Tip Sheet: The Mobile Mix—PR Outreach Anytime, Anywhere

Staying on top of the latest mobile technologies and figuring out how to incorporate them into your clients’ multichannel marketing mix means having people on your team who understand how the mobile Web, SMS, QR codes, branded apps and location-based services support the overall campaign goals and drive business results. Whichever elements are adopted for a campaign, it’s important to make sure the convergence of screens is factored into the customer engagement strategy. Almost all businesses and brands today need to consider how their audiences will experience content on three distinct devices: laptop, phone, and tablet.

Nailing the mobile experience has less to do with advanced technology skills than with human centered design. Jody Haneke, president of Haneke Design, is our go-to expert on mobile. In his view, the secret to mobile success boils down to utility, relevance and a great user experience. Here are some of Jody’s best tips relative to the mobile vehicles mentioned above:

1. Be mobile ready. Have your sites been formatted for the mobile Web? Do your sites or campaigns rely on heavy use of Flash? Web sites and blogs need to have device detection built into them for optimal presentation on each mobile device. And Flash? Not a good idea if your target audience uses iPhones or iPads. Guess what shows up on their screens? Absolutely nothing. The cost in missed opportunities, revenues and even damage to the brand would be greater than creating mobile friendly versions of their Web sites from the get go—so be sure to insist on it.

2. Don’t overlook SMS. Text messaging can seem limited and utilitarian, but it’s still the most widely used data application on the planet. The typical U.S. mobile subscriber sends or receives 357 text messages per month, compared to 204 phone calls. The younger your audience the higher that number of texts will go. The opportunity to capture audiences on the spot and prompt them to immediate action is huge. SMS campaigns can be extremely effective in driving your target customers to a mobile Web microsite via an SMS sweepstakes, contest or other offer.

3. Maximize response from QR codes. QR codes are easy to generate and their adoption rate is climbing. They can be embedded with different kinds of data —text, URLs, and images— that reveal content about a company, product, event, a location-based experience or offer. Avoid dropping QR codes into campaigns as a novelty, though. Think about how they can be meaningfully integrated across multiple touchpoints and engagement opportunities.

4. Consider utility first and foremost with branded applications. Branded apps are created for a company or brand for marketing or promotional purposes. They’re great for generating brand awareness, creating excitement and launching viral marketing campaigns. But they can also be excellent tools for increasing revenue. An application that has real utility and can deliver something the customer would use on a daily or very frequent basis will keep your brand in front of them all the time.

5. Use location-based solutions to show some love to loyal fans and customers. Location-based strategies take advantage of GPS technology in smartphones and tablets to deliver specials and other communications based on the customer’s current location. The popularity of Foursquare and Facebook check-ins has created myriad opportunities for event marketers, local businesses and nonprofits alike. Agencies can identify the kinds of behaviors, attitudes, loyalties and responses they desire from target audiences, and create campaigns that condition those audiences to expect notifications for deals, special offers and other alerts that strengthen the bond and frequency of interaction.

It’s important to note that while innovative mobile technologies are cropping up every day, it’s not necessary to include all of them in your plans. The most successful campaigns will result from gaining a deep understanding of clients’ goals and making smart decisions about how best to achieve them. Blending these mobile strategies in your mobile and PR mix makes it much easier to meaningfully connect with audiences anytime, anywhere. PRN


Michelle Bauer is president of Common Language, a strategic communications and consulting firm based in St. Petersburg, Fla. She is a member of Counselors Academy, a group of senior-level PR counselors within the PRSA. She can be reached at michelle@common-language.com.