Hey you, with the cell phone on your desk just a few inches from your hand. Or maybe it’s in your pocket or purse, or it’s clipped to your belt. Wherever this handy communication gadget is, the fact that it’s within reach should tell you just how powerful a business tool it can be for the company that’s looking for innovative ways to communicate with new and existing customers.
According to a recent Jack Myers Media Business Report, mobile advertising is expected to increase to $1.1 billion this year and to $2.44 billion by 2009. By comparison, the organization reports that newspaper advertising nationwide was expected to decline over 2008 and 2009, while broadcast network TV and radio advertising were expected to start decreasing in 2009.
The numbers don’t lie. As more companies scale back their “traditional” advertising methods, they are pouring more money and time into mobile options, which find companies using data services such as Short Message Service, (SMS, also known as text messaging), Multimedia Message Service (SMS, which includes picture messaging), content downloads, and the Mobile Web to reach customers. According to the Mobile Marketing Association, these media channels carry both content and advertising, thus allowing for precisely targeted communication with users.
Jeff Lerner, chief technology officer and co-founder of WHAM Mobile in Houston, which develops mobile marketing technology and solutions for businesses, says the growth in mobile marketing use by American companies is largely driven by its direct and cost-effective nature. An e-mail campaign centered on a “send a text message to 0000 to win a free prize” message, for example, is both inexpensive to create and easy to quantify.
Liz Lee, director of content and mobile initiatives for Urban Wireless in Los Angeles, says smaller firms like mobile marketing for its geographically specific qualities. For example, a small boutique that wants to attract new customers in its city by offering a 20% first-timer discount, could use mobile marketing to focus tightly on that target user base (as opposed to using a more general, Web-based approach that would reach the entire country).
Lerner says restaurants are finding mobile marketing particularly useful. For example, a pizza shop in Texas that wanted a more accurate way to track its billboard advertising efforts included the verbiage “Text the word PIZZA to 0000 and receive a coupon” on its outdoor advertising. The efforts paid off, with the restaurant redeeming more than 100 coupons during the first week of the campaign. “It didn’t cost the small business much to add the mobile aspect to the billboard,” Lerner says, “but the owners were thrilled with the results.”
In another example, Lee says a small event marketing company created a mobile campaign that found cell phone users texting a keyword to a specific number to receive important updates, information, and possibly win tickets and apparel related to a summer concert. “It allowed the company to announce the event and to give individuals a lot of information