Mobile Marketing-New Ideas To Tap In

15 09 2009

The term Mobile Marketing (MM) is arguably one of the key ideas in modern times which will take marketing to next paradigm, provided we understand it correctly. It says, use of Mobile Devices to market new products or services or alike, irrespective of mode of communication. But then it doesn’t sound that easy to play around. In present context, there are different approaches taken around to interpret the ideas around MM, and here we will try to look it from different angles.   

MM surely isn’t new thrust in already crowded market of mobile technology, VAS & Consumer behavior. But then dream of delivering person centric information was long chased by leading innovation vanguards for some time, with mix of success. The question isn’t what, but how better are we going to deliver it to doorsteps of prospective customers? What goals are we seeking? It can be said in one liner-“Delivering products/services/alike information to prospective customers, at right time, with affordable cost to both (Service Provider & Consumer)” How are we going to achieve it? What’re the roadblocks in the process? Let’s tackle some of the issues here.

When we think of delivering person centric information, the first thing comes to our mind is the effectiveness of the process. It’s perhaps the most effective way to converse with consumers and only one-to-one medium available to influence the choices made. So in short MM gives us most influential mode of communication in present scenario. But then we have already been using SMS based context messages to approach consumers, which is perhaps the most widely used model in MM, so what’s new in that? Are we re-inventing the wheels?  Do we have enough understanding of roadblocks in the delivery? Perhaps Not!

Recently I had been a part of discussion on impending launch of OnMobiles AdTune service, which will enable consumer to play/listen Advertisements for some incentives. So in short whenever you call a person, depending upon the choice, you might get to hear Ads instead of RBTs. Perhaps this is going to be first such daring attempt to deliver advertisements while you are in process of calling someone. Not even few seconds are wasted, if you get it correctly and service providers are tuning in their business models to make way for such bold attempt. What does it signify to us? Where does the success lie?

Irrespective of services offered, MM needs customer profiling, which is perhaps the most challenging aspect of delivering person centric information. By customer profiling we mean, the profile information of consumer behavior which influences his/her choices to great extent. So be it’s his occupation or specifically mentioned interests, customer profiling is something which earlier had been tried to capture in snippets but less known aspect of consumer behavior. Are operators wasting the opportunity to know customers better? Do we (Operator) really know our own consumers? Ifn’t then are we blindly targeting someone who mightn’t cater to our services?

This’s the single most important aspect but least understood in the present context of MM. And as said earlier, the main roadblock too. When we are rounding round and round with problem of falling ARPUs and falling costs of customer acquisitions, where it’s believed that only Mobile VAS is the savior of time, did we try to address the problem correctly? Our understanding of market’s still based on few market reports which may/mayn’t cater to our need of delivering person centric information. So what could be the possible ways to solve the dilemmas?

Perhaps, the best starting point would be CAF (Customer Acquisition Forms) to acquire customers for MM services. This’s something radical, but simple. The idea is to acquire the consumers not only for mobile services but also for MM services, both at the same time. Why to waste the opportunity? CAF form gives us the single best opportunity to understand consumer behaviors, which will enable us to profile them in better way, and which would be very useful when 3G & related VAS will be launched in India. But then this needs some preparation. What type of MM services are we willing to propose? What will be the effective business model of such services and interaction of each entity involved-the service provider, operator, application developers & end users? And if all goes well, are consumers willing to enroll? The notion carried by consumers for all such services aren’t good one and operators has to play important role in defining the boundaries for sake of consumers. But unless the pricing proposition is accepted widely, we are still skeptical of this.

Indian market can be broadly classified into two broad segments, rural & urban. Consumer behaviors vary widely in both and the goal set by MM services, as mentioned earlier may vary to good extent in this context. In one segment pricing proposition mayn’t alter the choices significantly, but in other it could. Another issue which needs to be address is the language barriers in delivering MM contexts to consumers. With virtually 15% rural tele-density, we are on brink of explosion of MM services, provided we understand the need of untapped segment. The recent attempt by Nokia by launching ‘Nokia Life Tool’ will help us in understanding the intricacies of consumer behavior for MM, in rural segment.

Once the consumers are acquired, the data acquired through CAF need to be kept uniform, which isn’t the case in present scenario. The data or consumer profile information available with operators is highly fragmented one, which might become limiting factor with advent of newer and newer MM services. This data might be shared with MM service providers which again can be shared among different parties, which will help us in understanding the consumer behaviors to great depth. This again helps us in delivering MM contents with better effectiveness and this cycle repeats.

How are we going to address other issues like consumer privacy, DND, need of deliver at right time or languages barrier, with costing effectiveness? Perhaps, these problems aren’t isolated one, except the fact that better we understand our prospective consumers better it will be to resolve some of the issues mentioned earlier. One aspect of regional languages based MM is yet to pickup pace and widely accepted as a huge opportunistic challenge. But again, every roadblock mentioned gives us an opportunity to go for something new, which itself is an opportunity.

Before we end the discussion, let me come to the point; what after customer is acquired for MM services CAF? Retaining the consumers for MM services is going to be a big challenge and continuous feedback for improvement will play crucial role in it. This again will enable us to deliver better services in coming days. The need of time is to be innovative and look beyond the boundaries set in timeline. Perhaps delivering the person centric information require more understanding than just profiling, but then every idea should lead to the answer of one single question, how effectively or how better are we going to open up ourselves for next big opportunities in MM? Are you ready for it? 

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