Not long ago, I received a call from a client prospect who wanted to meet to discuss an urgent need for a mobile app. (My company, 60 Second Communications, develops social media and mobile marketing campaigns for businesses around the nation.)
“Hold on,” I said, “What are your business objectives for developing the app?”
“Don’t worry about that right now,” she said. “Just meet us next week at our offices.”
So the following week, I drove out to their offices where I was greeted by the CEO, the CMO and several other executives. The client prospect kicked off the meeting by saying, “We need a mobile app. How much is that going to cost?”
There are a lot of People Who Will Start a Meeting That Way. But it’s a clear sign that they’re thinking tactically without taking into consideration their objectives and strategies.
I spent the next few hours asking them questions about their business, their sales process, their marketing plans and how they envisioned mobile would fit into those plans.
By the end of the meeting, the CMO said, “You know what? I don’t think we need a mobile app after all.” (I knew they didn’t need a mobile app going into the meeting, but have found that unless people arrive at a conclusion themselves, they don’t generally believe it, which is why I asked them a series of questions that led them to my assumption.)
Thinking Strategy First and Tactics Second. This experience led me to the conclusion that members of the 60 Second Marketer community might benefit by reading an excerpt from Go Mobile, the book I co-authored with Jeanne Hopkins.
What follows is a detailed description on how to plan, set-up and launch a mobile marketing campaign. Hopefully, it’ll guide you as you move dive into mobile marketing. After all, your customers are in mobile already, so it’s time for you to be there, too.
The First Step — Do Some Background Planning. When starting any marketing campaign, you should begin by asking the following questions:
- What is the objective of this campaign?
- Who is your target audience?
- How long will this campaign run?
- Are you using other media to support or supplement your mobile media plan?
Define Your Objectives. What do you want your campaign to accomplish? Are you trying to increase awareness of your company, boost sales of a certain product or service, establish your branding, or something else? Clearly identify what it is you want to accomplish with your campaign before moving forward with further planning.
Identify Your Target Audience. Immediately after defining the objective(s) of your marketing strategy, you should identify your primary target audience. This will help to ensure that you tailor all elements of the marketing strategy specifically to this audience, enabling you to communicate with these customers as effectively as possible.
A good way to identify a target audience is to create a profile of a sample member of this group. Answer the following questions to get started:
1. Who would have a need for the specific product or service you are trying to market?
2. What is the ideal, manageable size of your primary target audience? Avoid being either too specific (e.g., “31-year-old male businessmen living in Manhattan”) or too vague (e.g., “teenagers”) to find an audience that is the right scope for your campaign.
3. Which methods of communication would work well in connecting with this audience? Look at demographic information about which age groups and types of people use mobile devices, and how they use them.
Different groups of people respond variously to what they see and read. Their tastes and preferences will affect how well they respond to the type of communications they receive, so make sure to research your target audience thoroughly before making other plans.
Develop Your Campaign Approach. Now that you have clearly defined your objectives and identified your target audience, you can start planning campaign strategies. Even though you are planning a mobile marketing campaign, you should decide which methods of mobile communication you want to use (audio? video? mobile websites?). You should also choose whether you want to push information to customers, or pull them to your company to start a dialog.
Push-based campaigns mean you send information out to customers and hope they respond by purchasing your product or service. Push can include sending text messages to everyone on a mailing list or informing them of, say, an album release or new promotion.
Pull and dialogue-based campaigns will require more planning and effort, but they also tend to be more effective at turning potential buyers into actual sales. Pull-based campaigns focus on “pulling” customers back to your company, such as by using SMS to send out a link to your website, or building an application customers can download, which will inform them about your product.
Other Considerations. There are several other factors to consider when you’re in the strategic planning stage of a campaign. Is your campaign intended to be brand-oriented or promotion-oriented? A brand campaign is designed to create a connection with your customer over the long term. A promotion campaign is designed to give your customer a reason to buy your product or service immediately.
The diagram below illustrates how several different kinds of companies might explore the nature of their campaigns. The Y-axis indicates whether the campaign is brand-oriented or promotion-oriented. The X-axis indicates whether the campaign is location-centric or nonlocation-centric. For example, if your company is a brick-and-mortar retailer, your campaign will be location-centric, because you want to drive people to your location. If you’re a nonprofit organization, your campaign won’t be location-centric, because you don’t usually need to drive people to a specific brick-and-mortar location.
Determine the Length of Your Campaign. Once you’ve specified strategies for your mobile campaign, the next step is to decide how long it will run. Will your campaign be a one-shot action, or will it be a series of actions? The length and duration of the campaign will affect how you design it. If you want this campaign to run for an extended length of time, be sure to repeatedly “inject” it with advertising activity. Otherwise, customer response will slow to a halt.
Incorporate Other Media. Finally, determine what other media you will be using to promote your mobile marketing strategy. Are you going to inform customers about a mobile application through email and web advertising? Will you tell people to sign up for text message updates through radio commercials? How you use other media should have a profound effect on how you design your campaign. Likewise, your campaign objectives and your target audience should affect your selection of the types of other media you will use.
The preceding are basic considerations, and may even seem obvious, depending on your marketing background, but they are worth addressing here because they are so important. Without clearly defined answers to these preliminary questions and considerations, your mobile marketing campaign won’t set off in the direction it should, to succeed.
Budgeting and Scheduling. Now that the preliminary background planning phase is complete, you’re ready to move on to budgeting and scheduling. Ask these questions to help you determine the budget you’ll need to produce your campaign, and how to schedule it:
- When do you need the campaign ready to start?
- How much money do you intend to spend on mobile media?
- How much do you intend to spend on other forms of media?
- How many messages are you planning to send?
Set the Launch Date. Choose a date you want the campaign to start and work backwards from there to draft a preliminary schedule. For example, if you want your campaign to start on June 8, and you need to have advertising materials ready to deliver a week in advance, set the deadline for advertising material to June 1. Work backwards in this way for all campaign components until you have established all the dates for your campaign. Don’t forget to include the dates for other forms of media (if you are using them).
Assess the Costs of Mobile Media. There are several cost considerations to make when planning mobile media for your campaign. Creative, promotion, and messages all have their own costs. How much will it cost to set up a mobile website or to develop a mobile application? Determine these line items before moving forward.
Calculate the Cost of Other Media. If you are incorporating other media into your mobile marketing campaign (such as print ads, Internet ads, radio, etc.), factor in those costs as well. Mass media is very expensive. Make sure supporting your mobile media campaign with other media is worth what you’ll have to pay to do so.
Determine the Number of Messages. Finally, determine how many messages you intend to send as part of your campaign. This will depend on your campaign strategy, as discussed earlier. Are you focusing on a push, pull, or dialog-based campaign? Deciding that will help you figure how many messages you need to send and how frequently you need to send them. Note that the cost per message decreases the more you send. For example, the cost per message to send 5,000 messages might be $0.055 per message; but if you send 20,000, that cost would drop to $0.035 per message.
After you have lined up your budget and schedule, you can begin planning the actual message of the campaign.
Content and Production. With the background information, budgeting, and scheduling completed, and with a good idea of the scale of your campaign in mind, you can start planning the types of message(s) you will send. It’s important to wait until this phase to plan the details of your message so you can accurately assess whether to deliver it all at once or in waves, whether you want to target it to a large or small audience, and other considerations.
Answer these questions to help direct you as plan the content and production of your campaign message:
- What kind of message do you want to use in this campaign?
- How will you distribute your messages?
- Who will produce the message content or mobile application?
- Who will test the campaign?
Choose Message Type. Decide on the type of message you will use as part of your mobile marketing strategy. Will you send out SMS? Mobile display ads? A mobile application? Examine your target audience and background information before deciding on the method(s) of communication that would be most effective for connecting with your customers.
Make sure to consider the strengths and limitations of each type of message. For example, SMS messages are inexpensive, and are read by customers almost 100 percent of the time, but they are limited to 160 characters. Examine the benefits and drawbacks of each method of communication.
Decide on Distribution. Decide who will provide the platform necessary to implement your campaign. Are you going to do everything in-house, or will you outsource the implementation of your campaign to another firm? Look at your resources, with particular focus on the time frame and skills of your marketing team, to determine whether it would be more cost-effective to do it yourself or to have someone else take care of it.
Choose a Production Strategy. Once you’ve decided who will distribute and implement your campaign, you next need to choose how you will produce the messages you send out. If you are using a mobile application, will you produce it in-house, or will you hire an outside group to develop it? Who will design the SMS campaign or mobile website? Again, evaluate all your resources before making this decision.
Conduct Testing. Testing your campaign is probably the most important step. Simply put, all of your other planning will be wasted if your campaign doesn’t work. You must leave sufficient time to conduct exhaustive testing before launch, to work out the bugs in the technology. You must test each and every aspect of your mobile campaign (SMS, mobile application, mobile website, etc.).
After you’ve taken these steps, you are ready to move on to the final stages of planning for your mobile campaign.
Other Considerations. At this juncture, you understand essential background information about mobile marketing, you’ve established a budget and schedule, and have taken care of content and production. Now you’re ready to plan the final elements of your campaign.
Here are three questions to answer before you enter this final phase:
- Who will organize and coordinate multiple media implementation?
- Where will you get your customer contacts?
- What will be measured?
Coordinate Multiple Media Implementation. If you are going to use multiple forms of media, decide who will coordinate how your media works together. Have the activities for other media been properly planned? If your mobile marketing campaign relies heavily on other media forms to support it, it’s very important to make sure this has been addressed.
Collect Customer Information. If you plan on using SMS or other push methods to communicate with customers, how will you get their information? In the United States, selling opt-in lists is prohibited by law, so how else can you collect customer information? You might consider directing customers to a website where they can sign up for updates, or provide a phone number where they can text a keyword to sign up.
Take Measurements. Another very important part of any marketing campaign is to determine how you will measure the success of your campaign. Many metrics are available for mobile marketing, such as number of messages sent, number of messages actually delivered, number of “stop” messages, number of customers who follow through with a message, and others. Establish the metrics you will you so you can evaluate accurately how effective your campaign is.
The Bottom Line: Mobile marketing can be very effective, for three important reasons: It lets you connect with customers through a medium that is always on; it is always available; and it is very personal. Moreover, a mobile marketing strategy can easily implement other forms of communication and media to reach a target audience and turn prospective customers into sales. Today, almost every man, woman, and child has his or her own personal mobile device, making it easier than ever before to reach both current customers and new prospects. Why not implement a mobile strategy for your next marketing campaign? See how effective using this new technology to reach customers can be.
Action Steps for You:
- Treat mobile as a channel by testing mobile-specific features such as SMS messaging, applications, or location-based services.
- Use mobile as connective tissue, with the potential to link the online and offline consumer experiences with brands. Michael Becker, managing director of the Mobile Marketing Association, uses the expression “connective tissue” to describe the capability of mobile to become an indispensible, fully integrated part of marketing and business overall.
- Don’t name an internal owner of the mobile channel. Without a designated in-house mobile expert, a mobile strategy will not be effective.
- Don’t place mobile in a silo, where it may be left out of the overall marketing strategy. Communicating cross-functionally (not just with the marketing team) and cross-company is crucial to achieving long-term success with mobile.