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Mobile Integrated Into Marketing Strategy = Success & Increased Revenue, Part V June 13, 2010

Posted by StrategicGrowth in marketing strategies, mobile, Mobile Marketing, Strategic Growth Concepts.
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Part V – The Etiquette and Legalities of Mobile Marketing

Those that have been following our multi-part series on Mobile Marketing know that so far in our series we have covered:

In Part V we’re going to examine Mobile Marketing Etiquette and the Legalities involved in utilizing Mobile as part of your marketing strategy.  As we review these two issues, you will begin to see how closely related they are in affecting the way in which a company implements a Mobile campaign.

There are two things that make Mobile Marketing extremely effective:

  1. Mobile is direct one-on-one communication with a targeted customer
  2. The person receiving the message must have already ‘opted-in’ to receive messages from you, therefore, they are receptive to receiving the messages you send them which will typically increase the message’s effectiveness.

In order to insure that the best things about Mobile Marketing are not abused, it is imperative for companies utilizing Mobile to adhere to the guidelines and industry standards that have been developed and are strictly enforced.  This information can be found in the M-SPAM Act of 2009 and the Mobile Marketing Association’s (MMA’s) Best Practices Guidelines.  Adherence to these policies not only helps you avoid legal issues and huge fines, but it also helps you maintain the trust and loyalty of your customers.  To help you understand the importance of this, let’s examine the cases of some companies who forgot.

Case #1

A 2009 article by Adam Broitman in iMedia Connection, details the case of a wireless carrier who forgot to follow the rules they helped draft.

“Recently, AT&T sent out text messages to a large number of its 75 million customers. The message was a promotion for “American Idol,” a show that AT&T sponsors. (The company also plays a key role in the show, as only AT&T customers can vote for their favorite singers via text message.) Many of the mobile customers had not opted in to get this text, and the Twittersphere was, well, all atwitter!

Have a look at some of the conversation:

Sure, Twitter has been known, at times, to have a bit of a mob mentality. But in this case, it is apparent that these people were angry, and the ripples that began on Twitter created waves across the web.”, Broitman states.

While legally AT&T was allowed to do what they did (the M-Spam Act allows carriers to send messages to their subscribers), they lost a great deal of trust from those subscribers who had never agreed to receive messages about American Idol from them and they probably lost a great many future subscribers who didn’t want to be subjected to such practices.

Case #2

In a 2007 Mobivity blog posting by Greg Harris, Greg tells us the story of another extremely credible brand that didn’t adhere to industry best practices when communicating with those who have ‘opted-in’ to their mobile list.  Here’s Greg’s story:

“SPAM has all but killed email marketing, and has made the acceptance of mobile marketing more difficult to both the marketers, and the consumer. On a daily basis we have to win over customers, and explain that SMS and mobile marketing will not have the same problems as email. We explain how the carriers have control of what is sent over their networks, and about the MMA Code of Conduct.

And then a reputable company comes along and does something stupid that sends us a step back.

I just read a post on Greg Verdino’s marketing blog that just made me shake my head in wonder. Apparently Fast Company, a well known brand, took what could have been a great idea and ruined it for all of us.

According to Greg Verdino:

I was reading a great article about authentic business and marketing in this month’s Fast Company .  A sidebar invited me to (and here I quote) “Text In, Get Real.  For exclusive tips on what it takes to be authentic, text the word BACKSTORY to 30364 from your mobile device.”

So I did, and immediately received a WAP push pointing to some good content that complemented the piece in the magazine.

But here’s where it went wrong.  I also received a text message informing me that I was now subscribed to Fast Company’s monthly mobile alert program.  The problem is that neither the magazine sidebar nor the related webpage make any mention of the monthly subscription.  And I simply wanted this month’s content, not an on-going mobile alerts subscription.

One thing that we make clear to our customers is that if you are putting someone on a list, you must let them know. I’m not sure how Fast Company missed that. Just because someone sent in a text message to get the local weather, doesn’t mean you can send them offers and follow-up messages.

Give the consumer a reason to opt-in and you have built a mutual relationship. Provide them something of value, and in return they will let you send them messages once in a while. Don’t just assume that because they requested something from you once that you can now contact them at your convenience.

As Greg puts it:

If I invited you to dinner once, would you invite yourself to show up on the third Thursday of every month to eat again, forever or until I told you to stop coming?  I hope not…

Well said! ”

And Greg is right.

So let’s be clear, the rules of mobile are really not all that complicated, and they’re really not that hard to follow with a little strategic planning.  To help you have a clear picture of the guidelines that are imperative for you to follow, here is a list provided by Mobile expert, Kim Dushinski, author of The Mobile Marketing Handbook:

  • ALWAYS GET EXPLICIT PERMISSION
  • Opt customers in
  • Tell them specifically what they are ‘opting-in’ to
  • Give customers the option to ‘opt-out’ in every message
  • No false advertising
  • Never use a third party list – PERIOD
  • Never hold a contest or sweepstakes without legal advice
  • Never collect data on anyone under 13 years of age
  • Never use the word FREE unless everything is 100% free in the campaign
  • Follow MMA’s Best Practices Guidelines

You see, it’s really not that difficult.  However, if you don’t have a clear understanding of the right way to proceed with Mobile Marketing for your company, then you should hire the expertise of those who do understand it in order to prevent your firm from experiencing such consequences as:

  • Lost trust of customers
  • Loss of your short code access
  • Lawsuits
  • Significant fines

I should state for clarity’s sake that I was driven to explore this particular aspect of Mobile Marketing as part of this series as the result of a recent conversation with a business associate.  We had a meeting where I was explaining the concept of Mobile Marketing, its value, and how it should be used.  When I’d finished, my associate relayed to me a recent experience she’d had with a national retailer and their use of Mobile, it was not a positive experience.

Apparently this national retailer had set up a program within their stores designed to obtain ‘opt-ins’ for their Mobile list.  They had signage throughout the store offering customers an immediate purchase discount if they provided their cell number to be added to the chain’s ‘opt-in’ list. When my associate hesitated to give the number because the clerk could not provide clear information on how the phone number would be used, who would have access to it, what type of messages would be received, and how often, the clerk became quite agitated and said, “Well if you want the discount you have to give me the number, otherwise you don’t get it”.

So, based on what you’ve learned in this article, what are some of the problems you heard in this story? Here’s what I heard:

  • The store’s signage did not in any way clarify how the cell phone number would be used, ie:  how often customers would receive messages, the store’s privacy policy, what type of messages would be received, etc.
  • The store’s staff had not been educated about the details of the mobile campaign and was unable to answer the most basic customer questions about the promotion.
  • The store’s clerk needed an education in appropriate customer service behavior; his response to my associate means that not only did the Mobile campaign not work as it was intended, but in fact it caused the chain significant harm as I know for certain that I am not the only person who heard the story from this individual (and we who heard it directly know the name of the retailer).  I know for me personally, it’s unlikely I’ll be visiting them anytime soon, and I’m guessing others who have heard the story probably feel the same!

So, the moral of the story is this, Mobile Marketing is an EXCEPTIONAL and effective method of marketing, however, it requires you to do your homework and plan the details of an effective marketing strategy.  “Cross the T’s, dot the I’s”, and make sure you are adhering to the appropriate standards in implementing your Mobile campaign.  And if you don’t feel confident of your ability to do it on your own, hire an expert to assist you.  And then, sit back and reap the reward of a Mobile Marketing job well done!

____________________________________________________________________________

The author, Linda Daichendt, is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant for Strategic Growth Concepts, a marketing / management consulting firm focused on start-up, small and mid-sized businesses.  Areas of specialization include:  Mobile Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and Virtual Events production.  Linda is a recognized small business marketing expert with 20+ years of experience in a wide variety of industries. 

Linda is available for consultation on Mobile Marketing and other topics, and can be contacted at Linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com.  The company website can be viewed at www.StrategicGrowthConcepts.com .  For more information on Mobile Marketing please visit the Mobile Marketing section of the Strategic Growth Concepts website.

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