This guest post was written by Matt Silk, SVP of Waterfall Mobile. Waterfall’s mobile and social CRM platform, Msgme, empowers enterprises to build and monetize a mobile subscriber database.
One of the biggest recent announcements in mobile was Apple introducing iMessage, an internet protocol-supported (as opposed to carrier-supported) messaging platform in the same mold as the Blackberry BBM application. Google will follow suit with an Android messaging platform, and as these operating systems continue to dominate the ever-expanding US smartphone market, mobile marketers will have to put an iMessage/Android Message (let’s use iMsg/And as an abbreviation) strategy in place.
But these are just a few new developments. More will likely emerge as the popularity of smartphones continues to increase and time goes on. So how can you best prepare for mobile platforms that are still just a twinkle in an engineer's eye? I recommend considering the following three steps.
Step 1: Create Mobile Conversations, Not Campaigns
One of the biggest missteps a marketer can make when running a mobile program is developing a one-off campaign mentality. Due to the interactive nature of mobile as a medium, it is most effectively deployed when engaging consumers in an ongoing fashion as opposed to grabbing their attention one campaign at a time. Marketers run into trouble by viewing mobile as a media buy rather than a social strategy. For example, though you might cancel a television spot after a couple of weeks, you would never launch and then turn off a Facebook page.
By creating a mobile strategy based on conversations rather than campaigns, marketers focus on getting to know their subscribers and deepening their engagement level. As a result, new channels like iMsg/And aren’t additional headaches; they are just an alternative method to engage subscribers.
In order to integrate this conversation element into your current strategy, always ask yourself, “What happens next?” for any campaign you run. Take a sweepstakes campaign. Don’t just give away a prize. Instead, use this incentive to opt people in to a marketing list. Then you can drive traffic to your new store opening where you can then incentivize people to bring friends who you can also add to your subscriber list.
Marketing Takeaway: Mobile ROI comes down to the lifetime value of a subscriber, not the return on an individual campaign.
Step 2: Segment Your Subscribers
In the same way that Blackberry Messenger connects Blackberry Messenger users, iMsg/And will enable interactions with users of their respective operating systems. As a result, if you don’t know a user’s operating system (OS), then you have no idea which IP messaging platform they will want to use.
So what better to do now than add OS as a metadata field to your subscriber database? Sure, people might switch in the future, but adding OS as a data point will ensure you have a head start on engaging iMsg/And users once these channels become available.
And it’s not just OS that you can add. Understanding other data about your subscribers (e.g. gender, date of birth, location) will only enrich your ability to effectively roll out an iMsg/And offering, as you will be able to more effectively target a specific group with relevant messaging rather than relying on a general, impersonal blast.
To capture this data, you have a number of options. One is using HTML sign-up forms with embedded metadata fields that you can post to your website, blog, or social media properties. A second is a mobile landing page that accesses fields like IP address and OS automatically. You can also capture data within messaging itself (both text and voice), where you require data entry before sharing content (e.g. “Reply with your birth date to receive your coupon!”)
Marketing Takeaway: Having this segmentation data will not only make your future mobile marketing strategy more effective, but your current one as well. Any data point you collect instantly affords you greater ability to target audiences more effectively.
Step 3: Adopt a CRM Perspective
Too often, mobile marketers argue about one channel being better than another ("Apps are the best!" "No way! Mobile web!"). The problem with this perspective is that consumers are innately different, so what works for some will more than likely not work for others. Just today I was discussing mobile and making weekend plans with some of my colleagues. One person preferred receiving a call, another a text, another a Facebook invite, another an email, and so on. What’s more, I’d be willing to bet preferences would probably change depending on the event.
So, it’s not about offering iMsg/And because they are superior. It’s about offering your audience a new communication medium that enhances their experience with your brand.
Marketing Takeaway: Using this CRM perspective, you can provide your audience with a choice for how and when they want to receive various channel communications. Make your audience the center of your mobile strategy, and use a cross-channel approach to optimize their experience.
It’s certainly an exciting and intimidating time with the smartphone explosion and new communication paradigms for marketers. My advice is to attack new opportunities proactively. What’s yours?