Communication is key in mobile marketing

Failure to communicate the benefits of receiving mobile marketing material means brands are missing out on the opportunities this channel offers, according to research seen by Marketing Week.


British consumers have a bigger appetite for offers via their mobile phones than those in France, Germany or the US, according to a study of 4,400 handset owners by Velti and the DMA.

The report, Promoting to the Mobile Consumer – shown exclusively to Marketing Week – reveals that 75% of Brits are happy to receive promotions this way, compared to 72% of Americans, 50% of French people and 46% of Germans.

“Mobile is the fastest way to get offers to customers and using it also offers a significant advantage over other channels in its immediacy in both delivery and redemption,” says Mark Brill, chair of the DMA Mobile Marketing Council.

However, Krishna Subramanian, chief marketing officer at mobile marketing and advertising provider Velti, warns: “Brands should actively seek to understand consumer preferences for receiving mobile offers and develop creative campaigns that actively engage the user in content.”

Comparing mobile consumers in the UK with France, the British have a different set of promotional preferences than their cross-Channel counterparts. Text messages are the most preferred method in English-speaking countries, while France has the highest level of acceptance of emails or microsite delivery. French consumers are also twice as favourable towards voice-based promotional messages on their mobile as those in other countries. However, mobile apps are gaining in popularity in all developed markets.

The types of promotions people prefer to receive also varies by country. Money-off is considered the best discount in the US, just ahead of two-for-one deals and is ranked a close second in the UK among two-thirds of consumers.

Mobile offers also have a high pass-on rate, with about three-quarters of consumers regularly sending deals to family and friends.


This figure would be higher in the UK and US if there was an incentive for people to pass on promotions, according to Brill. Consumers are more likely to participate in mobile engagement if there is a clear incentive in it for them, such as an additional benefit for sharing a promotional offer, he adds.

“Word of mouth is still a very powerful method of gaining influence over consumers and brands should not underestimate the power of pass-along offers to extend the reach of their marketing campaign,” advises Subramanian. “Marketers should also focus on creating emotional affinity with their brand, such as VIP access to an event, as opposed to concentrating solely on financial rewards.”

He continues: “Mobile is the most personal of all channels used largely for communication with friends and family. It’s essential, therefore, that marketers gain consumers’ trust if they want to be ‘invited in’. This can only be achieved by following best practice, understanding the needs of their particular audience and meeting consumer expectations.”

In the UK and US, acceptance rates for promotional marketing received over mobile are lower than for promotions in general. But a willingness for these offers to be promoted via the mobile channel is likely to rise over time.

This change will not occur overnight, according to the report, which points out that most brands and network operators still struggle to demonstrate to consumers the benefits of receiving promotional marketing and gaining permission to do so.

Brill warns: “It’s a double-edged sword. It’s clear that consumers are still sceptical about engaging with marketing promotions through their phones.”

To overcome this problem, advertisers and marketers need to do more to demonstrate exactly what is on offer, according to the research, which reveals that about half of consumers either believe they pay to receive offers or are not sure if they do or not.

“Resistance to promotional marketing is often due to the fact that many believe the inbound promotional offers they receive are charged to their airtime account. This misconception affects as many as a quarter of consumers in the US and France, one in five in Germany and one in seven in the UK,” says Subramanian.

“Given the exponential growth potential of the mobile channel, it is important that both advertisers and networks help people understand that promotional benefits offered via mobile are not done at a cost to the user,” he adds.


Advertisers have a significant advantage over mobile operators when it comes to making offers, with consumers in the US nearly seven times more likely to want mobile promotions from brands rather than from their network operator.

“This is surprising as we expected that consumers would want to hear from their network carriers about benefits such as getting a free handset or extra mobile credit or airtime,” says Subramanian. “There is an opportunity for mobile networks to extend and deepen relationships with subscribers through opt-in promotional offers.”

However, only half of networks are making such offers in France, falling to one in five in the US. Permission to receive offers may explain this promotional gap, since network operators can only send service-based messages in Europe without a specific opt-in to marketing. The same is not true in the US, yet three-quarters of those surveyed claimed not to have received an offer from their network in the past month.

For marketers, it seems that mobile phones can be a lucrative channel for offers – if targeted in the right way.

The frontline: we ask marketers on the frontline whether our “trends” research matches their experience on the ground


Lou Ashton
Senior multichannel marketing manager, New Look

I agree with the finding that advertisers have a significant advantage over operators when it comes to making offers via mobile phone.

In October, we launched the New Look iPhone app to complement our m-commerce site. Mobile bridges the gap between in-store and digital and presents an opportunity to use effective digital marketing techniques to a large offline audience. But the complexity of different mobile platforms is a disadvantage.

Responsys recently helped New Look with integrated, cross-channel marketing campaigns for its m-commerce platform using Responsys’ Interact Suite.

New Look has been able to automate personalised, mobile-optimised emails designed to drive traffic to the new m-commerce website, increasing sales and boosting customer loyalty.


Jean-Michel Maltais
UK marketing director, Lebara Mobile

The challenge for brands is to get their messages to cut through the advertising out there. Mobile marketing offers direct and targeted access to consumers who carry their phone with them at all times. No doubt brands are interested in advertising through this channel.

However, the mobile operator is responsible for the overall customer experience it provides. If it opens the floodgates and lets anyone advertise to its customers, they will soon leave to go elsewhere where their privacy is better respected.

We aim to target people with offers they are likely to welcome. For example, we sponsored the India v Sri Lanka test cricket series this summer. We ran competitions and sent exclusive offers related to these matches, but only to customers who call these countries. We understand that if the offer is relevant to the customer, they are more likely to participate.

Recently, we teamed up with Opodo to provide our customers with relevant discounted travel options. This works for the customer, as it provides them with deals they would not have otherwise received, it works for Opodo as it allows it access to new target customers and it works for Lebara as it enables us to add something extra for people.


Hélène Viot-Poirier
Director of Orange Portals, Orange France

Research I’ve seen shows different attitudes to mobile offers than this study reports. Text-based offers are the most popular in France, according to AFMM (French Mobile Marketing Association). More than 80% of people aged 15 to 60 are interested in receiving text messages from brands.

However, the fight against SMS spam has always been a concern for mobile operators and the market. Last year we worked with other operators to launch 33700, a number that French customers can send unwanted text messages to.

This helps give customers the feeling they can control this media.

Our French customers do not only seek promotions. They want services and a long-term relationship with their brands. We believe that to increase acceptance to promotional marketing, we have to work on relevance. For example, we send localised SMS offers only when the customer passes by [a store].



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