Mobile marketing: finding a customer near you

Laura Aiken
October 30, 2009
By
Your pizzeria is quiet this afternoon. You type up a quick promo on your laptop and within seconds it appears on customers phones that are near your store. While you’re sitting there, you check your own phone and see that your driver is two minutes from the store. The front door bell goes off and in comes a customer to redeem the coupon you just sent.

Idealistic? Yes. It’s also realistically possible. The future is here, and it’s highly targeted mobile marketing using location based services (LBS). In 20 years, the penetration and possibilities of smartphones could be as mind blowing as the evolution of computers and the web since the 1980s.

“What we consider a smartphone will be considered a very dumb phone in 20 years,” says Mike Wehrs, president and CEO of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) worldwide.

At the crux of the cutting edge in mobile marketing is e-couponing and its relationship with LBS. What the heck are these things and what relevance might they have for your pizzeria?

The growth of e-coupons and LBS
An e-coupon can be sent via e-mail alerts, text or javascript (actual image). The market for mobile couponing is growing alongside mobile marketing in general. A resource paper compiled by MMA showed that out of all Americans receiving a mobile marketing campaign, 24 per cent got SMS alerts for sales and 22 per cent obtained mobile coupons for stores or restaurants. The MMA reported that the Juniper Research firm expects mobile coupons to reach 200 million redemptions worldwide by 2013, with North America among the leading users. Cellflare, a young Canadian company combining the e-coupon and LBS technologies, shared some of the statistics they gathered on the trend towards paperless coupons: CMS Inc. found that consumers downloaded 242 million coupons last year, redeeming 7.6 million compared to only 2.6 million by traditional paper means. In addition, Cellflare found one online coupon code site that saw a 200 per cent traffic increase in March.

LBS are the natural extension of advances in GPS technology and the mapping available through engines such as Google and Bing. Location based technology allows you to see where you are and where other people are. It allows you to search for the nearest pizzeria. It allows you to watch your drivers delivering pizza on your phone. It lets you send an e-coupon to customers in a predetermined geographic area. Data from Cellflare included forecasts from The Strategis Group that predicts revenues in North America for LBS wireless services will go from under $30 million a year to billions by 2010. The young adult market seems keen on the social implications of seeing the whereabouts of their friends on their cell, according to a market research study by Waxberg Consulting. A Neilson poll found that 37 per cent of U.S., teens had a sophisticated data package on their device. The safety implications of LBS appeals to adults while it has obvious businesses applications in tracking deli-veries and increased efficiencies.

Applications and Mobile Marketing
How the e-coupon and LBS merge is well exemplified by Cellflare, whose app, currently free on the Blackberry and iPhone stores, allows users to follow mobile devices in real time.

“We’re actually 10 seconds behind,” says Jefferey Amato, sales representative for Cellflare. “That’s as real time as you can possibly get unless you are U.S. military. They can see exactly where their guys are two seconds behind.”

Cellflare’s app has been in development for three years and launched to the public March 1. Their website is geared to the user, who after signing up can see their other friends and family that are users as little dots moving on a map. The privacy policy is stringent—users must allow themselves to be followed by others on a case by case basis and can block anyone at any time. Users can then touch the dot on their screen and instant message the other user.

As the user/dot moves through life they will receive ads specific to their location based on geo-codes and preselected interests. Cellflare plans to offer 12 general subjects for users to choose to receive information from, says Amato, and from these, they will be required to choose three. For example, this could be restaurants, sports and entertainment. It was important to limit and gear the marketing towards choice, says Amato, so users don’t get a constant bombardment of ads and coupons and end up shutting the app off, which will render it useless.

“Instead of the old way of advertising —here’s a big sign in neon lights—which is more push advertising, we’re going towards a pull advertising,” says Amato. “We think the younger generations coming up are going to be using the smartphones and don’t want to be inundated with a whole bunch of different ads.

Cellflare devised a simple online template for its advertisers to create their coupons and are currently charging $50 per 30 days to have you special delivered across their system. Advertisers can alter the content anytime and as often as they want for the 30 days, as well as manipulate the size of the geographic area they want the coupon sent to. You do not personally need a smartphone to participate in couponing with Cellflare, just internet access and computer in the store.

It’s difficult to pin point exactly how many will see the coupon, says Amato, as it includes drive-by traffic that enters your geographic space in transit. Currently the coupon is delivered as an e-mail notification to the phone, but in the next few months will appear as an image.

However, there are ways to determine the success of your mobile campaign. Directly, you see the return of coupons the same as in the traditional matter. But analytics packages are available for mobile marketing just like there is Google analytics for your website, and you can get the feedback almost right away, says Wehrs.

If you’re planning a full mobile campaign, companies like Millenial Media and Ad Mob are fairly accessible cost wise and really assist in getting your first mobile campaign to market, says Wehrs. The association is seeing all sizes of business employing mobile marketing and couponing campaigns, from mom and pop shops to big brands, he adds.

“Very seriously try to partner with a mobile marketing company,” says Wehrs. “We don’t recommend doing it yourself, especially smaller companies without expertise.”

Even if consumers don’t know what LBS is, they are seeing the impact of it in the apps they are currently using, and Wehrs says people are starting to use it. For marketing purposes, it’s as targeted as you can get.

“You get a small captive audience,” says Wehrs. “You can send a 20 per cent off a pizza coupon to everyone within a five mile radius between 1:00 and 3:00. It’s very geographic in nature.”

We’re starting to see what the future may look like as smartphones become the next human appendage. Looking 20 years ahead, Wehrs sees the capabilities of the mobile phone increasingly behaving as an “onboarding port” for the abilities of the internet.

“There will be a significant difference in the customer interface—taking it out of your pocket will be a thing of the past,” says Wehrs. “There will be significantly more speech capabilities. We won’ t have to think about connecting wirelessly. I imagine a bunch of services we subscribe to will be automated.” Real time language translation is another technology coming down the pipe.

From a future historian’s view, mobile marketing, e-couponing and LBS will have appeared to be in their infancy in 2009, but the young technologies have already proven themselves.

“Mobile marketing is not experimental anymore,” says Wehrs. “The results are staggeringly high and it’s so targeted and relevant.”

Mobile Ad Data

Nearly one quarter of U.S. cell users viewed mobile ads in the last month

38 per cent recalled the ad

51% responded to the ad through text messaging, clicking on it or phoning the specified number

23% expect to see more mobile advertising in the future
*Source: Mobile Marketing Association/Nielsen Mobile Survey


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