Below is an article from a recent edition of the Sioux Falls Business Journal discussing the increasing popularity of mobile marketing. Click Rain was asked to provide insight on the future of mobile, as well as the opportunities and challenges that marketers face with this emerging medium.
Mobile marketers tap into texting trend
By Luke Tatge, for the Sioux Falls Business Journal • September 23, 2009
As more people use mobile devices, marketing and text-solution companies in Sioux Falls see merit in developing mobile-marketing strategies.
For example, 2DigitMedia Inc., a local mobile phone text-solution company, provides technology and tools that marketers and businesses can use to engage mobile phone text customers.
Robert Amundson, a former aerospace engineer who worked with organizations such as Lockheed Martin Corp. and NASA, is the CEO and president of 2DigitMedia, which opened in January. He had written a business plan that was selected to be a part of the Governor’s Giant Vision Business Awards program.
Mark Schuler, an investment banker who previously worked with Wells Fargo and is now the chief financial officer and vice president of 2DigitMedia, said use of mobile means as a marketing tool is on the rise.
“The growth curve is enormous,” he said. “Very few people understand the technology.”
2DigitMedia has worked with Taylor’s Pantry. Part of the convenience store’s marketing strategy was to use text messaging to send discounts and digital coupons to consumers. According to Amundson, the idea was to take them away from the pump and drive them into the store.
“We don’t want to become spam,” Amundson said. “You have to really think, ‘Is it a value to that customer?’”
People want value in each text they receive, in case they have to pay for it, according to Paul Ten Haken of the online marketing firm Click Rain Inc. He said discounts or valuable information typically are acceptable subjects of marketing texts.
Click Rain “uses text messaging as a way to send out a little nugget of online marketing once a month,” Ten Haken said.
“You’ll reach a certain demographic with mobile marketing, but it’s definitely a tailored and targeted demographic,” he said.
Click Rain has done three or four text-based campaigns. One involved polling patrons about their preference in coffee drinks. Ten Haken said two important results of a poll such as that are consumer engagement and the consent of the users to receive future texts.
“One of the biggest challenges of mobile marketing is to build a list to send to,” Ten Haken said. “You have to grow your own.”
Ten Haken said the difficulty in using texting for marketing purposes lies in the retrieval of cell phone numbers. People have to opt in to receive texts from a group before the number is obtained.
“In a lot of ways, people protect their mobile number like their Social Security number,” Ten Haken said.
Obtaining mobile clients can be a difficult task, Schuler said. Under standards set by the Mobile Marketing Association, which strives to stimulate the growth of mobile marketing and associated technology, not abiding by regulations can result in losing a built-up contact list.
Amundson said American consumers’ anxiety about spam because of experiences with e-mail might prevent them from opting into text message lists. But because cell phone companies and the marketing firms that represent them do not sell consumer information, the data “belongs to the phone companies and the customers we represent,” Amundson said.
Ten Haken stressed the importance of creating mobile versions of a company’s Web site in order to successfully market to mobile users.
“The challenge a lot of marketers face with texts is the limited number of characters,” Ten Haken said.
Texts must be kept to 160 characters. “It’s kind of an art,” Schuler said.
Amundson said there are so many possibilities when it comes to text message marketing.
“We’ve just let our minds run sometimes,” he said.
One stage of the growth of this type of marketing can be seen in the real estate business, Amundson said. It’s becoming more common for Realtors’ signs to have a text option in which, upon making contact, the consumer receives information about the property, and the Realtor obtains the potential client’s phone number.
The key components of a successful mobile-marketing campaign include text messaging, mobile advertisements, a mobile version of the company’s Web site and inclusion in search engine results, according to Ten Haken. Companies need to make sure that their contact information and content is submitted to a mobile search, he said.
Ten Haken said integration with Web-based networks also can be advantageous.
Sites such as Twitter and Facebook often are accessed through individuals’ mobile devices. But the same rules apply as before – the information being texted or sent via Twitter or Facebook needs to have value, Ten Haken said.
Amundson and Schuler would like to take their business further.
The next step involves secured technology and encrypted messages that meet privacy guidelines and can be used in places such as hospitals, Schuler said.
Amundson suggested the relevance of text messaging in the medical industry could involve anything from setting up appointments to reminders to direct communication between nurses, doctors and patients.