Every few weeks, my wife receives text messages from her hairdresser reminding her about appointments or checking if she would like to book an appointment via a special offer. This started a number of years ago and has become a welcome part of her life. This approach has now been adopted by a number of other local businesses we use. We now receive alerts about offers, sales, Christmas opening times and other activities. For us, it's a useful addition that we find far less intrusive than a phone call and more likely to be read than an email.
According to Ofcom, 97.5 per cent of all text messages are read within five seconds of being received. Of course, there are reasons for this. Text messages are generally from friends and family as a way of communication. It is a convenient way of getting a message to someone when you may not have time to talk to them. When it comes to marketing text messages, the average response rate typically ranges from 15-30 per cent, compared with five per cent for email according to research from Text Local and Mobile Marketing Magazine. Text messaging is effective then. There is a clear and obvious caveat to this; it can only be effective if the person receiving it has opted-in to it.
While text messaging has its place, modern smartphones have, for some years helped brands to efficiently target consumers in ways that will actually be seen as useful. Recognising the growing importance of mobile devices in 2010, M&C Saatchi decided to acquire a specialist firm, rather than grow a division in-house. Just one year after becoming part of the group, M&C Saatchi Mobile represented up to 20 per cent of the groups profit. In large, this is attributed to the use of high performance targeted campaigns that reach the right audiences, getting messages seen.
Data from Dynamic Logic supports our own data by showing that the average mobile campaign outpaces online in the top five measurement categories. Advertising awareness alone was at over 19.9 per cent on mobile compared with just 4.2 per cent online. Mobile just works.
Over the coming years, it will get better too. Imagine, for example, that when you wake up in the morning and look at your phone, it's used weather and travel data to send you a branded message letting you know whether you'll need an umbrella or if there are travel disruptions. It would know the time you tend to leave and whether it is a weekday or weekend. During your day, as you pass a coffee shop, your mobile device would know, from your actions, which is your favourite dispenser and the days you tend to purchase. It could, discreetly alert the user through banner advertising or a notification if there's an offer available.
By intelligently and securely handling data, mobile devices could work alongside your calendar to know when birthdays are coming up, recommend targeted gift ideas or allow you to order a personalised card using a picture from your phones library. If you find yourself at a meeting in an unfamiliar area your mobile device could serve lunchtime results based on social recommendations and what it knows about the type of food you like at a price in your range.
In many ways, phones and tablets are becoming a personal assistant that is able to use a variety of different data - from what you tell it, how you use it, what your friends recommend and habits to give you only relevant information. From a brands perspective this is hugely powerful. It means that they can start to target people who are the most likely to be interested in a product or offering.
Mobile marketing has always been an effective way of targeting messages to audiences. It's had a few bumps in the road, especially in its early stages when SMS spam was becoming an issue. If brands and marketers can get the privacy around the use of personal data nailed properly, mobile won't be seen as a channel for spam but instead, one where only the most relevant information makes it through. There will always be a place for outdoor, TV and other forms of marketing and advertising. Mobile, will be at the centre of all these campaigns, intelligently interacting with other forms of advertising to help filter out irrelevant information.