Following the Breadcrumbs to Guide People Through the Path to Purchase

 

Marketing is about service; it’s about helping a company identify and fulfill the needs, wants and desires of consumers. Throughout most of its history, marketing has focused on the needs of the marketer and the marketer’s company. We’ve been shareholder-centric, company-centric and product-centric. We’ve organized our companies to be engineering-driven, sales-driven or marketing-driven. In other words, we’ve been self-absorbed and focused on our needs and our offerings and what we want to accomplish. This inward focus must change. To execute effectively, brands most certainly need to maintain an inward focus on all of the activities above. However, they also need to create and hone their mobile marketing capabilities. That is, train their people, invest in technology and develop processes to achieve their goals in the new mobile reality. 

 

Move aside purchase funnel and make room for the path to purchase. Perhaps you’ve noticed the headlines of late: “Marketing is Changing,” “Mobile Advertising is More Effective Than Desktop Advertising,” “CIOs Now Report to the CMOs (Or Should),” “It Is About Being Mobile First,” and so on.

All of these headlines, and countless more, are referring to an inalienable truth today: social norms and people’s behaviors are changing, and as a consequence so is the practice of marketing.

Marketing is about service; it’s about helping a company identify and fulfill the needs, wants and desires of consumers. Throughout most of its history, marketing has focused on the needs of the marketer and the marketer’s company. We’ve been shareholder-centric, company-centric and product-centric. We’ve organized our companies to be engineering-driven, sales-driven or marketing-driven. In other words, we’ve been self-absorbed and focused on our needs and our offerings and what we want to accomplish. This inward focus must change.

To execute effectively, brands most certainly need to maintain an inward focus on all of the activities above. However, they also need to create and hone their mobile marketing capabilities. That is, train their people, invest in technology and develop processes to achieve their goals in the new mobile reality.

Since today’s consumer spends the majority of their time on or being influenced by mobile devices and mobile-enhanced media, they’ve begun to expect one-to-one personalized treatment. It’s imperative that marketers turn their primary focus away from themselves and towards people (a word rarely used to define consumers). Marketers must take their focus away from shuttling the “consumer” down the proverbial purchase funnel cattle shoot and direct it toward guiding and helping people along their individualized path to purchase.

Below is a side-by-side illustration of the purchase funnel, resting on the base of loyalty and advocacy, and the new path to purchase.

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The stages and steps along the purchase funnel and path to purchase are similar, but subtle differences exist. The purchase funnel is a linear view of the world through the marketer’s eyes and the marketer’s goals, while the path to purchase is a nonlinear view, with many branches. It’s a view of the world through an individual’s senses and how they go through their day, week, year or life satisfying their wants and desires.

These two views of the world, the purchase funnel and the path to purchase, aren’t at odds with each other. Rather, they’re simply a view of the world through different lenses.

To be clear, the path to purchase isn’t the purchase funnel laid on its side as it’s often portrayed. People don’t care about “brand awareness” like marketers do. People care about expressing their needs or responding to conscious and unconscious exposure. Marketers need to understand that value is created between the customer’s view and their own.

For marketers to be successful in the age of the mobile-led digital economy, it’s important to look at the world through both lenses, the purchase funnel and the path to purchase. They need to be able to step into the shoes of the people they serve (their customers) and will service (their prospects).

Putting yourself in people’s shoes isn’t easy nor is it comfortable, but it must be done. The first step is to build empathy and understanding. A helpful way to do this is to understand behavior, ideally by talking with and listening to your customers directly, as explained by Jonathan Stephen from JetBlue in a recent webinar I did with him.

Another way is to conduct primary research and review secondary research. For example, to help you understand the behavior of people along the path to purchase, I encourage you to read the xAd Mobile Path To Purchase research.

In 2012 and 2013, xAd conducted studies in the U.S. and the U.K. to evaluate mobile’s role along the path to purchase for the travel, auto, restaurant, retail, gas and convenience, banking and finance, and insurance industries.

What the studies showed, not surprisingly, was that mobile has an impact but its impact varies and its use differs along each step of a person’s journey along the path to purchase. The insights from the xAd studies and related industry efforts are valuable breadcrumbs to understanding people today, their behavior (especially when it comes to mobile) and for putting mobile at the heart of modern-day marketing strategies.

I know it’s hard and change is never easy, but as marketers we must continually relearn our trade and adapt to the changing conditions of the marketplace.

Mobility, the World of Senses and Where We Go From Here

It’s difficult to explain an experience like the MMA CEO/CMO summit in words. It takes all of the senses to truly appreciate the opportunity. However, what can be shared is the knowledge that was imparted. Marketers, publishers, technologists, futurists and researches shared their thoughts and visions as to how we got here, exactly where we are and where we might be going with the world, mobility and the role of marketing.

There’s a rich and enticing world around us. When and wherever we are, there’s something to see, hear, taste and touch. In other words, there’s something for us to sense. When we sense something, what happens next? We take the input from our senses in order to make informed decisions to determine our next actions and reactions to what’s around.

Last month, my senses were bombarded with rich and exciting input while attending the Mobile Marketing Association’s (MMA) first ever MMA CEO/CMO Summit in the Dominican Republic in July.

First of all, you know you’re in the right place when you find yourself in the proximity of over 150 of the leading executives in the mobile marketing industry. I mean, how much more fun can life get? However, when you find yourself surrounded not only by great people, but also at a venue like the Casa De Campo (a plush resort surrounded by crystal clear ocean, white beaches and jungles), with impressive food and entertainment (including donkey polo, golf, swimming, dancing and more), as well as two days of thought provoking presentations and roundtables you know you’re in for something special, even if you can’t take it all in due to sensory overload. Sadly, I missed the donkey polo, but I heard that it was great fun.

It’s difficult to explain an experience like the MMA CEO/CMO summit in words. It takes all of the senses to truly appreciate the opportunity. However, what can be shared is the knowledge that was imparted. Marketers, publishers, technologists, futurists and researches shared their thoughts and visions as to how we got here, exactly where we are and where we might be going with the world, mobility and the role of marketing. For example,

• Scott Harrison, founder and president of Charity:Water showed us how a small group of people can change the world and improve the life of millions by helping them tap fresh water that exists right under their feet.
• Barry Judge, CMO of Best Buy and Mike Kelly, CEO and president of The Weather Channel talked separately and both explained how and why mobile is playing a central role in their 360-degree consumer engagements strategies.
• Nicholas Wallen from MIT Mobile Experience Laboratory shared how it’s creating hybrid cities and are connecting people, places and information.
• Jessica Kahn from Disney’s Tapulous shared the “nine things that worked,” covering the nine things that helped Tapulous become one of the leading mobile gaming platforms with over a billion games played.

The above presentations and more (click here to download a few) were just the beginning. Another speaker, Fabian Hemmert, PhD candidate at the Design Research Lab, Berlin University of the Arts, showed us even more. Mobile devices and their sensors — the camera, gyroscopes, accelerometers and more — are becoming an extension of our own sensory capabilities, such as the ability to see the world and commerce differently though augmented reality (check out the iButterly YouTube video), but this is just the start.

As Hemmert’s work points out, by adding pressure, moisture sensors and using existing sensors in new ways, entirely new experiences through mobile are possible. Just think, you can squeeze your phone and virtually shake someone’s hand, or give your phone a quick peck and blow someone a kiss. Who would have thought? See Hemmert in action on Ted.

Also, a few weeks following the summit I was fortunate enough to be able to meet Chander Chawla, director and general manager, personal mobile devices at National Semiconductor. Chawla shared what he called “software-enabled hardware” that his team is experimenting with. For instance, by extending and exposing a simple UV light sensor off a chip that’s present in most phones, the phone can monitor the level of UV exposure and alert you to put on sun screen. You can also tweak how sound waves are generated. By adding a few additional speakers you can take a traditional flat sounding device and turn it into a surround sound experience like none other. Finally, Chawla is experimenting with new visual display experiences that latterly add a new spectrum of color that I did not know existed.

If you weren’t able to attend the summit this year, I encourage you to visit the MMA events website and download the presentations. I also encourage you to consider attending next year, or any of the numerous mobile and marketing gatherings that are happening throughout the industry such as Mobile Monday’s, Mobile Marketing Week in New York (being put on by Mobile Marketer), Advertising Week, CTIA Entertainment, MMA LA Forum, ANA Annual event and so many others. I’m sure you won’t be able to make them all, but there’s really nothing like being there in person to meet and exchange ideas with the people around you and to fully embrace and stimulate your senses.

The 4 Pillars of Mobile Strategy

Your brand must have a well-thought-out plan that captures data from all interactions it has with each and every customer so that every customer interaction is contextually relevant. If this element is missing from a brand’s marketing plan, it will be severely limited — customer engagement and profitability will be hampered.

I recently spoke with the team over at Merkle in order to better understand what it takes to successfully embrace mobile marketing. According to Bruce J. Hershey II, mobile marketing strategist at Merkle, brand marketers must identify where their brand stands within the mobile ecosystem before moving on to specific mobile tactics and campaigns. Bruce emphasized that in order to achieve results with mobile marketing, it’s imperative that brand marketers develop and execute against a comprehensive marketing strategy that includes mobile rather than simply focusing on mobile capabilities in isolation. Doing so will allow your brand to stay focused on its overarching marketing strategy as you weave mobile or any other digital channel into the mix.

I asked Bruce what it takes to build a mobile-enabled marketing strategy. “Without a reliable and proven framework to use as a guide, developing and successfully executing a marketing strategy that includes mobile and achieves its desired and expected results can be a difficult thing to achieve,” he replied. According to Bruce, an effective mobile-enabled marketing strategy must account for everything, literally. You must understand the following:

  • your customers, the environment they live in and what they need;
  • your brand, including its objectives, resources, technical capabilities (both with traditional and mobile marketing), experience, and commitment to marketing and mobile at every level within the organization;
  • your existing strategy to meet your brand’s goals and objectives;
  • the technology that will enable your brand to implement that strategy; and
  • the media channels (e.g., print, email, television, radio, social networks, etc.) at your disposal that can be leveraged to reach and engage consumers.

I also spoke with Chris Wayman, vice president and general manager of mobile practice at Merkle. Chris emphasized that in today’s digital age another element to a successful mobile strategy is needed, namely connecting mobile data to your customer database. A CRM strategy helps businesses derive valuable customer insights by looking at all offline and online touchpoints throughout the customer journey.

In other words, your brand must have a well-thought-out plan that captures data from all interactions it has with each and every customer so that every customer interaction is contextually relevant. Chris noted that if this element is missing from a brand’s marketing plan, it will be severely limited — customer engagement and profitability will be hampered.

Merkle has developed a framework to help organizations build out their mobile plan. The framework steps through a process that helps organizations build out their plan along four key pillars:

  1. mobile audit and strategic road map;
  2. media integration of mobile tactics;
  3. mobile marketing tactics; and
  4. customer database integration.

By leveraging these four pillars and a proven approach to developing mobile-enabled marketing strategies, Merkle has found that its clients are able to properly integrate mobile marketing into their digital marketing plan, produce impressive list growth results, reduce uncertainty in the development and execution phases of their marketing plans, and generate predictable results for long-term, sustainable company success.

To learn more about what it takes to develop a mobile-enabled marketing strategy, join us for the following webinar on May 25: How Mobile Coupons Drive Revenue and Build a Mobile Database for Men’s Wearhouse’s K&G Superstore.

Your Customer is Mobile — Are You?

There’s no question about it, the world has changed. It’s gone mobile. Consumers are free from the confines of their homes, offices, and traditional media and retail environments. Today’s consumers have the power at their fingertips to fulfill their needs anytime and anywhere, and they’re using it.

There’s no question about it, the world has changed. It’s gone mobile. Consumers are free from the confines of their homes, offices, and traditional media and retail environments. Today’s consumers have the power at their fingertips to fulfill their needs anytime and anywhere, and they’re using it.

To understand the impact that mobile is having on marketing, it’s important that you consider the integral themes driving mobile forward. In the last few years, we’ve seen unprecedented releases of new hardware and software technology; the rise and influence of social media; the introduction of personal cloud computing; new innovations in business models; continued rollout of globalization; jockeying between the central controllers of mobile connectivity, the mobile carriers and new players like Google, Yahoo, Comcast and Microsoft; the introduction of new industry guidelines and principles; new government regulation; and new investment flows within every part of the mobile marketing ecosystem, just to name a few.

All of these themes and many more make up the mobile story. However, there’s one theme that overshadows them all: the dramatic shift in consumer behavior.

In our mobile world, consumers are connected and empowered. This hasn’t always been the case. Less than eight years ago, there were no more than 1 billion mobile connections worldwide. Today, nearly 90 percent of the global population, over 6.8 billion people, live within reach of a mobile signal. There are over 5.3 billion mobile connections.

Of these 5.3 billion connections, there are 3.75 billion unique mobile users, with the difference between total connections and unique users showing us that people carry multiple devices — and they use them. They’re consuming media, searching, identifying, locating and acquiring whatever they need (e.g., information, goods and services) right from the palm of their hands. Consider the following:

  • there were over 6 trillion text messages sent worldwide in 2010;
  • mobile internet use is on the rise globally, with growth in the U.S. at approximately 30 percent and growing; and
  • apps are being downloaded in the billions

Social media is proving to be a driving force in this growth. Here are some figures to back up that assertion:

  • Forty percent of all tweets are currently created on mobile devices.
  • There are 200-plus million mobile Facebook users, and they’re spending approximately an equal amount of time on Facebook on their PCs as on their mobile phones.
  • M-commerce is rapidly growing in 2011. Consumers will spend billions on goods and services directly via mobile, and mobile will also influence $225 billion to $230 billion in traditional retail and e-commerce sales.
Your customers are mobile. Are you ready for this? Is your business? Your marketing team? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you’re missing out on an opportunity to delight and serve your customers in their preferred channel of engagement. However, it’s not too late. As much as the market has grown, it’s just getting started.

The Strategic Imperative of Understanding Mobile in 2011 and Beyond

There aren’t many industries with a compound annual growth rate of nearly 57 percent, especially in the midst of the worst recession in generations. But that’s one measure of the success of mobile advertising, which has moved out of brands’ and agencies’ research and development budgets and into their mainstream spending.

There aren’t many industries with a compound annual growth rate of nearly 57 percent, especially in the midst of the worst recession in generations. But that’s one measure of the success of mobile advertising, which has moved out of brands’ and agencies’ research and development budgets and into their mainstream spending.

Take local mobile advertising, which consists of ads that are related to a user’s location. In 2009, the U.S. market for local mobile advertising was worth $213 million, according to BIA/Kelsey, a consultancy firm. Various outlets are predicting that revenues will top $2 billion by 2014.

Advertisers are spending more on the mobile channel because they understand the impact not just on their advertising, but on their businesses in general. That understanding comes from both the growing number of success stories and independent research that quantifies the mobile channel’s reach and effectiveness.

An April 2010 Mobile Marketing Association (MMA)/Luth Research survey found that nearly one in four U.S. adult consumers use mobile location services. Nearly half of those who noticed any ads while using those services took at least some action, indicating that consumers respond well to ads via location-based services. 


What are next year’s opportunities?
This research is noteworthy because it highlights some of the bigger mobile opportunities for brands and marketers in 2011 and beyond. The mobile channel’s inherent location capabilities, for example, coupled with high user awareness of those capabilities, provide new opportunities to deliver mobile coupons when consumers are literally in position to make a purchase.

Because cell phones are something that most consumers carry with them at all times, these devices also can be used to “mobile-enable” traditional media such as print, broadcast and billboards. For example, by adding a common short code (or QR code) to an ad, marketers can capitalize on consumer interest in their products or services by immediately delivering information, e-coupons or enabling a purchase on the spot.

This isn’t pie-in-the-sky forecasting, either. A May 2010 MMA/Luth Research survey found that approximately one in five U.S. adult mobile phone owners have used their cell phone for mobile commerce in the past month.

All of these factors highlight another, overarching opportunity: The mobile channel has evolved beyond serving as only a marketing tool. It’s now a highly effective way to facilitate sales transactions, provide customer care, foster brand loyalty and solicit customer feedback. No wonder that U.S. advertisers and agencies plan to increase their mobile spending 124 percent, to more than $5.4 billion, by the end of 2011.

5 Pillars of the Mobile Marketing Industry

All emerging industries reach a point where their ecosystem’s members find common and fundamental concepts that help them organize their thoughts and actions in order to ensure the long-term growth and success of their businesses. For mobile marketing, those fundamentals have emerged and can be boiled down to five verbs: promote, measure, educate, guide and protect.

All emerging industries reach a point where their ecosystem’s members find common and fundamental concepts that help them organize their thoughts and actions in order to ensure the long-term growth and success of their businesses. For mobile marketing, those fundamentals have emerged and can be boiled down to five verbs: promote, measure, educate, guide and protect.

In September, the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) refined its messaging along these five pillars to improve its ability to efficiently communicate with the market and to forge forward with its mission to help foster a growing and sustainable mobile marketing industry. The following list highlights the measurable objectives of each of these pillars:

  • Promote. Promote mobile marketing best practices, standards, thought-leadership and industry leaders (e.g., brands, agencies, media companies, application providers, etc.) to foster innovation and industry development.
  • Educate. Provide structured, evidence-based curriculum to educate brands, agencies and consumers about the full scale and scope of mobile marketing practices to highlight their advantages and benefits and to ensure that all players can develop a common understanding of each other’s goals and motivations so that they may efficiently and effectively co-create value between them for their mutual benefit.
  • Measure. As we enter into the “digital age,” where all engagements, moods, preferences, interests and intentions can be digitally imprinted, the key to successful mutual value creation between marketers and consumers will be achieved through the teasing out of insights and knowledge from the vast amounts of data that’s being managed by consumers and marketers alike. In today’s digital world, consumers have as much information as marketers; both need to measure their activities (e.g., total spend in industry, effectiveness of one medium versus another to accomplish one’s goals) to ensure they’re optimizing their time, energy and money.
  • Guide. We all need guidance. By continuing to amass thought-leadership, best practices and self-regulatory codes of conduct, mobile marketers can continue to foster and grow the industry.
  • Protect. Protect consumers and your businesses. All mobile marketers need to pay special attention to the needs of each constituent in the marketplace, and ensure an even playing field for all to help maximize public and industry confidence in mobile marketing, lower barriers to entry and minimize noneconomic costs of doing business.

More than words
These five pillars aren’t just shibboleths. They’re designed to provide the mobile marketing industry with actionable concepts that are key for maintaining growth.

Here’s a real-world example: A recent MMA survey of U.S. advertisers and ad agencies shows strong confidence in mobile marketing’s reach and effectiveness — so much so that they plan to increase their spending 124 percent to more than $5.4 billion by the end of 2011. This projected increase reflects advertiser and agency plans to shift their budgets out of media such as print and outdoor and into the mobile channel.

The “measure” pillar plays a key role by providing the confidence that in turn enables this kind of growth. It’s easier for brands and agencies to justify those dramatic increases and strategy shifts when they have access to independent, primary analytics showing consumer interest in and adoption of mobile services.

But measurement is possible only when everyone is using the same baselines and definitions. The MMA recently worked with the Interactive Advertising Bureau to define what constitutes a mobile ad impression.

Another example of measurement is via independent research. An April 2010 survey conducted by the MMA and one of its official research partners, Luth Research, found that nearly one in four U.S. adult consumers uses mobile location services. Nearly half of those who noticed any ads while using location-based services took at least some action, indicating that consumers respond well to ads through location-based services. That’s the kind of actionable intelligence that brands and agencies need to make the most of the mobile opportunity.

The “promote” pillar plays an equally important role in helping drive industry growth. Case studies, for example, explain how and why certain campaigns are highly successful. This information gives brands and agencies the actionable insights necessary to develop and execute their own strategies, and it complements “measure” by providing additional confidence that the mobile channel will put their marketing budget to highly effective use.

Effectiveness depends partly on the actions of the industry as a whole. That’s where the “educate” pillar comes in. The MMA’s certification program is designed to educate marketing professionals about how to use the mobile channel effectively and appropriately.

That process starts with protecting the consumer experience and the efficiency of the market’s systems so that all players can grow their businesses in a sustainable fashion. Industry-standard guidelines such as the MMA’s “U.S. Consumer Best Practices” and “Code of Conduct for Mobile Marketing” are part of the “guide” pillar, which enables the self-regulation that helps grow the mobile opportunity.

The MMA’s role as guide includes providing a framework so that the mobile industry can create these kinds of documents, which ensure that brands, agencies, developers, carriers and other ecosystem members are all on the same page — and moving forward.

Promote, measure, educate, guide and protect. Five verbs that provide focus and momentum to the ongoing development of a burgeoning industry. Everyone can contribute, you just have to find the area that excites you the most, jump in and get engaged.

Researching the Mobile Marketing Opportunity

Mobile marketing is a case in point: A forthcoming Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) survey of U.S. advertisers and agencies shows strong confidence in mobile marketing’s reach and effectiveness — so much so that they plan to increase their spending 124 percent, to more than $5.4 billion by the end of 2011. This projected increase reflects advertiser and agency plans to shift their budgets out of media such as print and outdoor advertising and into the mobile channel.

There are two sure signs when an industry has evolved from a new niche to a mainstream power. First, companies shift big portions of their budget into the market and, second, there’s a growing body of independent research that sizes the impact of that spending and provides insights into emerging opportunities.

Mobile marketing is a case in point: A forthcoming Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) survey of U.S. advertisers and agencies shows strong confidence in mobile marketing’s reach and effectiveness — so much so that they plan to increase their spending 124 percent to more than $5.4 billion by the end of 2011. This projected increase reflects advertiser and agency plans to shift their budgets out of media such as print and outdoor advertising and into the mobile channel.

It’s easier for brands and agencies to justify those dramatic increases and strategy shifts when they have access to independent, primary analytics showing consumer interest in and adoption of mobile services. Take location-based advertising, for example. An April 2010 survey conducted by the MMA and one of its official research partners, Luth Research, found that nearly one in four U.S. adult consumers uses mobile location services, with usage highest among Apple iPhone owners.

One of that survey’s key takeaways: nearly half of those who noticed any ads while using location-based services took at least some action, indicating that consumers respond well to ads via location-based services. That’s the kind of actionable intelligence that brands and agencies need to make the most of the mobile channel.

Partnerships are key
To meet the industry’s need for qualitative and quantitative analytics, the MMA has established a Research Partner Program involving
several leading research firms around the world:

  • Luth Research and its online panel, SurveySavvy, supports MMA’s Mobile Consumer Briefing series in the U.S., a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adult mobile consumers that reveals current trends. For example, the July 2010 MMA Mobile Consumer Briefing found that a third of mobile consumers would be more likely to respond to an ad in any media if it offered them the option of a mobile response.

  • Lightspeed Research is the official partner of MMA’s Mobile Consumer Briefing series in three critical European markets: France, Germany and the U.K. The MMA’s April 2010 report showed that text messaging is now among the most popular means for making charitable donations in these major Western European countries.

  • Kinesis Survey Technologies, which is a key contributor to the MMA Global Research Panel, the industry’s first research capability that provides brands and agencies with deep, actionable insights into marketers’ integrated mobile campaigns, objectives and outcomes.

  • Synovate, whose surveys are the basis for the MMA’s annual “Mobile Attitude & Usage Study” series, will be releasing its 2010 study of the U.S. mobile market in November of this year.

  • Advertising Database, a key contributor to the MMA’s “View from Madison Avenue 2010: How American brands and agencies are using and spending on mobile,” a survey that will be released this August.

  • The Association of National Advertisers (ANA), whose membership includes 400 companies with 9,000 brands that collectively spend over $250 billion in marketing communications and advertising. The MMA and ANA currently are conducting a joint study into how brands are using the mobile channel for advertising and marketing, and the effectiveness of those strategies.

“Research firms around the world increasingly approach the MMA to offer their services to our members,” says Peter A. Johnson, the MMA’s vice president of market intelligence and strategy. “That’s a testimony both to the excitement and energy around the mobile channel and the perception of the MMA as the global source for actionable insights into this market.”

MMA research highlights are publicly available in MMA press releases and at our events, such as the Mobile Marketing Forum series. However, each study’s full, deep-dive results are available only to MMA members and at no additional cost, regardless of membership level.

Interested? Visit http://mmaglobal.com/research for more details.

Mobile Marketing’s Must-Attend Events for Fall 2010

Mobile phone sales continue to defy the global economic slump. Smartphone sales grew nearly 49 percent between Q1 2009 and Q2 2010, according to analyst firm Gartner. More than 314 million smartphones and feature phones shipped in Q1 2010 alone, 17 percent more than one year earlier.

Mobile phone sales continue to defy the global economic slump. Smartphone sales grew nearly 49 percent between Q1 2009 and Q2 2010, according to analyst firm Gartner. More than 314 million smartphones and feature phones shipped in Q1 2010 alone, 17 percent more than one year earlier.

All of those figures add up to an enormous opportunity for brands and marketers, including those looking to add interactivity to advertising campaigns that center around traditional media such as print, broadcast and billboards. That’s because whether consumers are buying their first Java ME feature phone or upgrading from an older smartphone to the latest Apple iPhone, that handset is now one of the most effective ways to build a brand, promote products and distribute coupons, to name just a few ways that mobile marketing is used today.

But there are no slam dunks in mobile marketing. Success depends on understanding factors such as the types of mobile phones used in a particular market and how that affects campaign strategies.

For example, at the most recent Mobile Marketing Forum (MMA Forum), held June 7-9 during Internet Week New York, one speaker noted that in India, 33 percent of SMS traffic is media content and/or advertising. Why do so many mobile marketing campaigns there use SMS? Because virtually every handset and network in India supports text messaging, and because SMS is affordable for more of the population than other types of data services.

If you missed the New York MMA Forum, there are plenty of other opportunities to get up to speed on mobile marketing. The first is by checking out some of the success stories presented at the New York MMA Forum, such as Lipton Tea’s mobile campaign that grew sales 47 percent, or the several brands — from florist chains to detergents — that reported 20 percent response rates for their mobile campaigns. Those and other highlights are recapped on the blog of one of the event’s many renowned speakers, author Tomi Ahonen.

The second opportunity is to attend one or more of the upcoming MMA Forum events. Each one provides an overview of mobile marketing, along with actionable insights into the world region where the event is held. The next three MMA Forum events are:

Latin America: Coming Sept. 2 in São Paulo, Brazil, this event will feature case studies of successful campaigns in Brazil and other regional countries.

Europe, Middle East and Africa: On Oct. 5-6, MMA’s Forum series will bring together leading marketers from across the world to share their experiences, challenges and successes with the mobile channel.

North America:
The final 2010 Forum on Nov. 17 in Los Angeles will feature speakers from across the mobile ecosystem, including many leading global brands and agencies.

The diversity of locations reflects the fact that although the mobile channel’s reach and effectiveness spans the globe, each region has unique market conditions, opportunities and needs. The New York event highlighted those by featuring insights from all four MMA regional directors, who represent Asia Pacific (APAC); Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA); Latin America; and North America.

All of the MMA regional directors provided plenty of real-world examples of mobile marketing’s bottom-line benefits. For instance, in the U.K., the Ariel detergent brand sent text messages to 400,000 housewives, achieving a 20 percent response rate and boosting in-store sales. In Japan, the AXE Wake-Up Girls mobile campaign increased deodorant sales 300 percent, a success that’s been duplicated in countries such as Turkey, too.

But don’t just take my word for it; see for yourself this fall.

Michael Becker’s Inside Mobile Marketing: Playing Off the Success of Mobile Marketing

One sure sign of success is the company you keep. With household names such as Best Buy, Disney, Google, Kodak, Microsoft and MTV among the speakers at next week’s Mobile Marketing Forum, it’s clear that mobile marketing is a roaring success.

One sure sign of success is the company you keep. With household names such as Best Buy, Disney, Google, Kodak, Microsoft and MTV among the speakers at next week’s Mobile Marketing Forum, it’s clear that mobile marketing is a roaring success.

But success requires innovation and insights. Does adding a location-based component to a mobile ad increase its effectiveness, for example?

Absolutely. Nearly half of consumers who notice ads while using mobile, location-based services take at least some action. That’s roughly 12 percent more than those who notice ads while sending and receiving text messages, and almost twice the rate of those who notice ads while browsing websites.

Those figures come from a recent survey conducted by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and Luth Research, and they’re just one example of the types of actionable insights available at next week’s Mobile Marketing Forum.

Held June 7 through June 9 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, the Mobile Marketing Forum is a convenient, concise opportunity for agencies, brands, operators and technology companies to hear from some of mobile marketing’s leaders, including Microsoft Advertising, Alcatel-Lucent, Millennial Media and The Weather Channel.

Executives consider the Mobile Marketing Forum a must-attend event. In fact, 68 percent of attendees at the 2009 forum held positions of vice president or above. As one attendee put it, “The MMA Forum delivers on crucial industry needs in an open, engaging and interactive environment that truly fosters a real sense of community within the mobile marketing industry.”

Here are just a few examples of what’s on the agenda this year:

  • Keynotes from CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, Microsoft Advertising, Best Buy, Electronic Arts, ESPN Mobile, Google, Kodak and the United Nations Foundation.
  • Presentations on the role of ad networks, mobile-enabled loyalty programs, going beyond banner ads, measuring campaign success, couponing, applications, hyperlocal marketing and premium content.
  • Success stories that provide models to follow.
  • An agency panel offering tips on using mobile to build brand recognition.
  • Battle of the regions: The MMA’s regional managing directors face off, presenting case studies from Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Latin America, and North America, to prove which region is leading the way in mobile marketing.

There’s also a pre-event workshop, held June 7, that features a crash course on mobile marketing, including an overview of the types of companies that help facilitate campaigns and strategies for building awareness and participation. Also on June 7, qualified agencies, brands and retailers can participate in a newly added preconference Agency, Brand & Retailer Roundtable, which is followed by a cocktail reception. (To find out if you qualify, simply email your complete contact information to forum@mmaglobal.com.)

Another first for the MMA Forum, the “Adopt-a-Brand” program offers a convenient, cost-effective way to introduce more companies to mobile marketing opportunities. “Adopt-a-Brand” lets MMA members subsidize the cost of a pass for agencies, brands and retailers that want to attend the forum.

Finally, this year’s Mobile Marketing Forum marks the debut of the Mobile Experience Lab, an interactive opportunity to hear from the industry’s thought leaders, experience mobile campaigns firsthand and interact with brands using mobile as part of their integrated marketing strategy. Each mobile campaign features a booth that provides attendees with an interactive, hands-on opportunity to experience the campaign from an end user’s perspective.

For the latest updates on this year’s forum, follow @MobileMktgForum on Twitter and visit www.mobilemarketingforum.com.