Carriers are key to mobile marketing

By Sandeep Chandrasekar Seshadri

To unleash the potential of mobile marketing, wireless carriers need to become more than just network providers.

There are two fundamental issues in the mobile marketing ecosystem:

? Why consumer-focused enterprises should consider mobile as an effective direct channel to reach their end consumers?

? What role should carriers play in the ecosystem to enable enterprises to realize the true potential of mobile marketing, create value for their mobile subscribers and develop an alternative revenue stream for themselves?

Context and relevance
With the current economic climate, companies are trying to make sure their marketing dollars yield projected ROI with maximum reach. Hence we see them stick to time-tested marketing channels.

So far mobile marketing has generally stood for SMS texts or banner ads, which is an imitation of the online advertising and marketing strategy. This strategy, though it may reach the masses, may not really work for mobile.

A mobile phone, being a personal device, is all about relevance and context.

Delivering the right marketing message at the right time and place is key to getting consumers to respond. The demographics, localization, time and usage preferences that can contextualize marketing on mobile cannot be easily achieved across other channels.

Mobile marketing goes beyond banners and texts. It can enable enterprises to collect information and build intelligence about the consumers, providing simple but relevant and helpful information to consumers and drive interactivity.

Mobile also offers a variety of delivery channels for marketing. Marketers have the flexibility of choosing a channel or a combination of channels they want to use to reach out to the consumers on the basis of what is effective, relevant and what makes economic sense to them.

Some mobile marketing delivery approaches such as proximity marketing, thanks to WiFi and Bluetooth, do not require the end user to spend a dime and hence they are even more likely to be adopted by mobile users.

Carriers are enablers
Significant opportunities exist for carriers in the mobile marketing value-chain. Relevance, be it user relevance, location relevance or context relevance, can be more effectively provided only by the carrier thanks to their deep knowledge about the consumers and their network assets.

Improved relevance goes a long way in determining the success of a mobile marketing campaign and also determines a consumer?s receptivity to such a campaign.

Mobile marketing adoption is always threatened by excessive targeting, leading to privacy concerns and the loss of acceptance among consumers.

Understandably, carriers are taking a cautious approach to the use of customer data and are reluctant to exploit such data. They can instill trust in consumers by being open and transparent, making it easy for them to opt-in or decide how their information is used.

The device diversity and the number of marketing channels on mobile create a significant cost barrier for marketers. Marketers will gravitate even more toward mobile marketing when carriers can offer a platform for them to reach their consumers without worry of diversity of devices and delivery channels.

Sandeep Chandrasekar Seshadri is senior business analyst at Infosys Technologies, Plano, TX. Reach him at .