Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What's Next?

Recently I enrolled in an internet marketing class which has opened my eyes to the complex world of marketing today. There is a whole new world of marketing strategies emerging due to the rapid advances in technology. We can recall the days when coupons, brochures, and promotional “junk mail” overflowed our mailboxes. Then the coupons, brochures and promotional items starting overflowing my e-mail account, with the help of spam blockers that the amount of advertisements I receive in my inbox are limited. Although snail mail and email marketing has not yet become completely extinct, what is the next step for marketers to take in order to reach out to their consumers? What are companies other options to reaching out to customers?

To me mobile advertising seems to be the next best option for marketers. Mobile advertising includes cell phones, PDAs, IPods, and many other hand-held digital devices. According to Wikipedia, more than 4 billion of the nearly 6.7 billion people in the world use mobile phones. That is nearly 60% of the total population! 260,000,000 of those people are in the United States. That is a significant number which would allow marketers to reach a very wide range of consumers. There seems to be a high chance that if one does not have a cell phone, they own or have access to some other type of digital device.

Cell phones are a converging technology and many offer common features of a desk top. They offer word processors, spreadsheets, presentation viewers, file managers, messaging technologies, and the ability to connect to the internet. (Sweeney, MacLellan, & Dorey, 2006) So cell phones have the ability to receive data and process it into information that the user can view and understand. Cell phones are not the only merging market that we are seeing today. The market of hand-held devices seems to be growing from all points including MP3 players and digital readers (digital books). Along with the growth of this industry and its technology is the growth in opportunities to market to the users.

So what are some of the challenges marketers face in transitioning to mobile marketing? Are we even ready for mobile marketing? A study reported that 84% of respondents said they would not embrace mobile advertising unless they had the choice of receiving the message. (Strauss, 2009) With mobile marketing, one does not have the choice of when they receive the message, where they are when they receive it, or having the option to delete before opening. Also the cost of the ad is taken by the consumer in text messaging costs. These seem to be some of the concerns many people have as indicated by the results of the study. In order to address some of these concerns, I think cell phone providers and marketers would have to get together to find a way to make the advertising free to consumers and allow options to receiving the messages. One option could be allowing users to set times frames of when they are willing to receive such messages.

Other issues with mobile advertising are that hand-held devices have small screens and keyboards are not the same as on computers. Also it often takes a long time to upload a website to a mobile device. (Strauss, 2009) Mobile advertising has not been embraced as indicated by the limited number of companies that have developed mobile websites, which are designed to fit the small screen and carry less information to decrease the upload time on the mobile device. To me this seems to be an easy step in the transition to mobile marketing. MySpace.com has created a mobile site which allows you to access your MySpace account from your cell phone quickly and easily and without having to stop by a computer. The page does not have as much content or as many graphics as the full version but allows you to check your messages, read and write e-mails, add new friends, find friends, along with many other of the same things that you can do on the full version. Not to mention how quick it loads compared to trying to load all those pictures and advertisements onto your hand-held. I know with my cell phone, which is pretty new and has many features, it takes about 2 minutes to open each page of the full version of MySpace and about 20 seconds to open the mobile version.

Below is a YouTube video which shows how Volvo cars has used mobile marketing to their benefit, within their dealerships. They are using the mobile marketing technology in the place of a sales person. This allows for quick information about the car to be passed to the consumer as well as pictures and other relevant information that could be shared with family and friends in an instant. This also allows for direct marketing to the exact target population they want to promote to. I would assume it would also allow them to collect indentifying information regarding that consumer.

Once again the video proves that the uses of mobile marketing are endless. We now know that more then half the World's population uses cell phones and that many have the same capabilities as a desktop. Now we just need to work on finding ways to make mobile marketing more accepted by society, user friendly and cost free to consumers. It doesn't sound like much work but it will require alot of merging and collaborating of industries and specialties that may have never worked together before. Mobile marketing is emerging but has not yet reached its fullest potential. But you just wait, mobile marketing is coming to a cell phone near you (if it hasn't already).

Strauss, J. (2009). E-Marketing. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

Sweeney, S., MacLellan, A., & Dorey, E. (2006). 3G Marketing on the Internet. Gulf Breeze: Maximum Press.

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from List of countries by number of mobile phones in use: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of_mobile_phones_in_use

YouTube.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from Telecom Report-Mobile Marketing in Practice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MipLlLzzrgE