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Need to reward the right behaviour in a mobile world? Here’s how to do it

In a previous article on rewarding the right behaviour in a mobile world, I raised a couple of general ideas that needed to be considered when looking to get the right behaviour shift and consumer outcomes that meet the corresponding business requirements. These included being aware of the behaviour that you incentivize is the behaviour that you will get, asking how you can attempt to become a consumer’s habit rather than just their choice and how we view the “enablers” that are making the world of mobile rewards a possibility across multiple sectors in today’s economy.

In this article I would like to delve a level deeper and focus on the mechanisms that should be considered as you begin to implement mobile CRM and mobile rewards (voucher, coupons, content etc.) in your business, bearing in mind the multiple complexities around technology, consumer choice, consumer protection laws, and that splendid word called “timing”. To help give this piece a concise and relevant position, I think that the three T’s need to be considered and reviewed, these being: timing, targeting and technology (choices).

Technology choices

Let’s start with the easiest one first — that being technology choices for connecting with mobile consumers.

So if we consider that a mobile device has a number of possible ways in which to engage with a consumer — SMS, email, mobile web, USSD and apps. The question then is how do we choose which channel to use when connecting with the mobile customer for mobile CRM and mobile rewards? For me this is a combination of asking the consumer which channel works for them and also selecting which channel is appropriate given what you are trying to achieve with that campaign.

For example if you are looking to get some feedback on a product or service, a survey can be delivered to email, mobile web or USSD. It is worth mentioning here that as we move to smartphones in the emerging markets, a lot of people still prefer to use USSD as it is cost-effective, quick and meets existing customer phone behaviour patterns; ignore it at your peril in 2013/2014. Finally on channel section, past behaviour from previous campaigns should guide you as to what customers prefer — this information should be logged and used as part of ongoing customer analysis and insights.

When it comes to the distribution of mobile rewards, there are essentially four choices open to you for delivery: SMS, email, e-wallet and in-app. Again customer preference, phone capability and campaign objective should guide you. Personally I don’t like to hear an SMS with a mobile coupon being delivered to my phone at midnight — send that to email please! However, if it is a time-sensitive reminder or offer that may be about to expire, then yes, please do SMS me. It’s up to you as the marketer to figure out which channel works and when.


This leads onto timing for communications with mobile consumers and how to best manage this challenge. For me timing in a mobile world is almost worth twice what it was in a non-mobile/analogue world. We live in a world of increasing sound bites, visualization of communication and micro attention spans. Consider that the average smart phone user (and to some degree a feature phone user) completes two to three activities when they pick up their phone — typically email/Facebook, or email/SMS/Twitter or weather-check/Facebook/SMS – and so the list goes on.

So bearing this in mind, when and how frequently should you communicate your mobile rewards with consumers? We all know that in this digital age, campaigns can be scheduled from the get go and things like reminders can be programmed in from the beginning. But is this a good idea? Maybe the consumer is ignoring your offer for the specific reason that they are not interested in what you are communicating to them or they have decided to engage with a competing brand. Analytical software is now becoming relevant in order to maximize response rates based on previous events and results. In the financial services sector, I do see the challenges of getting feedback and/or trying to cross sell soon after the customer has transacted with your bank or insurance company.

However this may appear to be the best option in your opinion, but for the mobile consumer, they may only be prepared to answer a few quick survey questions once they are back home or back at the office — or not at all regardless of how sweet the incentive to engage is.


The final area that I want to discuss is the value of data analytics and data mining in order to determine a number of key elements of rewarding mobile consumers and incentivizing engagement. As marketing and customer engagement moves into the world of digital data generation, marketers are being presented with much greater quantities of data which they need to sift though in order to make intelligent and relevant decisions. Take heart marketers, it is not only you who has this data challenge; ditto for HR, Operations and other lines of business.

Data analytics is a new area for a number of business areas and it is probably the most exciting opportunity to come to brand/consumer relationship since the advent of direct marketing. There is a lot of data to be mined and a shortage of tools and insights to get the job done – that said it is an area of expertise that needs to be developed within your organization or outsourced to a specialist organization. The key point to consider here is what sort of behaviour are you looking to develop across the different customer segments who engage with your brand?

In my view, to coupon or discount is as important as when not to coupon or discount. Margins need to be protected in this competitive age and these decisions should be made with the assistance of trackable data and a measurable outcome. Quantitative data analytics (from both a software and human perspective) is an exciting yet nascent field and the more time, budget and effort that is paid to it, the better the results should be in the medium term.

Hopefully the challenges addressed in this article will be addressed as marketers begin to get a feel for how mobile CRM and mobile rewards form a part of the incentivized marketing landscape. Customers respond to incentives and rewards that is a given; figuring which rewards and what CRM objectives is now your challenge.

Author | Chris Rolfe

Chris Rolfe
Chris Rolfe the CEO of Mobilitrix, a mobile marketing company that claims to “deliver intelligent mobile marketing solutions that quite simply reward loyalty”, thinks is key. Rolfe is a former CEO of Virgin Active South Africa, and has previous digital media experience as Commercial Director of Sportal Limited, a London-based... More

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