During the first year of my first “real job,” I splurged on a new bedroom set and upgraded from a studio to a one-bedroom apartment. Of course, that meant my phone service had to be switched over. I waited and waited until well past the three-hour time period in which I was told the phone company would visit. No one came. I called the phone company and the representative made no apologies for having wasted half my work day—all she did was curtly ask when I’d like to reschedule. This being the early 1990s, I had to have a landline, and grudgingly scheduled a new work order to get my phone installed.
But I vowed that if I lived to be 100, I would live to see consumer reliance on such cavalier landline service providers fall by the wayside.
I have been vindicated.
The Pew Internet Project yesterday released a report comparing the importance of cell phones, landlines, and other means of communication. It said a poll of U.S. adults shows that cellular phones are the communications technology that consumers would find the most difficult to give up. More than half—51 percent, to be exact—said cell phones were the hardest to give up—up from 38 percent in 2002.
Even better, cell phones trumped landlines—which were the top “hardest to give up” only in 2006! It makes sense. People who move to new houses can simply take their cell phones with them. They don’t have to wait around for the phone company to show up whenever its workers feel like it.
But I’m not just gloating over my triumph after wrongs done me more than a decade ago. The Pew findings are another reason why cell phones are an important platform for marketers to consider if they want to effectively reach audiences. It’s easy to understand why consumers are so dependant on their phones. Basically, they’re a means to multiple modes of communicating:
* Voice, of course, is the first reason for having any phone. But U.S. cellular providers have recently started reducing “minutes” costs, with all-you-can-talk flat rates making it more affordable than ever for customers to make local and long-distance calls.
* A cell phone user can be contacted via SMS, which is increasing in usage among consumers. Pew says that 60 percent of adults younger than 30 send text messages daily.
* Rapidly-developing mobile technology has resulted (or soon will result) in phones that can connect to the Internet, making email and online channels more relevant than ever. Pew reports that of those surveyed, 65 percent of Hispanics, 54 percent of African-Americans, 70 percent of users younger than 30, and 19 percent overall access the Web via cellular networks.
Sure, landlines are still important for business users, as well as for homeowners who plan to stay put. But as marketers plan voice broadcast campaigns for landlines, they should keep cell phones in mind as well. Not just for voice, but for SMS, email, and online campaigns, too.
Marketing Communications Manager, mobileStorm
“I’d rather you text me”