Monday, March 2, 2009

How To Build Your Worldwide Customer Base

The industry trends are indicating that mobile broadband is on pace to become the Number One means of accessing the Internet worldwide. A recent publication from the International Telecommunications Union (as reported by the Associated Press) says that six in ten people worldwide now have cell phone subscriptions, indicating that mobile phones are the communication technology of choice - especially among developing nations. One of the fastest growing areas is in mobile broadband subscriptions.

There are two reports - both published by Forrester Research - that I find interesting as well. A mail survey fielded in February and March 2008 of 61,033 US and Canadian households and individuals ages 18 and older reported that about 7% of these individuals used their mobile devices for Search. Another survey of 5,400 US and Canadian individuals ages 18 to 88 in August 2008 reported that 75% of these individuals used their mobile devices for Search. What would account for this huge difference? A different sampled population? Perhaps. But even so, these two surveys taken at different dates do indicate that Search has risen to be one of the top activities that people do with their mobile devices.

Oh by the way...did you also read that the iPhone is the Number One mobile browsing platform commanding a huge 66% marketshare?

So what does this all mean? It means that a substantial population of customers have their first contact with your brand via a mobile device. So, Mr. and Ms. Marketer: do you have a mobile strategy? Do you have plans in place to welcome these mobile first-contact people to your brand?

Here's some ideas for you:

(1) A really simple mobile-friendly web home page
Don't mess with WAP - just use HTML that is formatted for the small screen. Starting with the iPhone and every mobile device thereafter, mobile web browsers are now standard.

(2) Get yourself listed in Google Maps for mobile devices
You'd be surprised how many people would benefit from knowing about your services just because you're close by to where they are or where they want to be. Also, include the URL to your mobile-friendly home page, not the URL to your main site's home page.

(3) Invite visitors to your mobile site to sign up for email newsletters
Opt-in email marketing is the most effective means of customer relationship management. After they've given you their subscription permission, send them mobile-friendly emails. These are just HTML-formatted emails that are right sized for the smaller screen. Give them timely and relevant offers. Mobile emails are THE perfect vehicle for coupons, for example.

The nice thing about opt-in emails is that you now have plenty of opportunity to engage in a meaningful communication with these people and gradually acquaint them with your products and services.

And speaking of email, I'm disappointed that most of the blog posts I've read on Mobile Marketing are predominantly written by folks with backgrounds in brand marketing and in direct marketing. I've not (yet) read anything written by anyone with a background in email marketing. This dearth of information is a shame since email marketing is still the best real-time direct-response marketing channel.

(4) While you're at it, invite visitors to your mobile site to sign up for text messaging alerts
There's a reason why these people found you via their mobile devices. Engage with them the way that they naturally engage with their world.

There ya go. It's all about maximizing the experience at point of first contact. Very simple, very easy to do and best of all, it won't cost you a lot in terms of time or money.

Email Marketers: I want to hear from you! How are you integrating mobile and email into your marketing mix?

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