July 19, 2012 \ Geoff Birmingham
Social Mobile Marketing

woman on a smartphone in restaurantI attended an informative event last week on the subject of mobile marketing, hosted by AMA Boston. Jeff Peden, the CEO of CraveLabs, and Dan Rowinski, a writer for ReadWriteWeb, had an informal conversation on the topic.

Reflection Films is primarily a business-to-business company, and my perception has been that mobile marketing is primarily about marketing to consumers rather than businesses, via smartphones. This perception was largely confirmed by Dan and Jeff.

Here are few things learned about mobile marketing, from someone who knew next to nothing about it before …

The Check-In. You go to a restaurant or other location. You announce to all your friends via Facebook, Twitter or a mobile app : “I’m at Restaurant XYZ!”  For the word-of-mouth marketing you are giving Restaurant XYZ, it rewards you with a coupon. Foursquare is a common app that facilitates this activity. According to Dan and Jeff, the check-in is evolving though. The goal now is to go beyond just identifying the coordinates of a location but also capture data about what is in that location or what the person is doing. Which leads us to…

Data. Mobile marketers want to be able to create data sets that describe different categories of people, and then tailor their marketing to those categories. In other words, knowing that a bunch of people have gone to a Whole Foods store is kind of helpful, but it doesn’t give a real picture of who they are, which is why mobile marketers like…

Verbs. If you start understanding what people are doing when they are at a certain location, you start to get a better idea of what they are like as potential customers.  If you know they are running, drinking beer, playing paintball, camping, whatever, you are in a much better position to know who and where your potential customers are. So if you are REI or LL Bean, you might want to target your message to the people who are camping. This extra data is often acquired through…

Apps. I never understood how apps were used as a marketing tool. Now it kind of makes sense. They are used to capture data and verbs. Jeff and Dan portrayed Facebook as a kind of Big Brother, logging your every move. Use an app within Facebook, and your behaviors will be recorded. Facebook can then sell its advertising to target swaths of consumers. This led to questions from the audience about…

Privacy. Should we be worried that our every move is being scrutinized? According to Jeff and Dan, federal regulation doesn’t allow for that, though the FCC and FTC haven’t really figured out a set of defined rules for what’s invasion of privacy and what isn’t. Right now, we can only be targeted as clusters of consumers, rather than individual ones.

In other words, I can’t be identified as Geoff, the guy who likes to play soccer. But I if I’m on my smartphone, telling folks with my Facebook app that I just won my soccer league championship, it wouldn’t be a shock if I started to receive Facebook advertising from City Sports or Modell’s, along with a bunch of other guys boasting of their on-field prowess.

All of this left me wondering who is the …

Targeted audience for mobile marketers. Consumers only or businesses as well? Jeff and Dan’s basic answer was consumers. According to Jeff, most folks are using their phones to search for a nearby Whole Foods right now. And that person spends about 15 seconds doing it. But he doesn’t use his phone to find a video production company. Jeff did say that it’s “early days” for business-to-business mobile marketing, and that this may change. But he expects that B-to-B mobile marketing will eventually happen more aggressively via tablets, rather than smartphones.



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