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Direct Response Marketing

A Call (or Text) to Action

1 Sep, 2009 By: Nicole Urso Response

A Call (or Text) to Action


i1As business owners battle for survival in a global recession, the retail industry — one of the hardest hit by bankruptcy, store closures and layoffs — discovered a silver lining in the latest incarnation of direct response marketing.

Mobile strategies have proven to be as effective for trendy retail chains like Urban Outfitters as for EZ Lube oil change service stations. Mobile ad campaigns are relatively simple to create and easy to distribute, in comparison to elaborate multi-channel campaigns. Most importantly, they're considerably inexpensive to produce and manage.

Mobile marketing works for retailers as an effective standalone strategy or can be integrated into a larger multi-channel effort. Brand retailers (and retailers establishing brands) can leverage the interactivity and engagement inherent to mobile to create a two-way conversation with consumers. Ideally, a mobile offer converts into an opt-in response and then evolves into ongoing communication, brand loyalty programs, further offers and incentives, and repeat business.

There are many ways to build a successful mobile strategy and dozens of examples to illustrate them, but before delving into the how-to, marketers should consider the why: the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) estimates that mobile marketing budgets will increase 40 percent this year and generate $6.5 billion in ad revenue by 2012. Businesses are quickly deciphering a mobile marketing strategy, and the space is quickly filling with more voices calling for consumers' attention. And, according to Nielsen, there are 145 million mobile media consumers. SMS is the most popular form of mobile media, with 127 million users, while 48 million browse mobile Web sites.

As the proliferation of smartphone usage continues, the concept of mobile marketing broadens. An E-mail blast sent out with a promotional code or an electronic coupon is a mobile advertisement, or has the potential to be, if the consumer views the message on a smartphone. The same applies to all online ads viewed on a smartphone since smartphones are essentially pocket-sized, portable computers. So how is mobile marketing uniquely valuable compared to all existing online and E-mail advertising simply viewed on a mobile device? The key differentiators are real-time and geo-targeted messaging, alerts and offers.

Urban Dictionary defines this new strain of advertising as geo-vertising or GPS-vertising: "GPS enabled devices [smartphones] receive real-time, promotional, time-sensitive offers from local retailers as the holder of the device passes within a short distance of the retailer's store location."

Two-Way Conversations

The retail industry is ripe with opportunity to test mobile strategies. Marketing budgets have been softened by a weak economy, yet mobile phone and smartphone sales continue to grow. More than 1.2 billion mobile phones have been sold in the U.S., and, according to research firm Gartner, smartphone sales are expected to jump 28 percent this year despite the economic slump.

"For the past five years, it's been the year of mobile — and I'm going to be right one of these years," says Dan Jones, head of grocery, CPG & recall services at Irvine, Calif.-based SmartReply.

SmartReply is a mobile marketing and advertising company that recently created a mobile coupon campaign for EZ Lube, a chain of fast oil-change service stations in Southern California. EZ Lube wanted to create a unique, cost-effective marketing plan that would reinforce branding and proposition customers with the best value in town. Over a six-week period, 500,000 text messages were delivered regionally. At the end of each text message, consumers could opt in to "Win 1 year free oil change! Reply EZ." More than 1,700 people opted in at an acquisition cost of less than $6 each.

SmartReply manages audience segmentation and helps its clients craft mobile messages and brand loyalty programs. EZ Lube loyalty club members receive ongoing safety tips and other content as added value.

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About the Author: Nicole Urso


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