Nowadays, mobile phones are greatly popular. They have generated an enormous opportunity for the development of numerous new fields that can be rather efficient for the business. Mobile marketing is one of them. Today, this tool is highly popular around the world. It is associated with the fact that it is simple, economical, and customer-oriented. In such a way, the topic of the current paper is rather relevant as it is important to investigate the details regarding mobile marketing. Thus, the purpose of the paper is to study the notion of mobile marketing and examine the spheres of its application. For this purpose, different sources are used providing useful information on the topic.
The term “mobile marketing” is relatively young. Its origin is explained by the emergence of the mobile Internet. In fact, the popularity and accessibility of the mobile Internet became noticeable with the increase in the number of people using it. Such a huge advertising platform could not go unnoticed in the field of marketing, which led to the emergence of mobile marketing. This fact ensured the formation of unique conditions for the implementation of marketing strategies through mobile devices. These days, mobile marketing is one of the most promising areas of advertising services around the world. For example, one of its instruments, sending advertising SMS, has already become quite well known and popular. The paper will discuss the essence of mobile marketing, its features, areas of application, and prospects of development.
The Essence of Mobile Marketing, its Tools, and Tasks
Mobile marketing emerged in Europe and Asia in 2000 and then continued to be implemented virtually all over the world. The impetus for the emergence and popularization of this channel of marketing information distribution was the use of mobile communication, particularly SMS technology. In the book Mobile Marketing, it is noted that “as mobile phones have become more universal, their appeal as a marketing vehicle has grown commensurately” (Pasqua, 2012, p. 2). A definition of the term has been given by a French professor, a specialist in the field of social media and viral marketing, Andreas Kaplan, who sees mobile marketing as any marketing activities conducted through ubiquitous networks, to which consumers are constantly connected via their mobile devices (Krum, 2010). The author states that some other marketers complement this definition clarifying that mobile marketing is the use of the mobile environment as a means of carrying out marketing communications and sending advertising messages to clients via wireless networks.
The very concept of mobile marketing has a double meaning. Mobile marketing is a complex of marketing activities aimed at the promotion of goods or services with the use of mobile communication devices. At the same time, mobile marketing is positioned as an interactive marketing tool for marketing communications, in the implementation of which a mobile phone is used. The main advantage of mobile marketing is its effectiveness. It can be easily integrated into a traditional advertising campaign extending the advertising capabilities of other media.
Mobile technologies offer an opportunity to use such an original, effective, and increasingly popular form of marketing communications as the attraction of consumers to interact through the game. Accordingly, it draws the attention of consumers and stands out for a long time, maintains the interest of consumers, and creates a positive atmosphere, which can be associated with the product or service in the future (Miryala & Mennakanti, 2016). It also builds and develops loyalty and facilitates the transfer of information about promotions. In fact, mobile marketing stands for marketing communication, which involves the use of mobile devices such as phones, smartphones, and communicators.
Nowadays, mobile marketing has a whole arsenal of technical and marketing solutions that help solve a number of different tasks. The easiest way to differentiate mobile marketing is based on the systematization of conventional marketing tools. In regard to mobile marketing, the same principle consists in the fact that mobile advertising is just one of the tools of mobile marketing. The majority of the most popular mobile marketing tools can solve not a single marketing problem but a whole complex of problems (Miryala & Mennakanti, 2016). It should be noted that the QR-codes, banners in WAP-space, SMS-mailing, Java-application, and mobile community are an exception (Pasqua, 2012). They increasingly specialize on advertising and, thus, they can be isolated into a separate group – a group of tools of mobile advertising. In any case, it should not be undermined that these means will be truly effective only in case a person studies the consumer market. Another conclusion that can be drawn on the basis of this typology consists of the fact that different tools can successfully solve similar problems. For example, sales promotion can be performed with the help of SMS-sales, SMS-mailing, QR-codes, banners on WAP-resources, mobile community, Bluetooth-marketing, and branded Java-based applications (Pasqua, 2012). In terms of consumer research, a mobile community or SMS-voting can be applied with the same success. In each case, the choice of the optimal format for mobile marketing or a channel of communication with the mobile audience will depend on the specific objectives set by the company. It is worth remembering another important feature of mobile marketing tools. They are perfectly combined with each other allowing a person to create unique and memorable campaigns.
Finally, people should not forget about another feature of mobile marketing consisting in the fact that the cell phone can be used as a means of instant promotion of participants. For example, it is possible to allocate money to the subscriber’s account or provide the winners with a bonus mobile content (Krum, 2010). Generally, the use of the mobile content as an incentive prize is rather relevant as a person receives a small gift that gives him/her positive emotions. Actions of mobile marketing can be easily, quickly, and inexpensively integrated into any marketing campaign. In urgent cases, the service provider can organize and run such a campaign in just a couple of days. The application of mobile marketing in different business areas will be discussed in the following section.
Areas of Application of Mobile Marketing
Mobile marketing has already found its application in different areas. First of all, it is a market of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) because FMCG-companies are known as pioneers in the field of mobile marketing (Aktas, 2010). For several years, they have accumulated a fairly extensive experience of its application. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the most advanced of them have tried almost all kinds of actions based on the mobile technologies that are supported by the main park of cell phones (Aktas, 2010). It is obvious that the choice of a mobile marketing tool is not the end in itself. It must be dictated by marketing objectives. However, these days, it is possible to indicate formats showing high performance in the FMCG-sector. First of all, these are stimulating SMS-lotteries and quizzes, for example, “Send a code from the packaging and take part in the prize draw”, as well as savings programs such as “Sending a code, you can accumulate points and receive a prize”. In addition to stimulating actions, quizzes, and savings programs, such aspects as SMS-voting, creative contests, SMS-mailing, mobile advertising, QR-codes, and WAP-portals can also be helpful for the FMCG-sector.
Retail is another sphere of application. Mobile marketing in the retail sector has been used for a long time and a whole range of tasks is successfully solved with the help of it, from simple informing of customers about discounts to increase the amount of a single purchase. In this industry, SMS-distribution is especially successful. For example, according to the retail chain Wal-Mart Stores Inc. that launched a system of an efficient notification of customers about discounts via SMS-mailing, more than 10% of the network buyers have subscribed to the service for a period of three months (Rowles, 2013). When the South African retail chain Redwood City adopted a similar system, the number of signatories reached 25% (Rowles, 2013). The fact that all signatories participated in the prize draw – travel or free shopping – also played a significant role. In case of SMS-mailing, it is important that the company pays only for held contacts. Thus, information is obtained only by those who really need it, namely subscribers of the newsletter.
In addition to SMS-mailing, other mobile marketing tools can be successfully used in the retail sector including SMS-quizzes, prize draws, mobile coupons and flyers, mobile advertising, and WAP-portals. WAP-resources are also of special importance for retail today. For example, Tesco, which is considered the largest retail network in the United Kingdom, has launched its WAP-portal, where a person can quickly and easily find the addresses of stores and their hours of work, and get various additional information that may be of interest to buyers: about diets, new books, or means of entertainment. Every month, more than 300 thousand users visit this mobile website (Rowles, 2013). Thus, this technology proves to be efficient.
Mobile marketing is also successfully used in the food and hotel industries. Companies specializing in these fields also gradually include mobile marketing tools in their marketing arsenal. Along with the generic formats such as SMS distribution, they can use various unique solutions designed specifically for this kind of business. For example, in case of hotels, there are different useful options such as SMS-informing about seasonal discounts, SMS-confirmation of the reservation, the WAP-portal, where a person can receive full information about the hotel, and Java-application that provides access to the information even in the absence of the mobile Internet. Visitors of fast food chains, cafes, bars, and clubs definitely appreciate the mobile menu, which can be viewed at the WAP-site. It is also convenient if there are photos and a map, as well as a possibility for a visitor to book a table and write a review on the given site.
It should be noted that global giants of the fast food industry has been successfully using the possibilities of mobile technologies to promote their brands. For example, in China, McDonald’s and Coca Cola held SMS-contest, the participants of which had to guess the maximum temperature in the capital during the day (Rowles, 2013). Every day, the winner was handed a year’s supply of soda and a mobile phone. As a guaranteed prize, there was a voucher to visit McDonald’s and a corporate jingle of Coca Cola Company, which could be set as a ringtone on the mobile phone. The results of this campaign were impressive. The author Daniel Rowles (2013) states that for a period of 35 days, more than 4 million SMS have been received. More than 50 thousand people downloaded the jingle and about 20 thousand coupons for a visit to McDonald’s were received (Rowles, 2013). The success of such actions consists in an interesting and unusual script and direct approach to the target audience. In this regard, young people and teenagers are more interested in actions of mobile marketing than older people.
Auto business is one more area where mobile marketing is extremely widespread. The largest automobile companies and their dealers have always tried to use innovative technologies of communication with the clients and, thus, mobile marketing has entered into their practice rather quickly (Rowles, 2013). Moreover, many of them show a very creative approach while implementing projects with non-standard mechanics. In the case of the auto business, the most relevant tools of mobile marketing are the following: WAP-portals, banner advertising in WAP-space, Java-applications, branded Java-games, SMS-mailing, SMS-quizzes, and lotteries.
Mobile marketing can be a good tool for the entertainment industry. With the help of it, it is possible to book movie tickets, make restaurant reservations, arrange clubs through SMS-chats with the translation to the screen, organize interactive games and photo contests, implement Bluetooth-marketing, and create branded social networks. Chats, games, and photo contests can be a memorable feature of any event, from club parties to a large-scale music festival. It is worth considering that for the target audience attending such events, the mobile communication channel is one of the most relevant. The efficiency of the response may vary from 10 to 30% depending on the format of the action and its script (Rowles, 2013). Therefore, mobile marketing can be a real discovery for the entertainment industry. The main issue is to invent a non-trivial and bight scenario that is always valuable for young audiences.
Currently, mobile banking by its nature can be considered as a separate and independent branch of additional mobile services. Nevertheless, as it solves mainly traditional marketing objectives, it can be included in the sphere of mobile marketing. Mobile technologies have opened a new era of remote banking services (Aktas, 2010). In many countries, mobile banking has already considerably suppressed Internet banking. Furthermore, according to experts, this trend will continue in the future (Aktas, 2010). Mobile banking is an effective and cost-saving technology of the customer service. Mobile banking has significant advantages compared to the Internet banking. Firstly, it provides a more personalized contact with each client because a cellular telephone unlike PC is almost always exclusively used by one person – its owner. Secondly, this contact will be operational round the clock. Thirdly, mobile banking makes it possible to develop narrowly segmented, specialized services for specific population groups because customers can be differentiated by their location, preferences, and other parameters. It makes mobile marketing an effective tool in such a highly competitive market as a financial services market.
Mobile banking is a set of services that allow obtaining information about the status of bank accounts, as well as managing it with the use of personal mobile devices. The benefits of this tool are evident both for customers and for the banks themselves. For customers, it is associated with an undoubted ease of communication with the bank as it provides the speed, round the clock availability, and the ability to get information upon request and conduct various banking operations (Aktas, 2010). For the bank, this technology is also highly useful. It saves the cost of customer service, allows working efficiently with a variety of consumer groups, ensures high customer loyalty and, as a result, creates an attractive image of the bank. Professionals of mobile banking divide all the services into two types: services that are initiated by the bank and services that are initiated by the client. Services initiated by the client are divided into two types (Aktas, 2010). The first one provides background information and the latter allows the customer to perform various banking transactions. The second type is more difficult to implement since it requires the introduction of additional data protection system to the customer’s mobile phone. The operating principle of services according to the customer request is the same as the ATM. Their intuitive mechanics based on the principle of personal communication of the client with the bank representative greatly simplifies the execution of all transactions on the account. The maximum efficiency of mobile banking services is achieved by combining the information flows from the bank to the client, and vice versa.
Nonetheless, the potential of mobile banking is not limited to its intended purpose. It can successfully perform other marketing tasks. The author Asligul Aktas (2010) affirms that it creates additional convenience for customers. Instead of using a long number, which is rather hard to remember, the bank can use a short number. The client sends an empty SMS and the bank employee calls back to the client. According to the author, the collection of statistical information is another function of mobile banking. While developing a new product line or preparing the sociological slice, mobile banking can be successfully used to conduct surveys among different consumer groups. It will help the bank collect the data necessary for the marketing analysis and, as a result, will increase the guarantee of the high demand for a new product. In addition, there is the Implementation of loyalty programs. Mobile banking allows segmenting the customer base of the bank according to various parameters, for example, on a geographical basis, on the type of client requests, and on the type of conducted transactions, to create loyalty programs oriented on different consumer groups (Aktas, 2010). Mobile banking stimulates the interest in consumer loans. If the customer usually pays with the credit card, the bank may send him/her a message with the information about the new loan terms. Finally, the expansion of the customer base is one more useful function of mobile banking. Mobile banking can be a powerful and convincing argument when choosing a bank. It is especially true for younger people, which always prefer simple and convenient services, which are based on advanced modern communications technologies.
In such a way, mobile marketing can be applied in a variety of areas. However, regarding the creation of strategies with the help of mobile marketing, people should take into account not only the advantages of mobile marketing but also its disadvantages. The advantages and disadvantages of mobile marketing will be discussed in the following section.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Mobile Marketing
After analyzing the basic tools of mobile marketing, several advantages of mobile marketing can be highlighted. First of all, it is instant delivery of information. To inform consumers about the campaign using traditional methods, it is necessary to spend much time (Poynter, Williams, & York, 2014). To send a message to hundreds of thousands of customers located in different regions, one can only press a button “Send”. Mobile marketing provides a personal relationship with each customer. Appealing to the client in a traditional way is usually massive and impersonal. Mobile marketing takes into account each client individually. Measurable return is another advantage. If a person has previously informed the consumer about something through different channels, it is difficult to figure out which of the channels is efficient. In the case of mobile marketing, it is easy to track what channel works and what does not. Thus, there are a great number of advantages.
Despite this fact, there are also certain disadvantages of mobile marketing. Half of the experts believe that the main restriction of mobile marketing is the inaccessibility of the audience older than 35 years (Poynter et al., 2014). Nevertheless, others argue that a good action script allows drawing the attention of almost any type of audience. One of the limitations is the need for the subscriber initiative. In general, experts suggest exogenous factors that cannot be influenced. With the development of the industry, a few disadvantages such as technical and organizational constraints of operators will become less important. Others can be overcome with the help of good scripts of mobile marketing.
Mobile marketing is widely used worldwide, because of its efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and rapid integration capabilities. It allows implementing a large number of tasks during a relatively short period of time. In addition, its distinctive feature is the ability to combine several tools to achieve certain goals with greater success. Mobile marketing can be applied in various industries, which once again emphasizes its diversity and versatility. It should also be borne in mind that the main audience reacting to the impact of mobile marketing techniques includes young people and teenagers. Based on this fact, it can be stated that mobile marketing is the most widely used marketing tool in the field of entertainment, in terms of informing about the products and services offered by the well-established organizations in the field of recreation and entertainment. There are also drawbacks of mobile marketing which are primarily associated with exogenous factors. However, with all its advantages and rationality, mobile marketing can find a wide application and sustain rapid development in different spheres around the world.