I guess I don’t have to explicate again the four key elements that differentiate marketing from traditional marketing. However, it can’t hurt to remind you that when planning your mobile marketing effort, it is really back to marketing basics and lots of common sense. Don’t get bogged down with the technology, think through your product or

service, your audience and what you want them to experience – think about segments, targets, position!

Offer plan

If you’re creating a sales promotion you need to make sure you have clarity around your offer or competition, regardless of whether the campaign is using mobile or not.

Ask yourself:

  • What is the definition of my offer, promotion or competition?
  • How do I communicate – text message, MMS, WAP-site, other media? When do I send out the message? For example, I really don’t want to send an offer to school boys at 8am on a Saturday morning or target a business man in the middle of the night.
  • Where do I find my target group? Do I already have the right customers or do I need to acquire them?
  • What’s my call to action?
  • If my offer or promotion is exclusive (perhaps for members or selected customers only) then it can have a powerful impact, make customers feel special and therefore increase the likelihood of a response, but my message has to be worth receiving and add value to the receiver.

Targeting and personalization

The good news about marketing via the mobile channel is that it’s relatively straightforward to target, if you know who your customers are. This means that you can have the same campaign offer to all your customers but you should differentiate the tone and content for different target groups. So ideally, this means changing the message to suit the recipient. Think about how you might communicate the offer to a teenage music fan versus an active member of the Union. Mobile phones are incredibly personal devices and the messaging that happens on them is no exception so you can afford to be more personal with your text communication and you can use a less formal language.


You only have a small screen so whatever you do on it has to reflect that. If you are sending out text messages, you only have 160 characters so use them wisely! Take care about how you construct the message. Just because it’s a short message, doesn’t mean it’s easier to write. It’s very easy to make mistakes. There are many examples of marketing messages from companies who have made very basic mistakes – a film promotion where they spelt the name of the film incorrectly, a food and drink offer without stating which restaurant and where that is, a discount coupon with no expiry date, a one day sale but no date. When writing your message, write in the same tone and style as your customer but don’t try too hard and use incomprehensible text speak. Your youth audience will feel patronized by it, because unless you actually work with teenagers to put that copy together, you’ll no doubt get it wrong. Anyone in an older demographic won’t understand it anyway. Be aware of what appears on the first screen as some customers will never read beyond that unless there’s a very good reason to. So, like a good press release, all your news needs to be up front and visible at the start.

Even with a simple text message based campaign, it is worth testing on different phones to see where the line breaks occur and what appears on the first screen.

When writing for a mobile internet site, consideration also needs to be made as to the screen size and what can easily be read in one screen. Copy should be kept short, simple and to the point.


What response rate can you expect from a mobile campaign? The simple truth is, that like any other marketing effort, it’s not the media you use that dictates your response rate, but how you use it. There is no such thing as an average response rate and one of the things to keep track of internally over time, is your own response rates so you can create your own benchmark. But for sure you can measure:

  1. Number of replies or entries into a competition.
  2. Data captured and its quality and volume.
  3. WAP page impressions.
  4. Click throughs from messages.
  5. Number of people who unsubscribed from your list.
  6. Number of undelivered messages.
  7. Uplift in sales or traffic to your store, website, event etc.
  8. Increase in brand awareness and perception.

Production and Fulfillment

When putting a mobile campaign together the focus is often too much on the technology side and the other component parts can sometimes be forgotten. Thought needs to given to the technical side, of course – which means, who is going to produce and manage the campaign for you, who’s going to build the WAP-site and so on. But thought also needs to go into who’s going to manage any customer service issues and any prize fulfillment (and the related collating of address details and customer services around that). A very large confectionary brand came unstuck a few years back with a major text to win campaign where no-one had thought through how they were going to collate winners details and so the fulfilment house had to call winners individually which added a huge amount of cost to the overall campaign.

Technical Project Management

Always allow contingency time and budget for any technical project because once you’ve interacted with a campaign or mobile service, you’ll probably find that something or other needs tweaking. Or you might find some glaring hole in the service that needs filling that you simply hadn’t expected. Also, keep your technical team up to date with your marketing plans – it’s important for them to not only know when the campaign is going live but also the media plan so they can work out potential peaks and troughs in activity. This is particularly important if a TV advert is being used so that the team is on-hand for technical support at peak-time periods.

Outbound Campaigns

Many firms use outbound SMS marketing as part of their marketing effort. It has been around a long time now and can still be effective, particularly when used around customer service. Everyone from big banks, supermarkets, music companies to cab firms and hairdressers have used it. There are pros and cons to building your own list as well as using someone else’s. So why create your own list? It’s an opportunity to talk to your own customer regularly and get that two-way dialogue going. It helps you build a greater knowledge of your customers, including buying habits. There’s an opportunity for revenue generation if that’s your thing. It’s also cheaper to retain a customer than acquire a new one and messaging is a good way to do that. It’s cheaper to send messages via your own list than buying access to a third party list and after all, they are your customers, you should know better what they want and therefore generate a higher response rate. It also allows customers to get in touch with you and to give you their feedback. If you are building your own list then there are some key points to add here:

  1. Is this a single brand list or is it a commercial list?
  2. Communication – how, when, why, and what?
  3. Think customer (go back to the Rules for Success).
  4. Clean your data regularly.
  5. Adhere to regional regulations, e.g. the Data Protection Act and the EU Electronic
  6. Communication Directive.
  7. Unsubscribing must be easy – replying STOP or UNSUBSCRIBE to any message should unsubscribe a customer from the list.
  8. Customer service – this is a two way street. Make sure your people are briefed and that customer service processes are in place.
  9. SMS is not always the best way to collect data so make sure you can collate date from various places.
  10. Each campaign you run should build your customer’s profile.
  11. Not everyone has a list to begin with so sometimes you’re going to have to look elsewhere for data. Where there is a close connection with the list owner, its customers and your product or service, is where you’re going to get the best results.
  12. When putting together your outbound campaign and thinking about who you might work with (e.g. a radio station, print media owner, a website owner) then it’s worth planning what it is you are after in some detail.
  13. Wherever possible describe the product or service category that your campaign covers and the type of campaign you want to run (competition, discount etc). Describe the target audience and how many people you’d like to reach.

A broadcast schedule is useful where you identify time, date and which of your target groups you want to send a message to. And the more information you have about the kinds of customers you want to reach, the easier it’s going to be for the list owner to help you by identifying the quality targets as opposed to just quantity.

When working with a list owner, it’s always wise to ask when customers opted in (recently is key) and how they opted in, and to just double check that the list is TPS (Telephone Preference Service) compliant and that the list owner is registered with the Information Commissioner (to comply with the data protection act). It’s also important to think through what your reporting requirements are and of course cost and lead times.

But don’t be scared or put off by the technology. There are plenty people around to help you with that. What’s important is that mobile marketing has entered the mainstream and there is proof that customers are happy to interact via their mobile phone. Mobile marketing can now be used for messaging, brandbuilding and calls to action and crosses over into many marketing areas. The rules for success are quite straightforward, it’s about engaging with appropriate content and messages.

In the wider world of commerce, marketing and media, mobile is the new kid on the block. Even though mobile marketing has been around for seven years or so, it’s still very new in comparison and we’re still learning.