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Grow Your Business Technology

5 Things to Consider Before Taking Your Company Mobile

mobile-app-art-11101102   / Credit: Dreamstime.com

No matter how small your company, you're probably starting to consider whether a mobile platform is right for it. The cost of creating a mobile presence is getting lower, but selecting the right kind of presence is just as crucial.

Roy Satterthwaite, senior vice president of global marketing at Velti, a global mobile marketing and advertising platform, offers some suggestions on what to consider before developing a mobile presence for your company.

Different audiences interact differently with mobile.

All too often, marketers designing mobile campaigns focus on the latest bells and whistles rather than on the needs and characteristics of the consumers they’re targeting. There's no such thing as the ultimate mobile campaign — only the right mobile campaign for a particular audience.

To avoid wasting money on brilliant concepts that fail to make an impression, start by defining the parameters of your campaign, based on a few fundamental questions about your audience.

Ask yourself:

  • What is your customers' level of mobile sophistication. Are they strictly entry-level, or gadget-savvy and game for anything?
  • Do they "get" QR codes, location-based services, mobile couponing and other fancy features, or will you be better off going text-only?
  • Do they prefer apps or mobile sites?
  • Do they favor one platform over the rest — iOS, Android, good old RIM — or will you need to go multi-platform for optimal reach?

Nobody likes a pest.

Consumers are tired of being bombarded with generic, low-value marketing messages—especially ones that are delivered through a channel as personal as the smartphone in their pocket. To transform annoyance into good will, it's essential to provide something of real value for them, like content, promotions, and services tailored to their actual needs and preferences. By creating a dedicated opt-in database for your mobile customers, you can give them the chance to tell you what they really want from you, how they want to get it, how often they'd like to receive your marketing messages, what types of offers they're interested in, and the kind of media they’d find most useful.

In giving customers choice and control over the marketing they receive, you can reduce resentment, ease concerns over privacy, and improve the impact and efficiency of your budget.

Not all handsets are created equal.

Anyone can deliver a great experience on a single mobile platform — but can you do it across every handset your customers use? Consumers don't want to hear about the challenges created by proliferating varieties of standards, capabilities, and form factors. They expect a consistent, seamless experience everywhere they go, from desktop to mobile Web to mobile app.

If you can’t provide consistent branding and features — or if your apps or mobile sites simply won’t work on some platforms — you’re delivering the wrong message: either that you don’t care about your customers’ experience, or you can’t get your act together. Make sure the specifications of your campaign, however simple or elegant, are in line with your ability to execute successfully across every handset your customers use.

The misses count as much as the hits.

It's been said that you learn more from your failures than from your successes. This is especially true in marketing, where every non-response can provide insight into what you could be doing better. While it's important to measure "wins" like the number of opens, downloads, activations, and registrations, that's only half the picture. By paying attention to the people who don't respond, you can diagnose campaign problems such as targeting errors, poor experience on a given platform, and attempts at creativity that leave part of your audience unimpressed or confused. Remember: If you're not engaging customers, you might very well be annoying them and making it even harder for your next campaign to succeed.

Every platform has its place.

It’s everyone's favorite debate: apps vs. mobile sites . In reality, of course, there's no single winner. Each platform has its advantages depending on your budget and the impact you’re trying to make. If you want just to open another channel for interaction, a simple, practical mobile site can be the most cost-effective way, especially as HTML5 makes more and more smartphone functionality available on the mobile web. On the other hand, if you have a more strategic agenda for mobile, an app can provide greater control over branding and give the user richer opportunities, including the ability to place a call, take and upload photographs, or perform location-based actions from within the application. It'll cost more to build, maintain, and distribute, but better tools for cross-platform development are making apps easier and more efficient to deliver every day. And don’t forget about good old SMS, whose broad consumer adoption, flexibility, low cost, and high "open" rate can help you deliver frequent interactions that will build a strong brand relationship over time.

As you can see, mobile may be the hot new channel, but it revolves around the same fundamentals of marketing we’ve been following all along. Success comes through paying attention to your customers and giving them what they want, the way they want it.