I would like to throw a little mobile marketing into the social media mix this month. After all, simple Darwinism applied to business thinking has proven how important it is to strive to keep ahead of the curve.
We should not ignore the impact that smartphones and social media are having on our lives. I for one probably use my smartphone more for web browsing, social networking, blogging and email beyond the workplace than I use my laptop.
Yes, this could well be early-adopter territory I’m speaking about but realistically I’m just one of 650 million people globally – according to eMarketer in March 2010 – who are now using their smartphones more and more for tasks such as email and social networking. This number is set to rocket due to the penetration of affordable smartphones within the market. Research from Comscore in December 2009 supports this theory – it found that 70 per cent of smartphone users have accessed email and 43 per cent have accessed social networks via their devices.
What is interesting is that email usage is up due to the social network usage on these devices. Research from ExactTarget has also discovered that social media and social networking have helped increase the use of email. The reason for this increase is that users of smartphones still want to keep in touch with their social network when ‘untethered’ and social networking sites use email and messaging as a way to encourage users to return.
Why convergence is key
It is not only important that we understand how new technologies affect our customers. At the same time we need to understand how they can be used to open up communication channels with them. This helps us to build stronger relationships, to attract new customers and to retain exisiting ones too.
Furthermore these technologies can complement one another, as the value of social media, mobile and indeed email combined can amount to a more successful campaign than when they are all executed individually, in silos. Here are a few key steps to take in order to optimise the success of integrated digital campaigns which include both mobile and social elements:
1. Make content mobile-accessible
First of all we should ensure that any digital content produced is accessible by all mainstream mobile devices. Many business decisions are made away from the office and as a result business persons use smartphone devices such as BlackBerrys, iPhones and Android phones to access information.
2. Optimise your e-newsletters
It is also advisable to add in the functionality to share content through LinkedIn groups, Twitter and your community sites, wherever possible. If customers receive emails via smartphone devices they can immediately carry out an action to share your content with their own social network, thereby helping to increase word-of-mouth marketing. They can also be taken directly to your forum or group where they can comment instantly on a particular topic or seek peer reviews and support.
3. Encourage interactivity at events
At events, look to offer SMS short codes inviting prospects to text for more information on a product or service, or even quick response (QR) codes. An example would be to offer a prospect the option to text to receive the latest video of a product demonstration. When the prospect texts it then automatically prompts them to enter an email address to receive digital content, thus building data within your CRM. This digital content again should be optimised to be shared immediately amongst social networks.
4. Consider an app
Banks now offer smartphone applications to manage business account information. Why not look into developing a mobile application for your customers so that they can manage their own accounts and orders? Furthermore you can look to run offers, promotional or discount codes for products and services through this application to your loyal customers.
Beyond the above-outlined campaign activities I have stumbled across a tool called Gist: (www.gist.com). This is an application which helps manage your inbox and social network accounts to give you the latest information about business contacts and their social interactions. This is available as a mobile application, so it is useful from a B2B sales perspective as before a meeting you can be instantly alerted to a prospect’s lifestream, which can help you to stay up-to-date, keep your interactions relevant, and build deeper relationships.
In the various ways outlined above, marketers can develop their knowledge of the use of smartphones, social networks and emails. By combining this with a greater understanding of how we can apply these tools and technologies to our businesses, hopefully we can all aim to develop more successful, integrated and profitable business processes and digital campaigns.