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.

The Connected Consumer is Changing The Face of Marketing: Understanding the Importance of Trust

In January, I wrote about marketing’s “meeting of waters” and how mobile is acting as the connective tissue that’s tying together digital and traditional marketing practices. The meeting of waters analogy holds true because we live in an age where people are increasingly becoming connected and these connections are forever changing marketing and how we engage our customers. Today people are connected to each other, to organizations, to machines. Moreover, machines are connected to other machines and working on behalf of the consumer.

In January, I wrote about marketing’s “meeting of waters” and how mobile is acting as the connective tissue that’s tying together digital and traditional marketing practices. The meeting of waters analogy holds true because we live in an age where people are increasingly becoming connected and these connections are forever changing marketing and how marketers engage consumers. People are connected to each other, to organizations, to machines and more. Moreover, machines are connected to other machines and working on behalf of consumers. Consider the following:

  • Over 28 percent of the global population uses the internet, and in most developed countries this number exceeds 75 percent.
  • There are 5.3 billion mobile connections — over 54 percent of the global population — and 3.7 billion people carry and use a mobile device of some kind. Within the next few years more people will access the internet via a mobile device than any other means.
  • There were 6.1 trillion text messages exchanged around the globe in 2010. Nearly 6 billion text messages are exchanged every day in the U.S.
  • Over 500 million people are active Facebook users, each having an average of 130 friends, spending an average of 700 billion minutes on the site and sharing over 30 billion pieces of information each and every month.
  • There are 175 million Twitter users, creating 95 million tweets per day.
  • Programs offered by retailers that reward shoppers for purchasing are on the rise due to locally relevant marketing and merchandising.
  • The number of smartmeter installations are increasing (a smartmeter monitors utility consumption, such as electricity and water). This data is accessible online.
  • Sensors are being placed in plants so that they can tweet us when they need to be watered; in carpets so that they can tell us when they need to be cleaned; and in pills so that they can transmit through a Band-Aid and to phone biometric readings as the pill travels through our bodies. Moreover, in some parts of the world, you’ll even find sensors on produce and a wide range of consumer goods. For example, a shopper can immediately discern what farm a head of lettuce came from, the route it took to get to the store and how long it’s been sitting on the shelf by simply waving their phone.

The above online and offline activities are just small subsets of what’s happening as people go through their daily lives. Consumers always have their mobile device with them, and they’re using them to fulfill their needs.

An important undercurrent to the meeting of waters analogy and the trend toward the ever-increasing connectedness is that people are also creating and sharing more information than ever before. Eric Schmidt, Google’s former CEO, notes more information is created every two days than from the dawn of civilization up to 2003 combined. This information can be used to create new services like personalized search and consumer engagement.

In the age of the connected consumer, Schmidt proposes that the next generation of mobile devices may be capable of tracking an individual’s actions, movements and purchases, and over time learn their interests and preferences. Later, using location and similar tracking tools, companies like Google can alert an individual not just based on their stated or shared preferences but on system inferred and predicted preferences.

This is a very powerful value proposition, one that has the opportunity to enrich the lives of consumers. Marketers have the ability to deliver value at the time of consumer expressed and inherent need. However, you must remember that key success factors to engaging consumers in this ever-connected world include your ability to be transparent in your actions and provide consumers with control over the relationships they have with marketers.

As an industry, we have the opportunity to embrace our future and maintain the course of responsible behavior. The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) along with its partners is doing just that. The company recently announced its Consumer Best Practices for Messaging v6.0. The MMA has also announced an applications committee and a Privacy Initiative Task Force in coordination with its members and other organizations like the Digital Advertising Alliance to work on expanding the industry’s best practices and guidelines around how marketers and consumers are to engage each other. The outcome of this work will allow all of us in the industry to focus on sustainable growth while ensuring that we achieve this growth responsibly.

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.

How to Find the Right Mobile Marketing Vendor

With growing interest in the mobile marketing channel — particularly in the retail, charitable giving and other commerce-related sectors — it’s important to understand how to find the right vendor partner for your brand, campaign or cause. Many companies choose to partner with a vendor who offers licensed mobile marketing technologies. If you choose to go this route, here are the two key questions to consider: One, what type of vendor do you want? And two, how will you qualify your vendor?

With growing interest in the mobile marketing channel — particularly in the retail, charitable giving and other commerce-related sectors — it’s important to understand how to find the right vendor partner for your brand, campaign or cause. Many companies choose to partner with a vendor who offers licensed mobile marketing technologies. If you choose to go this route, here are the two key questions to consider: One, what type of vendor do you want? And two, how will you qualify your vendor?

Question 1: What type of vendor do you want?
Mobile marketing vendors come in all shapes and sizes. Some specialize in particular solutions, while others offer a wide range of capabilities. From application platforms to service providers, vendors may focus on any or many of eight basic pathways to mobile marketing: SMS, MMS, email, voice/IVR, proximity (Bluetooth, WiFi), mobile internet, apps and content.

Think about what type of mobile capabilities you need to create the user experience you’re seeking. Is it couponing, loyalty programs, customer care or something else? What about enabling services, like location or contactless payment? Finally, consider both short- and long-term factors surrounding the longevity of your campaign and future reinventions of it. These factors will certainly play into your decision to work with a multiservice or specialized vendor.

A resourceful place to start your search is the Mobile Marketing Association’s (MMA) online directory of members who offer mobile marketing services. These vendors are certainly up-to-speed on mobile advertising guidelines and consumer best practices. For SMS campaigns, you should also check out the Common Short Codes Administration’s “Partners” page.

Question 2: How will you qualify your vendor?
Whether you’re searching for a full-service vendor or for support to help you build it in-house, be sure to consider the following:

  • Experience. How extensive is the vendor’s mobile experience and relationships within the industry? Ask for current references and review their past campaigns.
  • Industry leadership. Make sure the vendor is a member of MMA, or at least following the industry’s best practices and standards of care. Check if it belongs to related trade associations that are unique to your business. Membership in industry organizations demonstrates that the provider is continually learning and adapting to changes.
  • Expertise. Confirm that the vendor has expertise in your desired platform, along with analytics, strategy, creative and execution. If the provider says it’s an expert in “all of them,” drill down and find out who they work with or who they’ve recently acquired — no one firm can be an expert in everything!
  • Capabilities. Does the provider already have the capabilities to deliver on what you need, or will it have to develop something special for you? If it already has the capabilities, it can show you immediately.
  • Capacity. Consider the scope and reach of your campaign. How many text messages per second/per hour can the platform handle, for example? If you’re a national brand running a national SMS campaign and it’s really successful, you better make sure the platform can handle millions of messages an hour. Ask to see reports that prove it can support your messaging traffic. Beyond total/average volume alone, be sure to ask about peak spikes, meaning the maximum number of messages supported during a specific time.
  • Disaster recovery. Is the vendor prepared for a catastrophe? What will it do if its data center loses power or if a server fails? Ask how quickly it can get back into service. If they’re industry leaders, they’ll have a redundant data center and can be back up in minutes with no loss of data.
  • Pricing. As one of the last criteria considered, keep in mind that you get what you pay for. If you pay a little amount for your platform, don’t expect a lot of service or support.

To learn more, visit the MMA online, follow it on Twitter and don’t miss our upcoming MMA Forum series in New York, June 8-9.