USE THE HOTTEST APPLIACTION TO YOUR ADVERTISING ADVANTAGE
Now that we’ve established that there is a very large group of consumers using 3G wireless devices on a daily basis, it’s time to talk about how you, as a business owner and advertiser can get to these consumers through their ever present wireless devices.
Wireless mobile advertising may be one of the most important advertising vehicles in the coming years. Wireless usage and applications are only expected to grow and smart business owners will take advantage of this trend. There are a number of ways you can get your message out to mobile users today; and you can be sure that each year will bring a variety of new applications and marketing possibilities.
IBM conducted a survey with mobile phone users asking if they would be willing to receive ads on their mobile phones in order to receive free digital content. Most responders indicated that they would be interested in such an option. In addition, responders said that they would be willing to share their personal information with mobile advertisers in order to receive incentives, such as discounts, coupons and air or hotel rewards points.
Advertising to the wireless user can be quite simple, and most businesses can begin quickly, using tools you already have. You may be able to make some simple adjustments to immediately give you more visibility. Then, over time, you can apply new techniques and use new applications to increase your visibility even further. First, we’re going to talk about your most obvious advertising vehicle.
When you created your business’ website, you did so because you wanted to create visibility on the internet. Well, now that everyone takes the internet everywhere they go, your internet visibility is even more important than before. So, if by chance you don’t have a website, creating one should be your first task.
Depending upon the size of your business and your own technical savvy, you may choose to create your website through one of three methods:
- Outsourcing website creation to a company that specializes in this service. They can maintain the website for you, as well.
- Using internal IT employees to create and maintain your site (assuming you have them)
- Creating your website yourself using one of the many software tools readily available.
Regardless of how you create your website, you’ll then need to develop content to be posted there. This is where you want to showcase your products, services and expertise in a fashion that looks attractive and professional. You may want to outsource the layout of your website to a professional web designer and you may want to use a professional writer to create content for the site. Keep in mind that an ugly, poorly designed website with buttons that don’t work and copy that is full of typographical errors will simply turn off potential customers. If you’re not willing to dedicate the time and resources to develop and maintain a fully functional, attractive site that gives valuable information to your visitors, you shouldn’t waste the money creating a website at all.
Now that we’ve established that you have a website, and that it can provide information about your products and services, let’s talk about how the mobile user will view your website.
Keep in mind that mobile users are viewing your site from a very small screen. This means that your website must be optimized to accommodate these visitors; if your website is not optimized for viewing on any size and type of device, mobile visitors to your site will have difficulty reading the content and navigating through the pages.
Professional web designers with expertise in Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) will have the skills required to make your website easy to navigate and read from mobile devices. And, it’s important to note that there are a wide variety of types of mobile devices out there. In order to reach a wide audience, including those users that have two year old phones as well as those with brand new phones that boast high resolution and color screens, you’ll have to make a decision. You can either then your web pages must be optimized either limit yourself to the most basic markup, which means that your page can be viewed on any phone, or you can identify the specific capabilities of each phone that you want to be able to view your content. This sounds very tedious, but many content providers do it, and the protocols are not that different. Once you have the current list coded, you just add new models as they become available. This method allows you to offer rich content, most like viewers get from their desktops.
You may also elect to make some changes to your content aimed at mobile viewers. Every business is different, so it’s difficult to give specific recommendations about how you, personally, should change your content. But, consider this: would a person visiting your website from a remote location, such as his car or in an airport, need or want anything different than a person accessing your site via his home or office computer?
It’s a wise choice for all businesses to take steps to increase traffic to their websites. Simply put- the more visitors to your site, the bigger your business. There are several steps you can take to increase both mobile and fixed traffic on your site.
If you haven’t taken the time to ensure that your website is optimized in the popular search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, it’s time to do so. This simply means that you’ve taken measures to ensure that when a user searches for businesses in your industry or with your name, your business pops up – preferably first! Optimizing your website for better ranking in the search engines will improve traffic to your site both from mobile users and from users at fixed locations.
To improve your ranking in the search engines, you’ll need to spend some time getting “search engine optimized”. This includes making changes to your meta tags and title tags within your website’s code. Don’t assume that your website builder did this for you, because, in most cases, they don’t. You should also ensure that your site is registered with the most popular search engines and that your site contains copy that uses the words most frequently searched for your type of business. For example, if you sell golf clubs, your website should contain written copy that contains phrases like “buying golf clubs” and “good deals on golf equipment”. Having such phrases in the copy on your website helps your ranking in the search engines because these are the types of phrases users search with.
Business related “gadgets” on your website are a great way to increase traffic. For example, if you own a mortgage company, you might consider offering a mortgage calculator on your website. In addition to having your website search engine optimized for phrases such as “get mortgage”, you would also optimize it for “mortgage calculator”. This creates traffic on your site from visitors who are looking for mortgage calculators, as well as from visitors looking for mortgage companies. Then, you can advertise your mortgage calculator on other websites, linking the advertisement to your own site.
Gadgets such as this can foster a significant traffic increase on your site, both from fixed users and from remote wireless users.
If you sell products via your website, make sure that you’re set up to take those payments via mobile devices versus just fixed desktop browsers. One of the easiest ways is by simply accepting Paypal on your site. Paypal is a popular web based payment program. Mobile users can set up mobile payments through their mobile numbers and pay anyone accepting paypal payments right through their phones. If you already accept credit cards via your website, these functions should also work for mobile users, as long as your website is optimized for mobile usage.
Text messaging is widely used by wireless customers as a quick way to communicate and receive small bits of information. For advertisers with access to their customers’ mobile phone numbers, it’s also a great way to send messages about specials and sales and updates on products and services.
Subway® Restaurants has been extremely successful advertising via text messaging. Interested parties can “opt in” to Subway’s mobile marketing campaign and receive the restaurant’s most recent coupons via text messaging. Subway is even smart enough to send the coupons out right around lunch time!
This marketing campaign is accomplished through simple “mass text messaging”. All that’s required is maintaining a database of the phone numbers of your interested customers and sending periodic mass messages to these numbers. There are several “mobile marketing” companies that specialize in handling such campaigns for their customers.
In their mass messages, Subway sends customers a string of numbers and letters to be presented to cashiers at their restaurants in order to redeem the text message coupons. In order to encourage participation in the campaign, they used table tents and signs on the cash registers in their restaurants telling customers how to sign up.
Subway has seen phenomenal success with these text messaging campaigns. The campaigns have been used in several Subway markets and have seen a coupon redemption rate as high as 8% in some markets. Though they may be contacting a smaller number of people than a typical direct mail advertising campaign, the success rate is much higher.
Subway notes two keys to its campaign’s success. The first has been creating a campaign that requires users to “opt in” and gives them the opportunity to “opt out” at any time. This ensures that everyone who receives the advertisements has actually requested them. Sending unwanted text messages could actually turn off prospective customers, and could even be viewed as “spam”.
Secondly, Subway only sends out coupons three or four times a month. The coupons have a very short expiration date, fostering a sense of urgency among customers to use the coupons right away. Subway restaurants in Buffalo New York, for example send the coupons out on snowy days, when their restaurant traffic is at its lowest. The coupons have been successful in encouraging folks to get out for lunch on a day when it would have been much easier to stay in. The short expiration date gets traffic into the Subway stores just on the days they need it most.
Creative thinking like Subway’s is the key to using simple mobile applications to increase business. In the coming years, such innovation will remain critical to business in a technology savvy world. It’s important to note, however, that this sort of campaign is targeted to current customers, aiming to increase the frequency of their visits to the restaurant. Since you have to know about the campaign and sign up to receive the coupons, this sort of campaign doesn’t attract new business. Subway’s primary means of advertising to attract new business is through television commercials and sponsorships.
While there’s no question that mobile advertising is a relatively new concept to most business owners, there are quite a few other success stories out there. New and innovative ways of advertising to users via their mobile devices are cropping up every day, and many have been extremely successful. Let’s take a look at some other very successful mobile advertising strategies.
Another unique way that text messaging is being used as a creative advertising device is through the German company Mjoy. Mjoy operates a mobile web portal and offers free text messaging to its registered users all over the world. Once you’ve registered (for free), you can send text messages to any phone, on any network, anywhere in the world. Mjoy’s web portal will store your sent and received messages in your Mjoy mailbox, which can be viewed via your mobile phone with web browsing capability. Mjoy offers a rich user experience, allowing users to access games and gadgets through their portal, as well as text messaging.
Mjoy is able to offer its text messaging service to users for free because it sells ads for placement on its portal page. Advertising banners are noticeable enough to get attention, but are designed so that they do not interfere with the user’s text messaging capabilities. Buying advertising on Mjoy’s web portal is a great way for companies to be able to direct their advertising to mobile users without any programming on their part. So far, Mjoy’s service has been extremely successful with both users and advertisers.
Blyk is a mobile phone operator based in London. Blyk offers free mobile phone service to users willing to receive advertising on their phones. When Blyk began, their goal was to get 100,000 customers in their first year of business. Since they are the first company of their kind, most people didn’t think it was possible that they could find 100,000 people willing to read ads for free talk time within one year. However, Blyk reached their goal within six months and today boasts over 200,000 subscribers.
And, while it’s clear that Blyk is great for users, it’s even more important to understand how successful Blyk has been for its advertisers. The response rate to ads placed on Blyk’s mobile phones has been a whopping 25%. The cost to advertisers comes out to roughly $0.85 per ad response, making it highly cost effective.
Services and programs like those of Blyk and Mjoy are the first of their kinds. Today, their subscriber numbers are fairly low compared to the number of wireless users in the world. But, when you consider how new mobile advertising really is, you can see that this trend is destined to grow and become a significant advertising tool.
Another simple advertising device for mobile and landlines phones is Free 411. From any phone, users can dial 1-800-Free411 for directory assistance. There is no fee to the user to get their desired number, but while the number is being located, the user listens to voice advertising. The user is also given the option to press a number on their phone to be immediately connected to the advertiser’s business. When you consider that more than six billion calls are made to 411 each year, you can see that there is a significant advertising market in 411 calling. And, when you consider how expensive it is for users to call traditional 411 – ($1.00-$3.50 per call), you can see how users would flock to a free service.
Now, here’s the really cool part about free 411 advertising. The service is highly targeted for the advertiser. Whenever a user dials 411 and asks for the number to a business that is in the same industry category as your business, your ad will play while your competitor’s number is being located. If the user elects to contact you instead of the number they originally requested, they can be immediately connected to you by pressing “1”.
Free 411 was created by a company called Jingle back in 2006, and they have been enormously profitable. In fact, they have been so successful that companies like AT&T have made in-roads to get into the same market. AT&T purchased Jingle’s competitor InFreeDA, and is working to roll out their version of the same service a few local areas at a time.
It’s easy to see that mobile advertising is already a success story. In the following chapter, we’ll take a look at more applications that have the potential to make advertisers very successful.