Are Coca-Cola Missing a Trick?

Coca-Cola have announced that they are to give away phone credits through their latest promotion on Dr Pepper and Sprite.

This is an interesting move, as it is the first time that a promotion has given away phone credit. Previously it has been difficult with the operators, as there has been no mechnaism in the UK to give credit to a third party. However, Coca-Cola have been able to make arrangements with the mobile operators to do this. It also makes it possible for other brands to follow. The offer for free phone credit may prove to be very attractive to consumers. It’s the next best thing to ‘free money’.

On the downside, the offer can only be redemed through traditional media, such as post or through outlets. Perhaps if Coca-Cola had used SMS as a method of redeming the credit (for example, by texting a voucher code to a shortcode number), they could have created one of the most successful campaigns of the summer. Maybe they should take a leaf out of Walker’s Crisps marketing books, who ran one of the most successful UK mobile marketing campaigns earlier this year.

Augmented Reality: the next big thing in mobile?

They’ve been talking about it for a while, but the first augmented reality apps are starting to appear.

The concept of augmented reality is this: you point your camera phone at something on the street, and an overlay pops up with more information. An obvious example would be a historical building, where the AR app would overlay useful information.

Its a clever use of location services, mobile camera, image recognition etc. The first app that I saw was an Android one for Amsterdam. The latest one to grab the imagination is an iphone app that shows you the nearest Tubes:

The potential from a mobile marketing point of view is massive. Point your camera at a shop and it will list the latest offers, or send you a voucher. Point it down the street and it will tell you the nearest bar, cafe, cinema, bus station etc.

As with all technology though, it remains to be seen whether users actually want it. Reality, afterall, is real enough. Why do we want it augmented?

Mobile complaints down

Not very exciting, but vaguely interesting news: PhonePayPlus, the premium rate phone line regulator has reported that complaints about premium rate services halved last year. Good news and it seems that the service providers are finally getting the message that customers will not be ripped off.

In the last few years there have been a number of premium rate scandals mostly from TV companies. The drop in the ring tone market and the premium ‘subscription’ service may also have helped. That is not a result of better regulations but simply that the technology has moved on: most people just download tracks and set them as their ringtones now.

Complaints about unsolicited messages were also down by 85%. Again, this may be due more to the current economic climate and a change in marketing tactics. Still, it’s good news for mobile marketers.

The iphone: the next big thing in mobile marketing?

Right now, most advertising agencies that I speak to about mobile marketing have one interest: iphone apps. So is it the way forward for mobile marketing?

On the plus side, a well produced app can engage people and become a good piece of viral marketing. Last year’s big success was the ipint. The concept was simple (and borrowed from someone else), which as that your iphone became a pint of beer that you could ‘virtually’ drink. It was the kind of thing that everyone showed to their mates in the pub. So not only did the iphone owners get to play with it, but half a dozen of their friends also saw it.

The level of app downloads from the Apple appstore speaks for itself. And on the back of that many brands such as Nike to the BBC have produced some good apps for the phone.

But how much business does it generate? Is it really something that enhances a brand?

A few interesting facts about the iphone suggest that there is little to gain in marketing terms from creating an app.

In the UK there are around 1.5 million iphones. Quite a few, but there are double the number of Blackberry’s out there. And when you look at other manufacturers like Nokia, the iphone can be described as little more than niche.

An advertiser would say that the iphone represents and important group of opinion formers. That is true to some extent, but most of these are over 24 years old. After all the iphone is not cheap and is best used on a subscription.

More significantly figures from Comscore regarding iphone app usage revealed that 90% were used only one or never at all.

The other revealing figure from Comscore is that in Europe, over 70% of users are men. It would be a mistake for a women’s brand, such as a cosmetics company, to focus only on iphone apps, not to mention all those other products and services such as holidays or insurance where women often make decisions for a household.

So, the iphone app offers some fun branding opportunities, but as a long terms serious marketing medium I think its potential is limited.

Top 10 Ways to Utilise Mobile Marketing

Mobile offers a variety of channels for marketing – SMS, MMS, Mobile Internet, Bluetooth and Apps. Without doubt, SMS remains king, but marketers are looking at a whole range of methods for marketing to their audience. The following is a brief guide to the 10 best ways to engage through mobile marketing:

1. Customer relationship marketing

When companies first approach mobile marketing they typically think of customer acquisition as the main aim. However, the best place to start is often with existing customers, to improve relationships and uplift.
Once mobile marketing has been developed through existing customers then the move to acquisition is much easier.

2. Ticketing and Vouchering

Simply sending a promotional message is not the most effective way to engage customers. Vouchering and ticketing offer some excellent opportunities for a simple, yet compelling offer. It is cheap, simple and easily redeemable.

3. Mobile Sites

Few companies have a mobile site, thinking few people will browse it. In reality mobile users will browse your web site through their phone. Surely it’s better to ensure that the site is actually optimised for the mobile user to offer the clearest, simplest and best experience.

4. Apps

This year has been all about apps, and iphone apps in particular. Mobile applications offer an excellent way to engage customers. Generally the most successful marketing apps have been utilities to engage customers – from BA’s fight times, to Nike’s training apps – they offer the best opportunity for sophisticated marketing campaigns.

5. Bluetooth Marketing

Bluetooth proximity marketing is finally coming of age. Good hardware combined with powerful management software means that sending rich content to mobile users in situ is a real possibility. Recent Bluetooth campaigns have shown a high level of take up by mobile users.

6. Text to win/text voting

This old classic has shown it’s resilience and continues to offer potential. The recent Walker’s SMS campaign saw over 1 million responses.

7. QR

Although it hasn’t entirely taken off, Quick Recognition codes have resulted in some successful campaigns: Pepsi’s QR offer this year saw a large response, as well as campaigns by car manufacturers such as BMW and Volvo.

8. Appointment Reminders

It’s simple, but effective. If a business relies on people turning up to appointments, then SMS has been shown to significantly improve turn up rates – from health and beauty, through to the motor trade, it is a simple way to bring in more customers.

9. Location Services

LBS has never really shown it’s true potential due to issues of privacy and cost of delivery. However, location apps, such as Last Minute’s NRU, have shown how location-based information can bring real marketing benefits.

10. UGC and Social Media

It’s not all one way traffic! Encouraging, even incentivising users to submit their own content whether through mobile internet, SMS or Bluetooth is the future for mobile marketing. Mobile Social Media, from twitter to facebook offer true long term potential.

Taking it personally – the problem with mobile marketing

Marketing to mobile can generate some good responses. With the current economic situation, mobile offers new opportunities to reach customers and reduced marketing costs. The results from mobile marketing can also be very effective, with response rates over 8% being generally measured.

However, anyone looking to run a mobile campaign needs to seriously address the way it is run, who they are contacting and the offer is.

Mobile phones are devices that most of us have with us most of the time. There is a strong sense of identity attached to our mobiles – the type of handset (‘I have an iphone’ etc), wallpaper or ringtone is as much a part of our identity as the clothes we wear. What’s more, it’s the device that we contact our family, friends and loved ones on.

Whatever the marketing campaign, be it SMS, mobile sites or Bluetooth proximity marketing, sensitivity to the mobile user is paramount. Imagine if you are waiting for an SMS from your partner and a marketing text arrives on your phone? It’s going to annoy the user and put the brand in a very poor light.

A recent discussion amongst technological savvy mobile users about mobile marketing generated many responses like these:

‘Its like the people in the street who try to thrust leaflets on us, except its just about possible to dodge them.’

‘I have received two text messages from businesses I was walking past, both offering immediate discounts. I can think of no other way to more effectively ensure that I will never do business with either establishment again.’

‘If anyone sent a message to my cellphone or other device just because I walked past their store, billboard, advertising poster, etc., they would lose my business forever.’

It is unlikely that a billboard, direct mail or TV ad could cause as much offence, purely from attempting to contact potential customers.

You may think therefore, that mobile marketing is likely to upset customers too much or it is too fraught with problems to run a campaign. However, the highly personal feelings about mobile can be used to great effectiveness. There are many examples of mobile marketing campaigns that have generated an excellent response.

The key is to ensure that it is permission based, highly targeted and offers a real benefit to the customer or potential customers.

Gaining permission often requires more than a simple ‘soft opt in’. It is important and beneficial to get a clear consent from a customer to send them marketing information to their phone. That consent should also be recent. If they opted in 12 months ago then you would need to get their permission again.

Well targeted campaigns means sending the right type of content on the right day at the right time.

The benefit comes from giving your users a clear offer – discounts, free products or mobile content are all examples of offers that work well.

So, mobile marketing has it’s benefits, but working with experienced professionals to deliver campaigns can ensure that you are effective in what you do.

What is the Future of Mobile?

And by that title, I mean, what is this blog all about?

I read somewhere that 70% of people don’t believe business blogs. In other words, most blogging for business is simply a form of low-grade spam to push the company’s products and site PR.

That’s not what I’m aiming to do with this. Of course, like anyone trying to earn a living, I would like this blog to help generate traffic for our sites and products, but what I want to do is provide real incite, opinions and debate. If that can add to the value of what we do as a company then great. If it doesn’t then that’s also fine.

The incite, opinions and debate that I am blogging here is about mobile phones, our relationship with these highly personal devices and what the network operators and other companies are trying to do with them.

The mobile phone is very interesting (but I would say that) because it is the most successful technology ever. Actually I’ll rephrase that. The wheel is the most successful techonolgy ever. The mobile phone is the most successful INFORMATION technology ever. There are 3 billion of them world wide. That’s more than PC’s or televisions. In developed countries pretty much everyone has one. Those that don’t have a phone have specifically chosen not to have one. Or they dropped it down the toilet and haven’t got round to getting a replacement yet.

The point is that with the mobile being such a ubiquitous yet personal technology, the impact that it can have is massive. And on the one hand, we are told by corporates and networks that we must have the latest smartphone, internet, face book app etc, most of us use our phones in spite of the networks, not because of them. SMS was never intended to be so important, yet in some countries such as the UK we send more texts than make voice calls. We are told that we will all have email on our phones, yet only 20% of people in the UK have that. And even with email, we still send SMS. Why?

These are the kinds of issues that this blog will look at. Please feel free to comment and participate as this is intended to be a place of genuine debate.