Monday, March 26, 2007

Why You're Going to Replace the Mobile Marketing Software You Haven't Even Bought Yet

I’ve seen several (well, two) articles recently about mobile marketing software. That’s one mention short of a trend, but I figured I’d be proactive and see what was going on out there. The general idea behind the articles was that new products are now making it easier to do serious campaign management for mobile promotions.

Somewhat to my disappointment, a quick bit of Googling showed there are many more than two products already present in this space. Most seem to be SMS bulk mailers—very much the equivalent of simple software for sending direct mail or mass emails. Of course, we all know that sort of untargeted marketing is a bad idea in any channels and pretty much unthinkable in mobile marketing, where the customer pays to receive the message. So those products aren’t worth much attention.

But there do seem to be several more sophisticated products that offer advanced capabilities. I won’t mention names because I haven’t spent enough time researching the topic to understand which ones are truly important.

Still, my general thought for the day is that it's silly to have to invent the features needed for this sort of product. Surely the marketing world has enough experience by now to understand the basic features necessary to run campaigns and manage interactions. Any list would include customer profiles, segmentation, testing, response analysis, propensity modeling, and lifetime value estimates (yes that last one is special pleading; sorry, I’m obsessed). I could come up with more but the cat is sitting on my lap. The point is, it makes vastly more sense to extend current marketing systems into the mobile channel, than to build separate mobile marketing systems that will later need to be integrated.

Marketing software vendors surely see this opportunity. But to take advantage of it, they would need to invest in not merely in technology, but also in the services and expertise needed to help novice marketers enter the mobile channel. This is expensive and experts are rare. So it’s more likely the vendors will defer any major effort until standard practices are widely understood. Pity – it will mean a lot of work down the road to fix the problems now being created.

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