CRM: Customer Relationship Mobile

The mobile channel is a hugely powerful tool, especially in today's volatile market. Mobile penetration in the United States is over 80 percent (even higher in other countries), and mobile advertising is expected to become a $3.1 billion market in the U.S. by 2013. In 2008, nearly $650 million was spent on mobile marketing in this country, and that number is expected to grow despite the lingering recession.

What is perhaps less well-known is that mobile can support and enhance a comprehensive CRM strategy. As the medium continues its exponential growth, mobile is bound to become a central aspect of any CRM program that aspires to efficacy and excellence, helping brands achieve the equivalent of a marketing grand slam.

Why do mobile and CRM work so well together? The advantages, in terms of CRM, are apparent:

The mobile channel builds a direct connection point with consumers by virtue of being more immediate and personal than traditional blast media, and more responsive than online communication.

It is active and actionable on the front and back end, capable of both contributing vital information to a CRM database and providing an outlet for marketing and advertising initiatives using all the data collected. 

Because of strict regulations and best practices governing the use of mobile, it is an opt-in only channel requiring recipients to request messages, a process which fosters a high level of receptiveness and responsiveness. 

It's a channel that nurtures loyalty and perhaps most importantly, creates a conversation between consumers and brands, — which, of course, is what CRM is all about — building, improving and hanging on to valuable relationships.

More Data, Better Data

Mobile can be instrumental in building CRM databases: A CRM database that includes consumers' mobile information is inherently stronger than one that doesn't. It's an extra touchpoint, at least, and an additional bit of data that can be leveraged to the benefit of both the consumer and the brand. Because most mobile campaigns are contingent upon opt-in protocols, the information gathered during the opt-in process is limited only by the balance between what a mobile subscriber is willing to provide and what a provider is willing to ask. Participants in a mobile program have shown an active interest in the brand just by participating and are willing to provide some historical or demographical information in order to subscribe.

Opt Into Higher Penetration

The opt-in process also ensures a high degree of adoption and penetration on the outgoing end of a CRM program. Because participants have granted their expressed consent to receiving messages, they are more likely to respond to it or act upon it, or, at the very least, recognize and retain it. Twenty four percent of all mobile users in the U.S. responded to a mobile offer in the past year, and 38 percent remembered seeing a mobile advertisement on their devices. Stats like these really illustrate the effectiveness of the mobile channel.

Connect Where It Counts

Beyond the advertising and marketing aspects of the mobile channel, there's the one-to-one nature of mobile communication. The mobile device, still primarily a phone for the majority of users, is an intensely personal piece of equipment. This gives rise to privacy concerns that must always remain a top priority for CRM initiatives that incorporate mobile, but also to a deeper, longer-lasting connection with individual consumers. Mobile users are less likely to dismiss messaging they receive on their devices than similar messaging delivered via email. The personal aspect of the mobile channel increases its value exponentially.

1, 2, 3 TEXT!

Mobile allows brands to open an avenue of dialogue with consumers. If a CRM program is ultimately used to learn more about consumers to better serve them, then mobile is the ideal channel by which to achieve this goal. With mobile, there is a give-and-take that begins with the opt-in process and culminates...well, never if brands respect this communication channel. The best mobile CRM relationships are perpetual — an ongoing conversation between a consumer and the brand that serves them. The brand gains valuable knowledge about its loyal customers, and, in turn, the consumer gets instant offers or information whenever and wherever they need it most. Mobile, like CRM, replaces the product-pushing, spray-and-pray methods of traditional marketing mediums with a method of delivery that is intensely personal and personalized, which makes every marketing campaign infinitely more successful. 

What R U Waiting 4?

Mobile can be a valuable, high-yielding aspect to any good CRM program and is beautifully suited to both front- and back-end CRM activity. The result? We will be seeing much wider adoption in the very near future, and as the channel continues to expand, the marriage of mobile and CRM will be as common and valuable as the mobile devices themselves. 

That day is just around the corner.

 About the Author

Eric Holmen (eholmen@smartreply.com) is responsible for leading SmartReply's strategic and creative teams in developing innovative voice, mobile marketing, and advertising solutions. Under his leadership, SmartReply has become the go-to firm for mobile marketing and advertising solutions for major brands and retailers in North America. For more information on SmartReply or mobile marketing, please visit www.smartreply.com.

Please note that the Viewpoints listed in CRM magazine and appearing on destinationCRM.com represent the perspective of the authors, and not necessarily those of the magazine or its editors. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top.

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For the rest of the February 2010 issue of CRM magazine please click here.

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