Consumers are Getting Fed Up with Mobile SPAM

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If you are the proud owner of a cell phone, you have probably experienced some form of SPAM: unwanted text messages or voice mails. As a matter of fact, according to a recent Bloomberg article, the number of SPAM text messages in the U.S. reached 4.5 billion in 2011. Consumer concerns are growing so much that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) resurrected a special team just to investigate some 2,600 complaints about mobile texts last year.  Spammers are able to deploy a large volume of text messages or calls and at a very rapid pace.  Last March, AT&T filed a lawsuit stating that 20 million illegal phone calls were made using just 14 phone numbers. 

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there are two laws which protect consumers from receiving these messages.  The first is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The second is the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act.

The FCC further states that “the CAN-SPAM Act defines commercial messages as those that primarily advertise or promote a commercial product or service. The FTC’s ban does not cover “transactional or relationship” messages — that is, notices to facilitate a transaction you have already agreed to — for example, messages that provide information about your existing account or warranty information about a product you’ve purchased.” 

As mobile marketing continues to grow in popularity, marketers have an obligation to know, respect, and understand the regulatory issues surrounding this medium.

Have a story about mobile SPAM you’d like to share?  We want to hear about it!

Marketers Must See the Bigger Picture with Mobile

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Mobile marketing is connecting consumers and brands at a very basic level.  With the recent explosion in mobile devices usage, consumers have the ability to search, purchase, and connect any time and any where.  Tablets, smartphones, SMS texting, Bluetooth devices, and apps are rapidly changing consumer behavior, and brands are struggling to keep up. Just think, not long ago “mobile marketing” referred to the magnetic signs applied to your car!

What do consumers want from mobile?  Well, it boils down to convenience.  In an article posted on Mobile Marketer, author Mickey Khan suggests consumers have six wants when using mobile technology:

1)    Ease

2)    Search capabilities

3)    SMS updates and offers direct to their phones

4)    Ability to browse for information

5)    Identical online experience

6)    A rich multi-media experience on tablets

While consumer needs appear simple, mobile marketing is still a relatively new media and there are many considerations for marketers. It is complicated, and should be viewed as a part of an overall integrated marketing strategy – not separately.

In an effort to quickly deploy mobile marketing, some brands have miss-stepped and probably wasted valuable time and money in the process. A recent Forbes article by Ian Lurie noted that creating a separate mobile site is a mistake, and offers a more efficient suggestion.  A mobile-friendly website should leverage the main domain, but utilize what is called “responsive design,” in which the site can resize and modify navigation based on the viewer’s device.   Lurie challenges marketers to completely re-think their existing mobile strategies, stating that while marketers may invest significant resources into a mobile strategy, they often fail to consider how it should tie directly to their brand’s internet strategy.

Emerging media continues to challenge marketers.  Mobile marketing is no different, and requires them to take a step back and view each new platform as it relates to the bigger picture.

Do you have an example of a brand successfully deploying its mobile strategy? If so, we’d love to hear from you!

Scared Consumers Are Waking Up to Social Media Privacy Concerns

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The sheer comfort and ease many of us have when sharing our most personal thoughts, whereabouts, and family relationships just might be the reason a new era of cyber criminals are lurking as our next “friend” on Facebook. Perhaps even more concerning is the data aggregation of consumers online and social networking behavior, which is costing some people job offers and turning away insurance providers.

Consumers are waking up from a social media trance to find out the real consequences of disclosing perhaps a little too much about themselves.  As Facebook went public, so has the real reality of the company’s most powerful asset: an inventory of human behavior and personal data.  For the company, this means a solid foundation for continued advertising sales.  As consumers, it means we may need to start reading more of the fine print when accepting those “terms and conditions” statements.

Lori Andrews, a law professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law, published an article in the New York Times recently exposing the practice of social media and online data aggregation and what it means for today’s consumers.  Andrews describes what is now called “redlining,” which is a map of consumers’ travels across the web.  The term “weblining” is the practice of denying certain opportunities to consumers based on their digital identities.  Andrews and others are now advocating for a new law which would allow consumers the right to opt out of online tracking capabilities.   She has dubbed it the “Do-Not-Track Law”, similar to what we have come to know as the “Do-Not-Call Law.”

What does all of this mean for today’s marketers?  Brands need to be cautious that their efforts to zero in on a specific target audience not come across as invasive. As more online privacy red flags are raised, brands need to be working harder to build trust with consumers instead of scaring them away. Brands which can find just the right formula for this dilemma will reap long-term success.

Want to see just how comfortable some people are with their Facebook posts?  Check out a website created for that purpose at We Know What You’re Doing.

Viral Marketing with a Plan!

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Images of dancing chocolates, barking dog chorales and weeping Olympians bombard us on a daily basis.  Sometimes the brand association is obvious, sometime it isn’t.  Are today’s marketers over-using the concept of viral marketing?  To answer this question, we must first understand what viral marketing means.

Through the use of new media, powerful buzz-building activities help accelerate word of mouth among consumers.  Savvy marketers have learned how to integrate paid and earned media to leverage the power of buzz building across multiple platforms for maximum results. For example, equate the speed at which word of mouth spread pre-Internet to the speed at which it occurs today.  This demonstrates why marketing practitioners must carefully orchestrate their campaigns to include a viral component with the goal of adding value to the brand.  Said differently, creating a viral campaign just for the sake of it doesn’t guarantee success.

Ad Age conducted a review of the top viral advertising campaigns of 2011.  The Fiat 500 “Life is Best When Driven” campaign, listed at number four, harnessed the celebrity power of Jennifer Lopez.  The image of lovely Jennifer Lopez driving around in a sporty little car went viral.  The campaign, which consisted of paid and earned media, launched in September of 2011 and had reached 27.4 million views by the year’s end.

Fiat sales, however, are not exactly soaring.  When savvy viewers figured out that the Lopez spot, which played heavily on Lopez’s New York roots, was actually shot in Los Angeles, the Chrysler Company drew unexpected ridicule.  Some viewers actually characterized it as one of the worst car advertisements they’d ever seen.  Ironically, this drove the video’s page views even higher. Do these results speak for themselves, making this a successful viral campaign? Did the campaign add value to the brand?  I would argue that this is an example of a viral campaign that backfired.  The design was intended to add value, but in the end, it actually harmed Fiat’s brand and de-valued its name.

Social media guru Seth Godin notes, “Viral marketing is an idea that spreads–and an idea that while it is spreading actually helps market your business or cause.”  Godin further states that viral marketing only works well when you plan for it.    Check out this Adweek article to see what they consider the best viral marketing spots so far this year.

My own advice on this topic: When you are planning a viral campaign, make sure that the “what” you want to spread is actually the “thing” consumers will pass along.

Do you have Social Media Clout?

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Let’s face it, we all want to have clout and influence among our sphere of influence.  In today’s digital world, you might be surprised to learn how your own social media influence stacks up against others.

Klout is a social networking tool which calculates a single number representing the aggregate of data from an individual’s social media activity.  As host of today’s most important Wikipedia page and an active Twitter profile, President Barack Obama boasts an almost perfect Klout score of 99. Teen pop star Justin Bieber is right behind with a score of 92!

 A Klout score includes activity from seven social media networks.  Those networks are:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • +K
  • Foursquare
  • Wikipedia
  • Google+

Some examples of the activities monitored as a part of the calculation for Klout include: mentions in Facebook posts, retweets of Twitter posts, reactions to content shared on LinkedIn. Klout is a more complex process than just the activity signals and sites listed above. Guiding principles such as: being active is different than having influence, influence is built over time and everyone has Klout help create drive the scoring process. 

While the concept sounds fun and interesting, truly understanding Klout can be powerful for marketers wanting to create buzz. As an example, for some social media savvy individuals a high Klout score actually helps generate income through paid advertising on their blog site.  In addition, those individuals with a high Klout score can prove to be a driving success behind viral marketing campaigns. A key strategy in buzz marketing is to find those individuals who have large centers of influence, also known as “alphas” to help spread a message. These individuals typically like to share their knowledge and have a thirst for new ideas and products.  Marketers should look for ways to find their “alphas” with high Klout scores to spread their message.   

Whether you are a marketer or an active blogger, don’t wait to test your Klout score by visiting Klout.com now.  Afterwards, unlock your influence and start inspiring the digital world around you; maybe you’ll surprise yourself and catch up to Justin Beiber!