online marketing psychology

December 17, 2009

What mobile marketing should not be.

When I arrived in Brazil and needed a new SIM card I was clueless about the different providers I chose Claro.

A couple of months have passed in which I have called and texted and received the occasional promotional SMS from my provider to invite me for one of their information services. I ignored all these but about a week ago I started getting these "messages". My phone is just sitting there with its keypad locked and I receive these pop-ups informing me about news, entertainment or sports. I haven't exactly counted them but there are well over thirty messages a day.

After some internet searching I discovered it is a service called 'Canal Ideais' or Idea Channel.

A quote from Celtix, the technology supplier for the service.
"Mobile marketing is taking off as a medium around the world and the new service will allow Claro Brazil to capitalize on this potential as well as deliver increased value to its subscribers."
Although this announcement came in February 2009, it appears that only in this last week they have really started pushing the service. Apart from being utterly annoying (the screen lights up, drains the battery and my attention), it is also an illustration of bad mobile marketing. In fact I would categorize it more as spam then any type of marketing effort.

I am personally not a fan of SMS based information services but I'm sure that there are still useful purposes. In that case, a few things can be learned from this case:

1. Unlike other countries, every pre-paid card in Brazil is registered to a user. First of all this gives a lot of information in the hands of the cellphone companies, which allows decent basic targeting. Secondly this registration takes time and costs money, which means there are switching costs for the consumer. But instead of using this advantage to create a relevant  dialogue with the customer, mobile operators push their luck by spamming their customers

2. Opt-in instead of opt-out. Get permission from the user to send him text messages. The messages will reach people who actually care about this kind of a service. Another related upside from this approach is that less useless messages are sent, which frees up network ressources.

Can you see other lessons to take away from this case? Or how would you handle SMS based mobile marketing?

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