Thursday, April 1, 2010

Is Mobile Marketing Dangerous For Business?

By Matt Valentine

Many pundits are predicting that mobile marketing through SMS (text messaging to the lay person) will be essential to stay in touch with customers in the near future (if not now). With phones becoming "smarter and smarter" and at a pace thats almost to much to keep up with, it would seem that mobile advertising will become one of the most effective ways to reach a large consumer base and keep them up to date on your businesses events, sales, specials etc.

However, with businesses already reaching into so many different aspects of our lives, how far is too far? At what point does a consumer become overly inundated with our attempts to reach them? At what point does reaching out become an annoyance? How much noise are people willing to listen to until they simply decide to turn it all off?

Most businesses, large and small, already utilize social media, email marketing, and traditional advertising. And most would correctly argue that through those channels (with the exception of email in some cases) its ok to market to people because they have already given their consent by becoming a fan, follower, or subscriber.  However, what worries me, and I will admit I'm not old enough to know whether or not this exactly happened, is that I have a sneaking suspicion the same thing was said about email upon its introduction to the masses all those years ago.

My real fear is that my text message inbox will soon look eerily similar to the spam folder in my email. While this fear is a personal one, it should also be the fear of every business thinking about using mobile marketing. How effective is your message if it ends up in a "spam" folder? How effective is your message if I get a text from you and say "Well these guys are really annoying."?

Think about it. If we already have a Facebook page, twitter account, email subscribers and blog subscribers and now we start a mobile marketing campaign, we will most likely be drawing most of our mobile subscribers from that same pool (at least until shadier practices become available). What I am trying to say, in some apparently convoluted way, is that engaging in mobile marketing can be a dangerous endeavour; especially when we consider that we are already engaing them in so many different ways.

Do people really want us on their phone too? To me, and maybe I am just crazy, but my phone seems so much more personal then any other form of media that advertising can reach me. And I don't want to see the day when I am getting text messages from some business I don't remember giving my number to.Maybe I am  alone, but if I am not, then maybe mobile advertising is just one step too far.

To me it seems that we, in the business world, are already walking a very fine line. We're going to need to know how to tread just lightly enough that we don't start stepping on our customers toes, or phones, or whatever.

The question is where do draw the proverbial line? How do we know how much to push before we've pushed them away from us? The real problem is, will we even know before it's already too late?


Adam Fitch said...

I completely understand your concern… When I first told my family and friends that I was getting into mobile marketing they said “we’ll kill you if you start spamming my phone”… and they had that eerie look in their eye to go along with it. But seriously, that’s not the case! This is a young industry that is going to great lengths to ensure these things don’t happen to mobile.

You are absolutely correct that sending unwanted messages to cell phones is not only an ineffective marketing practice, but could actually hurt the brand . That’s why it is so important that brands only engage in “permission based marketing” and that you specifically opt-in to those campaigns on your mobile device.

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) was formed to work with the mobile carriers and set strict guidelines to ensure you don't receive messages unless you specifically request to opt-in to a campaign. Oh, and that doesn’t mean they can just send you anything from there. They may then only send messages specific to what you opted-in for and, most importantly, they must IMMEDIATELY stop sending messages to your phone if you text back "stop".

How is this different from email? In order for a marketer to accept opt-ins and send messages to your mobile phone they must obtain a short code… you know those 5 to 6 digit numbers American Idol asks you to text in to vote. Getting a short code isn’t so simple either. Before obtaining a short code one must go through an extensive approval process in which they outline their program and how they intend to use the short code, have it approved by carriers they wish to send these messages through, and sign up with an aggregator to send these messages. Mess up and any of the carriers or your aggregator CAN and WILL shut those messages down. Also there are hard costs associated with sending these messages out so sending unwanted texts is not only ineffective, but expensive. These types of safe guards simply don’t exist with email!

It is also important for brands that take advantage of this powerful medium to respect your phone and not inundate you with frequent messages. However, when used correctly and messages are limited to special offers and news that would be of interest to you, it becomes an incredibly effective way to interact with customers who genuinely want to be engaged with the brand. For example, you don’t want Starbucks sending you texts five times a day, but wouldn’t it be nice if every so often they sent you a coupon for a free cup of joe?

Your are spot on with your opening about mobile being “the most effective ways to reach a large consumer base and keep them up to date on your businesses events, sales, specials etc.” Now, with enforceable rules and organizations like the MMA to protect mobile users, mobile marketing becomes a truly powerful tool for you the consumer. – Adam Fitch

DrKeithCurrie said...

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dental internet marketing said...

Great article,
I don't think we should just inundate people with marketing pitches. We should offer them something for the privacy intrusion, like free products and services. If we make SMS marketing mutually beneficial, it will survive the backlash from consumers.

Jim said...

I couldn't agree more actually. The last thing I want to see is marketing messages on my phone and I wont be doing it to my clients either.

faithevans said...

I think nobody can be brief as like your post!That’s why it is so important that brands only engage in “permission based marketing” and that you specifically opt-in to those campaigns on your mobile device.

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arshad said...

Hi its really very nice i enjoyed a lot to phones

RobertSanchezGTM said...

Very intriguing post on the potential pitfalls of mobile marketing. I believe your concerns are valid, but with the strategy and management in place mobile marketing via SMS can be one of the most cost effective and high response mobile strategies out there. I'd have to agree that trust is the top priority when it comes to effective SMS marketing campaigns. As long as companies respect consumers' rights to privacy and avoid spamming, we should continue to see an increase in the adoption of SMS-based marketing worldwide. At Globaltel Media, our customers have enjoyed great success in launching customized, two-way SMS-based marketing campaigns with dedicated short codes. Utilizing the real-time response rate tracking of our solutions, our customers have been able to better tailor their respective campaigns to drive increased results and build customer relationships. Once again, thank you for your excellent post.

mobile prices in Pakistan said...

i don,t thinks so mobile marketing is not dangerous for business......
its for benefit for the business ....

TC said...

nice achivement keep it up

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Mobile Prices in Pakistan said...

Thats really a very nice post