Increase Traffic Using Direct Mail With Geomapping

Are you driving enough traffic to your business or event with your current direct mail campaigns? Personalized direct mail pieces with an added personalized map can help increase your visits and event attendance. Direct mail with geomapping allows you to create customized maps.

Are you driving enough traffic to your business or event with your current direct mail campaigns? Personalized direct mail pieces with an added personalized map can help increase your visits and event attendance. Direct mail with geomapping allows you to create customized maps based on your prospect or customer’s mailing address and the location of your business or event.

There are many ways to do this and different features. Let’s take a look.

Map Style Options

  1. Driving or Walking Directions For people who are really close, you may want to offer walking maps.
  2. Fastest or Shortest Routes The fastest routes are not always the shortest distance, so you have your choice of which one you wish to offer.
  3. Map Size Depending on your design, you may want a larger map size.
  4. If you have Multiple Locations, you can have maps for each one, or choose the location closest to the individual you are mailing to.
  5. You can Add Your Logo to the Destination on the map.
  6. Pick a Route Color for Your Map Stand out with vibrant colors.
  7. You can Provide Travel Time.
  8. Add Turn-by-Turn Directions, if you wish.
  9. Multiple Route Options on the Same Map, with different color highlights.

As you can see, there are several options you can choose from. Not only can you use these maps on your direct mail pieces, but you can use them in multichannel campaigns, as well. Remember, the more touches you have with prospects and customers, the more likely they are to respond. It’s not every day that you get a mail piece with a custom map on it. That level of personalization makes your customers and prospects feel special.

The personalized maps are not only eye catching, but super functional. Show people how easy it is to reach you. You can also remove people from your list who are too far away to want to drive to your location. That way, you save money by not sending to people who will not attend. Not only that, if you have multiple locations, you can list three choices for them, with maps to each one. List the closest one first, followed by second and third. This is very helpful when you have events on different days at different locations. They now get to choose what works best for them. Your prospects and customers want to know how long it will take to get to your location or event. So tell them.

Who can help you with personalized geomapping? Here are some providers:

Maps are a great way to grab attention and drive traffic to your location or event. They also help you connect with your prospects and customers at a deeper level, because you are talking directly to them with an easy way to reach you. Some businesses have seen a 6% or better lift by adding personalized maps. Are you ready to get started?

Surprise! You’re Overlooking Prospects on LinkedIn

Do you suspect there are more prospects in your territory than LinkedIn’s search function is showing when you search its database? In Bruce Johnston’s experience, most sellers are unknowingly wearing self-imposed blinders.

Do you suspect there are more prospects in your territory than LinkedIn’s search function is showing when you search its database? In Bruce Johnston’s experience, most sellers are unknowingly wearing self-imposed blinders.

I sat down with Johnston, a LinkedIn-focused prospecting coach, for the skinny. Here’s what I learned:

Most sellers are overlooking good prospects because they don’t realize:

  • how LinkedIn treats geographic territories and industries (location)
  • 95 percent of effective people searches involve only six (free) filters
  • how easy it is to use location, industry, title and keywords fields to hyper-target

Here are a few of Johnston’s tips to make sure you’re seeing all prospects LinkedIn has to offer — within your territory. Plus, a simple way to narrow search results into a manageable number of high-quality prospects to contact.

Advantage: Sales Navigator

If you do not invest in LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator, Johnston says be careful using the location filter when searching for potential buyers. Simply because it was designed with Human Resources people in mind.

Quick example: An HR person is looking to fill an executive position for Morgan Stanley in New York City. Well, qualified candidates could live within New York City. But they might also live in Long Island, Northern New Jersey or the south part of Connecticut. So LinkedIn took this into account when they set up the location filter.

Thus, LinkedIn’s “Greater New York City” filter option covers all of these places.

In the same fashion, San Francisco includes all of Silicon Valley, San Jose, and even places on the other side of the bay like Oakland.

LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator corrects many of these difficulties.

“Navigator has a much better location filter,” says Johnston. “But you will need to decide if you want to pay for better location searching as Sales Navigator is a premium product.

Effective Searches Simplified

Most sellers I coach use LinkedIn’s Advanced People Search pane without a clear system. Or with an approach that involves only the keyword field and, maybe, the title field. Mostly because they lack confidence in understanding how LinkedIn search actually works.

Let’s face it, it’s not our job to understand!

“Remember that LinkedIn search was designed for HR people,” says Johnston. “Sales people were added as an afterthought.”

In my experience, after speaking with Johnston, most sellers are unclear on small but important details. It’s not terribly complex to remember these details — but extremely useful in saving time and finding “hidden” prospects.

Example: Do you know what the title field actually searches? It searches only what users place in the title field. How about the keyword field?

Zeroing in on Your Consumers With Geo-Marketing

Mobile geo-marketing is growing at a rapid rate. This growth is driven by applications such as navigation, local search and social networking, as well as the public’s understanding of location-based marketing. With the increasing comfort level of sharing location data, brands are turning to location-based marketing to tap into consumers’ behavior to deliver more timely, personalized mobile experiences

Mobile geo-marketing is growing at a rapid rate. This growth is driven by applications such as navigation, local search and social networking, as well as the public’s understanding of location-based marketing. With the increasing comfort level of sharing location data, brands are turning to location-based marketing to tap into consumers’ behavior to deliver more timely, personalized mobile experiences.

Geo-marketing comes in a variety of flavors that utilize different technologies depending on how you are communicating with your consumers:

  • Geo-Fencing: This method is essentially a “virtual fence” designed to enclose a specific area for a marketing purpose. For example, a retailer can run a geo-fencing campaign where they “fence” in an area around their stores for the purpose of pulling in consumers who are near, but not shopping at their stores. Geo-fencing is not location detection in itself, but the geo-fences you setup—and the business rules you define as to what message to communicate to consumers when they are inside, or outside, those geo-fences—can be leveraged in conjunction with location detection capabilities.
  • Broad-Range Location: Some campaigns can leverage general area, such as city or ZIP code, to determine the right message to communicate. For example, an airline simply needs to know the metro area a consumer is closest to in order to personalize offers for flights out of the nearest airport. Location detection in this case does not need to be highly accurate to get the job done, and can generally be supported through most any mobile interaction.
  • Geo-Conquesting: This specific method of geo-targeting allows businesses to capture consumer spend away from competitors. The effectiveness of these campaigns can be further enhanced if the technology partner you are working with can layer on additional data that helps to understand the consumer better, such as third party sources that identify likelihood to purchase certain types of product.

For this article, let’s focus on geo-fencing. What you need to know is that geo-fencing simply needs to be paired up with a location detection technology, such as GPS or carrier network triangulation. Once detected to be inside a geo-fenced area, a brand can then alert potential customers who may not have visited your store otherwise. Retailers can also choose to send information, such as directions to the store, or run hyper-local promotions.

Retailer Takes Geo-Fencing to the Next Level
Belk, the nation’s largest family owned and operated department store, has added geo-fencing to drive in-store traffic and increase revenue across all of their stores by selecting very specific times, like major holidays (Easter and Mother’s Day) or sales (Belk Days) to geo-target customers with time sensitive coupons. For example, coupons for 20 percent off between the hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. were sent out to customers who were near a Belk store to act now before the coupon expires. By offering relevant, time-based coupons, Belk has been able to grow their mobile marketing database and target real customers more effectively.

More Data, No Problems
Today, GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled smartphones are capable of aggregating and sharing huge amounts of data. This data is very helpful for marketers to get a better understanding of their consumers’ behavior and target them in a more relevant manner.

Geo-Fenced data can then be used to see which offers and locations actually attract more customers, and whether that translates into more sales. Other possible metrics include the effectiveness of advertising, how often a customer visits the store, and how long they shop for. Additionally, geo-fencing can lead to better customer rewards programs. Once you know where your customers are and how they behave, you can encourage and reward them effortlessly.

Geo-fencing gives the customer a much more personalized interaction with brands by offering them timely, relevant offers via their mobile devices. 

Although privacy has been a concern in the past, recent surveys show that customers are happy to trade their personal information in favor of receiving special offers —but it needs to be additive, not intrusive. If it’s done right geo-fencing will revolutionize location-based sales and drive customer loyalty.

Are You Buying ‘Smart Media?’

Media buying, or online advertising, is more than just a Web strategy to help grow your business. It’s both a science and an art. It involves a bit of finesse, competitive research, creativity and good negotiation skills.

Media buying, or online advertising, is more than just a Web strategy to help grow your business. It’s both a science and an art. It involves a bit of finesse, competitive research, creativity and good negotiation skills.

Sadly, with most online advertising experiences, the lagging partner is typically the business owner by no real fault of his or her own … it’s simply from sheer lack of industry knowledge and media savoir-faire.

I’ve been buying online ad space for more than a decade. Here are my personal powerful and money saving tips to buying smart media. These are “must ask” questions that will help you get the most bang for your buck:

1. Competitive analysis—Find out what the typical industry rate is for that particular ad spot and placement in your niche. For instance, if you’re interested in running a 300×250 banner ad, do some research. Call some ad networks and find out what that ad unit costs on the home page and ‘”run of site” within your target niche. What ad units typically get the best clickthrough rates (also known as CTR)? Read some online e-zines or blogs and get an idea on average metrics so you have a benchmark to measure your campaign against.

2. Ad targeting—Find out if the publisher allows day parting (running ad during specific time periods). This can save you money on ad rates, especially using the CPM (cost per thousand) pricing model.

3. Dedicated email—Find out the size of the list you’re thinking of renting, the frequency the list goes out, and the average unit sale (AUS) per subscriber. Ask the publisher who’s mailing for you if there will there be a lift note (an introduction or implied endorsement). Lift notes help “warm up” the list (subscribers) and boost conversions.

4. Out clause—Ask your account executive if the media agreement has an out clause or termination right. This is important as if your campaign is not working, you don’t want to have to ride it out and waste money. You want the ability to end it and cut your losses. Also find out if you can pause your ad during a slow traffic times (i.e. summer, holidays) as not to waste impressions (CPM).

5. Reporting—Ask your account executive if you will be given daily/weekly reporting OR access to the online ad serving system. This will allow you real-time access to clickthrough rates and more to evaluate if creative (banner and landing page) is striking a chord with the target audience.

6. Seasonality—Each industry and niche has its highs and lows. But, generally speaking, it’s typical to see drops in website traffic during summer (June to Aug.) and around certain U.S. holidays. Research your industry and use consumer purchase behavior to your advantage. For instance, in some industries, the days around Thanksgiving are slower than usual. If you’re running a campaign that falls on this timeframe, ask about getting lower rates or pausing your ad during the slowdown. DoubleClick and ClickZ are great sources of information and often release quarterly consumer Web reports on buying patterns and traffic.

7. Exclusivity—Similar to economies of scale (where the more that’s produced, the cheaper the unit price), if your banner ad is sharing space with other advertisers for less “solo” time, you should be paying less. It’s important to ask whether your ad will get 100 percent of the rotations or sharing ad exposure. And if sharing, find out what percentage of exposure you are ultimately getting during your ad run. This is known as being “fixed ad placement” or “shared ad placement.” If you’re told you have shared placement, this is a great bartering tool to get a more competitive rate.

8. Site targeting—You’ve heard in real estate it’s always about location, location, location, right? Well, online real estate is no different. Find out if your ad will be run of site (ROS), run of channel (ROC) or on specific high-traffic pages. Typically, the further you drill down, the more you pay. It’s known as “site targeting.” Similarly, the higher you go up, the less you pay. ROS is the highest (most broad) level, so it’s usually the cheapest ad location. Next is usually ROC, whose ads appear on certain channels or sections of a website. Then there are also specific pages or demographic targeting. Your goals and budget will determine which placement is best for your needs.

9. Remnant space—Often the forgotten about query, remember to ask if remnant space is available. Remnant ads are those ad units that the publisher or ad network is having a difficult time selling for whatever reason. They can also be last-minute specials or units that are now available due to another deal falling through. With more popular, high-traffic websites, you can save a fortune buying remnant media. Just pay close attention to the terms and conditions in the insertion order, as with most special deals, there are usually restrictions and little leeway.

All of these factors will help determine the value of your ad space and, ultimately, the cost you’re willing to pay to access that audience. Good luck!

Overwhelmed by the Complexity of Mobile Marketing? Start Here

When talking to small business owners,  I hear a lot of reasons as to why they haven’t added mobile to their marketing mix … These excuses illustrate why it’s important to educate folks on the benefits and use cases of mobile and to demystify how it all works in order to eliminate the fear and uncertainty that prevent businesses from moving forward with mobile.

When talking to small business owners, I hear a lot of reasons as to why they haven’t added mobile to their marketing mix …

“I don’t have time to manage one more thing … ”

“I’m not sure where to start … ”

“I feel like my competition has already done that … ”

“I can’t keep up with how fast the technology is advancing … ”

“I can’t afford to use mobile for my small business … ”

These excuses illustrate why it’s important to educate folks on the benefits and use cases of mobile and to demystify how it all works in order to eliminate the fear and uncertainty that prevent businesses from moving forward with mobile.

As those businesses begin to understand that mobile is just a piece of the puzzle they become less confused and you hear more of …

“OK, well. There are so many options. So how can it work for MY business?”

Well, I can tell you that if you’re asking yourself that question, you’re already two steps ahead of most business owners.

And you know what? It’s OK to be confused. The truth is, it’s overwhelming.

Mobile websites, responsive design, SMS marketing, MMS marketing, mobile optimized email, QR Codes, location-based services, augmented reality, smarpthone apps, tablets, NFC, the mobile wallet, mobile commerce …

Holy smokes!

Warning: If you try to jump into all of these areas at once, you will most definitely fail.

If you break down your mobile strategy into smaller parts, integrating one aspect at a time, it will become less overwhelming and you’ll be in a position for a successful mobile program without disrupting the rest of your business.

Remember … mobile is just one part of your marketing strategy. Take it one step at a time:

1. Start by planning how it will play a part into your existing initiatives. Mobile is the most dependent marketing channel to-date. You can’t view it as a solo initiative.

Plan accordingly and make sure it will play nice with your other channels, meaning there is one voice and one message. Chasing the “latest shiny object” thinking it will save your business will get you nowhere fast.

2. Focus on what works and what will delivers results to your business.
You’ll most likely start with your mobile site.

The most important thing to work on is making sure your mobile website is friendly. You’ve probably heard people say that having a mobile-friendly website will give you a competitive advantage.

To some degree, this is true—if your competitors are slow to execute. But, to be honest, a mobile-friendly website is now a cost of doing business.

As a small business owner you’re foolish if you don’t have a mobile friendly site. Let’s say you own a restaurant … A recent Google study stated that 88 percent of total search volume for the keyword “restaurant” comes from mobile devices. Do you own a bar? About 97 percent of search volume for the keyword “bar” is coming from mobile devices.

In fact, “restaurants near me” receives 10,000 searches a month from desktops. Guess what? It’s four times more on mobile devices.

This is the reason that you see restaurants and bars listed in the top of search results in Google from your mobile device but not from your desktop.

Small business owners seem slow to adopt mobile. Surprisingly, a restaurant study stated that 95 percent of independent restaurants do not have a mobile website, and only about half of chain restaurants have some sort of mobile site.

This means a lot of unhappy mobile searchers and no repeat visits.

3. You see, mobile searchers have a different intent than those on a desktop. They are looking for different things. When it comes to local locations like a restaurant or bar they most often look for your location, hours, directions and how to contact you.

4. What’s the cost of not offering these folks a mobile friendly version?
That’s easy … a whole lot of sales.

The same Google study found that 94 percent of U.S.-based smartphone users look for local information on their phones and 90 percent take action as a result, such as making a purchase or contacting the business.

90 percent take action …

Read that again.

Basically, if your site is not mobile friendly when a prospective customer is looking for you, the odds of you losing a sale are close to 100 percent.

5. Speaking of being more “findable” … If you list your business in the various directories AND location-based services, such as Google Places, Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook, etc., you’ll put yourself in a better position to be found. It’s like adding your listing to the Yellow Pages.

6. OK. So you built a mobile-friendly website. Now what?

Your mobile website is what many would consider a “pull” channel. This means that it doesn’t offer you the level of outreach that other channels do, but allows you to be right there when your customer needs you.

So next time, we’re going to dive into the second aspect of your mobile strategy to put in place. It’s actually the most overlooked part of mobile, in my opinion.

Seeing as how you are going to start mobilizing your website right now, you have time to prepare for the second part of your small business mobile strategy … mobile-friendly email.

Catalogers & Publishers Get ‘Lucky’ as Their Mail Gets a Valuable Second Life

I recently took a trip to Sonoma County, Calif. While I was there, I learned of an innovation with a firm called REMAG that would have consumers return their used, mailed catalogs and magazines to REMAG-administered kiosks and recycling collection bins in test store locations. By scanning a barcode on the label of a returned catalog or magazine at the kiosk location, the consumer can receive multiple coupons of their choice for a future purchase from a publisher or catalog, a wide variety of store items, or other kiosk marketing sponsor-partner.

I recently took a trip to Sonoma County, Calif., and while the trip involved some sight-seeing among my business goings-on, it also had its share of personal visits to the local grocer, a nearby store called Lucky.

Lucky is part of a store chain owned by a firm called SaveMart, another California-based food retailer. SaveMart operates both Lucky and SaveMart in 243 store locations throughout California.

While I was there, I learned of an innovation with a firm called REMAG that would have consumers return their used, mailed catalogs and magazines to REMAG-administered kiosks and recycling collection bins in test store locations. By scanning a barcode on the label of a returned catalog or magazine at the kiosk location, the consumer can receive multiple coupons of their choice for a future purchase from a publisher or catalog, a wide variety of store items, or other kiosk marketing sponsor-partner. It’s not that much different from returning cans and bottles to a kiosk, except catalogs and magazines don’t come with deposits to be redeemed—consumers instead are rewarded with coupons for recycling.

It struck me how much of a win/win/win this is for everyone, and made me curious as to whether or not REMAG, which is a two-year-old company, is set to take off.

Think about all the benefits that are accrued here among stakeholders:

The consumer gets a handily located recycling kiosk just as they are entering a food retail location for this highly desired grade of recovered paper—old catalogs and magazines (OMG). OMG is highly valued since its fibers are usually long, dense and strong, making it a valuable component of subsequent manufactured recycled paper products. For their efforts, the customers are awarded a discount, coupon or other incentive to purchase from the very companies and brands they frequent.

For the retailer, REMAG kiosks are a great way to attract new customers and reward customer loyalty. The retailer also generates revenue for the valuable OMG that is recovered at the kiosk, alongside the customer purchases made during the store visit. In addition, with five cents of every coupon going to a local charity, the store gets customer “good will” for siting the kiosk and is assisting the local community—always popular for retailers. Lastly, as another recycling station—in this case for OMG paper—the REMAG kiosk is easily integrated into a store’s already-existing recycling collection center (where bottles and cans are collected, and deposits redeemed).

The catalog retailer and magazine publisher also gain from good will, while extending future purchase opportunities to the consumer who is performing the recycling collection task. (Most likely these consumers are already a catalog prospect or customer, or subscriber or casual reader of the magazine.) In turn, by way of incentives, these marketers may receive a new merchandise purchase by way of the coupon, or a new, renewed or gift subscription that otherwise may have gone untapped, or pushed off to another unspecified time. As magazine newsstand sales wane, this innovation could be an important method to attract new customers and remind readers to renew, or to perhaps extend a gift subscription to another.

REMAG gains, too. Whether or not the kiosks carry the REMAG branding, or that of the host store or other marketing partner (publishers, catalogers, recyclers, paper companies, etc.), the company gets to share a percentage of the coupon redemption revenue for every new product order or subscription it generates for its partners, as well as revenue for category sponsorships.

Local recyclers or paper companies with which REMAG does business get to put the collected papers to subsequent productive use—ensuring another life for a valuable fiber and an affordable source for that fiber. Despite the uncertain economy, there is a critical shortage of recovered paper—and all indications are that this commodity will continue to grow in demand globally. Magazine publishers and catalogers have an easy way to show that they are part of the solution.

Think global, act local. I suspect most California consumers, like most Americans, love to recycle, or at least support recycling collection activity as a matter of habit. The key is to make recycling collection easy and convenient. With a financial reward for recycling, both REMAG and SaveMart are excited about the prospects for a successful trial.

According to REMAG’s sustainability consultant David Refkin, the Lucky/SaveMart kiosk placement agreement initially will involve up to 8 stores in the Bay Area and the Central Valley of California for an initial test. If all goes well, it will likely roll out to other Lucky/SaveMart locations, too. One of the pilot location stores will be in San Bruno, very close to San Francisco Airport should you happen to be in the neighborhood.

For REMAG to be successful, many moving parts will have to come together successfully. There will need to be promotion of the participating store drop-off locations, as well as accessibility and awareness to the consumer. The collected material will need to be picked up, transported or distributed to a local or regional recovered fiber user.

The host store locations will hope to see local residents participating cleanly—as they potentially grow business by attracting new customers who happen to learn of the recovery drop-off sites, and choose to use them. And catalog retailers and magazine publishers will need to participate as well, to make sure they are leveraging this new and environmentally friendly “channel” in a smart business way that engages their prospects and customers.

Let’s see what happens in California and REMAG’s test there. We all might stand to get a little bit lucky.

The Mobile Nexus—If You’re a Marketer, Be Prepared to Live or Die By It

It’s no secret that the mobile channel is exploding in our lives. Unless you’ve recently been living under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly come across some jaw-dropping stats on mobile usage. Here’s a couple more to chew on. According to a recent article in Mobile Commerce Daily, mobile retail dollars doubled between April and December 2011 alone. That’s just eight months! And, Mobithinking.com reports that approximately 25 percent of Americans access the Web only on their mobile devices. Kowabunga!

It’s no secret that the mobile channel is exploding in our lives. Unless you’ve recently been living under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly come across some jaw-dropping stats on mobile usage. Here’s a couple more to chew on. According to a recent article in Mobile Commerce Daily, mobile retail dollars doubled between April and December 2011 alone. That’s just eight months! And, Mobithinking.com reports that approximately 25 percent of Americans access the Web only on their mobile devices. Kowabunga!

Many marketers refer to the mobile device as the Third Screen, after the television and personal computer. In this post, I’m going to propose a bold new idea here about the Third Screen, and why recent technological advances mean this exciting new channel is going to change our lives in ways we cannot possibly fathom today. This idea is predicated on the fact that in its new form, mobile essentially presents us with an entirely new paradigm in not only the way individuals interact with technology, but also how companies engage with and market to individuals. Let me explain.

Remember in the movie Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise, in which stores changed their signage when you entered, using your profile data to create a custom experience? Well, to a certain extent, that’s what’s possible now with mobile. Using location services, you see, mobile knows exactly where you are. Not where you live. Not where you’ve been. Where you are right now. It’s effectively marrying your personal profile to your geographic location. But that’s not all. Mobile also connects you seamlessly to your social networks—friends, followers, networks, reviews, blogs posts, etc. This provides a truly three-dimensional user experience. I call it the Mobile Nexus.

The Mobile Nexus is the intersection of three major elements in our lives—Personal Attributes (your demographic and psychographic profile), Geographic Location and Social Media. In theory, this confluence should enable marketers to craft marketing messages and personalized promotions based not only on who you are, but where you are, while at the same time giving users the ability to interact with your various social media networks to get more information, invite friends, share opinions, post reviews, and so on. The possibilities are simply staggering.

Sure, one could argue that mobile phones have been around for a while. But it was the recent emergence of the smartphone connected to the Internet and enabled with location services that, in my opinion, at least, changed the rules of the game for marketers. And although smartphones only came on the scene a few years ago, they’re gaining traction fast. In fact, according to MediaPost, smartphone penetration in the US is currently at 44 percent. What’s more, Mobile Marketing Watch reports that, as we speak, an astounding 75 percent of all new mobile phone contract subscribers are for smartphones. So count on the number of devices in the marketplace to skyrocket in coming months as old contracts expire. Can you say, “game changer”?

Of course, anyone familiar with the interactive marketing world could easily argue that geographic profiling is nothing new. Yes, it’s true that many websites and pretty much all ad serving networks drive personalized Web content based on IP address location. But, location services takes geo-targeting to an entirely new place, by providing real-time dynamic location data while you go about your day—not where your computer happens to be plugged into the Internet.

Turning to the social media component, if you look at current usage stats, you begin to appreciate its pervasiveness in our lives and why it’s playing such a big role in the mobile channel. Facebook has 600 million users. Twitter has 175 million. Meanwhile, 10 million foursquare members “check in” at more than three million locations a day, and consumers have posted more than 20 million business reviews on Yelp, and counting. So the numbers are eye-popping. Now with smartphones becoming the norm, accessing social media on the go is becoming mainstream, too.

Hype aside, let’s not forget that the mobile channel is still in its infancy and it will need much more time to reach maturity. At this early stage, enterprising firms are only now releasing the first generation of tools, while innovative agencies and consultants concoct new techniques to harness its power for business. In fact, we can see the preliminary results of the Mobile Nexus already.

Want to go out to eat? How about searching for a local restaurant nearby using your mobile device? Then use an app like Yelp and it’s not hard generate a list of nearby places, based on your preferences, along with user-generated reviews, hours of business, contact details, etc. Are you a traveling salesman in need of some fresh leads to visit? Well, install the Hoover’s “Near Here” App and, voila, you can search for look-alike businesses in the surrounding area based on proximity and business type. And if technology like this already exists, imagine what the future will hold?

“Those who call themselves ‘Mobile Experts’ only have two to three years of experience in the field,” explained a friend of mine who works as a consultant at a major management consulting firm. He and his team develop multi-channel sales and marketing strategies for their clients. With the recent proliferation of mobile technology, it should come as no surprise that many, if not all, of their new projects have a mobile component.

At this point, even the most experienced consultants have overseen no more than a handful of mobile implementations, and successful mobile marketers probably have no more than a dozen successful campaigns under their belts. “But things are changing so fast. Those who jump in now will be able to call themselves experts within a year’s time,” he explained. In other words, the best is yet to come.

Are you getting involved in the exciting new Mobile channel? If so, what success have you enjoyed? I’d love to hear your comments.