What follows are some of the most successful mobile marketing campaigns from the past several years. There’s no point in re-inventing the wheel by spending hours coming up with different ideas — after all, you’re trying to run a business, so you have plenty on your plate already.
An insanely simple approach is to use these case studies as inspiration for your own campaigns. In other words, steal these ideas currently being used by the Fortune 500.
The New Jersey Nets’ Gowalla Campaign
The New Jersey Nets wanted to create buzz and generate fan engagement using Gowalla, so it hid free pairs of virtual game tickets throughout New York City. The virtual tickets were located in sports bars, parks, and gyms, and could be exchanged for real tickets to a specific game. Attendees also won T-shirts and the chance for other prizes, too.
If your company is a hotel, airline, sports franchise, amusement park, water park, or any other venue that has leftover inventory during non-peak periods, this kind of promotion is ideal. Think about it: The cost of giving away tickets to a non-sold-out basketball game is nominal, whereas the engagement and demand it generates among people who might not have gone to the game helps grow the customer base.
HBO’s True Blood Display Ad Campaign
Imagine you’re a movie lover who is reading movie reviews on your Flixster or Variety mobile app. Suddenly, you notice that when you touch the screen, a bloody fingerprint appears. Then, when you touch the screen again, a second fingerprint shows up. Then a third one.
The next thing you know, blood is dripping down from the top of your screen. As it reaches the bottom, you see a pop-up ad, a call to action enticing you to watch a trailer for HBO’s True Blood series.
It was a surprisingly innovative use of a new medium. How’d the campaign perform? Great! It helped increase viewership 38 percent, prompting more than 5.1 million viewers to watch True Blood’sseason-three premiere.
The ad agency that developed the campaign took the iPhone applications from Flixster and Variety and adapted the apps to incorporate a message about the series. In addition, the agency worked with a mobile ad network called JumpTap to ensure the campaign ran across many other websites.
In the end, HBO embraced a new medium, created an innovative campaign that leveraged that new medium, and saw a 38 percent lift in viewership as a result.
The American Red Cross Haiti SMS Campaign
One of the more famous—and more successful—mobile marketing campaigns was the Haiti Earthquake Relief effort run by the American Red Cross. More than 300,000 people died as a result of the 2010 earthquake, but many more would have perished if the American Red Cross had not used SMS to generate millions of dollars in donations.
When mobile phone users texted HAITI to 90999, they donated $10 to the American Red Cross. More than 3 million people gave to the campaign, 20,000 of whom opted in to receive ongoing email communications. The organization was able to generate more than $32 million in donations during the life of the campaign.
What’s even more impressive was that 95 percent of the participants were first-time donors. That means the American Red Cross engaged with 2,850,000 new “customers,” who had never donated to the organization before. You can imagine the impact that had, and will have for many years to come.
The key takeaway from the American Red Cross campaign is that SMS can be used as a marketing tool as well as an operational tool. The organization benefitted on the marketing front with increased brand awareness and the acquisition of new donors. It also benefitted on the operational front because it opened up a new channel for prospects to donate to the organization, and made doing so much easier than it had been in the past.
The North Face Location-Based Marketing Campaign
Let’s say you’re an avid hiker, biker, or mountain climber who just happens to be toddling around New York City (as you’re prone to do when you’re not climbing Everest). The North Face recognizes that even when you’re scaling the canyons of New York City, climbing Everest is always on your mind.
So what did the outdoor clothing retailer do? It created a location-based marketing campaign using the Placecast ShopAlerts system. Here’s how it works: A customer (that’d be you) sees a poster inside a North Face store that says, “Opt in for text alert promotions when you’re in our neighborhood. Opt out at any time.”
Being the tech-savvy mountain climber that you are, you decide to whip out the old smartphone and opt in. Once you’ve done so, the North Face uses geo-fencing to figure out your location. (Geo-fencing isn’t that complicated. It uses three cell phone towers to figure out where you are by bouncing signals off your smartphone. The phone company is doing that all the time and now marketers are using the technology to make their messages even more relevant to the consumer.)
Now that the North Face (and your phone company) knows where you are, it can send you a text message about special offers the next time you’re near one of its stores. The text message might read, “Welcome to San Francisco. Save 25 percent on sleeping bags during our 24-hour Labor Day promotion.” Or it might read, “Welcome to Katmandu! Stop on by and get 20 percent off ice crampons for your next trip to Everest!”
Location-based advertising, Bluetooth Marketing, and location-based services are the next big waves in mobile marketing, so keep an eye out on these innovative new marketing tools. They worked for North Face and they’ll probably work for you, too.
Intel’s B2B Mobile Paid Search Campaign
Not all smartphone campaigns have to be about fancy websites or expensive app development. Sometimes, a strategy as simple as a mobile paid search can be extremely effective.
That’s what Intel found when it ran a mobile paid search campaign using the Bing platform to support its “Meet the Processors” brand campaign. Covario, Intel’s search agency, used exact and broad-match keyword search terms to drive people through to the brand’s mobile website.
What were the results? Pretty impressive. The company found that Bing mobile search was 40 percent more cost-efficient than regular online search. Imagine what a hero you’d be if you walked into your CFO’s office and said, “Hey, Big Shot. Guess what? I just saved you 40 cents on every dollar we’re spending on paid search by using mobile search instead of regular search. So there!”
Of course, that statement would work even better if you didn’t call the CFO “Big Shot,” but you get our point: Mobile search is still an underutilized marketing tool, so dive in while it’s relatively inexpensive.
Paramount’s Shrek Display Ad Campaign
Over 50 million people visit Yahoo’s mobile home page each month, which is about 1.5 million visits per day. (Yahoo’s regular site generates about 140 million visits per month, or about 4.6 million a day.) Paramount decided to take advantage of Yahoo’s high volume of traffic by creating a “rich-media” campaign around the release of the latest Shrek movie.
Visitors to Yahoo’s mobile home page would see the top of Shrek’s head along the bottom of their smartphone screens. When people touched the top of Shrek’s head, the character would pop up and fill the screen. If they tapped Shrek’s head again, they’d be redirected to the Shrek mobile microsite where they could buy tickets or see more information about showtimes.
Starbucks’ E-Commerce Mobile Card
Okay, the Starbucks Mobile Card isn’t really mobile marketing as much as it’s mobile commerce, but the chain did such a good job making consumers comfortable with mobile payments that we just had to mention it here. Here’s how it works: Consumers download the Starbucks Mobile Card application to their phones. Then they load money into the Mobile Card, which keeps track of how much is on it. When consumers are in a Starbucks, they open the app and have the barista scan the bar code on their screens. If the coffee costs $4.99, then $4.99 is deducted from their Mobile Card balance.
There are a variety of cool things about this for Starbucks. First, having a mobile payment app for your store encourages customers to revisit the store so they can use it. Second, the mobile payment app increases brand loyalty because there’s an emotional appeal to using an app from one of your favorite brands. And third, there’s the marketing impact of engaging customers with the Starbucks brand in a new and innovative manner.
Adidas’ Mobile Tracker Website
Approximately 30,000 people run the London marathon each year, and exactly 1,007,097 watch it from the sidelines. (How do we know it’s exactly 1,007,097? We don’t; we just get tired of writing “approximately” all the time.)
With that many runners and spectators, Adidas knew that there was an opportunity to engage a captive audience, many of whom would be interested in tracking the results of their favorite runners.
What did Adidas do? The sports apparel manufacturer created a Mobile Tracker website where users could enter a runner’s race number and track his or her progress. The website was linked to the runner’s RFID tags that were attached to his or her shoes. As the runner progressed along the marathon route, that data was recorded on a computer, which was tied to the website.
Spectators (all 1,007,097 of them) were able to track each runner’s location, average speed, and projected finish time. In addition, they were given information on the course, how to navigate to different viewing areas, and the weather (which, in all likelihood, was drizzly and cool, since it was London).
The mobile website was used by nearly a half a million people to track more than 10 percent of all the runners in the race, giving Adidas a great deal of brand awareness and engagement during the process.
History Channel’s Foursquare Campaign
Foursquare has more than 11 million members, and has generated more than 400 million check-ins, including one from space. The History Channel recognized that foursquare check-ins provided the network a way to connect with potential viewers, so it created tips on foursquare that share historical facts with users when they check in to a particular location.
For example, when users check in to a location near Skylight Studios in New York City, they’re informed that they’re near the location where the world’s first Otis Elevator was sold in 1853. By engaging people with facts about local landmarks, the History Channel was able to stay connected to both lovers of history and lovers of History (as in the network).
Hiscox’s B2B Location-Based WiFi Campaign
Hiscox, an international specialty insurance company, launched a location-based WiFi campaign in the United Kingdom that integrated mobile display ads with an existing outdoor board campaign.
When businesspeople logged on to public WiFi in the vicinity of one of Hiscox’s outdoor boards, they were greeted by a digital ad on their browser start-up screens that correlated with the existing outdoor boards in the immediate vicinity. In other words, if they logged on to the Internet while sitting at a restaurant in Covent Garden, the ads on the start-up screens matched the ads on the nearby outdoor boards. Both the Internet ads and the outdoor boards were specifically designed for people who were located near Covent Garden. The result was a double impact: first on the outdoor boards that were strategically located near the WiFi hot spots, and the second on the start-up screen that greeted people accessing the Internet using their smartphones, laptops, or tablet computers.
How did the campaign perform? Like gangbusters. The click-through rates on the location-based WiFi campaign were five times higher than the company’s average rate for traditional online display ads.
Nissan’s Microsoft Tag Campaign
Nissan wanted to figure out a way to promote its new electric car, the LEAF, in a way that would appeal to a target audience that was youthful, eco-conscious and health-oriented. So the auto manufacturer created an ad campaign promoting the “Innovation for Endurance” sweepstakes, featuring endurance runner Ryan Hall.
On the top left-hand side of the print ad, readers were greeted by a vibrantly colored Microsoft Tag 2D code. When the tag was scanned, it linked to a Facebook community showcasing Ryan Hall, as well as the latest innovations in running, cycling, yoga, and other fitness activities.
The purpose of the campaign was pure brand awareness and engagement. Nissan understands that getting potential customers to interact with its brand in some way, shape, or form is much better than simply allowing them to turn the page of a magazine. As a result, the company elected to drive people through to a Facebook page that continued the brand engagement, rather than to a mobile landing page where they could sign up for a test drive or be sold to in another manner.
All this brings up an important point about mobile marketing, and any other form of twenty-first-century marketing: It’s important to first build a relationship with customers before you start selling to them. This is particularly critical if your target market is under the age of 35, since the youth market tends to resist the hard sell that was the hallmark of the previous century.
Fandango and MovieTickets.com Mobile Commerce Apps
What better use of mobile media than to give people the opportunity to purchase movie tickets on the go? That’s what Fandango and MovieTickets.com realized early in the game.
The results have been amazing: 17.4 percent of the tickets sold for Paramount’s Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon were purchased directly by using the apps, versus logging on to the MovieTickets.com website.And 19 percent of the tickets sold for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 were sold via the Fandango app.
Why are these two case studies relevant to you? Because they show that mobile marketing isn’t just about branding and advertising; it’s about commerce, too. Simply put, the more transactions you can foster over a smartphone, the more likely it is that your campaign will pay for itself.
Domino’s Pizza Delivery App
Domino’s got burned early on in the social media by two rogue employees who uploaded a YouTube video that had a negative effect on its brand image. So if there was ever a company that you’d expect to be afraid of new technologies like social media and mobile media, it would be Domino’s.
But to the pizza chain’s credit (and that of its new CMO), Domino’s has vigorously embraced social and mobile media: first, with an engaging TV and YouTube campaign that encouraged people to interact with the brand via multiple communications channels; and, second, with a surprisingly user-friendly mobile app that allows people to order pizza, customize their orders, and pay for them, all from their smartphones.
If you think about the actual complexity of ordering something as seemingly simple as a pizza, you’ll understand how challenging it was to design an app that an ordinary consumer could download and use in a matter of minutes. Think about it: Domino’s offers dozens of different toppings, cheeses, crusts, and sauces, which have hundreds of millions of potential combinations. (Seriously, do the math.) Yet the app makes the ordering process as simple and easy as possible.
Land Rover’s Display Ad Campaign
Land Rover ran ordinary mobile banner ads that generated extraordinary results. The company’s target audience is “high net worth males,” so it ran ads on the AdMob mobile ad network (AdMob is owned by Google). The site where the ads ran included CBS Sports/News, AccuWeather, and other sites visited by the auto maker’s target market. In addition, AdMob targeted specific smartphones that were typically owned by high net worth individuals.
The campaign contained several possible actions for potential customers who clicked through on the “rich media” ads. For example, users could watch videos of the vehicles in action, view an image gallery, select their favorite-color Land Rover, and download it as wallpaper for their phones. Of course, they could also enter their zip code to look up the nearest dealer, enter their email addresses to receive a brochure, or click-to-call for a scheduled appointment.
In the end, the campaign generated 45,000 video views, 7,400 customer wallpaper downloads, 128,000 gallery views, 5,000 dealer lookups, 800 brochure requests, and 1,100 click-to-calls.
Interested in reading more? These 14 examples were adapted from my book Go Mobile, a #1 best-selling mobile marketing book. If you’re a small- to mid-sized business trying to figure out how to get started in mobile marketing, Go Mobile may be just what you’re looking for.
Posted by Jamie Turner, Founder of the 60 Second Marketer and co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile.” He is also a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.