Very often when we think about mobile; we confine ourselves to think about MMS, SMS and then, by extension, email. These are the traditional avenues of reaching a mobile consumer; but in reality there is an entire gambit of mobile messaging avenues that are baying for attention and focus.
In part, I think a lot of people in marketing are incredibly scared of mobile for much the same reason they want to get closer to it. That is, because it is literally in the palm of their audience’s hand. It is always on and it is so personal that a typical person today doesn’t get out of bed or go to sleep without first having a quick look at what possible nugget of information has been pushed to their home screen.
Today, we have a full a la carte menu of mobile messaging channels to choose from when seeking out consumers. Survey data from eMarketer suggests of all the mobile channels, people in marketing rely most heavily on mobile email.
By way of example, a May 2013 survey of 745 marketing professionals worldwide conducted by StrongView (formerly StrongMail) found that 49% of respondents used mobile email, compared with 38% who said they used SMS or MMS and 20% who cited push notifications.
With a little analysis of the mediums, we can conclude that SMS and MMS are more likely to be used by anyone seeking immediacy and wide reach. Essentially, an SMS gets straight to the point; there is no place (read: space) for waffle and wooing the prospect. Add to this the fact that we are operating under the assumption that consumers have opted in to receive such messages increases the likelihood they will open them quickly. It’s the digital hard sell
To take this further, one could argue that push notifications convey a similar sense of urgency, but the reach of push is limited to smart devices only.
A study conducted by Urban Airship revealed equally positive results. A five-month analysis of 360 apps across a variety of categories conducted between May and September 2012 found apps that employed push notifications retained up to 100% more of their users compared with apps that had not used push notifications.
Push technology has delivered another channel as well: in-app messaging. As the name suggests, in-app messages are only seen when the app is open. In-app messaging is just beginning to emerge. But given the overall popularity of apps, more brands are likely to use this channel going forward.
All of this makes the way forward both an easy one and nearly impossible one — depending on which side of the fence you are on. The trick is going to be to ensure that the messages that are pushed (regardless of which channel) are contextually relevant to the user at that place and time. This is where everyone in the industry is going to have to dig into their Big Data analytics and understand not only past behavior of their consumers on an individual level; but also be able to predict their future behavior.
In other words, anyone looking to market over mobile needs to learn very quickly that they cannot be interruptive by nature any more. The watch words of marketing today are “relevance” and “adding-value”.