Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is THIS the Year of Mobile Marketing?

"Is this the Year of Mobile Marketing?" That was the running gag at the recently concluded Mobile Marketing Assocation Forum in Los Angeles.

I attended the Forum back in 2007 and again this year. Oh, what a difference two years makes. Back then, the iPhone was only a few months old. Android phones weren't even on the market. Carriers controlled the majority of subscriber's web experiences; "on-deck" and "off-deck" were the buzz words of the day. Fast forward to present day and here's what we have now:

  • 100,000 apps in the iPhone app store with a total of 2 billion downloads

  • For the first time in this year, the total number of text messages sent exceeded the number of voice calls placed.

  • The average age of "texters" is 38-years old.

  • Mobile phones outnumber PCs by 4 to 1 worldwide with 6.8B people, 4B mobile phones, 1.4B TVs, and 1B PCs

  • Mobile adoption is no longer the domain of the affluent. Of the 4.1B mobile subscribers, 70% of them live in so-called "developing nations".

  • An extra ten phones per 100 people in a typical developing country boosts GDP growth by 0.8 percentage points. (The Economist, November 2009 issue)

  • There are >4.1B text msg sent in the US every day compared to 304M Google searches in the US every day

  • The mobile phone has become the convergence of many consumer devices. Quick question: who is world's largest manufacturer of digital cameras by total units sold? Who is the world's largest manufacturer of MP3 players by total units sold. Answer: Nokia on both counts.

  • There are seven Mass Media Channels defined as: Print, Recordings, Cinema, Radio, TV, Internet, Mobile. The mobile device has become a single device that can consume all 7 channels of mass media.

  • Thanks to the precedence set by the iPhone, carriers' roles are changing from media empire to ecosystem enablers.

  • Revenue from voice has been consistently falling over the past 7 years while revenue from data has been consistenly rising over the same time period.

  • The Kelsey Group projects that total US spend on mobile search will grow from $162M 2009 to $2.3B by 2013. 50% of US mobile search ad revenue is local search.

  • Monthly searches per user are ~20% greater for mobile local search vs. online local search. Call through rates are 30x greater.

  • For many people across the world, the mobile device is the only way to access the Internet. By 2020, it will become the #1 access point to the Internet worldwide.

So what's still next for mobile marketers?
  • Mobile marketing works best when integrated with other media channels. But how to tie all channels together with integrated consistency? It's still too fragmented; it's difficult to communicate the value of mobile advertising; metrics have to be understandable.

  • As mobile marketing becomes more mature and marketers become more sophisticated, the need to have independently verified measurements becomes greater.

...and it wouldn't be a gathering of mobile marketers without a dig at carriers for continuing to make the SMS campaign provisioning process unnecessarily painful.

So was 2009 the Year of Mobile Marketing? Only time will tell. But from what we discussed this time around at the 2009 Forum, mobile marketing is certainly one of the fastest growing channels worldwide.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pitching the Mobile Storyline to the Studio Exec

My fellow Product Managers and I recently met to brainstorm ideas on how we could accelerate innovation within ours organization. Over the course of the discussions, we realized that there are amazing parallels between producing a product and producing a movie. In our company, the Product Management Team meets with the Executive Team on a monthly basis to review key product initiatives for the company. The executives are the ones who review and approve the commitment of resources to bring a product to market.

Pitching an idea for a movie is an experience similar to ours. A good movie is all about the story. Whether an idea for a movie gets approval or not depends on how well you can tell that story within the first few minutes to a studio executive. Even if the actual plot is complex with convoluted twists and turns, the story about the story has to be concise and it has to be compelling.

So - in three sentenses or less - what's the story for SMS marketing?

This is what we came up with: You're a marketer and you're already engaged with your customers through your existing marketing mix. Your prospects and customers are holding your brand message and calls to action in their long term memory. An SMS message at the right time brings an instantaneous connection with your brand, pulling your brand and call to action out from memory into the here and now.

Here's a simple plotline: You're a national retailer and it's that time of the year to jumpstart your sagging sales with special promotions to bring traffic to your stores. Your marketing mix includes TV, radio, newspaper, email, direct mail, search, and your web site promoting your call to action. "Sale starts this Saturday at 9AM! Come in for discounts between 30% and 70% on all items." People have seen your TV and newspaper ads, heard your radio ads, and read your email alerts at one point or another during the week. It's now Saturday morning. Peoples' awareness are focused on the here and now, "it's the weekend, "what's for breakfast", "what's a fun thing to do today?" Bing! A reminder about the sale sent via SMS on Saturday morning brings instantaneous recollection and connection with your call to action that you spent the whole week building awareness for.

Every movie has a tag line, too: "A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away," "Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water."

What's the tagline for SMS marketing?

"Add instant energy to your marketing mix"

What one-word keyword(s) best summarizes SMS marketing?
1. NOW
2. Impulse
3. Anywhere

What's your take on our story? Do you have a better one? How would you tell your version of the story in three sentenses or less? What's your tag line? What one-word keyword do you believe best summarizes SMS marketing? Post your comments!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The State of Mobile Marketing

Here we are getting ready to wind down the year 2009. Or, stated in a reverse way, here we are getting ready to gear up toward the biggest push of the year - Holiday 2009.

The interest in the mobile channel continues to grow, and certainly there will be a big push in mobile marketing in the 7 weeks remaining in this year.

So what have interactive marketers been doing these past several months? If you're an interactive marketer, are you curious to see where you fit with your peers?

According to Forrester Research Analyst Shar VanBoskirk's US Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2009 to 2014, total mobile marketing spend is projected to grow in the U.S. from $391 million in 2009 to $1.3 billion by 2014 for a compound annual growth rate of 27%. This is quite illuminating in light of the fact that the Kelsey Group estimates that the traditional segment (i.e. newspapers, direct mail, television, radio, print Yellow Pages, out of home (non-digital), cable television and magazines) will decrease from $141.3 billion in 2008 to $112.4 billion in 2013 for a compound annual growth (or more accurately "shrinkage") rate of -4.5%, and total ad spend will likewise decrease at a CAGR of -1.4%.

In spite of a 27% CAGR, spend on mobile marketing in the US is still a very small piece of the pie.

Forrester Analyst Neil Strother says in his research report, Best Practices: Mobile Marketing, that 65% of survey respondents either currently use or plan to use the mobile channel in their marketing mix, but that about half will do so with a budget of $1 million or less.

Of the marketers using the mobile channel, only about half increased their 2009 budgets over the previous year.

So it appears that marketers are adopting the mobile channel - but doing so cautiously.

SMS, or text messaging, dominates the mobile tactics being used today.

But, be on the look out for increased spending in search as location-based marketing will get bigger and bigger mindshare thanks to the growth of GPS-enabled mobile devices.

So there you have it. Total marketing spend is shrinking in this tightened economy. Interactive marketing - including the mobile channel - is growing, but only because marketers are shifting their media buy from traditional channels into the interactive.

But though long in the tooth traditional channels may be, they are still the tried and the true. Marketers are tempering their budget shifts with caution.

How do you compare to those that Forrester Research surveyed? Leave me a comment.