Optism Top 5 Blog Posts of 2012: Thinking Human: Six Steps for Building a Successful Opt-In Mobile Marketing Strategy
By Mihai Vlad, Optism Team, Feb 6, 2013
Note: Optism is republishing our five most popular blog posts of last year, this was number #2 for 2012 and was originally published on January 27, 2012.
Not that long ago, people bought everything from local shops. Shop owners had personal relationships with their customers. They learned through conversations with these customers what types of products and services suited them. With mass marketing, this all changed. We gained a lot in efficiency and economies of scale, but sometimes we lost that all-important human relationship. Today, we can get up close and personal again by using a mobile marketing strategy that employs permission-based techniques.
Using permission-based mobile marketing strategies such as asking people for their permission first before engaging with them on their mobile phones, provides mobile operators, marketers and their brands unprecedented access to a potential customer’s attention and an opportunity to build their trust. As marketing guru Seth Godin has made clear, attention is a scarce resource in today’s world of mass marketing overload. To make the most of this unique opportunity, you need to recognize the very “human” nature of connecting via a mobile phone. And you need to demonstrate very quickly that what you are offering – your content – is worth paying attention to.
Here at Optism, we have developed six “best practices” to help you maximize the value of your permission-based, mobile marketing initiatives by thinking human to gain attention, build trust and drive engagement from your audience.
1. Be transparent
Permission-based mobile marketing begins with you obtaining someone’s consent to on-going communication on their mobile device. Make sure customers understand what they can expect if they opt in. Also, be very clear about how they can opt out at any time. This is no time for “small print!” Being up front and honest with your customers goes a long way in building trust and loyalty.
The more you learn about your mobile audience, the better you can tailor your messages to suit their interests. So ask what interests them instead of assuming what they like based on their actions. Be transparent by making sure people understand and are comfortable with how you are going to use their information. Reassure them that you will respect their privacy and that you will only use the information they provide in the manner you have specified. (Of course, then make sure you do just that!)
2. Don’t try to bribe people
It makes sense to reward people who opt-in to your mobile marketing program, but be creative with that reward. Don’t try to bribe people with a glitzy prize. Offering a huge “prize” as a way to collect opt-ins isn’t an effective way to begin what you want to be a long term engagement. People will opt-in solely to qualify for the contest or prize and then opt-out. You want to attract people who are genuinely interested in your product or service.
Remember, rewards also don’t have to be monetary. If you provide valuable information, advance notice of special events, compelling developments about products or services that fit the recipients’ lifestyles, they will recognize that as the reward.
3. Use simple language
With mobile, you really need to be economical with your language: messages should be short and to the point. Choose words and concepts that are easy to grasp and unambiguous. Of course you also want to be true to the voice of your brand, but demonstrate your understanding of your audience by using language that resonates for them.
Mobile is a one-to-one communication. Use the kind of natural language you would use when communicating with your friends and family. Avoid “marketing speak” and clever turns of phrase –you’re talking to an individual on their personal mobile device. Speak human and build trust.
The words really do count. We find that opt-in rates are noticeably lower when the opt-in message is long and confusing. Starting with your very first message, keep it short and simple.
4. Don’t try to do too much at once
Don’t try to collect everything in one exchange. As you would in any human interaction, count on the relationship to grow and deepen over time. Ask for something small to start, reward the person that gives it to you, and then ask for something more. Permission marketing is like dating and you don’t want to propose marriage on the first date.
Use the first conversation to collect key information like age range, gender and primary interests. In subsequent exchanges, refine your understanding of those key elements. For example, in the first exchange, you may learn that a person is keen on sports. In subsequent conversations, you can narrow that down to specific sports and then favorite teams. Each exchange should contribute to your understanding of the customer and the customer’s appreciation for what you have to offer. Conversations need to be constructed in an intelligent way. In essence, less is more.
At Optism, we have found that when completing a profile, people stop interacting after having answered three consecutive questions – typically going from a 90%, 75% and 65% completion rate for the first three questions, and then dropping to a 30% completion rate for the fourth question. Optism best-practices show that these completion rates can significantly be improved – simply by thinking human and not interrogating your audience.
5. Expect the unexpected
People don’t always act the way you expect them to, or even the way they say they will, so it pays to be ready for anything. You can run focus groups that tell you people will respond if you frame your message in a particular way, but be ready to make changes quickly if things don’t go according to plan. This goes beyond simply collecting statistical results. If you don’t have the expertise to undertake this kind of analysis, consider hiring experts who do. The insight you gain can be invaluable and greatly increase the ROI for future mobile campaigns.
6. Think local
There are no universal rules that apply to all people in all cultures. Permission mobile marketing is about reaching out to the individual, engaging at a personal level. You need to consider local customs, preferences and habits. Communities may have different preferences in terms of days of the week or time of day. In some communities, it is not acceptable to ask someone what gender they are. In order to achieve positive results with permission-based, mobile marketing, you need to be particularly sensitive to local nuances since you are reaching out to people on such a personal device.
Of course, you also need to talk to people in their language of choice. In many markets, this means that your mobile campaign must be available in multiple languages and you need to know the message recipient’s preferred language.
We believe that interactive SMS messaging – texting – is an ideal mobile marketing channel for reaching the widest possible audience. Texting also enables you to reach out to people with a natural back-and-forth, dialogue-based engagement. People carry their mobiles everywhere and they react quickly when a message is received. Using interactive messaging and adhering to our best practices, you can increase the likelihood that your permission mobile marketing campaigns gain people’s attention, build trust and increase audience engagement.