Ever wondered how exactly to run a mobile alerts campaign? Follow these seven steps and you will be well on your way:

1) Know the channel

Mobile is the most interactive and immediate communication channel available today. Take for example that the average person glances at their phone 150 Times Per Day, e-mail is read 48 hours after getting sent vs. 4 minutes for SMS, and SMS is literally 720 times faster than e-mail in message-opening throughput. Using mobile, you can reach your audience faster, with a much lower percentage of ignores, and interact with that audience going forward (as opposed to just one-way, single instance communication).

2) Provide an incentive

Your mobile alerts campaign is not going to be successful without a proper incentive to drive high sign up numbers. The key, however, is figuring out the incentive that is going to produce maximum ROI. As we saw in our examination of a viral sweepstakes, the value of each incremental subscriber is going to be less as you continue to increase the incentive. The reason is that each incremental subscriber is less interested in the reason for the mobile alerts campaign and more interested in the incentive.

To find the incentive that works best for you, analyze your current customer information and choose an incentive. Track the response/results with this starting point and use that insight to improve future communications (I like to call it “scientific trial and error” – basically the scientific method, but for marketers – said differently, you have to use analytics from the past to inform the future, but make sure to update these analytics with each new communication.

Keep in mind that you don’t always have to provide a monetary-based incentive to run a mobile alerts program. If you can provide time exclusivity (i.e. “be the first to get a chance to do something”) or presence exclusivity (i.e. “get an exclusive chance to be somewhere”) or other value-add, you can drive subscription rates without offering monetary discounts (i.e. “15% off).

3) Be Interactive

As discussed above, mobile is an interactive device. We go to our mobile phone looking for stuff – answers, addresses, phone numbers, directions, whatever. In this sense, it’s very different from television, which presents a more uni-directional information flow*. As such, mobile alerts need to keep this information flow in mind. Simply blasting uni-directional information flows to a list periodically is not going to get you the same success as mixing in opportunities for people to take action. Whatever the channel, push/SMS/IVR/social, subscribers are looking for interactive engagement.

*(At least today – doesn’t look like it’ll be that way for long though – especially if Mark Cuban has anything to say about it).

4) Use Operational Data

In the same way that subscribers don’t want static information, neither should the brands or agencies running the promotion. Every mobile alert is an opportunity to learn more about your list, e.g. Is there a time of day that produces higher engagement? Is there a time that people seem to sign up more frequently? Which subscribers are referred vs. organic? And on and on. All these questions are answerable as long as operational data is used to inform the alerts strategy constantly. As we mentioned earlier, use whatever data you have collected up to this point to inform your strategy and continuously add to this perspective. Mobile alerts at its best is an iterative process.

5) Use Subscriber Data

In addition to how people interact with your mobile alerts list, it’s just as important to learn who is interacting with your list. There are a number of ways you can do this, but three clear ones are:

  1. Within message flow: ask people to provide information about themselves in exchange for an incentive. Example fields include zip code and date of birth.
  2. Upon sign up: integrate metadata collection fields into sign up forms (e.g. widgets, mobile web landing pages) so that you have additional data beyond mobile contact info.
  3. Cross-channel: integrate your various media channels (e.g. email, mobile, social) so that you can share data across each to better inform your alerts strategy.

With this insight, target your alerts accordingly. Got an event in a specific location? Send subscribers in that area information about how to participate and subscribers outside the area information about telling their friends.

6) Be consistent

With your initial confirmation message, announce to your subscribers how often they should expect to receive an alert. Follow this cadence throughout the campaign’s lifetime. If for whatever reason you need to change consistency of your messaging, mention as much to your subscribers. Treat a mobile alerts list like an ongoing conversation with a good friend: stay connected and relevant by not producing the dreaded “why am I receiving this message (bad)” to the “I get a message every day this has to stop now (really bad).” (For those data-minded, the correlation between high opt-out rates and inconsistency is staggering). By following a set cadence, the value you see from your mobile alerts program with skyrocket.

7) Plan Ahead

A common mistake for companies looking at a mobile alerts program is to hyper-focus on the sign up process. The reason for over-focusing on this subject is obvious: higher sign up numbers mean much more value for the particular mobile subscriber list. The problem, however, is that focusing too much on the sign up prevents you from having an ongoing strategy. And what are people actually signing up for? The ongoing strategy!

Thus, even as you launch a sign up campaign, know exactly how you are going to follow up. Football coaches (I love sports analogies) don’t go into a game with only the first play they are going to run. They have an entire game plan ready to go.

Succinctly, have a follow-up strategy pre-planned with each new alert you send. Use the information garnered from each communication to understand how to extract the most value from the next alert (your strategy might not even change at all – that’s a good thing). If you don’t like football coaches, think like a chess player (but maybe that still counts as a sports reference).

Happy mobile alerting!

3 Responses to Mobile Alerts How To

  1. Ggibson says:

     I can’t agree more here, Kane.

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve unsubscribed from a list for the simple fact that I had forgotten signing up for it.

    For example, I was up in Dallas for Thanksgiving and signed up for as many mobile lists as I could to see if anyone was doing anything groundbreaking that I should take note of (they weren’t).

    While there, apparently I signed up for a mobile list for a burger and beer joint that only identified themselves through SMS FOUR MONTHS later. On top of that, they didn’t even let me know who they were.. No brand name. No website. NOTHING. Just “Come in for blah blah blah $1 off blah Blah Blah”

    So now I have the opportunity of a life time to go ALL the way to Dallas for $1 off a burger at a place I don’t even know :D

    Long story short, the strategy is much more important than the sign-up process in this writer’s opinion.

    Cheers.

  2. Quora says:

    Who has the best notification alerts user experience on mobile?…

    If you are looking to create your own mobile alerts program, I wrote a blog post “How To.” People who want to read the full article can find it here: http://blog.msgme.com/2012/03/26/mobile-alerts-how-to/, but the basic points are as follows: 1) Know…

  3. KaneRussell says:

    Update 9/7/2012: I wrote an eBook that discusses in depth the development of an operational mobile alerts program. You can read about and download the eBook here: http://blog.msgme.com/2012/09/07/operational-mobile-alerts-ebook-published/

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