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Mobile Messages for the Holidays

This has been an important year for mobile. Worldwide there will be 6 billion mobile connections at the end of November. 6 billion! What are we doing with all these mobile connections? Checking Fantasy Football stats. Updating our Facebook status. Just to put some facts to that observation–nearly 70 percent of wireless users in the U.S. updated their status on social networking sites with their mobile phone. More amazingly-–only 43 percent of mobile phones in the U.S. are smartphones. That means even those with basic feature phones are taking advantage of the new short message service (SMS) functionality built into these social networking sites. Another interesting tidbit–- more than half of those subscribers interacted with a brand while on their mobile.

It is a fact. Our love affair with mobile is only growing. In many cases, it is actually forcing businesses to become more innovative.

Retailers are a savvy group. They are well aware that it isn’t only teens that text. That 70 percent statistic I referenced above isn’t a secret. This year we’ve seen brands give consumers the ability to sign-up for SMS alerts through loyalty programs, QR codes scan, and online sign-ups.

What might surprise you about this model is the pace of adoption. If mobile connections are skyrocketing and everyone is using their mobile devices – whyisn’t mobile marketing more prevalent?

Black Friday is one example of a shopping high holiday with huge mobile marketing potential. What makes someone brave the crowds and risk being trampled to be first in line for a midnight open on Black Friday? The deal. How do you know that your favorite retailer has the best deal in town?

Retailers would love to alert you that your favorite brand is now on sale at their location. There is no better way to reach consumers real-time than through mobile marketing. It is cost-effective. It is contextually relevant. It is something the consumer registered to receive. But traditionally, It has been complicated to implement.

In the U.S., each geographic area can have multiple wireless operators. According to the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA), there are over 180 facilities-based wireless providers in the United States. If one customer is on MetroPCS or Verizon and another is on CellularOne or AT&T, you need to create unique contracts with each operator. If you are targeting Black Friday shoppers in New York City, that is a lot of potential operator connections. Not to mention, how do you know which customer is on which network? Listing your operator is usually a requirement to subscribe to mobile marketing campaigns, but what if you switch? It is a giant headache for retailers.

We think this is one of the main reasons why we haven’t seen an explosion in mobile marketing campaigns. Brands are great at marketing. There is nothing like holiday commercials to get us thinking about shopping. But most are still new when it comes to integrating a mobile marketing plan.

Call us biased, but at Neustar we think we have the answer to this challenge. Earlier this year, we launched the Intelligent Cloud. This service enables a retailer to launch a mobile marketing campaign and reach all their customers regardless of who provides their wireless service. Easily and cost effectively. The potential is huge for the future of mobile marketing.

Want to launch a campaign that lets consumers sign up for regular alerts about sales during the holiday season? Interested in giving loyalty updates to those shoppers that opt-in? Thinking about setting up a geofence  (otherwise known as a virtual boundary) to make sure customers in the area know about your deals before they stop at a competitor in the mall? Now you can do all that and more-–with just one connection.

2011 is definitely a big year for mobile connectivity. We are looking forward to 2012 and all those innovative retailers using mobile to deepen their relationships with their customers. Mobile marketing is a game changer and we’re glad to be a part of it!

dot Mobile Messages for the Holidays
Joe Ariganello

About Joe Ariganello

Joe has deep experience in the mobile applications space, including running the mobile games business for Sprint Nextel and his own mobile gaming company, KA9 Media. For Neustar, Joe is Senior Solutions Manager and helps market networking services, most recently introducing Neustar's new Communications Analytics Solution.

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