December 23, 2011

Mobile Marketing on a Shoestring

By Michael de Souza, VP Media

As 2012 approaches, there are still companies that have not allocated budgets for mobile marketing yet.

What are they thinking?

Yes, we are biased, but here are the facts:

  • The number of mobile devices is about to equal the number of people on this planet.
  • Mobile is the primary – sometimes the only – way to access the internet in many markets
  • Mobile advertising is inexpensive as compared to other media
  • It is easy to measure the return on investment and unlike print, radio and TV, marketing can be directly linked to sales.
So if you are a brand manager, agency type, media buyer, strategist or really anyone who has a creative say about what goes into a campaign, don't be scared of change.

Listen, we realise you could get fired for spending half a year’s budget running a mobile campaign (but never for a TV commercial!), so here are some ways you can become the go-to guy on your team for mobile.

1. Push to make mobile a part of every campaign

Companies like BMW and Ford now mandate that every single marketing campaign – be it online or off – have a mobile element. This just makes sense. Include a mobile message or call to action. The incremental price is small.

2. Build a social media presence (with a strong focus on mobile)

Social networks present a range of opportunities to engage with customers via mobile (more than half of social network interaction is mobile). The platform adapts itself automatically to support the full gamut of mobile devices. This needn’t cost you anything more than the time and effort of your team.

3. Integrate QR codes into your offline media and products
If you work in consumer products, definitely think about the opportunities for mobile marketing on your packaging. Place a Quick Response (QR) code on every box, can or label. Then give consumers a reason to point their camera phones at the QR Code. In a matter of moments, you'll be interacting with them on your mobile site. (Similarly you could place a mobile url or opt-in SMS number on your product.)

Now, imagine the media cost if every package was a media buy in a magazine. Are you sitting on a free publishing medium? Becoming the stubborn mobile evangelist on your team could easily win you thousands of dollars worth of media exposure, at no extra cost.

4. Optimise and fine-tune your campaigns

You don't have to spend much, less in fact than the cost of a night at the movies. Some companies spend as little as US$20 to get started. Admittedly, it depends on your budget. Some mobile advertisers spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on their initial ad buys. But the point is, it depends on you. After you start advertising, check in frequently to monitor the progress, then adjust accordingly. Don't be scared to test different ideas, text ads, banners, bid rates, etc. Also make use of conversion tags to distinguish between the ads that result in quality clicks and those delivering traffic that delves no further than your landing page.

5. Network and stay informed

The better informed you are, the better your chances for success. Set aside some time to learn more about the basic mechanics and best practices of mobile. This blog and the BuzzCity website are great resources: check out our case studies, “how to” articles and reports. For information on specific markets – including the most popular phones, operating systems and usage patterns, use the BuzzCity Campaign Planner.

Talking with other people in the industry is always useful as well. Almost every major city now has a chapter of Mobile Monday or an active chapter of the Mobile Marketing Association. Of course, my colleagues and I travel quite a bit as well for conferences and BuzzCity roadshows and we publicise where we'll be in advance on this blog.

The Last Word
Good luck! And check in with us again next year. My guess is that after twelve months of growth on a tiny budget, you’ll have more than proven the value of mobile to your team and clients, because during that time you'll have strengthened the company brand by fostering interaction, discussions, experiences, relationships and even sales.

Then, it will be a lot easier to ask for money to fund the next phase of growth. The trick is to start before you're ready. Yes, even if you only have a small budget!