Advertising Technology

mBlox’s Stacy Adams on the Future of Mobile Marketing

stacy Stacy Adams is the VP of Marketing at mBlox, the telecommunications company that helps enterprise brands, agencies and solution providers create meaningful connections with their customers on mobile devices anytime and nearly anywhere. Adams and the team at mBlox are using data from a Millward Brown Digital survey to further lead the mobile marketing field. The Makegood recently spoke with Stacy about the findings and applications of that survey.

The Makegood: The Millward Brown Digital survey uncovered a lot of interesting information. Specifically, the fact that most consumers would welcome location-based mobile advertising if the advertising is relevant. Can you explain how mBlox can take advantage of this preference and how you plan to keep these potential ads “relevant” to consumers’ interests?

mBlox enables marketers to communicate with people through SMS and push on mobile devices, utilizing data and geolocation technology to send mobile marketing messages. We are uniquely positioned to offer not only the technology to execute mobile campaigns, but the expertise necessary to ensure those campaigns are successful.

Mobile marketing through SMS and push messaging allows enterprises to use geolocation to engage a consumer very close to the point of purchase. By combining the consumers’ preferences and prior behavior with location data, marketers can send personalized messages of high value. For example, a hotel chain with a loyalty app can send push notifications through that app to loyalty program members when they enter the hotel property. To take it further, they can utilize data on hand based on prior stays and purchases to tailor the notifications even further.

The Makegood: Sharing location-based data with businesses is a controversial issue. Where do you draw the line between advertising that is helpful and advertising that is intrusive and annoying?

I believe some marketers are so nervous about privacy concerns that they reluctantly shy away from mobile marketing. The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), with the help of companies such as mBlox, are combating this and have created strict standards and regulations to prevent marketers from spamming people or sending inappropriate messages. At mBlox, we are taking action to mitigate the privacy issues and keep our communications above the bar in order to maintain positive relationships with carriers, while providing marketers with another layer of reassurance that their campaigns won’t raise any privacy issues.

When it comes to SMS and push mobile marketing, all companies should practice permission-based marketing to comply with industry best practices and regulations. Marketers should only send mobile messages to people whom have opted-in to receive them, as well as be completely transparent in regards to how consumers’ data will be used. This will skirt any privacy issues around geotargeting. Also, it will give people a chance to avoid receiving unwanted communications from brands. Other factors to take into consideration are message value/relevancy (as stated above) and timing. For example, making sure a push notification is only sent one time when a user enters the geofenced area, not every time, in a given period.

The Makegood: Since mobile marketing is such an under-utilized form of consumer engagement, what ways have the people at mBlox planned to take advantage of this and how will this provide an advantage over other marketing mediums?

You are right to say that SMS and push mobile marketing has not reached its full potential. Given that only 1 in 5 marketers sent an SMS message last year according to Chief Marketer data, the survey reveals that SMS messages is an effective mobile engagement tactic preferred by people but underutilized by marketers. Also, according to The Guardian, over four billion people around the world have access to SMS/text messages, meaning SMS has more users than Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn combined.

SMS gives marketers access to a large global reach, and SMS and push marketing better engages people in a way that is consistent with their preferences, adds value, and persuades purchase-intent more than other tactics. What’s more, marketing to the mobile device via SMS and push is easy! It’s a simple way to send messages for the marketer and a simple way of receiving it by the consumer. What could be easier or more effective than a well-timed text message? The time commitment necessary to engage with the message is minimal and the connection is immediate, especially in comparison with email.

The Makegood: What are some of the challenges that come with specifically targeting mobile users?

Mobile is a very personal channel, and the mobile device—like keys or a wallet—is something no one leaves the house without. The mobile phone number, even more so than land line number or email address, is a piece of well-guarded information, only given to those deemed worthy. It’s understandable then that marketers must practice more caution when utilizing this channel than with others to ensure that messages sent are relevant and of high value to the recipient.

To date, mobile has been a difficult entry point for marketers, because, as an industry, we took what didn’t work on the web and moved it to mobile environments, such as standard web-based banner ads that send users outside the app or mobile website and pre-roll video ads that force people to watch them, disrupting the user experience. Plus, when mobile applications were gaining traction, marketers put a great deal of time and budget into them without realizing how difficult it would be to keep the user engaged through them. In fact, a March 2013 study by Digital Trends found that 80 to 90 percent of all downloaded apps are used once and then eventually deleted by users.

But we expect that number to move in a more positive direction as marketers embrace push notifications, in-app messaging and SMS as ways to re-engage those who have downloaded mobile apps.

Also, as I discussed previously, marketers are concerned about privacy issues when it comes to mobile marketing and geotargeting, which has probably caused more alarm in the marketing community that it should have. The data from the Millward Brown Digital study turned this theory on its head, since 80 of global respondents stated they would share location data with brands in order to receive SMS or push messages. Let me also reiterate that mBlox follows MMA regulations and adheres to permission-based, transparent mobile marketing practices.

The Makegood: How does mBlox plan on developing its mobile marketing services further in the immediate future?

mBlox offers marketers a way to enable permission-based marketing messages in the form of SMS and push alerts, while empowering brands to make good use of their data by facilitating a personalized conversation with real people. We help marketers make sense of the mobile channel and give them a platform to practice transparency and utilize big data, such as profile, behavior, geolocation, and time zone, to send targeted and timely messages. We are also working to ensure mobile fits within the context of a multi-channel strategy, understanding that when executed alongside email, video, online and TV, mobile is ultimately more effective in achieving overall marketing objectives.

The Makegood: Thank you, Stacy