Mobile Marketing: The Unifying Channel for Gen Y
About The Author:Craig Fitzgerald serves as Editorial Director for IMN (www.imninc.com). He leads IMN's editorial strategy and oversees content for the company's customer e-newsletters including Loyalty Driver, a managed e-newsletter for auto dealerships. Previously, Craig was the Editor for Hemmings, an automotive magazine publisher.
Baby boomers are the largest generational population, however, with 80 million strong, Gen Y will actually constitute a greater influence and buying power in the not so distance future. Ultimately, Gen Y income and what they stand to inherit will surpass any other generation to date. Gen Y will be the largest buyers or consumers of cars, homes, and all the other products that provide the fuel that powers the economy.
So what does this mean for marketers looking at the most impactful channels to interact, engage and retain Gen Y? First, let’s look at their overall characteristics. Gen Y clearly value both community and individual empowerment. They are self-reliant, a bit skeptical; yet value their social connections above all. And, growing up in a tech-driven environment, they have carved out some unique and different views and tendencies from other generations.
As a result, Gen Y’s reliance on and interaction with traditional media is significantly different than any generation that precedes it. Traditional media is suffering unprecedented attrition, especially in the very age brackets that are so critical to advertisers. Today, just 39 percent of those born after 1980 read a daily newspaper, versus 58 percent of the Baby Boomer crowd. And, 30 percent of 18-34 year olds are watching TV online, divorced from the very device that defined the Baby Boomers and Generation X. Nevertheless, they’re connected – 90 percent of Gen Yers sleep with their smartphone. Raise your hand if you ever slept with your laptop.
For marketers, this means that your primary means of reaching customers – the core methods of getting your message to your audience – is quickly losing its relevance to a large chunk of the buying public. This generation and beyond is steeped in mobile technology. Yet, most businesses have only fully embraced the power of the Internet in the last 15 years. Companies are just beginning to realize the purchasing power of a mobile device and its ability to reach consumers.
Yet consumers know that their smartphones are revolutionizing the way they purchase. A Microsoft-commissioned study, as reported by Ad Age, found that mobile marketing facilitated purchase decisions in the following ways:
• 46 percent of respondents said they use their smartphones to compare prices in the store.
• More than 43 percent said they use mobile search every day.
• 40 percent said they use their phones to search for product information.
• 34 percent use mobile to look up store locations.
And, these numbers are only expected to grow. Texting, e-newsletter, microsites, and coupon delivery to smartphones are some of the ways that savvy digital marketers, are engaging their consumers with mobile-centric marketing campaigns. Let’s take a closer look.
• Text: Today, on average, Gen Y sends 2,200 texts per month. So text messages are a great foot-in-the-door, but be careful of the frequency and the message. Some great examples include SMS text numbers where customers can get regular information from a business via text message. This communication form is evolving and certain industries, -- automotive dealerships and real estate agencies, for example -- are becoming more effective using text to drive consumer interest and engagement.
• Email: The explosion of smartphones has also helped companies reach mobile consumers directly through emails and e-newsletters. It is important to make sure e-newsletters and other emailed content is optimized for mobile delivery. Taking that a step further, interesting content targeting readers’ needs is crucial for engagement. Otherwise, they might unsubscribe or delete an email (easy to do on a mobile device) before reading. Good examples include banks timely best practices during the tax season or travel agents providing tips for summer vacations.
• Mobile and Microsites: While relatively new, websites and location-based microsites designed specifically for a mobile audience are beginning to build in popularity. Several microsite design companies have popped up in the last two years, promising higher SEO rankings and better control over the visitors to their site.
• Coupons: Some point-of-sale organizations are becoming adept at offering coupons through mobile devices. Coupons downloaded or emailed to a mobile device can be scanned at the brick and mortar loction directly from the user’s phone. By sending mobile coupons, companies are able to reach their customers on-the-go. For example, Target now offers eCoupons to shoppers for everyday household and food items. Mobile barcodes with coupons are scanned at registers for discounted prices.
• Social Networking: Mobile campaigns are also reaching consumers, especially Gen Y, through social networks and apps like Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare, among others. Location-based check-in services are being used by marketers to encourage customers to tag their location on mobile devices when they visit a business. Customers are then rewarded with coupons, prizes and other incentives.
These tactics are a great start for marketers focused on reaching Gen Y and their increased buying power, but remember that while Gen Y is a mobile-centric age group, all your other customers are becoming increasingly mobile-centric, too. Mobile marketing is powerful because it ties all channels together and has the ability to connect all forms of advertising on a device that consumers carry with them (and, as we learned, sleep with). For example, billboard advertising can lead to SMS communication, e-newsletters sent to mobile e-mail lead to social media communications and even television advertising might prompt a consumer to access a mobile app or micro-site. The delivery options are endless for mobile marketers.
Increased options forengagement are attractive to Gen Y and mobile phones are turning into THE means for content delivery for marketers. Just remember, content and frequency of communication is critical to making that delivery happen.