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4 mobile direct marketing essentials


By Nick Worth

According to Gartner, smartphones and tablet users are expected to approach 7 billion by 2020. This growing mobile customer base expects brands to respond to their requests instantly and contextually.

For most marketers, creating a full-scale mobile program is still a work in progress. Responsive mobile-friendly Web sites, applications, SMS and push notifications give marketers have a lot to choose from.

But what does mobile really mean for your direct marketing program? It all depends on your customer’s needs and the products and services you provide.

It is important to remember the following best practices as you add more mobile communication to your program.

You need a mobile-friendly Web site now. Mobile optimization of content is a global requirement and is something that is no longer an option – it is simply expected from a brand.

Google agrees: it recently announced that its search algorithm will punish anyone who does not have mobile-friendly site and reward those with a “mobile-friendly” label. Google’s mobile-friendliness criteria are:

Software: Site avoids software that is not common on mobile devices (e.g. Flash)

Text: Content needs to be readable without zooming in or out

Size: Size of the content needs to be adjusted so that the user does not have to scroll horizontally or use zoom

Link placement: Links are placed far enough apart so that they can easily be tapped on

There is a time and a place for each mobile communication type. While mobile is one of the most powerful communication platforms, there are still important differences among mobile tactics and distinct best practices that govern when and how each should be employed.

For example, if a brand wants to create more targeted communication with its existing customers within its app, then push notifications work best But if a brand is trying to reach a larger audience, then SMS is the way to go.

Similarly, messages sent to an app many times end up unread, so if a business is trying to send more time critical information to its customers, a text message will be more effective as it provides urgency.

Respect is key with SMS messaging. Ninety-nine percent of text messages are read within the first 90 seconds of delivery.

Consumers are extremely careful and very selective when allowing brands into this digital personal space, therefore marketers have to be very cautious and know exactly how, when and how often to engage with them.

When building your SMS strategy, consider the following best practices:

Opt-in is a must, so make it valuable: Your subscribers must give you permission to send them text messages.

Wrap the opt-in message inside a valuable service such as opting in for prescription refill reminders, sales notifications or travel itinerary updates.

Consider the time: Unlike email, which can sit in an inbox, SMS timing is more immediate.

Texting someone in the middle of the night is not just ineffective for your business, but is also disrespectful to your subscribers and can be a major turn-off.

Engagement with your app requires your engagement. The real challenge lies not just in getting users to successfully install your app, but to ensure its consistent usage.

According to Forrester Research, United Kingdom and United States consumers use an average of 24 apps per month but spend more than 80 percent of their time on just five apps.

When used effectively, push notifications can be a great way to increase engagement. Remember to:

Show value: If your customers do not think your messages are worth their time, they will disable the notifications, or even worse – delete your app – and you have lost them for good.

A recent survey of 1,000 consumers by the Direct Marketing Association found that while 69 percent have enabled push notifications, 78 percent of them said “they would immediately delete the app or disable the notification” if they were unhappy with the messages they receive.

Use the data you have to increase relevance. If you want to include social graph data, stick to notifications about close friends. Use past purchase data to inform which discounts or specials you alert them to.

It is about the audience: Speaking of using data, treating your users as unique individuals will help you better target your mobile marketing efforts.

People in your loyalty program might prefer personalization and more frequent communication, for example.

You might be experimenting with mobile, but your consumers are experts. Unlike a store environment where you have a captive audience, with mobile, you are intruding on your consumer’s personal space.

No matter which mobile format you are using, you will have a lot more success if you remember that ultimately, you are the amateur in the conversation.

Start small, start with high-value communication and always give consumers plenty of room to feel in control and you will soon gain the intimate mobile engagement that can help your brand.

Nick Worth is chief marketing officer of Selligent, New York. Reach him at [email protected]