Opt-in best practices for a permission mobile marketing service
By Optism Team, Jul 27, 2010
In recent blogs, we’ve talked about the importance of permission and what permission means to different stakeholders. This week, we’re looking at best practices for getting people to opt in to a mobile marketing service.
Tomi Ahonen tells us there are now 5 billion active mobile phone subscriptions out there, so it’s understandable that advertisers are keen to gain access to the mobile mass audience. But first, operators must entice their customers to opt in for the service and provide them with clear value to keep them engaged.
As Jonathan MacDonald tells us in the Rules of Engagement, careful consideration should be given by operators and others in the mobile marketing ecosystem when engaging with people. Operators should view the service as an opportunity to develop their relationship with customers. The opt-in process can be seen as the beginning point to creating a community of people with an interest in the content the service will deliver. The focus should be on engaging with people by providing them content they want, not on hard selling or by making assumptions of what they want. Opting-in must be simple, quick and easy. Operators need to ensure that there is complete transparency in their offering, meaning that customers know exactly what it is they are agreeing to and what they are going to get in exchange for providing their permission. From the beginning, the communications should be seen as a two-way street.
Depending on their unique situation, operators may choose to offer the service under a separate brand name, or they may choose to use their existing brand. Ideally, potential participants hear about the opportunity through whatever channel they commonly use to interact with their mobile operator. For many, this will be SMS messaging. For others, it may be a web or WAP portal.
With a portal, mobile operators can present background information about the service along with the opt-in process on a single screen. With SMS, the operator will likely exchange a few messages, starting with a simple introductory message: “Hi. We’re introducing a free service that lets you interact directly with brands you care about. Text 1 to learn more.” Once the initial contact has been made, messaging is used to outline how the service works, to get the individual’s explicit opt-in and collect a few key bits of information about the mobile user, and to ensure that he or she knows how to opt out. Operators need to make sure their customers understand that all messages related to the service are free. They also need to make it clear from the beginning that the customers are in control of their experience and their privacy is protected at all times. Personally Identifiable Information (PII) should never be used or shared with any third parties such as advertisers.
To make sure brand messages have value from the beginning, operators should begin gathering preferences right away. This ensures that people always receive ads that fit their lifestyles, from brands that interest them. As a minimum, they’ll need to know age range, gender, location and something about interests. At this point, the information collected on interests will likely be at a high level. Still, brands will know if an audience’s primary interest is sports or music, for example.
Of course, customers’ perceptions of the value of the service — their reward for participating — have a big impact on how successful the operator will be at collecting opt-ins and monetising the service. We suggest that an opt-in strategy enables operators to tailor rewards to different customer segments. For some customers, the ideal reward may be as concrete as free text messages, or a discount coupon from a brand that fits their preferences. For others, the value may be vested in the message itself: the special insider information it provides or the entertainment that can be experienced. For some, the best reward will be the valuable information they get on products or services they adore. Contests and coupons are also a popular way of providing tangible value.
It’s important to keep the service interesting by delivering the kind of content the customer values, matching the reward to what motivates the individual. Jean may be a very budget conscious shopper, so she will be really keen to receive a discount coupon from her favorite brand. Steve, on the other hand, really likes to be up on the very latest music releases, so he’s happy to get “pre-release” information from record companies. With Optism™, mobile operators can tailor the experience to suit a particular group of customers, which maximizes the potential for opt-in and ongoing participation.
Once customers have been active with the service for a while, operators can offer special incentives for them to spread the word to their friends. Offering “refer a friend” incentives to encourage word-of-mouth promotion can be a cost-effective and immediate way to boost opt-ins.
Next time, we’re going to look at how to keep the conversation going in a permission and preference based mobile marketing service.