The mobile phone is a ubiquitous device for consumers today. What key considerations does a company or brand need to bear in mind to use mobile for effective customer relationship management (CRM)? Everyone nowadays has a uniquely personal relationship with their mobile phone. So any company or brand that wants to expand its services and win new customers needs to appreciate this if it wants to turn mobile into a truly successful customer engagement tool.Companies must firstly ask themselves what they want to achieve with a mobile CRM campaign.
Do they want to acquire new customers and retain existing ones via their mobile phone, with personal messages and interactions that add value and generate customer loyalty?
Or do they want to drive purchases for a specific product or service with coupons or promotions – either as a one-off or on a recurring basis?
Either way, companies must be certain that mobile supports their commercial objectives, and isn’t just a vanity project without a clear purpose.
Any consumer engagement via the mobile phone needs to be handled in a sensitive and intelligent manner.
Get it right, and you forge a lasting and lucrative relationship with individual consumers by providing information or offers that are relevant to them, in an accessible, familiar, and intuitive way.
For example, banks make good use of SMS for time-sensitive account notifications such as statements reminders, payment confirmations, and transfer updates.
These notifications add value to the bank’s relationship with its customers. They’re also an effective and affordable alternative to mailing out millions of printed monthly statements.
However, get this type of mobile engagement wrong and you risk losing customers en masse and damaging your brand through unwanted messages and promotions.
It’s for this reason that companies and brands must always include an “opt in / opt out” option so that it doesn’t alienate or annoy new or existing customers.
Many charities have grasped the amazing effectiveness of SMS as a means for people to make quick and easy donations using their mobiles.
Unfortunately, some then mistakenly assume that receiving a text donation is a green light to calling the donor uninvited.
This approach misses the point of the convenience of the initial SMS: if I decide to send a donation via text, that means I am, right at that moment, emotionally involved in the cause or charity I am donating to.
Texting me back to say thank you or to invite me to take more action is a much better way to foster interaction than calling me, as it’s less intrusive and far simpler. It’s about matching the message to the medium.
For example, I recently received a ‘targeted offer’ from my network operator via an MMS to buy a new car.
The message left me feeling dumbfounded. Not only was the MMS not correctly formatted to my phone, demonstrating that the agency hadn’t thought about how it would be displayed, but also it came from no-where.
At no stage had I registered or expressed an interest in the cars. While I am willing to accept what I would class as spam through email, receiving it through MMS or SMS feels pervasive.
If I had expressed interest in buying a new car, this would have been a different story. I’d have been impressed that the targeting worked so well.
Hopefully, my operator, the dealership, and the digital agency managing its mobile campaign, will all know better for next time.
Furthermore, rather than regard mobile as a standalone marketing or CRM tool, companies should look to incorporate it into all of their marketing activities across different platforms.
Use it effectively, and mobile is the glue that holds together a company’s engagement with customers across different media.
TV commercials, print and online ads can all include a voice shortcode that is easy and immediate for the customer to act on.
Plus, consumers are now spending more time browsing the web via their mobiles than on PCs and laptops – so it’s only sensible for mobile to become a far greater focus as we move forward.
Faced with so many variables, a company or brand considering mobile CRM needs to decide on what will be most effective for its requirements – whether to develop its own capabilities in-house, or opt for a specialist digital agency or messaging aggregator instead.
If choosing the latter, it needs to find a partner with firstly, the expertise to properly understand what effective mobile customer engagement looks like: and who can also provide the technology resources, reliability and scalability to deliver such a programme, now and into the future.
To best utilise mobile, a brand should invest long term in the channel. It should expect to evolve its mobile CRM with its customers and the mobile technologies that they choose to use.
Persuading a consumer to invite your brand into their life via their phone is a delicate situation that requires careful thought.
Do it badly, and you seriously damage your brand and your relationship with existing and prospective customers alike.
But do it well, and you can establish a valuable and productive understanding with consumers that delivers ongoing success for your brand.
Adrian Sarosi will be speaking at 2.15 pm on Tuesday 2nd October  in the Ideas Lounge at Mobile Marketing Live on the subject of ‘Multi Modal Short Codes, a revolution for mobile marketing’.