Mobile Strategy Should Employ Multiple Means of Participation

In Mobile Marketer's new guide for Mobile Advertising, I wrote about the importance of giving consumers choice about how to interact with you via mobile. The article follows:

CTIA reports that mobile phone penetration in the United States is greater than 96 percent with more than 300 million current wireless subscribers, 72.5 million of which are using
smartphones (comScore).

Now let us consider the large number of operating systems – iOS, Android, Microsoft’s Mango, BlackBerry – and the ever-increasing different devices in use.

Savvy brands understand that we are each individuals when it comes to our mobile devices. Leading brands such as Macy’s, MillerCoors and Ford understand this concept, and provide multiple options for mobile engagement.

This has led to a number of successful mobile marketing and advertising programs.

In spring 2011, Macy’s launched its Backstage Pass program, which engages shoppers in-store via multiple calls to action to use a mobile device.

Recognizing that not all its shoppers have QR code readers, the iconic department store added a short code to in-store signage, giving consumers a choice and ensuring that no one is left out.

When the QR code is scanned, or the short code is texted shoppers are forwarded to a backstage look at a video from the designer of their choice including Kenneth Cole, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, Rachel Roy, Jessica Simpson and Martha Stewart.

The videos offer design suggestions, style tips and more. Shoppers can even enter a sweepstakes to win Macy’s gift cards.

The program has gained wide acclaim and interaction, sparking Macy’s to implement a second video series for the fall shopping season.

MillerCoors, the second largest beer company in America, recognizes that beer and sports go hand in hand.

The company designated nearly 75 percent of its ad spend to sporting events in 2010.

However, MillerCoors recognizes that there is a substantial opportunity to take these advertisements to the next level. By adding a mobile element to its advertisements, MillerCoors is able to connect with customers and build lasting relationships.

MillerCoors tapped Hipcricket to run a cross-media marketing campaign, leveraging traditional mobile elements, to help increase awareness of the Coors Light brand during Super Bowl XLV and the Miller Lite brand during the 2011 NCAA tournament.These campaigns included QR codes, mobile Web sites, SMS and contesting.

The campaigns resulted in over 159,000 interactions from 86,000 mobile participants and over 60 percent of which fell into one of MillerCoors’ key demographics – the 21-34 age range.

FordDirect, a joint venture between Ford Motor Co. and its dealers, implemented its first mobile program in 2010.

The brand’s goal was to include mobile calls to action in its national print, radio and TV advertisements to give potential customers an opportunity to interact with the car brand on a personal level.

The first phase of FordDirect’s program included adding short codes to its national ads for the Ford Year End event.

The car company was able to generate more than 1,000 leads across 38 regional dealer groups and achieve a 12.5 percent conversion rate.

In 2011, Ford is projected to spend $1.3 billion on advertising, primarily targeted at creating leads that turn into sales.

As part of that effort, FordDirect has now expanded its mobile marketing program to include all of its print and TV advertisements. The program has achieved a 15.4 percent lead conversion rate.

The success of these programs has led to an expanded program which includes QR codes among other mobile channels.

With a myriad of ways for people to consume mobile content on a host of mobile devices, why should a brand’s mobile playbook only have one play?

Why Will Marketers Spend More On Mobile in 2012?

Mobile Marketer asked me to explain the increased spend in mobile marketing expected in 2012.

  Here's what I told the publication:

  “It starts with consumer behavior. Every indicator says mobile activity considerably increased in 2011. The latest was the IBM report that said sales from mobile devices doubled in December 2011 versus December 2010.

  “Even the most stubborn of marketers has had to take note. The smartest ones know that consumers expect brands to have a significant mobile presence – and they are punishing companies that don’t.

  “Many mobile channels will benefit from increased spending. Mobile Web will be one of the winners driven by consumer demand. Another will be SMS because it provides reach to all, including the 50 percent who won’t have smartphones and, when used wisely, leads to permission-based, monetizable databases."

  The full story is here -

Too Much Emphasis On Smartphones?

Mobile Marketer asked me for a 2012 prediction. With all the talk about fancy phones, marketers need to remember those with less sophisticated devices:

"I predict that many marketers will neglect feature phone users as smartphone share tops 50 percent. Sure, we need to provide rich experiences to those with highly-capable devices, but we can't afford to forget the approximate 160 million Americans who will continue to carry simple phones for the foreseeable future. Mobile marketing will continue to be about reach in 2012."

The full article is here:

Mobile's Misses In 2011

Any list of the year’s misses in mobile must include the incorrect predictions that Super Bowl advertisers would include calls to action leading to the creation of massive permission-based databases.

Instead, TV advertisers flubbed the year’s best and biggest opportunity to engage.

This was going to be the year that advertisers embraced mobile. Think of the possibilities:

• Chrysler offers fans an exclusive Eminem download at the end of the “Keep Detroit Beautiful” when they join a mobile affinity club for the new Chrysler 200.

• Verizon Wireless asks mobile users to text in their ZIP codes to learn how its network is superior to AT&T’s. 

• GoDaddy requires users to opt in to watch a special mobile version of their “too hot for TV” commercial.

None of these things happened. 

Total number of mobile calls-to-action: 0

Total number of mobile loyalty clubs launched: 0

I will not miss on this in 2012. I’m staying as far away from the Super Bowl as the Indianapolis Colts.

Other misses in the year in mobile:

RIM has had as bad a year as the Colts. It has failed to innovate, underwhelmed in sales, and has shown no direction worth following. With the likely first pick of the draft, Indianapolis has better prospects for 2012 than does RIM.

It remains to be seen whether the forecast of 50 percent smartphone penetration by the end of 2011 is met. Nielsen listed the third quarter number at 44 percent. The last six points to 50 percent is a large hill to climb, but this is the season of giving and stockings will be ringing across the country.

We missed on predictions of the iPhone 5 on four U.S. carriers. All of us did, including the most dependable of so-called insiders. No fifth generation of the iPhone, no iPhone business at all at T-Mobile, which spent the last six months envisioning a marriage with AT&T that hasn’t made it to the altar. 

Of course, what we got from Apple was Siri, a voice recognition technology that received the fanboy buzz treatment but is already considered a fading novelty by many.

Marketers chased the so-called shiny object but failed to bring home the business results.  Savvy professionals succeed by following behaviors and interest research rather than gambling on something entirely new. 

These marketers know that just because you can do something technically doesn’t mean that you should. The lesson? Know your customers and prospects and market to them in ways that you have the best chance to succeed. 

A major global brand allocates approximately 70 percent of its mobile efforts to reach efforts that include SMS, 20 percent to richer experiences that don’t reach all subscribers, and 10 percent to the shiny object. That is a great example to follow.

And finally, many marketers missed by dictating how consumers would interact with their brands.

Successful mobile campaigns, like the Backstage Pass program at Mobile Marketer’s Marketer of the Year Macy’s, provided multiple ways to engage. By giving options like SMS, QR codes and mobile web sites, marketers prosecuted a reach strategy that was inclusive – and moved product.

(column first published in Mobile Marketer -

My Super, If Not Super Bowl, Predictions For 2012

My Super Bowl mobile predictions have been anything but super so I’ll steer clear of forecasting the arrival of mobile calls to action in TV spots in February.

Instead, here are my 2012 predictions for other areas of mobile:

Device price points will continue to be brought down with offers of discounted products in exchange for a consumer agreeing to receive ads. Mobile phones with offers, including perhaps a Google phone, are coming soon.

Savvy marketers will follow research highlighting consumer behavior and interest. They know that just because you can do something technically doesn’t mean that you should. Know your customers and prospects and market to them in ways that you have the best chance of success. One major global brand allocates approximately 70 percent of its mobile efforts to ‘reach efforts’ that include SMS, 20 percent to richer experiences that don’t reach all subscribers, and 10 percent to the shiny object. That is a great example to follow.

2012 will be the year of the mobile web. As we move closer to the time when more people access the web on a wireless device than a PC, brands, agencies and others will realize that they need a mobile web offering that overdelivers. This has not yet happened, but will soon because consumers will demand it.

In such a growth industry, more vendors will enter the marketplace making claims that they will produce ROI. Proceed with caution. While the company name may not say Two Guys In a Garage, that may indeed be what you are buying.

Expect more pressure from senior management to produce results from mobile, meaning it’s critical to think beyond a one-time transaction. There are bigger opportunities if you think about what can happen after the click, namely an experience that can lead to an opt-in and remarketing possibilities.

Plan on more device types in the hands of consumers, making it important to provide positive user experiences rather than products that addresses the least-common denominator. Consumers expect top notch brand experiences and the bar is higher than ever with smartphones and faster networks.

Expect more social interaction at the point of sale, making customer service vital or a bad experience will end up on Facebook or Twitter in seconds. According to my Moments of Trust consumer touchpoint survey, 40 percent of consumers with smartphones or Internet-enabled mobile devices have used them to spread word to their social networks about an in-store experience, 46 percent of them reported a positive one and 40 percent cited a negative one.

We will see patent infringements being identified and enforced, making it imperative to work with a company that has protected IP and can keep you out of trouble. Rather than experiencing a problem later, it’s critical to determine if a vendor has proprietary technology or is working off something that could be challenged in court.

Others will chase voice as the killer app but may not deliver due to issues of ambient noise and poor search results.

Successful mobile campaigns will have prominent calls to action and provide multiple ways to engage. Much like Macy’s does with its Backstage Pass program, brands should consider using an SMS call to action and QR code on print advertising campaign pointing to a mobile website that can capture customer’s information.  This engages the consumer and introduces a concept of immediacy. Consumers are looking for interactivity in what used to be passive situations.

(article first appeared on

Assessing My Mobile Predictions

Anyone who claims that everything that happened in mobile in the second half of 2011 was predicted is selling you a lie. We’re smarter than falling for untruths, you say?

Yup, call me on the iPhone 5 through the T-Mobile network and give me the details.

We missed – all of us did, including the most dependable of so-called insiders. No fifth generation of the iPhone, no iPhone business at all at T-Mobile, which spent the last six months envisioning a marriage with AT&T that hasn’t made it to the alter. At least Kim and Kris got that far.

Of course, what we got from Apple was Siri, a voice recognition technology that received the fanboy buzz treatment but is already considered a fading novelty by many.

In July, we suggested that with the iPhone in more hands, we would have a repeat of the time when the CEO said, “We need an iPhone app”. That may have come to pass to some degree, but we certainly aren’t fielding request after request at Hipcricket where clients and prospects are more interested in driving leads and building databases which produce remarketing opportunities.

How did I do on my other predictions?

I forecast that the convergence of mobile and social would be even more pronounced. That has come to pass with Facebook and Twitter introducing products that have yielded unprecedented activity through wireless devices. Facebook’s acquisition of location-sharing property Gowalla is the latest example of the coming together of mobile and social.

I predicted that at retail, even more mobile subscribers would be chronicling their “Moments of Trust” by posting comments, photos and even videos to social networks. Mobile devices have become megaphones for a large portion of users with more than 40 percent telling those in their social networks about negative or positive experiences with brands. Is this trend growing? Try finding someone in a mall without a mobile device in hand.

I said that Groupon would prove to be more valuable to mobile users than to PC members, providing that the mobile customer opts in for Groupon Now offers.  According to daily deal aggregator Yipit, Groupon Now—geared toward consumers using mobile devices—generated $1.2 million in revenue in October, a 24.5 percent increase from September. By way of comparison, Groupon’s October revenue was up 22.2 percent.

I said to expect outrage over bills that charge for data overages. We’ve heard this one before – text messaging became mainstream once consumers were offered unlimited plans that prevented shocking bills. With the carriers doing away with all you can eat data, we’re back to surprise time in our bills. As it turned out, the Federal Trade Commission noticed. In October, it unveiled its "bill shock" plan, which would require wireless providers to alert users when they have exceeded or are about to go over voice, text, or data usage.

I predicted that the hype around the mobile wallet would intensify and asked if that was even possible. I also said that everyone is chasing the opportunity, but consumers wouldn’t be leaving their wallets at home when they hit the malls in November and December. This is true. The Google Wallet payment system was announced in May, but it only works with Sprint’s Nexus S 4G.The buzz continues, though, with the news that the Google Wallet will soon be linked to vending machines in New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., and San Francisco.

I suggested that with smartphone adoption making a march toward 50 percent share, expect more to make the claim that apps are on the way out because so many more subscribers will be able to access the mobile web. I also said that we’re years away from deciding the apps vs. web question. I still believe that. We now have over one million apps offered through various stores. The great majority are ignored or get downloaded and forgotten. But some, mostly utilitarian ones, appear to be here to stay.

(Article first appeared at

Mobile's Breakout Star in 2012?

Mobile Marketer asked me which moble channel will shine brightest next year.

This is what I said:

"The 2012 breakout mobile channel won't be a shiny object. The newest innovation will get the buzz but won't be widely adopted immediately if ever.

"My bet for breakout star is the mobile Web. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have produced a tripling of activity and shows that we're out of the early adopter phase.

"With more capable deivces in more hands, the mobile Web becomes indispensible for commerce, entertainment, information and more. Brands that missed the boat this year have no time to lick their wounds - get busy planning now.

More here 

More Bird Talk

Steve Smith from Mediapost wrote about the Kikkoman mobile program and quotes me here

I told Steve that the campaign combines in-store calls to action with email, SMS, mobile web and video.

"By giving consumers a choice in how they'd like to interact with Kikkoman, the company is increasing the likelihood of participation and ongoing engagement."

A Latte and a Squirrel. Cute But Why?

Somehow it became news that we can interact with characters in Starbucks.  Haven’t we been doing that all along?

If you haven’t had your dose of reality – augmented reality, that is – let me fill you in. Beginning next Tuesday, customers who download an app for iPhone and Android devices can experience what Starbucks is calling “Cup Magic”.


Specifically by firing up the app and pointing it at a holiday cup, one can interact with five characters — an ice skater, a squirrel, a boy and a dog sledding and a fox — on your screen.

And, if you are so inclined, you can share the feature on Facebook and via email.

The object, Alexandra Wheeler, Vice President of Global Digital Marketing for Starbucks told Mashable is to “surprise and delight” customers during the holiday season.

My take?

It’s one more case of augmented reality showing off whiz bang technology but not delivering much value. At the risk of being a Scrooge – it wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve been so described – what’s in this for us? I am in Starbucks six days a week, looking for a jolt of Joe, not cuteness.

Sure, Starbucks created buzz with the campaign but don’t we already get that with our Venti latte?

For years that sometimes feel forever, we’ve counseled brands to create mobile experiences that drive business. Our MillerCoors client uses mobile for one reason – to sell more beer.

Will Starbucks move any more product by giving us skaters in our holiday cup scenes? Isn’t augmented reality more useful if it serves a utilitarian purpose like showing me the nearest discount on coffee when I’m in a new city?

When it comes to augmented reality, just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.

(first appeared on


Talking Moments of Trust, Mobile & Social at MMA's Los Angeles Forum

We're about to enter a holiday season like none other with more shoppers bringing their megaphones to retail locations where they will comment on Moments of Trust via Twitter, Facebook, text and more.

I'll discuss the implications Nov. 16 at the Mobile Marketing Association's Forum.  Details are here>

Ping me if you would like a discount code.