A Good Call
by Andreas Roell
A Good Call
Cell phone technology can be utilized to better directly market to your customers
Andreas Roell is president and CEO of Geary Interactive, a full-service digital marketing firm founded in 2000. With offices in Las Vegas, San Diego and New York, Roell has built a successful online company specializing in Web development, media buying/planning, search engine and e-mail marketing. He can be reached at (619) 239-5953 or via e-mail at email@example.com
The marketing industry is constantly evolving to find new ways to target consumers in a personalized and direct manner. I foresee the next interactive opportunity to be in the use of cell phones and other mobile devices. As cell phones are the single device that is most likely with your customers 24/7, this provides the perfect opportunity to message to your customer base in an individual and highly-targeted setting.
Cell phone advertising is already commonly utilized in Europe and Asia, and estimates are that oversees marketers are approximately two years ahead of our trends. This provides the opportunity for you to immediately use cell phones to target your hotel guests or casino players from these international markets, as they are already used to it.
The great aspect of using mobile to market is that there are so many different forms of how to use it. At the end of the day, your goal should be to make your mobile messages as relevant as possible, making it a welcoming interruption to your audience.
When thinking about the opportunities for mobile marketing that you might have, they can be classified into four main areas that all can be inter-related with each other.
Extension of traditional media
The first is the use of mobile techniques to extend the reach of traditional media. Traditional media executions, such as newspapers or billboards, are an important mix of the hospitality and gaming market. Trends show, however, that users are more and more comfortable conducting travel-related research and transactions over digital devices.
Cell phones are one of these devices, and in many cases can be used as a conduit or starting point for audiences to engage digitally with your hotel and casino brand.
To do this effectively, there are a number of ways to introduce cell phone elements into all of your traditional media elements. “American Idol” was one of the most popular pioneers that utilized this effort, allowing viewers to vote by cell phones versus only going to a Web site or calling in. It is more convenient for your audience to respond through cell phones when they see your brand as they have the phone with them all the time.
My best advice is to attach a cell phone call-to-action to your traditional ad campaigns, for example, have a sweepstake entry call-to-action on your next list rental direct mail campaign asking recipients to text “Win” to “46534.” This will greatly boost your response rates while also improving the performance of your traditional media campaigns at the same time.
The second important opportunity for mobile marketing lies in using mobile devices as an outreach mechanism to advertise your hotel and casino.
As mentioned earlier, more users are spending time online with their cell phones through text messaging, checking their e-mails, searching for services through their phone, and even browsing the Internet. Most of the users are comprised of very technology-oriented individuals, generally in the higher-income category. At the same time, advertising your brand through cell phones is not yet a common marketer tactic, allowing you to receive great exposure plus good value pricing in a non-cluttered environment.
There are various formats to get your message out to audiences, including text-based search engine result listings (think of your Google paid search placements); text and banner based ad placements on mobile versions of Web sites or e-mail newsletters; and video or banner advertising on streaming television. All of these fulfill their unique value propositions just as on the Internet, yet I recommend for you to start looking into them as we have seen some nice returns on the campaigns.
For clarification, there are two types of content when considering mobile: on-the-deck cell phone content and off-the-deck cell phone content. On-the-deck means all preloaded applications that come with a single cell phone. It is the content that was provided to you by your providers. This provider-related content has an edge over others as many users do not know how to customize their cell phone experience. Conversely, off-the-deck content means all content that was customized by a cell phone user or content that the user reaches by going to the Internet through their cell phone. A perfect example of off-the-deck content is a ring tone that a user downloaded from a third party.
Customer relationship tool
Another opportunity lies in the use of cell phones as a customer relationship tool. Again, cell phones are the human’s new best friend, so use them as a way to stay in touch with your past hotel guests or your casino players. Communicate with them through it, inform them about relevant updates or events, or ask them about their opinions.
As with e-mail, make sure that the user: a) knows about being communicated to through the mobile device, b) receives messages that are relevant and of interest to them, c) is not being bombarded with messages, and d) always has the opportunity to opt-out to not receive any additional messages. So start asking your guests or players for their cell phone numbers, similar to how you have been asking for their e-mail addresses for years.
Lastly, marketers can use cell phones as an infrastructure device that can streamline some of your operational processes.
Several hotels have been using the cell phones as a point of communication and customer service while users are on the property. The advantage of the cell phone is that a property would know exactly where a user is currently located while they are there. Take advantage of this knowledge by increasing the customer service level.
With this opportunity, the hotel guest has the ability to check in through their cell phone instead of waiting in line.