Monday, June 29, 2009

I want mobile marketing!

Hi again, I'm back. Vacation is over.

I’m returning back home with my family after a month’s trip across Europe to Southern France. Roaming costs still being sky-high, I made a decision that I will not use cellular data connections during the trip to test if there are free WiFi hotspots available and whether that’s a real solution for connectivity problems. The answer was clearly “no”.

When traveling for business, one typically stays in hotels with network access and the offices also provide network access. For family trips the accommodation is more like bed-and-breakfast and private houses. And luckily there were no offices to visit!

When we walked the streets or visited cafes I tried to scan for open networks. Result was surprisingly bad and most of the networks I used were open by accident, I guess (most of them were named “linksys", “netgear” or similar). If there had been an open network for any cafe that I could recognize by network name, my promise was that I’d take my family there and spend some money. There was none.

Just letting customers and bypassers to use network for free is nice and might generate additional sales. However, often free WiFi is a lost marketing opportunity. Why not strenghten the customer relationship with some innovative solutions, like sending access password to customer's Twitter account as a DM message as soon as customer becomes a follower. After that the marketing channel is established and every follower has an existing relationship with the business. At least I'd be happy with this deal.

Another thing about mobile marketing that businesses should think about is the scope. Too often mobile marketing is just about phones and PDA's, but what about the navigators? Is your business visible in the common navigator placemark listings? When traveller needs a service (use case: hungry kids screaming at the back-seat), he most probably does a search with his navigator. If your competitor is there and you are not, that's bad for your business. I can confess that when we were in France, Casino lost a customer because their shops were not listed in the navigator database and instead we went to Intermarché, just because I was able to find their nearest shop from the navigator listing. Mobile marketing is business.