Mobile Phones: the future of communication
Mobile phones are coming of age, and they appear to be here to stay. You should embrace mobile communication and mobile marketing now. In fact, we seem to be more connected to our phones than we are to anything else. How many times have you seen people sitting together in a restaurant, and all are on their phones? More consumed with the phone then they are with their real life … happening in front of them.
Ron Jones, ClickZ, points out in his story on this topic, according to research by Morgan Stanley, 91 percent of mobile phone users had their phone close to them 24 hours a day. Not to mention that their phones are always on. Other studies indicate that there are four times as many mobile phone users as Internet users. THIS is where I think, many will begin to swap their home internet service for their phone’s internet service - just like we’ve all done already with our home telephone land lines.
For those of us who focus on communication, building relationships and having constant contact with friends, family, partners and customers – using mobile phones to connect with our communities (marketing) is growing in importance.
Read the full story here: Mobile Marketing 101. We can reach out to mobile users, smartphones and handheld devices like Blackberry, Android, iPhone and iPad in several ways. Here are some examples of different technologies that we can use to interact with various types of mobile phones and their users:
- Short message services (SMS) – text messaging. SMS, or texting, has been the primary tool for mobile marketers, with 60 percent to 70 percent usage. SMS is available on all GSM-enabled mobile phones. It allows mobile users to send short text messages, about 160 characters, to each other. Mobile marketing via SMS means you give mobile users the opportunity to opt in and choose to receive communications from you. Examples would be receiving sports scores, news updates, invitations, and promotions. Mobile users can then respond to your communication by sending back feedback or maybe to vote. “American Idol” pioneered this with AT&T by allowing viewers to vote on their favorite contestant.
- Multimedia messaging service (MMS). Multimedia messaging service is similar to SMS but has more features. It allows users to go way beyond simple text messages and use rich media like pictures, video, and audio attachments. With newer and multimedia feature-rich phones, this opens the doors for even more possibilities. It also allows for better branding opportunities for marketers. SMS is still the king because it’s available on all mobile phones.
- Bluetooth, wireless, and infrared. With most mobile devices armed with Bluetooth, wireless, and/or infrared, there are many possibilities for marketing to mobile users. Proximity marketing is one of the leading methods. The idea is to be able to reach out to mobile users in a defined area (e.g., a restaurant, the airport, or a sports event). To illustrate this better, check out what the Connecticut Sun WNBA team is doing. Photos, video content, audio ringtones, and special offers can be delivered to fans at home games via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. It points out that traditional signage has become somewhat transparent to fans where proximity marketing breaks through the clutter. It offers an interactive experience that is new and engaging for fans and sponsors.
- Mobile applications. The iPhone phenomena began back in January 2007 when Apple first introduced these devices to the market. Since then, Apple has sold more than 50 million iPhones. These devices have pioneered new opportunities to engage with customers. They each have the ability to do text messaging and MMS, but take it a step further by allowing developers to produce applications that create a richer experience.
Early in the ’90s, companies saw the importance of having a Web presence. Now many major brands are seeing the importance of having an app for the iPhone and other smart phone devices.
Surfing the Web on a small device isn’t as easy with a small window to browse in. Having an application designed specifically for interaction between company and customer provides a much better experience. Banks, for instance, allow you to locate a local branch and do online banking. E-commerce sites like Amazon, news sites like USA Today, and social media sites like Facebook each have apps that are designed specifically for an experience within a small window.
The iPad, which was just introduced this year, already has .03 percent marketshare. It promises a more immersive and integrated user experience that takes advantage of the device’s 9.7-inch touch screen.
Also recently announced was the iAd mobile advertising network. It was designed to introduce rich media ads within the app instead of taking the user to somewhere else, like a browser. Other platforms, like the Android and BlackBerry, also have app stores and are hard at work trying to provide new ways to provide a rich experience for users and advertisers.
It seems like EVERYONE is on a mobile device today – its time to embrace and grow into this new way of communicating.