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Protect your business by respecting privacy in mobile marketing campaigns Featured

1:42pm EDT April 18, 2012
Protect your business by respecting privacy in mobile marketing campaigns

When Nokia implemented a mobile marketing campaign to customers in Australia, they did not take into account their users’ privacy from a legal or brand standpoint. The company’s tips for getting the most out of a phone qualified as spam-texting, and instead of boosting business, Nokia was fined $58,000 fine earlier this year and has suffered reduced sales in the region.

“There are laws going into place now more and more around what you can do in mobile marketing,” says J. Robert Kamal, president, CEO and founder of Kohorts IT, a mobile marketing services company headquartered in Brighton, Mich. “ And the biggest common pitfall we’ve seen is companies trying to do this on their own without any experience at all.”

Businesses are increasingly looking to mobile marketing campaigns as mobile usage continues to rise. In fact, mobile Internet access will surpass traditional PC access by 2013, according to Gartner Research.

But in order to take advantage of this new era of marketing, it is increasingly important for businesses to focus on compliance with privacy standards – those set by governments and by customer expectations.

Account for privacy laws

One of the most common mistakes companies make is to create national or even global mobile marketing campaigns based on the assumptions of their local laws, Kamal says. Identify the privacy laws for all regions your campaign will penetrate.

Privacy laws, including the proposed US Mobile Privacy Act, commonly focus on: what data you will be collecting via mobile devices, who will have access to it and what it will be used for.

“Additionally, the user must agree to the privacy policy before data’s gathered, with the opportunity to opt out,” Kamal says. “And you must clearly identify yourself as the marketer. If those things aren’t in place, than you could be putting yourself exposed to legal risk on future litigation.”

Do not share information with a party not listed in your privacy policy – a common pitfall in business.

“If you collect data on a marketing campaign that you did legitimately for one purpose with a customer, and then you took the data from that customer and sold it to another company, that’s a problem,” Kamal says.

In addition to maintaining users’ privacy, you need to respect it in your marketing techniques.

“Engaging in spamming on mobile devices, thinking that because they’re your current customer, it’s not really spamming, is not necessarily the case,” Kamal says. “Those laws differ from country to country.”

Know your brand

In addition to legal issues, spamming can damage your brand image. Think about how you want to portray your business to customers.

“Is your brand a high-quality, sort of expensive brand? If it is, a spam marketing campaign or a campaign that does not respect privacy might actually damage that brand image that you spent so much time building.” Kamal says. “Look at spammers as a sign of a lowbrow marketing campaign.”

Take time to “purpose build” your campaign, as opposed to developing and implementing a mobile marketing program as quickly as possible. Consider a mobile services company to help you do so if you’re new to the process.

“Put a little thought into who your target audience is, what would be effective to actually run the campaign and (what your) intended results are,” Kamal says. “That reduces the risks and a lot of heartache with the client.”

Target your approach

Considering those factors allows you to target your approach in order to market to people with a high redemption rate. Using demand-draw or opt-in methods attract a relevant audience, as opposed to forcing marketing on random prospects.

“You can probably find a list somewhere that might have some relevance to what you’re marketing, but in the end, you’re going to have a high failure rate with just sort of a spam marketing program,” Kamal says.

Users who find the information irrelevant can easily block future messages from your company, as well as all automated messages.

“It’s hard for users to disseminate the difference between a fraud message and a legitimate marketing message unless you are taking into account the user’s privacy,” Kamal says. “Marketing that shows up on someone’s mobile device that they weren’t expecting doesn’t have a high return.”

Utilize social media

Mobile marketing and social media are inherently tied, as mobile devices are now driving most social media, Kamal says. By combining social media and mobile techniques in your marketing campaign, you can more successfully foster demand-draw.

“Set up a contest on social media that maybe draws demand and gets your message across,” Kamal says. “Then people actually ask for your offering. … Those campaigns tend to have a much, much higher redemption rate than campaigns where you just spam users.”

Social media also gives you access to a wealth of information on people’s wants and needs, which you can use to identify prospects.

“You can send back a response to their (post about selling a car) on social media saying, ‘Hey, we have this offer. We’ll buy your car at Blue Book price … as part of a promotion,’” Kamal says. “Then you can embed in the message back – let’s say it’s Twitter – ‘Just text this message to get your coupon code and show up at the dealer and you’ll get your reward.’

“Customers look at … those kind of marketing campaigns as actually useful. Because at the end of the day, if you were gong to buy a car anyway or trade in a car anyway, if you could get $500 off just for going to one dealer versus the next, you wouldn’t see that as an inconvenience. Nor is it an invasion of your privacy.”

How to reach: KoHorts IT, 810-355-1400 or http://kohorts-it.com