In a nod to the growing demand for mobile marketing tools, email marketing software provider ExactTarget unveiled its new MobileConnect application yesterday at the Mobile Marketing Association Forum in New York City.
As more consumers use smartphones and other mobile devices, ExactTarget and other vendors are aware that the pressure is rising for marketers to develop mobile marketing strategies.
"Now is the time to embrace mobile phones as the next marketing frontier," wrote Melissa Parrish, senior analyst at Forrester Research, in the February 2012 report "Mobile Marketing: Three Principles for Success." "More people own smartphones than ever before, and they're using them more often too. This makes a mobile marketing strategy crucial for any interactive marketer."
Available as a standalone application or integrated into the ExactTarget Interactive Marketing Hub, MobileConnect is the next generation of the company's mobile marketing application. It features intuitive message templates, reporting capabilities, enterprise management of short/long codes and keywords. and cross-channel integration with campaigns across email, social media, and the Web.
MobileConnect is "democratizing" mobile marketing, claims Scott Dorsey, ExactTarget's cofounder and chief executive officer. The new product "enables marketers across all segments of the market to easily create and integrate SMS into interactive campaigns…all through an intuitive user interface that serves both beginners and highly technical marketers," said Dorsey in a statement.
Key features of ExactTarget MobileConnect include:
Self-Service Interface: The application provides a variety of SMS messaging templates, real-time tracking, shortcode and longcode management, and step-by-step message and campaign creation instructions.
Cross-Channel Integration: An integration with the Interactive Marketing Hub allows marketers to associate SMS programs with ExactTarget-powered email, social media, and Web campaigns to create a single view of each customer's interactions and message preferences.
Enterprise-Level Scalability: Built on ExactTarget's FUEL software as a service platform, MobileConnect scales to meet enterprise messaging needs from delivering relevant marketing messages to powering transactional messaging, including real-time data-driven SMS alerts such as travel updates, banking alerts, and order confirmations.
An additional plus is the "built-in safeguards" that enable marketers to design mobile campaigns that are in compliance with the Mobile Marketing Association's standards and other regulations, added RJ Taylor, the director of product marketing at ExactTarget.
"There's a lot of mystery around mobile marketing in general," Taylor said. "We've built [MobileConnect] in such a way that an inexperienced marketer can create sophisticated mobile campaigns with preconfigured settings so they're always in compliance with the Mobile Marketing Association's standards. The idea is to empower all marketers, whether they're sophisticated mobile marketers or just getting started."