You’ve got to be agile to keep up with mobile

Marketers discuss how they are maximising the potential of ever-evolving technologies on Apple and Windows-based mobile platforms.

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What mobile marketing activity does your company have at present?

Tom Bulwer (TB): We have about nine mobile apps that provide a range of services, from music streaming to offering tickets for some of our club nights. We have so many because we’ve tried to launch for each platform. Of course, we have also always sold and marketed tracks through mobile operator portals and have paired with services such as digital music provider Seven Digital to drive downloads.

Nick Dutch (ND): We have five apps. There’s a mobile site optimised for the iPhone and another designed to work on the rest of the market. Then there’s our portfolio of mobile apps; one each for the iPhone, iPad and Android. We have also been doing SMS marketing for years.

Edward Longley (EL): We have our home contents insurance app for the iPhone, as well as a mobile-optimised website that offers business and home insurance in the UK. We try to drive traffic to our mobile site by tailoring our search campaigns for smartphone users.

Arnaud Millard (AM): We have two types of app. One is an ad-funded news and catch-up service available on Android, Apple and BlackBerry, which can generate up to 650,000 unique users a day, especially in the summer, although the usual figure is around 500,000. The other is a premium video app, Eurosport Players, which we’ve launched in three markets the UK, France and Germany, and which costs £26.29 for an annual subscription.

The rationale for having both free and premium apps was to achieve the biggest possible critical mass while also charging a premium for video content.

Mike Swingwood (MS): We launched our first mobile property in the UK last month with our Jagermeister Cold app. It is free to download and uses global positioning technology (GPS) to direct users to the nearest bar that serves Jagermeister Cold via one of our taps. We wanted to direct users to these outlets because bars that use our machines, which serve the drink at -18°C, are proven to triple sales. The app also updates users on the latest live music events sponsored by Jagermeister. This is currently the only mobile app we have but we’ll update the strategy as we move ahead.

Jon Mew (JM): A key difference between 2011 and 2010 is that brands are starting to develop more cohesive strategies when it comes to mobile. It’s definitely starting to become more mainstream. There’s a lot more interest from brands and advertisers. Last year, we’d have brands asking us “why should I do something on mobile?”, whereas now they are proactively coming to us and requesting advice on how best to adapt their strategy to mobile. Brands from the entertainment sector are typically ahead of the curve. Fashion brands are there too. But what’s quite heartening is that FMCG brands, such as Unilever and P&G, are way ahead on mobile adoption compared to where they were in terms of spend in the early days of online.

What has proved the most popular platform for your company’s mobile portfolio so far?

TB: The iPhone, which is probably the same with most businesses. When you’re in the music business, it’s even less of a surprise, although across all platforms we’ve had about 1.3 million downloads. In July, we launched a Ministry of Sound Radio app which streams tracks from our artists on BlackBerry App World, along with Vodafone, which is also performing well, especially for driving visits to our clubs.

ND: Apple apps are the most popular and Apple users generate the bulk of traffic to our mobile site, which is why we designed a site for the iPhone. Our iPhone app has generated over £10m in revenue since it launched last year. It’s a bit early to say how much the iPad app will affect that [the app was launched in mid-to-late August]. We see it as a mobile device, albeit one that is mainly used at home, that will eat into traffic that would otherwise have been generated by PC and laptop users.

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EL: It’s still early days for us on mobile but we are looking at all platforms, including iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. We thought that launching the mobile site would help to reach as many customers as possible. When we launched our iPhone app in April, we took costings for Android and BlackBerry as well but we decided to go with iPhone to gauge interest.

AM: Apple is by far the most popular platform for generating downloads. Almost 90% of our total mobile app downloads are to devices using iOS. Perhaps this is because we’ve updated the Apple apps more often than any other during this period.

The growth we’ve seen from Android has been slower than I expected over the past year but I believe it is ready to grow considerably over the next 12 months. One major difference we have found with developing apps for Android is that time to market can be up to five times longer than on the Apple App Store. This is primarily due to the fragmentation on Android. You have to develop an Android app and then make sure it works on a number of different handsets that use the Android OS. These devices may have different specs and the app has to be tailored for each. With Apple apps, you don’t have this problem.

JM: Apps are still at the forefront of most people’s strategies but I think marketers are starting to see the benefits of expanding beyond just launching an iPhone app. Many brands, especially in the retail sector, are interested in looking at location when it comes to launching campaigns. That would have to be one of the key drivers in the past year. We have found that a lot of brands are asking us about it at our events.

What about the other emerging platforms?

TB: We’re about to launch an app on Android which is a reskinned version of our mobile app. Demand for it hasn’t been as strong as I’d have previously thought, but we’ve seen a lot of demand over the past few months, especially on channels such as Facebook. There’s also mobile web but we see mobile apps as being at the centre of our strategy in the immediate future.

ND: Android is growing in popularity. We launched on it in May this year and so far, we have seen its growth and popularity resemble the iPhone’s in the early phases of its adoption cycle. We’re keeping an eye on Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform but we are not hearing such a demand from our users at present. To accommodate all our customers on mobile, we’ve got the mobile site.

EL: We’re using Google Analytics on the background of our website to see which platform users are coming from. We anticipate that most of the business insurance customers are going to come to us via Android phones. Currently, we are looking at business proposals from agencies to develop an Android app.

AM: We don’t have any apps for the Windows Phone platform but it will be interesting to see how this changes after Nokia brings out its first Windows Phone device later this year. BlackBerry apps are still very small for us.

We realised we would have to start integrating our social and mobile strategies

How has taking your brand to mobile for the first time changed how you do things on digital?

TB: It has helped to boost audiences in our venues and listening figures online. Within a year of launching our first iPhone app, Ministry of Sound Radio, our listening figures went up by a third. Now that we’ve gone on to other platforms, such as Nokia’s Ovi Store and BlackBerry App World, it has risen by half. Mobile users currently account for about 40% of our online radio listening figures.

ND: We have been doing SMS for years but when we started running campaigns on location-based services Foursquare and Facebook Deals, we had to consider how we could use mobile and social together. We have also had to integrate mobile into our search strategy as more and more people use their phones while at home. We have found carrying out search campaigns on mobile more efficient than online but the overall traffic is still nowhere near as big as online.

EL: We see it as a chance to reach people during ’down time’, for example when they are waiting for a train or in between meetings. That’s why we decided to prioritise the mobile site when launching the strategy.

AM: With the new launches, we have to constantly innovate as we update the mobile apps every month, which is perhaps the biggest challenge. For example, mobile was the first place we tried out using push notifications. Mobile is where we carry out most of our development.

MS: The iPhone app launch was also accompanied by our first UK Facebook campaign. Both link to each other. We realised we would have to start integrating our social and mobile strategies as the two seem to go hand-in-hand. To do one without the other would be pretty naive.

JM: Search is always popular, mainly because adapting a search strategy from online to mobile is a relatively straightforward process. Messaging through SMS or MMS has also been a big driver, with operators such as O2 and Orange offering commercial messaging services to opted-in subscribers to brands.

What have been the benefits of changing your strategy in this way?

TB: We have been able to introduce new ways of cross-promoting our services. For example, people listening to our online radio station via our mobile app can also book tickets to the club, which can be redeemed on the door.

ND: In terms of downloads of each app, we cannot say how many downloads each has generated but that’s not necessarily the best way to measure their success. We also see mobile as another distribution device, which makes it easier for our customers to access our service. The fact that we are seeing our mobile visitors growing month-on-month for a sustained period is another sign of its benefit.

EL: First, we see it as a chance to improve conversion. Visitors to the site are more likely to stay there the better the experience you give them. Plus it’s the way the market is going. Last March, mobile users to our site accounted for 2.5% of total web traffic. Now that figure is 6%.

AM: One clear benefit is the increase in the number of visitors as well as the frequency with which they interact with the brand. It also helps us to retain a relationship with audiences around the clock and from our research, we have seen that our mobile audiences are typically younger aged 25 to 35.

MS: The ’ice cold messaging’ strategy has been in place for some time but the message may have been lost slightly. Launching a mobile app allowed us to push our messaging to the user at just the right time, which ultimately sews up the entire digital strategy.

JM: Brands should look at apps as a way to increase their access to consumers and possibly using it as a channel to change behaviour. As the most popular digital device, it offers more opportunity to do so.

How else has taking your strategy mobile affected how your business operates?

TB: It has made mobile a lot more high-profile. When the App Store came along, having a mobile app became cool and it made it easier to get the budget for mobile. As companies launched on mobile, the results proved that it could be a success, so now mobile is always discussed in the same conversations as social when it comes to marketing plans. The possibilities of mobile ticketing are also something we’re looking at.

ND: It has obviously raised the profile of mobile and it is definitely becoming more of a prominent channel, especially as we consider it along with our social strategy.

EL: As the audience grows, it’s affecting how we prioritise mobile. At the moment, we are in discussions with suppliers to launch a transactional, ’quote and buy’ mobile app. If we launch that it will be on iPhone as well as Android. You can sum up our strategy towards launching a mobile strategy in three words: engagement, information and transaction.

AM: For many traditional broadcasters, the issue of rights has been tricky. For example, having online screening rights does not necessarily mean having the rights to screen over mobile. To avoid this, at Eurosport we try to secure simulcast rights. That’s our main priority when entering negotiations but you have to make sure you’re not paying over the odds.

MS: Normally, we would try to keep our campaign activity in-house as much as possible but with the Jagermeister Cold campaign, we worked with agencies. The ’social element’ was from our PR agency, Lucid, while the ’mobile element’ was devised and implemented by Grapple Mobile. A key advantage of working with third-party agencies was getting a different view on the strengths of what we were doing.

What do brands need to think about when taking their strategies to mobile?

JM: First of all, they have to think what their objectives are and what their customers are doing in terms of how they use their phones. Approaching with the attitude of ’OK, let’s build an app and see what happens’ is not going to be that beneficial. But thankfully we’re starting to see a move away from that.

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Ronan Shields is a reporter on New Media Age

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Alex Moir

VIEWPOINT

Alex Moir

Managing director

OpenMarket

The heart of digital marketing is engagement with the customer. Mobile has become a key device for consumers and brands have seen the opportunity to build longer-lasting, more personal relationships with their customers if they can have a presence on their mobile.

Of course, there are many different ways to achieve that presence, including mobile sites and apps, as well as as more established channels, such as SMS. Marketers shouldn’t neglect any of these. An app can deliver great cut-through and recruit new customers, but the potential audience is still small. If you’re a transactional brand, a mobile site is vital because you don’t want to give people a bad experience using a non-optimised site on their mobile and damage your brand.

Campaigns are starting to combine these channels. We worked on a Unilever campaign for Lynx that involved an app and a website based around a social sharing experience, which generated a lot of buzz. Consumers were able to send in content via SMS or MMS, which opened the campaign up to users without smartphones.

We also worked on a big campaign for Coca-Cola for the Fanta, Sprite and Dr Pepper brands, where people won credit for their phones when they made a purchase. It worked by combining something new mobile crediting with SMS to achieve the ubiquity Coca-Cola wanted.

Another big area is mobile payments. Hundreds of millions of dollars are already being transacted via mobiles that’s where a mobile-optimised site is vital. But brands also want to support a variety of payment methods, so we’re working with clients so that they can implement carrier billing.

The big internet retail giants that are moving into mobile transactions are finding that they have more personal relationships with customers on mobile. They’re seeing those customers spending more and they can respond to consumer behaviour with immediate messaging. For example, we’re working with people who are getting good results around basket recovery. They’re using the fact that they’ve got personal and often location-based relationships with their customers on mobile to get great results.

If someone abandons their shopping basket, you can send them a message offering them an incentive to come back. You have to be sensitive, obviously, but it’s another example of the power of a direct relationship via mobile.

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