here in the US. But don't wait! If you are a mobile marketer, start thinking now of how you can reach your customers with email campaigns tailor-made for your customers' increasingly mobile lifestyle.

Have you ever used your mobile phone to make a payment? How would you rate your experience? Leave me a comment!