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Friday 2 July 2010

Interview for Mobile Marketing Asia 2010

What are some of the challenges that companies are facing when it comes to mobile marketing?

One of the big challenges with mobile marketing is that it’s so hard to find a way to monetize it. At Dell, our marketing is very much driven by vehicles with a strong return on investment – search, affiliate and email marketing and we’re trying to figure out where mobile fits within this landscape. Undoubtedly mobile is a wonderful platform for branding and developing deeply engaging experiences but can it be adapted for sales-centric marketing?

What are some of the tricks and strategies for successful mobile integrated campaigns?

I really see that there’s only three forms of mobile marketing – text messaging/SMS, advertising on mobile Internet/WAP sites and mobile applications. In terms of media, mobile hasn’t yet lived up to the promise of geo-targeting or being able to market to an individual level (a one-on-one discussion with a specific person) but these are two big opportunities. I think the big area to look at is mobile applications. Recently I’ve noticed the banks getting into mobile banking (taking the functionality of Internet banking and reimagining it for mobile device) and I strongly believe this is the biggest area of growth.

Could you please give us an example of how marketers should cohesively mix mobile, online and social media for customer engagement?

Online and mobile are two very different customer experiences – PC-based online browsing is wonderful for research and undertaking complex tasks (such as filling in long applications forms or e-commerce) in an open and somewhat anonymous world, while mobile is a hyper personal tool built around yourself, your loved ones and friends (think about what you use for mobile for and you’ll realize the voice calls, text and sharing content with your friends is the epicenter of what you do). In fact, mobile has a lot more to do with social media than other forms of digital marketing. Both are mediums that know who you are, are about two-way sharing information and content with friends and are increasingly focused on useful and engaging applications. You don’t often see “integrated marketing campaigns” across online, web and mobile. They don’t really exist except at the broadest and most generic brand marketing levels. What is really interesting however, is the role of each medium and how they work together. For example, an email marketing campaign that sends a customer to a website for more information, where the customer then downloads a mobile application and then shares this information with friends via mobile and social media. Each is a different yet complementary part of the same marketing cycle all working in tandem for a great customer experience.

What are some of the strategies that marketers should do in order to get customers to ‘Opt-in’ for permission based advertising?

People don’t like or respond to advertising. But they love and frequently engage with information! The secret here is that they’re the same thing, as long as they’re positioned correctly. Opting-in to information that you want to receive is really straightforward. If the information is relevant and engaging, people will naturally seek it out and sign up for it. The challenge is in how you make them aware of it in the first place, or can demonstrate that it’s valuable and useful before they sign up. One option is to give the information away for free for a while then ask them to opt-in to the marketing program. This is definitely better than trying to pay someone to join (either through incentives, competitions or similar activities). Money talks but doesn’t leave a lasting impression – so many incentivized customers who opt into marketing programs usually opt out soon afterwards. So for long term success simply talk to your customers, ask them what they want and respond accordingly. I think you’ll be surprised by the result.

With mobile marketing expecting to take off, what will be the role of telecom operators in the mobile marketing mix?

There are three types of players who are trying to get a slice of the pie in mobile marketing – telcos, device manufacturers and content providers. Right now the content providers are king but the device manufacturers have a seat at the table too. That leaves the poor telco companies out in the cold. But they have a wonderful advantage – they have all your data, usage information and know who you are. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like they’ve been able to take advantage of this because there is a separation of the access plan (the telco) with the device and it’s usage. Companies like Apple, Nokia and Blackberry/Research in Motion have got it right – they provide compelling content (such as mobile games, etc.) and a great distribution network (such as iTunes or Ovi) that effectively cut out the telcos. I believe the telcos could come to lead the mobile marketing space in their respective countries or regions but they’ll never have the same global dominance as providers of excellent content or the global manufacturers of the mobile device.

Google’s and Apple’s recent activities have 2010 labeled as the ‘year of the mobile’, 2010 is herald as the year of mobile advertising what is going on right now and where we are headed?

That’s great news! Although I’ve noticed a lot of skepticism from marketers because we’ve had the “year of the mobile” for at least 5 years (and probably closer to 10). Mobile advertising has a tremendous potential but isn’t quite mainstream yet. I believe the reason why it hasn’t broken through yet is that too many people are thinking of mobile as a traditional advertising channel. It’s not. It’s extremely personal, always on, never left behind, geo-specific and for many people a genuine expression of who they are. It’s very difficult to introduce advertising into something like that – it’s like tattooing an ad onto your forehead! Marketing on mobile needs to be around customer experience, relevant and engaging content and giving people the information they need when they want it. It still won’t be the “year of the mobile” until marketers and agencies embrace this and change the way they thinking about the fundamentals of advertising and sales. I certainly think the devices are ready, now it’s time for the marketers to catch up and take some bold risks with their traditional advertising.

Over the next decade, by the year 2020, how will mobile advertising evolve and what can we expect from the sector?

I believe by 2020 the entire marketing and advertising system will evolve. We’ve moved from product-centric advertising in the 20th Century, to brand-centric advertising in the last few decades, to content & information-centric in the 21st Century. I feel that the next stage of evolution is people-centric – having a two-way dialogue between individual consumers and brands. Completely unrecognizable from the early TV ads of the 1950’s. With this brave new world of social marketing and people-centric communications, mobile has a very important and defining role to play.

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