September 19, 2011

Mobile Messaging: How To Avoid The Novelty of the New

by Kane Russell, VP of Marketing at Waterfall Mobile

With the rising importance of mobile as an additional engagement tool for today’s marketers, creating an effective mobile strategy has become critically important. The first step toward success in this endeavor is developing a clear understanding of how the mobile ecosystem works so that you can avoid pitfalls that have negatively affected others.

One of these pitfalls is what I call “being blinded by the novelty of the new.” In mobile, it’s the story of the company that rolls out a new offering only to be disappointed by a lack of user engagement. “What was the issue?” they wonder.

Succinctly, companies excited about the prospect of a new communication channel lose sight of the importance of basic marketing principles. Take for example the mobile call to action TEXT JOIN TO XXYXX, or the widely used social media call to action: 

Facebook Like

Assuming we take these calls to action by themselves, is there anything missing?

Of course! By themselves, these calls to action will not drive high opt-in rates because consumers need a compelling reason (e.g. content, promotions, better user experience) to subscribe to brand communication. Marketing, especially today, is a two-way street.

Keep in mind that offering incentives and/or explanations to drive subscription rates is nothing new. Email sign ups, just as direct mail before, require a detailed explanation of an opt-in’s benefits or details. So why does this elementary marketing tactic get overlooked?

In case you’ve never seen it, here’s Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm diagram: 

Mobile Graph

Moore’s basic premise is that a gap (The Chasm) exists between early adopters of technology and mainstream users. Early adopters (Innovators and Visionaries in the diagram) experiment with technology just for the sake of technology, whereas mainstream users (Early and Late Majority in the diagram) require a compelling reason to use new technology. Technology companies will only succeed if they can effectively bridge this gap, as mainstream users comprise the bulk of potential customers.

Sounds familiar? It’s the exact same for brands looking to engage consumers with a new communication channel like mobile. Yes, there will be a group of consumers that engage with mobile just because it is new and innovative. But you wont get the bulk of your audience to jump on board without offering a clear reason or explanation of your new communication channel’s benefits. Perhaps the best way to view mobile is as an alternative means to engage your audience; i.e. mobile should not create a wholly different direction for your brand communication. Data extracted from mobile interactions should enrich – not replace - your current strategy.

Any company can fall victim to misleading response rates from a small group of passionate consumers moved by the novelty of the new. Avoid this unfortunate circumstance by focusing on creating a communication ecosystem targeted toward the majority of your audience.

How have you avoided the "novelty of new" for mobile? Please share your thoughts below!

Kane Russell
VP of Marketing at Waterfall Mobile

@kaneruss

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Kane Russell, VP of Marketing at Waterfall Mobile

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Comments

Thanks for sharing this. I had never heard of that "crossing the chasm" concept, but it really makes sense! (I'm thinking about Google+ in a similar vein right now! I want to love it...but it's going to take some work on my part to jump that chasm; and with so many shiny things out there, I'm not sure now if I have the time or energy!) In terms of mobile, maybe some companies are not sure what the true benefit could be for their mobile segment...Maybe they are thinking too much in terms of what has already been done, like through email campaigns. It's a leap for both the user and the provider, I think.

Jen - I love the point you made about Google+ and Crossing the Chasm. It's definitely right on. I myself am very interested to see how that plays out. And yes, the leap to mobile for both provider and user is always a challenge when it comes to new technology (though I might add that consumers probably lead the way since they only have to change one person's approach, whereas companies have a tougher transition). In fact - these stats from Pew Research I found to be interesting about consumer preferences: http://bit.ly/pSGYK4.

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