10 Things you need to know about mobile marketing

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1. MMS is the new SMS

The current standard for text messages is SMS or short message service: basic text messages limited to 160 characters. A newer standard, MMS or multimedia message service, allows pictures and sounds and stuff, even video on some phones. MMS penetration is still relatively low, but is growing rapidly since MMS is the format which most camera phones send and receive pictures. IDC has predicted a 178% growth in MMS subscribers, bringing the US to a total of 68 million subscribers by 2007.

2. Questions? Ask your kids.

Teens love their cellphones. By 2005 68% of teens will have cellphones, and teens will be the largest segment of users by 2010. Ericsson's latest study has a promising glimpse of the future via the youth of Spain polled in a survey. Teens are driving ringtone sales, game downloads, mobile wallpaper and picture sharing from camera phones. If your target market includes teens, mobile in 2005 should be a "must do" part of your marketing mix.

3. Google it from your phone

If you haven't found every Mexican restaurant in your neighborhood yet, Google can help. In the Bay Area, try sending an SMS message to "GOOGL" (or 45547) with the text, "San Francisco Mexican Restaurant." Within seconds, you have a message with three to four different names and phone numbers. This may be the killer app of 2004.

4. Spam on the move is Just as bad

Mobile devices are a very personal medium and consumers have little tolerance for unrequested messages on their phones. The good news is there is not that much spam right now and organizations such as the Mobile Marketing Association and the CTIA are working hard to make sure it doesn't become a major issue. According to an Empower Interactive survey conducted earlier in the year, 80% of mobile operators agree spam is a very serious problem.

5. The heart of the media matrix?

Mobile marketing can connect other forms of media. With universal short codes now working between all the major carriers, consumers can respond to TV programming, billboards, in-cinema ads, event marketing, Web sites, whatever, via their phones. Taking it a step further, according to research from Enpocket, the average response rate is 15% on SMS, compared to 6.1% for e-mail.

6. Not everybody gets it

In the U.S., people have primarily used their nearly 170 million mobile phones for basic voice services. Unfortunately 80% of mobile users in the U.S. have never sent an SMS message, so there's a long way to go before mobile marketing qualifies as the mass medium that everyone is looking for.

7. One size (or shape) does not fit all

Mobile devices can range from your common cellphone to Apple's iPod. Mobile devices can be sliced and diced into three categories: communication, entertainment; and business. Surveys have shown that the killer app for business users is taking e-mail wherever they go, while for teens, staying connected in real time with SMS and IM is most important.

8. U.S. vs. Europe, Asia

There is a common belief that Asia and Europe are far ahead of the U.S. with mobile marketing. That's because they are. Europe and Asia have higher data penetration, more established high bandwidth (3G) networks and higher mobile messaging volume. But neither market has fully embraced advanced marketing techniques in mobile. Sometimes being behind can make you come out on top; Nextel is currently testing 4G, which is superior to and free of the problems that have plagued 3G.

9. So what's this going to cost me?

Overall pricing for mobile marketing is still low per customer targeted-but prices do vary wildly. The easiest way to give mobile a try is to sponsor existing mobile content which consumers access on their devices. These types of media sponsorships can carry a $15 to $60 CPM. More creative options are to develop a custom application, game, or utility for a mobile device that ties in with your core business and marketing strategies. Costs for deeper content can start at $10,000 and climb into six digits.

10. Your Web site. To go.

Often the best mobile marketing concepts come from content marketers already displayed on their Web sites. Dealer locators, special daily offers, games, you name it, all can be retooled and repurposed to fit nicely into a mobile application. United, ESPN, and the Weather Channel have all adopted this strategy well, taking existing functionality of the Web and streamlining it for mobile access.

Source: Karim Sanjabi, exec VP-Innovation, Carat Interactive

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