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Mapping Mobile Marketing in Malta

Mobile marketing in Malta

 

Is mobile marketing in Malta still largely a foreign concept or is it starting to pave inroads?

When you ask the average SMB owner or marketing executive in Malta about Mobile Marketing, the first think to come to mind is SMS marketing. Now this is not entirely a bad thing and I will not go into the merits or shortcomings of SMS marketing but mobile marketing is evolving fast into an entirely new dimensions beyond SMS marketing.

As smartphone sales rise to a vertigo and service providers weave enticing data plans under cut-throat competition, mobile app download & usage is everyday play for both business executives and consumers. What naturally needs to keep pace now is the average business honing in on the mega advantages of mobile media and integrate it into its already working marketing plans and business models.

Not surprisingly, the organizations which were first to dip their toes in fresh water were the online gaming companies who are usually early adopters and more agile than average. Others are still weighing the opportunities but the same barriers that affected social media adoption – mainly lack of information and a clear strategy – are resurfacing with regards to this new and powerful marketing media.

So what is the name of the game in mobile marketing today?

Mobile marketing has taken many forms but all can be pigeon-holed under 3 basic categories: Mobile apps developed specifically for your business or your niche, mobile sites (also known as responsive sites) and mobile-driven marketing campaigns.

Starting from the latter – which is catching up faster than the others in Malta – there are different ways to go about a mobile-driven campaign. The most common application is by making use of the QR code. This has already spread its way among different business sectors and media. I see QR codes on a daily basis on shop windows, magazines, flyers, business cards and even resumes. The reason for this is the flexibility of the QR code although I do get the impression sometimes that not everyone using it has a clear reason why but does it more out of following latest ‘marketing fashion’.

A quick responsive code or QR code is basically a bar code in a different format which can encode more information than the standard product bar code. Once scanned, the code will direct you to a website, Youtube video or to an App store where you can download an app. The applicability is endless but it’s the strategy which needs clear thinking. Personally for me a QR code is more of a bridge which can direct your customers from one media (for example print or web) to another (most relevant here – mobile). The QR code is the connector so to speak in your multimedia campaign not a standalone marketing channel.

Nowadays it is increasingly more important and cost-effective to integrate multiple marketing channels into one campaign. For example, if you have a moderate to strong engagement going on your site or Facebook page you can direct these through a QR code to the app store where they can download your app or send them directly a mobile voucher which they can redeem at your store directly using their mobile device.

Mobile sites are basically sites which can be adapted to both web and mobile. These can either be a seperate mobile version of your site or one site which automatically adapts depending on your device – so-called responsive sites. The advantages of mobile sites are not yet fully seen – especially in Malta – but will soon be felt in terms of traffic drop from their sites. Why? Well the web is being accessed more frequently from mobile devices. Soon enough most visits to your site will be from mobile devices. If your site is not optimized for mobile, it will give mobile viewers a bad user experience and these will easily turn away from your site. If you are ready with a mobile site you can are ready to tap into this growing captive market of mobile users ahead of your competition.

Mobile apps are naturally a bigger step than the previous two. It requires careful planning and clear objectives. The objectives could be varied – brand awareness and positioning or cost-effective direct marketing and ultimately more sales. Basically a mobile app is a way to add value to your customer relations by offering practical benefits such as discount vouchers & exclusive information & news on the go and at their fingertips – all within the app of course.

What are the advantages of mobile apps?

The basic advantages are 4: High-availability of the mobile device, customer engagement, high-responsiveness and low-cost direct marketing. High availability and responsiveness go hand in hand. The fact that customers have their smartphone within arms’ reach 24×7 gives messages over the mobile media a clear edge over other media. Studies have shown that Mobile users are also very responsive when it comes to acting upon a message.

An app will also engage customers with your brand since customers will be both receiving information (vouchers, notifications, etc) and sending information (feedback,rating,etc) in a more personal and intimate type of media than web and offline.

Ultimately it is also a highly effective direct marketing platform since it can be very targeted. Think about so-called push notification. These are short messages which customer receive on their mobile device even if the app is closed. It can be geo-targeted or action-targeted (example users who have searched a type of product in your list). No surprise then that this form of direct marketing is highly effective. It runs in multiple times cheaper than other forms of direct marketing such as door-to-door or advertising, etc.

Where will mobile marketing in Malta be in the next 2 years?

The innovation gap between the top countries and Malta is gradually closing in. In short, things are catching up faster. Mobile Marketing in Malta is on a slow but steady curve. When a critical mass is reached it will be resident feature in most companies’ marketing plan. There are factors which can work as either enables or barriers such as mobile data plans, new mobile technology and the readiness of companies to stay engaged with the emerging mobile consumer. My bet is that mobile marketing in Malta will be already revving its engine hot by mid to end 2013.

 

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