THE FUTURE IS NOW


Moving away from conventional marketing.


WE HAVE ALL become accustomed to using the normal marketing channels to promote our products. Most of us, operators and affihates alike, still make predominant use of email marketing, banners/media buys and the like to attract new customers, but are these marketing channels getting the right message across eflйctively. using the latest developments in technology?

I don't know about you but, personally, I get a number of emails everyday from sites I haw subscribed to (and others I didn't) and the reality is that even on the best of all days I may, if I'm lucky, open a maximum of ten percent of these emails. So it's a fact that 90 percent of emails I receive from subscribed services go unnoticed and even when I do open an email... that's just the start; it takes much more effort to convince me to part with my hard-earned cash.

Nowadays, there are a number of specialised email marketing firms that help companies maximise email open rates and the conversion rate thereafter, but the fact is that there could be another channel that might be more effective than email marketing - mobile text marketing.

SMS marketing

It is a fact that I open every text message I receive even if it's some sort of promotion, so the first battle is won. It is then up to the marketer to make sure that the message delivered to the potential customer is attractive enough to induce the person to follow the links provided.

This form of marketing is now becoming more and more attractive as most mobile phone owners are switching to Smartphones, which means better Internet access and the ability for these potential customers to follow links in text messages instantaneously. The time lag that existed between receiving a message and finding a PC/Laptop to find out more about promotions received, has vanished.

Operators and affiliates wishing to take advantage of this trend must make sure they capture mobile phone numbers and that this field becomes as important as the email address when capturing data. It could also be suggested that one forgoes email verification and pushes for mobile number verification upon user registration as this is more accurate.

I did some quick research online and found that a number of operators are requesting a phone number as part of their required information to be submitted by a registering customer, but very few of these actually ask for mobile number (without giving the option for work/home number). I didn't find any operators using mobile phone verification.

Mobile optimisation

Another criterion that has become extremely important and that most operators are giving due attention to is website optimisation for mobile browsers. As consumer behaviour shifts to mobile, marketing efforts will have to support mobile optimised sites. Companies that wish to attract business all day long while customers are on-the-go, will have to enable consumers to start and complete transactions via mobile.

There are two major challenges for operators and affiliates wanting to jump on the mobile channel bandwagon. First of all, marketers are constrained by a much smaller screen on Smartphones than on laptop/PC screens. This limits the amount of information and graphics that marketers can present on a page. Another important potential problem to consider is bandwidth. Bandwidth for cellular networks is considerably less than that of landline Internet connections, which means slower page downloads and page loading times. Although mobile operators are investing in faster Internet connectivity, marketers must make sure to build mobile sites that support the variety of Smartphone browsers on the market.

Be sure to conduct consumer usability tests to ensure that the consumer experience is consistent and that the online user experience is replicated via the mobile channel.

As with any online presence, web analytics becomes crucial in analysing the relative success of the mobile channel. Make sure to monitor the customer conversion rate, bounce rate and other key indicators of visitors using mobile websites and compare these to the analytics of your online website. Critically assess any significant differences that emerge and optimise the mobile website content as you would do the online content.

The mobile revolution is already happening - can you afford to miss the boat? With the speed things are changing these days, we can simply say that 'the future is now'. Could we already be facing the challenge of Web 3.0 when some of us are still contemplating Web 2.0?

In my opinion, the future will actually move towards the integration of services over multiple platforms (mobile and non-mobile) in such a way that people are connected to each other and the outside world seamlessly. Whether we call it Web 3.0 or any other name, it won't be long before this will become standard practice for everyone as social media is for most of us today. The choice is whether to be an innovator and start planning ahead or be a follower and wait for others to take the lead. Can you risk being a follower?
 
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