Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mobile Marketing is more closer than you think

Is this the next big thing?
Most of us old geezers have only now begun to feel comfortable with things like Facebook. It wasn’t that long ago that I signed up for Facebook. Now, everybody is using it. It reminds me of the first Internet page I saw and my first email. Yes, I’m that old.

But if you think the world is going to slow down long enough to let you catch your breath on new technology than you are sadly mistaken. While you’re still trying to figure out what a tweet is, the earth is moving under your feet. Welcome to the next big revolution – mobile technology.

Simply put, your entire world is moving into the palm of your hand. You may not know it yet, but it’s already arrived. Not too far into the future, everything that you do will be through a wireless device that you take with you wherever you go. Watching TV or movies, talking to friends, being part of a social media circle, playing games, learning new things, paying your bills, buying and selling – all of these things will all be done through your mobile device.

The statistics show that today’s mobile devices (many of them still just unsophisticated cell phones) are already changing the landscape.. Four out of five Americans now have a cell phone, Blackberry, iPhone or other device that is also a cell phone. According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, texting is one of the fastest growing methods of communicating. Texting by adults has increased over the past 9 months from 65% in September 2009 to 72% in May 2010. Adults who text typically send and receive an average of 10 texts a day. Compare that to cell phone use. The average adult cell phone owner makes and receives around 5 voice calls a day.

If you think that is interesting, think on this. Teens who text send and receive an averageof 50 texts per day. Pew says the mobile phone has become the “favored communication hub” for the majority of American teens. Some 75% of 12-17 year-olds now own cell phones, up from 45% in 2004. Fully 72% of all teens are text-messagers. That is a sharp rise from the 51% of teens who were texters in 2006. More than half of teens are daily texters. One in three teens sends more than 100 text messages a day.

Interestingly enough, calling is still an important function of the cell phone for teens, but for most use the phone part of their mobile device as the primary mode of conversing with parents, not each other. Girls also used the cell-phone and all its functions more than boys.

Having a mobile device isn’t just for the young. Pew found that one of the main triggers for adult use is having children. Parents with children under 18 in the home are more likely to own a cell phone than non-parents, and more likely to make 5 or more calls per day than non-parents though they do not text more overall.

All this means that Non-Profit marketing just got harder. It means that more and more people, especially young people, are spending more time texting than going to your website, opening your email or reading your print newsletter.

And worse, most mobile devices are harder to market to. The arrival of anti-spam laws in Canada coupled with our already tight privacy legislation means that mobile marketing is more permission-based than many other mediums. In other words, they really need to want your marketing message before you send it. Not only that, but Pew found that people who use mobile devices think differently about them than other things like email. Two in five cell-owners say they feel irritated when a call or text interrupts them. Nearly two-thirds of adults with cell phones say they have received unwanted or spam text messages on their phone, which I suspect is more perception than reality.

So, in your next Non-Profit marketing plan include a section on mobile devices. The time may not be right yet to make your own smart phone app or run a text-based promotion, but that day is coming. You need to be ready for it. Start by taking a hard look at your web infrastructure and email offerings. Make sure they can be accessed by mobile devices easily. For example, a lot of websites that use Flash (the stuff that makes images move on a website) have a tough time working on mobile devices. They take too long to load. Also, try asking your clients what mobile technology they use. Get some early data on usage from the people who give, support or use your Non-Profit services right now.

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