Does Ethical Mobile CRM Begin With an Integrated Dashboard?


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Mobile marketing is changing the face of marketing today. It is also a top priority of US marketers for 2007. In the US adoption has been relatively slow compared to the UK, but a wide range of content is expected to be available by 2010. As more organisations turn to mobiles for advertising, companies need to act ethically to build customer trust in their brands.

More customers than ever before are turning to online and mobile media to gain their view of the world, to communicate and to be entertained. Mobiles provide an effective advertising platform, as well as one for m-commerce, and developing customer relationships. For example there are 60 million mobile phone handsets in the UK. That’s 60 million marketing opportunities to market data services and content to customers, says NMA Training.

A growing opportunity

Jupiter Research’s ‘Mobile marketing: The Carrier’s Path to a Pot of Gold’ report, published earlier this year, also reveals that they are just as ubiquitous in the United States with a 76 per cent penetration rate. The study shows that advertisers have been slow to catch on, with only 22% of them being engaged in mobile marketing campaigns.

But more agencies and companies are expected to employ mobile marketing, in both countries, as the sales of rich mobile content and higher wireless bandwidth enabled devices increase. The opportunities to build customer relationships and create a better brand experience will therefore significantly increase with their proliferation. Lower cost pricing models will also encourage customers to use them more often.

Best practices develop relationships

That’s providing an ethical CRM approach to mobile marketing is followed, including the adoption of best practices. The alternative is not worth considering: a loss of trust, lost customers and brand damage. Email has suffered more from spam than mobile, but it could still become very much a problem. It’s clearly worth avoiding such a scenario. Mobiles represent one of the most personal of channels, so sending someone messages or content that they’ve not solicited will achieve little, and it certainly won’t encourage advocacy.

Just one spam text message a day annoys most people. It is therefore crucial to have the customer’s consent. You need to show that you are protecting their data, fulfilling promises, providing customer support services, while sending timely and relevant offers or messages to that particular person.

“A customer-centric approach clearly has to start with the original call-to-action being compliant and fair”, says Keith Dibble – Media Business Manager, Opal Media. He recommends that any subsequent messages, following a customer opting in, should not be too frequent and they should be non-obtrusive and relevant to the original call-to-action.”

Ethical practices include not billing customers to receive chargeable content without giving them the option to opt-in or decline to receive MMS or SMS messages. Bad practices include not telling customers that a campaign has ended, so they continue to phone in or send text messages, while still billing them for the privilege of participating in a competition that has already been closed. Poor customer data management is inexcusable too, only leading to an increase in attrition, low retention and acquisition rates.

Dashboards: integrated CRM

Mobile marketing dashboards can offer a certain level of CRM integration. Marketers can use them to comply with best practices: e.g. to manage the opt-in process, customer profiling and targeted messaging. You can also avoid problems like customers texting or calling in to a premium rate phone line when a competition or poll has been closed. How? You simply set the start and end times of a campaign.

Dashboards provide a picture of campaign performance. “You drill down the response statistics to day, hour, minute or network and dashboards allow you via interaction to build a profile of your mobile data”, says Lee Bowden of Piri Ltd ( You can also use the data you receive from a campaign to segment your database more appropriately to maximise campaign results. The captured data can then be exported to a CRM system, or existing customer data can be imported from one.

Integrated CRM systems and dashboards can help to monitor customer activity and refine the campaigns. There have been some reported instances though where companies have had to keep mobile channel data apart from other data types. Integration can be a difficult issue to handle. Mobiles have different capabilities and they receive certain types of content differently.

Nevertheless dashboards can improve targeting as Bowden explains: “By setting up and controlling your own campaigns you have an unlimited supply of keywords, which can be regional or campaign specific. You can see your own responses live as they come in and when particular media types are responded to.”

Ethical, contextual mobile marketing managed with a dashboard can therefore be a very powerful customer relationship management tool, particularly when integrated with a CRM system. It provides a high level of call-to-action immediacy, the potential to capture data in ways never imagined – even down to a customer’s location, and the conversion rates are generally fantastic as most of us have one on our person.

Graham Jarvis, MA
Media-Insert Communications
Graham Jarvis, M.A., is a former Guest Editor of what is today, - formerly BT Insightexec. He has edited publications such as TheWhereBusiness, and MforMobile. He is a business and technology journalist, with years of experience of writing about CRM, I.T, marketing and customer management.


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