Monday, October 27, 2008

Your mobile audience: what's in it for them?

One of the biggest opportunities for today's marketers is the mobile web. The cell phone is the device with the most potential to encourage immediate action, since most users carrying it with them all the time and since it almost always commands the user's immediate attention. The problem, however, is that most people don't want ads on their phones. In fact, they're only going to get more adamant about not wanting ads after marketers start making the mistake of assuming they do.

So how can marketers communicate with customers in a way that is constructive and welcome?
The key is providing information that is useful to the consumer--on their terms, not yours. In a sense, it's like any other medium: by understanding what's in it for them, you'll do a much better job of being heard and engaging your audience.

What specific kinds of information can effectively be communicated via mobile? There are some great examples in
this AdAge column, but here are a few others that immediately come to mind:

  • Restaurant reservation confirmations, other service provider (doctors, dentists, stylyst) reminder. And giving customers the ability to make reservations/appointments via mobile web is a no brainer.
  • Weight loss encouragement and nutrition reminders sent right before breakfast, lunch, and dinner by weight management and fitness centers
  • Reminders about financial aid, registration, and other deadline from colleges and universities
The idea is to anticipate needs users will have while on the go. And as web users of all kinds become more task-oriented, more mobile will increasingly displace desktop computer use. That's great news if you have valuable information to share. If you don't, then it's time to start thinking about what you can do to change that. The best place to start? Ask your customers what kind of information--if any--they'd like to receive on the cell phone. If you've worked hard to earn their trust, they'll tell you. If you haven't, you need to work on that before expecting they'll give you permission to communicate with them via the mobile web.

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