WhatWhen it comes to what you can do with mobile, the options available as a marketer are substantial.  SMS, mobile apps, the mobile Web, and the bevy of other options available to marketers each provide their own sets of strengths and weaknesses.

Though other trends are continually emerging, the primary forms of mobile marketing have been based around the use of text messaging (SMS), mobile apps, and the mobile Web.  What\’s possible with each differs, but all provide a means to reach your audience with targeted precision, valuable content, and calls-to-action that can effectively drive campaign results.  Let\’s take a look at each to determine what\’s possible from a campaign perspective.

Text Messaging (SMS)

The use of SMS is by far the most popular form of mobile marketing given its long reach, simplicity, and relatively low cost.  Leveraging the use of a short code, a variety of keywords, and some innovative thinking can do wonders in boosting sales, producing leads, driving brand loyalty and awareness, or just about any other campaign goal.  Here are some examples of what\’s possible using SMS:

  1. Interactive audience participation – Using SMS, you can engage your target audience using things like mobile sweepstakes, polls, voting campaigns, and other ways for recipients to engage in two-way communication.  These go a long way in putting your brand in front of a willing mobile audience and providing value to the end-user, all while building your mobile database for future campaigns at the same time.
  2. Promotions, special sales, or discounts – SMS allows you to reach your database in real-time with time-sensitive offers, special discounts, and other campaigns that encourage a sense of urgency.  Short-run campaigns using special SMS-based promotions are a great way to boost short-term sales and draw quick awareness to limited-time offers.
  3. Event reminders or other status or account alerts – SMS can also be used simply to provide updates to your mobile users.  Users respond well to receiving status alerts for their various accounts, or simply to remind them of an important upcoming event or appointment.  This can go a long way in building brand value and loyalty, which in many cases is just as important as building revenue using mobile campaigns.
  4. Using SMS as an intermediary to more engaging mobile content –The fact that SMS is available on nearly every cell phone on the market allows marketers to leverage the channel to drive users to richer, more engaging content through the use of strategic calls-to-actions placed in the messages you send to your subscriber list.  Adding a link to a mobile app download, a Web app, a simple WAP site, etc., can drive traffic to other mobile content that your users may have not otherwise known about if it weren\’t for an SMS-based notification and call-to-action.
  5. Mobile Coupons – One of the most effective uses for SMS is mobile coupons.  The concept builds on the universal consumer desire to save money.    Adding a digital means to distribute and redeem coupons is a very effective tool from a marketing and consumer standpoint.  Using SMS, consumers can redeem mobile coupons using a simple code displayed on their cell phone screen.  MMS takes this capability a step further by displaying an actual barcode that can be scanned directly into a POS system.  Mobile coupons are especially powerful primarily because they\’re stored on a user\’s device and therefore can be redeemed at any time.

Mobile Apps

Mobile apps provide for a much richer user-experience but are limited in terms of the reach they provide, given the fact that smartphones are required.  The opportunities for a marketer are substantial, however, in that you\’re only limited by your imagination in terms of the content and rich media that mobile apps allow.  Mobile apps are primarily used for branding purposes.  Your app could include an interactive branding experience, for example, whereby the same content found on your website or elsewhere is optimized for mobile and thereby available for users on-the-go.

With the advent of integrated location-awareness, your mobile apps can take a user\’s real-time location into consideration when sending him things like mobile coupons, special incentives, push notifications, and much more.  If your brand is content-oriented, for example, you can feed your mobile-optimized content feeds, articles, user-generated content, and much more through a mobile app to increase your reach and targeting well beyond the confines of a traditional website.

Mobile Web

Through the advent of new technologies like HTML5, much of the rich media content found in mobile apps can be distributed via the mobile Web now.  This greatly increases reach since the mobile Web is device-agnostic and is thereby available on any device with a mobile browser.  In addition, the mobile Web provides for the same opportunities found on traditional Websites, such as banner ads, CPC and CPA advertising.  Greater interactivity can be integrated into mobile Web advertising as well using features found on the mobile device itself, such as SMS capabilities, location-awareness, and more.

Integrating for a Well-Rounded Mobile Strategy

As you can see, each mobile channel provides a wealth of opportunity, but focusing solely on one or another can limit the overall reach and effectiveness of your campaigns.  Like other marketing strategies, making use of a variety of channels through tightly integrated campaigns can greatly increase your chances of success by making sure one channel complements another and vice-versa.  When you know the relative strengths of each mobile channel and what types of messages to send to each, you dramatically increase the chances of success with your marketing campaigns.