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Mobile Coupons -- Don't be that Guy

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While some say life is made up of moments, lately it feels like life is made up of interruptions -- irrelevant interruptions in the form of text messages. Especially when those text messages are from marketers trying to lure me into their store. They have no idea what I'm doing or where I'm at, and the majority of the time their completely obtrusive text message coupon about 20 percent off my next purchase of $75 or more, isn't relevant or appropriate at that particular time in my life.

It reminds me of a time not so long ago (last week) when people said, "For mobile marketing let's just mimic our e-mail marketing calendar." Because when we get an e-mail, we also want a text message with the same offer, right? Not so much.

According to the 2010 U.S. Local Mobile Advertising and Promotions Forecast, mobile coupon spending is on the rise, a major indicator to the emergence of mobile marketing. In 2009, mobile coupon spending was $90 million and is expected to hit $6.52 billion in the next four years. Why the big breakthrough? The redeemed value of mobile coupons is nearly 25 percent higher than printed Internet coupons.

For marketers who are exploring mobile coupons, know that mimicking your e-mail calendar won't be effective. Texting randomly most likely won't work either. However, take a minute and think how much more effective your campaign would be if you took this route:

Customer A is a regular shopper at Banana Republic. And you know that Customer A is in Dallas, Texas near a shopping center that has a Banana Republic store. Now, hold on to your hat. What if you knew that an hour ago Customer A was browsing bananarepublic.com on her smartphone. Perhaps now would be the most appropriate and effective time to shoot over that discount coupon text message.

The truth is, when programs start out they are pretty overwhelming and intrusive. You'll notice that smart marketers are fine-tuning e-mail blasts and using dynamic re-targeting and behavioral targeting, to customize their programs these days. Making them less intrusive to the average bear.

But when they started, it was a no-holds barred. E-mail marketing did this, display marketing did this, and mobile marketing is doing this.

A few groundbreaking companies have figured out how to provide real relevancy, which is bound to drive even better results. If I'm sitting at a stoplight and search for my nearest Starbucks, give me the coupon! It's perfect. Relevant, targeted, and useful -- three things marketers miss quite often.

Some marketers try to get around the relevancy factor with the "well, the consumer opted in" excuse. But just because customers like your brand and want a discount doesn't make your random texts relevant. Wait until the customer shows interest and then go after them. Don't spam them because you have a sale on socks. Think of mobile marketing as a consumer, not a marketer -- putting on that hat will allow a lot more clarity for strategy, execution, and analysis.

The typical U.S. mobile subscriber sends and receives more SMS text messages than telephone calls; therefore making the move to send mobile coupons for your brand is the first step in the right direction. But just like anything else, remember that strategy is important. You need to figure what yours is before you start spending money.

Begin building your mobile subscriber base while getting more information from your users. Doing this online is the easiest and fastest way to begin. It's also a less obtrusive way to gain more information on those who are interested in receiving mobile alerts.

Be sure to consider demographics. Younger users (13-18) shouldn't be messaged until after school hours for the most favorable results. We also know many working women (25-54) shop during their lunch hour, so this may be the most beneficial time for them to receive a text.

Whether you're testing small or have a large budget to try something innovative like geo-fencing, always consider your demographic and their likely behaviors to increase the relevancy of your message. These initial steps will give your campaign a better chance to be successful, while also bringing something of value to your consumer.


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