Direct to Consumer Marketing Made Uncomplicated

by Fredrick Simmons

Mobile phone marketing, otherwise known as SMS marketing, is the modern evolution of direct marketing. Direct marketing has always been chosen by companies as a specialized and focused method of reaching new consumers and, with the rise of mobiles, SMS marketing has risen in popularity. Mobile marketing is perhaps best defined as the practice of marketing products and services using digital distribution channels to reach consumers in a quick, appropriate, personal and cost-effective way.

The most common form of digital marketing is SMS marketing, which has expanded rapidly in Europe and Asia. It is thought that several hundred million promotional messages are sent through SMS every month in Europe alone. SMS stands for ‘short message service’ and is a communication form specific to mobiles where a short message can be simply sent to any mobile user. As well as sending material to consumers, advertisers can often encourage consumers to participate in promotional and brand publicity campaigns by encouraging consumers to SMS a particular number at an event in order to enter a competition, to receive a prize or to have their message displayed on a multimedia wall at an event. All of these methods involves the consumer through the medium of SMS and creates brand awareness.

There are a variety of other examples of digital marketing. One example is sending messages via MMS, which is a multimedia version of SMS, allowing consumers to receive messages with color, pictures and video. There is also mobile web marketing, where brands advertise marketing goals through websites accessed by mobiles. Promoters often make innovative use of SMS marketing such as location-based services where consumers are offered specific marketing and other network-related information and promotional material based on their whereabouts. With the range of methods and options available to promoters, it is to be expected that a recent marketing survey found that 89% of major brands planned to market their products through digital marketing by the end of 2008.

SMS marketing is an example of what is known within the industry as “push” marketing. The idea behind push marketing is that that the marketer has to send (push) the information to the consumer in order for the material to be received. This is different to “pull” marketing, a passive form of promotion, where it is customers who seek out the material from sources such as websites or blogs.

There are many positives to SMS marketing. Primarily, the attraction is that this method of advertising can be personalized to the subscriber. This is the ideal in marketing as it means getting the message specifically to the group it’s aimed at, rather than wasting money on an broad campaign. The specificity allowed by this type of advertising, which results in a more economical campaign, is one example why a high return on investment is possible with SMS marketing. Another advantage of SMS marketing is the detailed tracking and reporting of recipients it permits. Through this medium, promoters can track how many users viewed their material and also access detailed information about each user such as their name, their age, their demographic and where they’re located. This permits a promoter to raise profiles of their users; information which then guides future promotional campaigns and, ideally, their success.

It is noted in the industry that push marketing, of which digital marketing is a form, can help drive new revenue and brand reinforcement if it is used correctly and appropriately. This is because it makes customers aware of new additions that they may not know to enquire about already and the way the material is phrased, and even the fact that the material is being delivered by a contemporary, hip medium such as SMS, can say a great deal about a brand and a business.

There are, however, some drawbacks to SMS marketing. By its very nature, it needs a mechanism – the mobile – to be able to send information. The company, as well, needs to make use of specialized hardware and software in order to send the content to subscribers, which can lead to sizeable costs. Another negative is the fact that SMS marketing is heavily regulated by the telecommunications industry in response to customer disquiet about what information and marketing they get shown. Most Western nations have laws in place that compel marketers to receive the approval of subscribers before promotional material is sent to them and must clearly give them with an ‘opt out’ option if they want to stop receiving material. If marketers are discovered to be in contravention of these laws, network providers can block marketing content by marketers.

As mobile technology grows, digital marketing will certainly continue to increase in importance.

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