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?