I want to talk about Engagement Marketing today. I have been planning this blog article not for months, for years, and I always put it off, as I find my draft has gone out-of-date and I never end up finishing my primer about this radical advertising concept. But I took advantage of the holiday season and updated all of this again and now finally am ready to post my definitive blog about Engagement Marketing and mobile. You may want to bookmark this blog. And yes, this is a chapter-length article, runs about 9,000 words on the cutting edge of mobile advertising with tons of stats and astonishing case studies and I promise you, massive response rates. Massive. Nothing you ever get online, ever ever EVER.
And I like to start with the stats. This spring mobile phone subscriptions on the planet will grow past the total human population alive. That means, yes, 7.1 Billion active mobile phone accounts on the planet with a population of 7.1 Billion people alive from babies to great grandparents. Yes the Mobile Moment is nigh. But that is not shocking (not to readers of this blog anyway) nearly 100 countries have passed 100% per-capita mobile penetration rates, even the USA joined the club two years ago... No, lets look at the addiction level. T-Mobile USA reported that the average cellphone user in America looks the phone 150 times per day. The Guardian published a stat last year that for smartphone owners in Britain, its 200 times per day. If you look at your phone 200 times per day, its once every 5 minutes of every waking hour. No other media has ever had this level of addictive behavior. And even this is not shocking to my regular readers on the Communities Dominate blog. Lets get to mobile marketing..
The Digital Marketing Association reports that 97% of messages sent via SMS are read, compared to only 20% of emails that are read. Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator reports, that SMS text messages are read on average within 5 seconds of receipt (and I always add, that email stats say average emails are read within 24 hours). The Mobile Data Association reports that SMS text messages have an average response rate of 26% compared to 5% for email. Did I get your attention?
And how does the UK, the country where the world's first SMS was sent, take advantage of this lightning-fast media format, that reaches every pocket and has massively higher 'open' rates than email? 26% of UK businesses still in this day and age, literally 20 years from the first SMS, never use SMS, based on the 2012 survey of UK businesses by Textlocal 2012. Of the 74% of UK businesses that do use SMS, check out this experience: 88% found SMS marketing effective vs 11% not effective by the same Textlocal survey.
Now for the sickening part. An October 2012 survey of UK consumers by Textmarketing found that 89% would like to receive parcel delivery notices via SMS, but only 26% in Britain had received any. 84% would like appointment reminders like from doctors, hairdressers, dentists etc, but only 29% had received any. 68% of British consumers would like to receive offers and discounts from the brands they use, but only 12% had received any! What a massive, massive gap between what consumers want, and what UK businesses deliver, in the country where SMS was first enabled, and a country that passed 100% per-capita mobile subscription penetration level ten years ago.
Before you Americans snicker at those British statistics, don't forget that the USA lags Europe in mobile, so its actually worse in the USA. For example, a November 2012 Pew survey found that while 80% of Americans use SMS text messaging, only 9% had received any kind of alerts from their health providers. I delivered a keynote to SOCAP the biggest international customer relationship management association in the USA, the audience was stunned and shocked by what all I told them about mobile and SMS. These were customer relationship VPs and directors for Fortune 500 companies, and they were not aware of how massive this opportunity is today. So yes, don't snicker there across the Atlantic..
DON'T COPY WHAT IS HATED
So we know that consumers hate interruptive ads on TV and on the internet. We have created perfect mobile clones of those hated ads, but now deploy them on the most personal, the most intimate mass media ever, the mobile. And we find that people hate banner ads and pre-roll video even more on mobile than they do on TV and the internet. A brand new December 2012 Forrester survey of consumers found that mobile banner ads and pre-roll video interruptive ads on mobile are hated more than TV ads! 62% found mobile banner ads annoying, and 73% found pre-roll video ads on mobile annoying! Whereas SMS text messaging that had been opted in, scored consistently better than any other ad formats and - get this - 47% of US consumers in 2012 - felt that opt-in based SMS ads were useful !
So we copy what is hated, meanwhile there are mass media communication formats that are beloved by consumers, that reach a far larger audience, and achieve far greater satisfaction and far less rejection than interruptive ads - ie SMS and MMS - mobile messaging - and in countless uses, the consumers hope, ask for and even expect to be communicated with by using this method - and the brands hide their heads in the sand. What is wrong with this picture? I am so frustrated reading the surveys and analysis of big brands and ad campaigns conducted in 'my backyard' ie in mobile media, where the giants utterly misunderstand this media opportunity and proceed to wantonly destroy consumer satisfaction and affection.
E EQUALS M 2 C
My very dear friend and one of the earliest pioneers of mobile advertising and marketing is Spanish mobile maven, Agustin Calvo. He ran Movidreams in Spain and founded Qustodian to specialize in mobile marketing. He just tweeted a few weeks ago a funny formula playhing on Einstein's famous law of relativity:
E = M2C
Engagemement = Mobile To Community
I very much love this formula, it encapsulates so much of what should be done - and so painfully often is not done - in mobile advertising and marketing today. Engagement equals Mobile to Community. Just look at a banner ad or pre-roll video ad today. They are 'Mobile To Consumer' not 'Mobile To Community'. The ads are interruptive in nature and are not in any way built to entice consumer engagement with the consumer's community of interest. That may result in 'interaction' of a consumer clicking on the banner ad or link - and if the video is funny, it might even become 'viral' but it is not Engagement Marketing. It may even be 'engaging' with a consumer, but is not 'Engagement Marketing' to empower a community. Where is the distinction and difference. I will spend this blog discussing the depth of Engagement Marketing to the best of my understanding of it.
ALAN MOORE INVENTED ENGAGEMENT MARKETING
So we go to the source. Alan Moore, yes 'our' Alan Moore the co-author of the signature book to this blog - Communities Dominate Brands - the British veteran ad industry guru who has written several books on mobile and tech (not to be confused with the 'other' Alan Moore the science fiction writer). Alan coined the term Engagement Marketing more than a decade ago and has been teaching the world about it ever since. Lets take the defiition here to be very clear:
DEFINITION OF ENGAGEMENT MARKETING
Engagement Marketing is the process of involving consumers in the co-creation of brand experiences.
Engagement Marketing is not 'Engagement Advertising' alone. It can involve the advertising side of marketing, but marketing as a science and discipline covers far more than marketing communications ie advertising. Marketing according to classic Kotler involves the Four P's of Product (design), Place (distribution channel), Price and Promotion (which includes but is not limited to advertising; promotion also includes other actions such as public relations, publicity etc).
INTERACTIVE IS NOT SAME AS ENGAGEMENT
Interactive Advertising (or Marketing) is not the same as
Engagement Marketing although very many who talk about making their advertising
or marketing campaigns 'engaging' will think that making them interactive is
the same thing. The definition says 'co-creation'. If I click on a link to your
web page, and go to your product catalog and select the particular color of the
t-shirt I want to buy, that is all very interactive, but it is not engagement
marketing, because I was not involved in the 'co-creation' of that brand
experience in any way. I navigated the brand's tightly controlled environment.
It was interactive but not Engagement Marketing.
Compare to this example - if it is Nike's T-shirt design page, and I am allowed to upload my own photo to paint onto the Nike T-Shirt which will still carry the Nike 'swoosh' logo - now we have co-created something together. Only then is it 'Engagement Marketing' - but you understand how much more this is now a 'process' issue for Nike. What if I upload a picture of myself strangling a picture of President Obama, and that T-Shirt is manufactured by Nike with their logo and I wear it - they could be sued as a corporation for enticing race hatered... Just because your website or internet or mobile campaign is 'interactive' does not make it Engagement Marketing. But Engagement Marketing has to be interactive. So in a Venn Diagram, Engagement Marketing is a small circle wholly inside the far bigger circle of Interactive Marketing. All Engagement Marketing is Interactive but not all Interactive Marketing is Engagement Marketing. One common misconception is now cleared.
VIRAL IS NOT SAME AS ENGAGEMENT
A second common mistake about Engagement Marketing is the confusion with Viral Marketing. Yes, often a good, 'engaging' campaign can become viral - and in most cases becoming viral is very good for a modern digital interactive campaign - but being viral is not the same as Engagement Marketing. Why? Co-creation. Engagement Marketing is not simply the process of echoing what the brand sent out, even if one does to a wide 'community' through modern social media means like Facebook, Twitter, etc. A great viral video can yes, help promote the brand - look at Psy and Gangnam Style - but that is not 'co-creation'. Lets take this case and explore. If Psy allowed his fans to co-create variations and versions of his music video - and help spread those - only then would it become 'Engagement Marketing'. This is what for example another rap artist Seeda of Japan did with his new album. Seeda created a sound-based treasure hunt across Japan. Follow the trail to find Seeda's favorite places, at every place you get Seeda tell in his own voice why that place is special, and hear at that location one track from the new album. When the album was finally released, it debuted at number 1.
So while often successful Engagement Marketing tends to have viral elements and can go viral, not all viral campaigns are Engagement Marketing. And its possible to have Engagement Marketing without any viral element to it. Thus in a Venn Diagram, Viral is a big circle, partly overlapping Engagement Marketing the smaller circle. Most of Engagement Marketing is inside the Viral Marketing but not all. Most viral marketing is not Engagement Marketing, but most Engagement Marketing does have Viral elements in it. That is why it is easy to confuse the two.
ENGAGEMENT IS NOT SAME AS USER-GENERATED ADVERTISING
This is perhaps the most difficult part. We all know of
stories where passionate fans of some brands have gone to extraordinary lengths
to create original advertising or marketing or branding to their favorite
brand, from Harley Davidson motorcycle fans physically branding themselves with
Harley tattoos, to many Apple fans doing iPhone ad tributes onto YoutTube to
the guy who made furniture out of Fedex boxes (And was sued by Fedex for
damaging the brand, haha, what morons at Fedex)
User-Generated Advertising can be very compelling and deeply involving and obviously very 'engaging' to that individual consumer or fan. It is not what Engagement Marketing is all about, because the brand is not involved and usually is wholly ignorant of this activity, until the video suddenly pops up on YouTube. Remember the definition, Engagement Marketing is 'co-creation' of the brand experience. Not User-generated, but 'co-created' both with the consumer(s) and the brand.
ENGAGEMENT IS NOT PERSONALIZATION
And while very often Engagement Marketing results in the
personalization of the marketing experience ie to my model car, its color, etc
- that personalization is not by itself 'Engagement Marketing'. We have had
these abilities forever in marketing. Car makers - even in the time of Ford's
Model T - allowed us to customize our cars to at least some colors, and often
more premium cars offer wide ranges of colors, Aston Martin for example will
match the color of your Aston to any color you bring in. Personalization by
itself is not Engagement Marketing, but often Engagement Marketing does allow
us to personalize our experience. Only when the marketing itself allows our
co-creation, then it becomes Engagement Marketing. So for example Coca Cola in
Australia, which now allows consumers to order custom cans of Coca Cola with
your name spelled in the Coca Cola script on the side of the can - that is
Engagement Marketing. Why? Because the Coca Cola drink did not change, it was
the packaging - ie the marketing - the branding - which is now co-created.
Tomi-Cola with Coca Cola... Those
packages of the soft drink - the cans - are now co-created. This is definition
Engagement Marketing. When I bring a six-pack of Tomi-Cola to the party at my
friend's house, I am actively marketing Coke by co-branding it with my name.
That is Engagement Marketing using personalization. Not all personalization is
Engagement Marketing, but Engagement Marketing can be powerful if it includes
SO THIS IS ENGAGEMENT MARKETING
So Engagement Marketing is the process of involving consumers in the co-creation of brand experiences. Now that we know what is not Engagement Marketing, lets start to look at a few famous examples to get clear view of what it can be.
Co-Creation of Product Design. Lego invited some of its most
passionate fans as an experiment in 2005 to join together and design a new Lego
toy. The fans sat together, had all the manufactured Lego bricks at their
disposal, and created the ultimate Lego toy kit, a train engine they called the
Santa Fe. Lego launched the toy with its standard first-set run of 10,000 kits
and sold out in two weeks as the best new Lego toy launch in Lego history. This
brings us to the lesson Alan Moore regularly drills into the heads of his
audiences - we embrace what we create. When you have your fans co-create the
brand experience, they are involved, embedded in that process and will embrace
it. They will then go and tell the world how great that new thingamajig will
be, that they were involved with, to help it become a success. Note this
happened at the dawn of social media. Today with Facebook, Twitter etc, the
opportunity for fans to celebrate what they co-created will be far bigger
still. As we say on this blog, Communities Dominate Brands.
Now, not every industry can do this, have its consumers come in and start to collaborate in product design, but did you know Boeing's 787 Dreamliner included inputs from over 10,000 Boeing fans, non-aviation engineers, who helped co-create the design. And Lays the potato chips has run the campaign now successfully on several continents, inviting fans to make suggestions of the new flavors - suggestions sent in of course via SMS text messages. Best flavor suggestions voted, top 3 test-marketed and most successful of those will be fully launched. The person who suggested the winning flavor earns 1% of every Lays package of that flavor sold ever since. By the way, the idea was first run in India and since done in South Africa and Guatemala in Latin America etc.
PROCESS IS NOT ONE AD
And lets understand Engagement Marketing at its heart. The world's first company built from ground-up to run on Engagement Marketing principles, had by happy coincidence Alan Moore as one of its Board Members advising them. It was the innovative mobile service provider in the UK called Blyk, a few years ago. Blyk got a lot of attention early, with some high-powered founders including the ex-Nokia President Pekka Ala-Pietila who had been expected by many to be named Jorma Ollila's successor back when Nokia was the mobile industry giant. Blyk then seemed to vanish very suddenly and a lot of false stories spread about how it ended. Blyk did not die in the UK market, it was so successful, they were brought in by Orange one of the big 4 networks to run their in-house mobile advertising and marketing as a platform provider. Meanwhile Blyk has since expanded to many countries from the Netherlands to India repeating the same successs they had in the UK.
The gimmick with Blyk was not that the youth could get free calls and free messages in exchange of some ads. The gimmick with Blyk was Engagement Marketing. By using Alan Moore's Engagement Marketing principles meticulously, Blyk achieved the ultimate in advertising - and as the first mobile company to do so - their process was so powerful, compelling, relevant and beloved, that their consumers requested more ads!
Go back to the survey I reported on the top. People hate ads
on TV so much, they buy TiVo and PVR boxes to be able to skip ads altogether.
And when some clueless advertisers run barrages of spam and banner ads and
interstitials and preroll video and force consumers to be interrupted on their phones
to be bombarded with ads, of course the consumers hate those mobile ads even
more than the TV ads.
Then compare to Blyk. Consumers 'love' ads? So much so, that they ASK for MORE ads? Yes they do. This is no anomaly. We did the analysis here on this blog and with support from the experts over at Forum Oxford, we found that Blyk ran over 2,600 individual mobile ad campaigns over a year for 200 of the topmost global brands like Coca Cola, Ford, Mastercard, L'Oreal and Levi's. The average brand loved the Blyk experience so much, they ran yes - on average 13 campaigns on Blyk per year - more than one per month. That will not happen on any brand new media unless it is highly - incredibly - unbelievably - unprecedentedly successful.
Check this out. The average Blyk users - a youth user between ages 16 and 24 - was bombarded by 6 marketing messages on average every day (they did not have to consume them daily, they could take them whenever they wanted, that is part of the beauty of mobile, we can cut the linear relationship between content and its advertising. I can have my free Blyk call today and watch 6 ads on Saturday to pay for it. This only works on mobile where our mobile phone numbers are as near to unique and personal, as being the nearest thing to a global ID number. In many parts of Africa, people will identify their house number by their mobile phone number listed on the door, not the house number on a street where the streets might not be named, and many people can't even read...)
So back to Blyk. You are bombarded by six mobile marketing messages per day. How much will you hate that? Its 42 ads seen per week, 180 ads you have to watch per month, every month, to get the modest free minutes and free messages allowance from Blyk. How much did the youth hate these ads. After 2,600 ad campaigns to 200,000 youth consumers in Britain, Blyk sustained an average response rate of... 29% !!!!!
TWENTY NINE PERCENT
That is not twice as good as on the internet. Its not five times better. Its not ten times better. Its about 100 times better response rates than we see on banner ads on the internet! Yes, that is no misprint. 29% response rates - not click-through rates mind you, even better, these are actively wanted engagement, responding to an ad, often answering a question or poll or giving an opinion. 29% response rate after 2,600 ad campaigns while the youth received 2,200 mobile marketing messages per year.
If I promise you 29% response rates on average (some easily above 45% if the campaign was better designed and well targeted on a highly popular brand etc) and the option is to do mobile banners that are hated and get in best cases something like 3% or 4% click-through rates on mobile (still 10x better than online, obviously) then WHY would you even consider the stupid banner ads. And this.. and this before... (drumroll)
BIGGEST COMPLAINT BY USERS - WANT MORE ADS
I am not making this up. Jonathan 'JMac' MacDonald now known as the mobile marketing guru and author, back in the day was 'just' an ex Ministry of Sound music guy who had joined as Blyk's UK Sales VP. He said in 2008 that the biggest complaint the Blyk calling center was getting from the 16-24 year old users, the number 1 complaint was .. how can I get more ads? After bombarded by over 2,200 ads per year, and voluntarily, willingly responding to 29% of those - the youth users loved Blyk ads so much, they wanted MORE OF THEM? How is this possible? This was built on Engagement Marketing principles. Now we will go through the process, I show to you, how teenagers will become so in love with Blyk mobile marketing messages, they will crave for more and will rush to open them immediately. This is the how.
HOW TO DO ENGAGEMENT - BLYK'NAM STYLE
Imagine two girls, teenagers, 17 year olds. BFF's Best
Friends Forever. They like the same bands, eat the same foods, dress the same,
use the same colors in makeup. And they both have joined Blyk. One of the girls
is totally honest, tells Blyk everything she likes - fashion, makeup, rock
music. The other, thinks she'll 'game' the system, and not reveal all about
herself, and thinks she'd just like some makeup advice and coupons and tells
Blyk she only likes makeup.
So one of Blyk's advertisers, L'Oreal notices two girls with interests in makeup and sends the first contact communciation, asking if they would like more info from L'Oreal, and also - asks in an MMS message, showing some colors of lips, asking which color of lipstick the girl favors.
MUST BE OPT-IN
One. Lets stop right here to start with. The reason any true Engagement Marketing campaign can get 29% or 35% or 45% response rates is that Engagement Marketing starts from the premise of 'Opt-in'. It has to be opt-in. There is no spam in Engagement Marketing, ever. You have to ask for permission. This is a painful step to many who prefer to shotgun their advertising via television or other imprecise mass media channels, but the unique abilities of mobile start with unique benefit number 1 - mobile is the first truly personal mass media channel. So ask for permission. There cannot be Engagement Marketing without opt-in. Learn this, internalize this, or be condemned to the scrapheap of advertising history soon as an obsolete dinosaur. All Engagement Marketing is opt-in based.
Lets return to the two girls. Blyk sends the MMS message with six pictures of lips. Both girls respond the same way - they don't pick fiery red or pink or dark maroon or natural, they pick black. These two 17 year old girls are what is known as 'Goths'. Girls who dress in black-and-white, look anemic every day, seem angry and depressed and listen to Gothic rock music like say, Finnish rock band Nightwish.
Today L'Oreal has sent these two girls one MMS ad, got both to respond saying yes they'd like more messages from L'Oreal, and both picked lipstick color of black. The two girls will still need to see five more ads to fulfill today's quota. L'Oreal accepts their responses - and now the magic starts to happen. L'Oreal adjusts ALL of its future marketing messages to these two girls to only feature black-and-white fashion images, in Gothic styles.
Two days later, the second message comes from L'Oreal to both girls. L'Oreal asks which is the supermodel the two girls most admire. Again it is an MMS with six pictures of fashion models that are under contract for L'Oreal. Note - every one of the six models are pictured of course wearing black lipstick... And the girls both have identical tastes, they both select the actress Eva Longoria (from Desperate Housewives).
Two messages, and L'Oreal now adjusts all future marketing messages to always use pictures of Eva Longoria, not the other 5 models, and always use Eva in colors of extreme gothic Black-and-white.
After two iterations, the 'personal' marketing channel from L'Oreal to these two girls has become far more representative of their personal tastes than anything in any print magazine could ever be. Vogue, Cosmo, Elle or Seventeen in print format could never, EVER have such highly targeted ads as L'Oreal can now do for these two girls. And obviously, a class-mate of their who uses pink lipstick and prefers Kate Moss will never see Eva Longoria in black, she will get the same 'campaign' messages, but dressed up as Kate Moss in pinkish tones... This is co-creation of marketing messages. This is the very heart of Engagement Marketing. This is why in only a few steps, the marketing can become highly appreciated and personal and beloved. And we haven't gotten to the good part yet. Lets do message number 3.
BEGGING FOR MORE ADS
L'Oreal has measured its Blyk user base and found that there are a lot of goths in its opt-in database. And the clever marketing department execs at L'Oreal dig into their consumer insights and notice that yes, the Goths seem to like the Finnish rock band Nightwish. And so, when Nightwish does its next tour of Europe, L'Oreal decides to sponsor the tour. And as sponsor, it gets 200 tickets to the opening show at Earl's Court in London. L'Oreal decides to reward its fans on Blyk.
L'Oreal digs through the Blyk database and its opt-in users, and finds all those L'Oreal opt-in fans who selected black as their lipstick color (are likely Goths) and who also said they like rock music. And finds 2,000 such teens in the system. L'Oreal sends a surprise message just to these 2,000 lucky ones with an MMS message with Nightwish doing a short snippet of its latest music video - and promises L'Oreal treats the first 200 of its Gothic rock fans to free tickets of Nightwish at Earl's Court.
Girl 1 gets this message, opens it, watches the video in deep entrhallment - remember both girls love Nightwish, how could L'Oreal know that this is their fave band? - and after the videoclip embedded in the MMS, L'Oreal offers the fastest to respond, FREE tickets to the opening night? The girl sends her response immediately.
Notice what happens. The system learns ever more accurately what we want, and then feeds us what we'd most prefer, and teaches us to react immediately, to open the messages and respond fast. Pretty clever eh?
Now. If you are truly a fan of Nightwish and Eva Longoria and dress in black, and your makeup brand has started to communicate with you using your fave colors (black) and using your fave actress (Eva) and now gives you the chance to win free tickets just by responding fast - you will LOVE this brand more than anything you could imagine. The girl does not have to win the ticket today to love L'Oreal for it.
What of her friend? They were both sitting at Pizza Hut. The BFF sees this message coming on Blyk from L'Oreal with the Nightwish video clip. They both watch it on the friends' phone, but this other girl is still waiting. The other girl has already sent in her response to try to be among the fastest 200 to win, but the best friend has not received this offer! Why not? She becomes despondent. She calls up Blyk demanding her offer too.
Blyk tells her, that because she did not tell Blyk - and L'Oreal - that she likes rock music, she will never be bothered with anything about rock music. After all, she might prefer rap music or country music or jazz for all they know. They will only send rock music ticket offers to those members who said they like rock music. That this girl tried to 'game the system' by witholding real opinions from Blyk will only harm her, not benefit her. She adjusts her setting immediately and is served the L'Oreal offer within seconds thereafter. She learns her lesson the hard way as her friend gets to go to the concert on the ultimate free ticket...
This is truly textbook Engagement Marketing. Co-creation of the marketing communications between the brand and the consumer. When we analyzed the Blyk traffic together with Forum Oxford, we found that the average Blyk campaign had about 6 ot 7 of these interactive steps back-and-forth, run for about a week or ten days, with then about two weeks of silence, until the next such campaign ran again.
29% response rates. Consumers loving the ads so much, they beg for more. 2,600 such campaigns run by 200 of the biggest global brands in England just over one year, loving it so much they ran on average 13 such campaigns per year. Why are you not using Engagement Marketing today?
This is not a UK specific anomaly. The Blyk model has been successfully copied from Croatia to Malaysia. Alcatel-Lucent's Optism runs on these principles. OutThereMedia runs its opt-in mobile marketing on these principles. Blyk has a million audience just in India alone, on these very same principles. Once you go Engagement Marketing, you never go back.
E = M 2 C
That is how engagement marketing can be done today. Now lets go into the future. What if you have your fans help co-create your brand, participate in it and help decorate the most popular teen fashion magazine for girls? Lets examine Girlswalker, ie Tokyo Girl of Japan. This is where engagement marketing can bring you.
Girlswalker starts off as a standard teenage fashion magazine for girls. It gives advice on what to wear, makeup and of course, how to pick up the boys, make relationships last etc.. Rather than the print magazine out perhaps once per month, Girlswalker has two issues per week. They are smaller in content, formated for the small screens of the mobile phone and have fewer articles per issue. But over a month, you get about the same amount of magazine content as you might on Glamour or Vogue or Seventeen or whatever is your fashion magazine of choice. But rather than the paid paper-based print edition, Girlswalker comes to the favorite device of the teens - their mobile phones - and is totally free. We are right off with something better.
Then the content. There are normal teen-magazine articles
written by professional journalists. And there is plenty of make-up and fashion
dressing advice. Except.. that the pictures of the models in Girlswalker are
all genuine Tokyo girls, shot on the streets of the most fashionable steets of
Tokyo. Quite literally this fashion mobile magazine is up-to-date, it shows
this week what real Tokyo teenage girls are wearing this week (twice per week).
There are no supermodels featured in Girlswalker, only genuine Tokyo teens.
And the next point, while yes, the audience of Girlswalker includes of course, the Tokyo teens, its target audience is.. the rest of Japanese teenage girls who don't live in Tokyo. The girls in Osaka and Kyoto and Sapporo and any towns, villages and rice farms along the way. The girls who would want to be as cool and sexy and glamorous as the Tokyo girls.
So? To pay for the free mobile internet based magazine, how do you monetize it? Two ways. You have the freemium content which more than pays for the publication. About 10% of the teens pay about 2 dollars per month for the premium edition. It enhances the standard free content with longer articles, more pictures and of course.. videos. If the free magazine offers ten tips to keep your romance hot, on the premium edition you get 20 tips, etc. And then there is the super-VIP edition, which includes all the premium content but adds super benefits such as free access to the twice-annual fashion shows with the hottest new fashions modelled on the catwalk by, not supermodels, but rather, yes, the hottest girls from the pages of Girlswalker.
Now the kicker. The advertising. Tokyo Girl advertising is relevant and personal to the tastes of the reader and highly appealing. What happens? Alan Moore reported in his book No Straight Lines, that Girlswalker ads achieve, on average.... (wait for it...) ... 45% redemption rates! Not 'click-through rates' or even 'response rates' but 'redemption rates' - actual money purchases generated per ad view! 45% redemption rates? That is the holy grail of advertising! We know exactly which ad generated what sales and nearly half of the targeted (obviously already opt-in) ads get nearly half to produce sales? You, the CMO of your Fortune 500 corporation stop all TV, radio, print and other ads instantly when you see this number. Gosh. Yes, if 10,000 girls saw that one blouse advertized by Zara in this week's issue, then 4,500 blouses were sold directly from that ad! Who gets 45% redemption rates? This utterly obliterates the 'efficiency' of shotgun advertising such as TV ads. For every 100 ads seen, 45 actual paid purchases result ! This utterly remakes the total print industry - and ad industry, it goes without saying.
Girlswalker ad rates have skyrocketed and today an ad in the current issue costs more than an ad on television in prime time in Japan. And how is this possible? Each issue has only a few ad slots and they are auctioned to the highest bidder, of course... As a consequence, Girlswalker the media empire is ridiculously profitable.
And let me just mention where does this all go 'next' - now Tokyo Girl has its twice-annual fashion shows - so immensely popular (only to Platinum level members) they are booking sports arenas that get filled by teenage girls. And the mobile commerce involved? Get this - when the girl in the audience likes something the Tokyo Girl walking on the catwalk is wearing, she only points her phone at the model on the catwalk, and selects which item from the girl she wants (the skirt, the shoes, the handbag, whatever) and clicks to buy. The system already knows this users size so no other info is needed. Point-to-buy convenience - at a fashion show! Truly to be first in your neighborhood to wear the latest fashions, just like a proper Tokyo Girl. Wow. This is the future of retail. (oh, and the magic in point-and-buy tech? Its not location-based, its time-based. They just know which model is currently on the catwalk, you could point your cameraphone at the toilets, and it will still offer you that Hennes & Mauritz silk scarf in pink and silver... :-)
WHILE IN CANADA
And I just read only the headline finding from Canada, from Coca Cola's latest campaign. They ran a global campaign across many media, TV, print, web and mobile. They had several mobile elements to it from QR Codes to mobile web to smartphone apps, but at the epicenter of the campaign was SMS text messaging and a deeply engaging advertising concept. The result? 45% of the target audience responded and engaged with the campaign ! It can be done, not just in Japan but if even the usually laggard Canada (which has yet to even pass 100% mobile phone penetration rates, where several countries have already passed 200%) can do it, you can do it in your country.
SO ITS LOCATION?
So whereas Engagement Marketing was the first totally new advertising concept native to mobile (earlier mobile ads were all copies of previous media, such as banner ads, spam emails and location-based ads.) You thought Location-based ads - like say FourSquare - are new? Far from it. LBS ads were invented for the third mass media - Cinema, yes Cinema has had those 'near this cinema' type of restaurant ads for nearly a century now. And their success is a good precursor to how poorly LBS is performing today. A Nielsen survey in December 2012 found that 10 million Americans are active users of FourSquare. While 10 million looks like a big number for many in other media like print, 10 million is peanuts in mobile. Thats only 3% of American cellphone owners! Thats nothing. Don't focus on Location, its a red herring. Focus on the 9 unique aspects of mobile to build your market success.
THE NINE UNIQUE ASPECTS OF MOBILE AS A MASS MEDIA CHANNEL
1 - Mobile is personal
2 - Mobile is always carried
3 - Mobile is permanently connected
4 - Mobile has a built-in payment method
5 - Mobile is available at the point of inspiration
6 - Mobile measures the audience most accurately of any media
7 - Mobile captures the social context of consumption
8 - Mobile enables Augmented Reality
9 - Mobile offers a digital connection to the real world
Source: Tomi Ahonen book The Insider's Guide to Mobile, 2011
When the first TV ad was developed, it was a Bulova watch ad
in the USA. It was like a newspaper ad, lifted from the print issue and
broadcast to the television screen. Yes, imagine a TV camera showing 30 seconds of a still image newspaper or magazine ad. It was a still image. An announcer read a voice-over of the
exact print copy seen on the black-and-white still image on the TV screen "America runs on Bulova time." Even the second-hand on the clock on the picture did not move. A still picture was broadcast for 30 seconds with what sounded like a radio announcer reading the same text that was displayed on the TV screen. BORING !!! That was it. No jingles, no
moving images, no smiling kids or happy dogs. And no drama, no comedy, no action,
no emotional involvement. That was not using the abilites of television and
such an ad would be camp if run today. I find a similarity to most mobile ad
campaigns or mobile elements to cross-media campaigns. They only copy older
less-efficient media, so mobile is severely underperforming. Use those nine
unique benefits to deliver better advertising performance than was possible
before mobile became the 7th mass media.
NEXT COMES AUGMENTED REALITY
Which brings me to the future. Augmented Reality, ie AR. I have been exploring the use of AR as a unique ability of mobile, but today AR is spreading past mobile, to tablet PCs, to Playstation Portables, and very shortly, to goggles/glasses such as Google's Project Glass ie the Google Goggles. AR was immediately embraced by advertising, from the iconic first Ford Ka ads in Europe to the Ikea catalog made available via AR (So you can virtually test furniture in your home, just by looking at the item through your cameraphone viewer aiming the furniture to any room in your home).
AR is inherently interactive and very easily becomes fully engaging too. The Ford Ka ads four years ago were famous for having live people step into the camera view, to be pictured next to the virtual Ford Ka which did not exist in reality, at that point. AR invites people to want to participate. A French website, DirectOptic, has added AR based virtual trials to selling their sunglasses and eyeglasses, to enormous gains. The visitors to the website who use the AR feature have a 41% higher conversion rate than visitors who do not. And the buyers who make a purchase and who used AR will spend 12.5% more than those who didn't. So the total gains to DirectOptic from using AR are 45.6% more revenues from the AR users.
Oh, if you don't really know or understand AR the 8th Mass Media (mobile was 7th, internet was 6th, TV was 5th) or perhaps doubt it can be a viable ad medium etc, you might want to watch my TEDx Talk about Augmented Reality last year. Its like all TED videos, short and snappy, and I have tons of AR media examples in it. See the video at Tomi Ahonen TEDx Talk About Augmented Reality.
Then Senator Barack Obama Presidential campaign in 2008, run by David Axelrod, set new standards for using mobile in US elections, from announcing his VP choice by SMS, to the innovative Obama app for the iPhone. In 2012 his re-election campaign run by Jim Messina turbocharged all they had learned, from getting donations directly by one click via SMS to this, perhaps the ultimate 'force multiplier' in the history of elections.
Obama's campaign had used digital and social media very effectively and had for example recruited 311,000 volunteers for election day (compared to 34,000 that Mitt Romney's campaign had recruited). Messina had assigned 200,000 volunteers to phone duty on election day, who placed 11 million phone calls to voters.
Lets explore this a bit. Obama's total vote total was 65 million, so about one in six Obama voters received a phone call on election day to remind them to vote, and remember, 29% had already voted before that day. The campaign knew who were true Obama supporters - they didn't robocall districts without focus, and didn't hit Romney supporters. So only 46 million Obama supporters voted actually on election day, and thus, the campaign reached nearly one in four who voted that day. (They also made another 6 million personal visits knocking on doors on election day, and used obviously all other activation methods from Facebook and Twitter reminders to more traditiona emails and mailers). But here is the sweetest part.
As the Obama 2012 campaign had gone through the trouble to
collect mobile phone numbers and permissions - and personal info into a monster
database called Narwhal. They had permissions. They had the mobile numbers. And
they knew who was a nurse, who was a retired Marine Master Sergeant and who was
still a student at the local community college etc. Plus they knew who had
voted and who had already been contacted personally on election day. So they
built the ultimate engagement campaign.
Every registered Obama supporter with a mobile phone who had given permission, received an SMS text message early on Tuesday election day with one question: 'Would you be willing to make one call to an undecided voter, on behalf of President Obama today?' Remember the campaign already knew this person was an Obama supporter and that this person had already voted that day or before. Now they were not asking for money - at that point the campaign was awash with cash, they needed volunteers to 'turn out the vote'. And if the same ratio of support for this SMS campaign occurred as they reported for their Facebook campaign (they didn't reveal the SMS campaign effectiveness, which I believe was far stronger, but lets use the FB stat as the reference) then of the 24 million Obama voters who said they had been contacted by the campaign (by voter polls after the election) if we assign the 8% rate of activation as on FB, it means 1.9 million bonus volunteers made an extra phone call on behalf of President Obama on election day.
So the campaign, by sending out 24 million SMS text messages at perhaps 2.4 million dollar total cost, achieved 1.9 million more calls, in addition to the 11 million their army of volunteers produced. And for contrast, the Romney campaign volunteers didn't even try personal calls, they only made Robocalls (Recordings, like Donald Trump endorsing Romney and encouraging people to vote for Romney). The Romney campaign made a total of 6 million Robocalls on election day, of which only 3.1 million hit Republican voters who had not yet voted on that day. Obama's SMS based mobile gimmick did more than half that level - with personal calls, a laid-off factory worker calling another factory worker, a teacher calling a teacher, a retired housewife calling another retired housewife, etc. This is the very essense of Engagement Marketing, performed to brilliance by the Obama campaign. I expect when the final analysis is done and reported, the SMS-volunteering 'would you make one call for the President' message will go down as one of the most cost-effective election day activation methods ever devised. But it required permission, careful engagement over time - the average Obama supporter had been personally contacted 5 times during the 2012 election season, by personal visits to the home or personal phone calls, in addition to countless SMS text messages, emails, Facebook and Twitter contacts, YouTube viral videos etc. (and for those who want to see the inside scoop on Obama's data mining edge and all the numbers of the Narwhal vs Orca battle of voting databases in 2012, my full stats and analysis is here)
That is how you build an Engagement Campaign, and how you use it. Remember what Alan Moore teaches, people embrace what they create. Let your consumers co-create your marketing experience with you.
So when you consider your next campaign with mobile, lets
take the lessons from Alan Moore, Jonathan MacDonald and Agustin Calvo, from
examples pioneered by Lego, Seeda, Lays Potato Chips, Blyk, L'Oreal,
Girlswalker, Ford, Coca Cola and the Obama Campaign. Don't just interrupt your
audience, respect them and ask for permission. When you do create your mobile
marketing, do make it interactive and viral, of course, but make it also
engaging. Remember Agustin Calvo's formula, Engagement = Mobile To Community. E
So yeah, obviously if you want or need, I do these kinds of workshops all around the world for my clients and I'd be delighted to prepare a workshop or seminar for you about Engagement Marketing and/or other mobile media, mobile advertising, viral marketing, mobile money, Augmented Reality etc. While I'm not a mobile advertising specialist, I did chair the world's first conference on mobile advertising 13 years ago, I was the first author to discuss mobile marketing at chapter-length in a book, each of my twelve bestsellers includes mobile advertising and one of my books was completely focused on this aspect of the mobile industry. Yes, I am regularly used by big ad agencies, national advertising associations etc to run workshops and do seminars, but seriously, I am an expert on the mobile industry overall, that covers anything from youth messaging to farming irrigation systems, from mobile money to smartphones, from mobile gaming to international voice call roaming, and from MVNO profits to SIM card loyalties. I am not your expert on mAd as in Mobile Advertising. So this is not about me. Who are your best resources whose day job is purely mAd and who are my gurus into this specialist area that is one of the fastest-evolving ever seen in media history.
If you want to really learn Engagement Marketing there can
only be one man for that, its the guy who invented the concept and has thought
about this the longest and done it the most, and that is Alan Moore the CEO of
SMLXL out of Cambridge UK.
But there are several superb experts and gurus who have mastered Engagement Marketing and who do it in their daily work and are excellent guides for you. I am not an advertising dude myself, so I don't know all who now are the best at this craft, but here are my favorites who do know what they are doing and would be excellent guides for you on your journey from interactive digital marketing to Engagement Marketing. There is JMac, Jonathan MacDonald, of course, the author and guru from Britain. There is Agustin Calvo the author and former mobile ad agency CEO from Spain. Then I'd add the American, Kim Dushinski, the author of the wonderful Mobile Marketing Handbook (now in its Second Edition, make sure you buy the new version, not the first edition). I have to add my first guru into the world of advertising and mobile merging, the Finnish grand old man of digital media, Antti Ohrling. We also have to remember Kerstin Trikalitis of Out There Media who is very active here in Asia, and the author Peggy Anne Salz of Mobile Groove, based out of Germany. And I'd be remiss to ignore my dear friend Rory Sutherland of Ogilvy in Britain or another dear friend, author Russell Buckley, the past CEO of the MMA previously with Google and Admob who lives in Germany. Lastly I'd add Richard Ting of R/GA out of New York. I know there are at least a dozen more truly world-class experts in Engagement Marketing, but these are people I know, whose work and writing I follow, who are behind award-winning concepts and campaigns, who really know what is Engagement Marketing and what only pretends to be that.
ABOUT YOUR CAREER
Let me end with a different view. I know for some who have an illustrious career in advertising and a wall full of awards, the concept of yet another digital miracle cure to advertising may seem like all hype and no hope, and a massive intrusion into the world they know and have mastered. Nobody taught this Engagement Stuff at university, and isn't it just a tired old refrain of what we learned with the internet or now see in social media? There is an inbuilt resistance to all things new, and even more, one that might threaten the livelihood, and one where older experts seem out of touch and the youngest in the industry seem more knowledgable. A lot of veterans in the advertising industry - including often the bosses - will resist the change.
The worse problem is television. Currently the ad industry
global awards are all TV oriented. The money in the advertising industry is
disproportionately geared to television where ad deals often get a percentage
cut of TV ads placed, and that is big money. If you go to your ad agency and
ask for a cross-platform campaign, they will always pitch TV in it, whether TV
really works or not. And just watch what happens if you, the client, announce
that you want the other parts but lets not do TV this time? The best team will
not work on your campaign! The best teams want the TV stuff, because thats the
fame and glory bit, thats how you win your awards and perhaps get to go to
The problem is, of course, that TV viewing is not increasing anymore, it has plateaued. TV ads are seeing ever less efficacy, due to TiVo and other PVRs and consumers viewing content in other ways to avoid the ads altogether. That means, the most attractive audiences are increasingly avoiding the ads, and ever less attractive parts of the TV viewing audience - like the poorest segments in that country - are left to aim ads at.
Meanwhile, the disparity with our media use of mobile is totally out of proportion to the miniscule ad spend on the media so far. And most of that ad spend is the pointless spam messages and annoying banner ads and interstitials etc. So many ad execs will point to the unfulfilled promise - arguably disappointment - of mobile ads, and go again to work on the next TV ad campaign. Contrast that with successful mobile ad campaigns. A well designed, opt-in, engagement marketing campaign will be delivering well in excess of 25% response rates and usually well above 30% rates, in any country, from England to Egypt, from Croatia to Canada, from Spain to Singapore, from South Africa to South Korea.
Some creative types at ad agencies will 'get it' that as the mobile is the most personal, most sensitive and private media channel, and the screen space is so limited, and our attention span to the medium is often divided - we multitask often when we consume mobile media - the challenges to creating a successful mobile ad campaign are far greater than doing that on a magazine or billboard or radio or TV. The challenges are greater on mobile than on the web. The challenges are greater, the rewards are potentially huge. For any truly creative mind, this is the best kind of opportunity. A new media channel with massive reach and enormous potential, that most rival creatives do not fully understand! This is where careers are made.
I think there will be primarily two types of advertising professionals this decade, those who embrace mobile with a passion, putting it dead-center into everything; and those who resist 'the dark side' and try to remain with the more familar legacy mass media - which yes, today, includes the web. Yes, the internet is now a legacy mass media that is no longer the cutting edge of new and cool. Where would you rather be? Which brings me to a few closing thoughts. Google, the world's biggest internet company and world's largest web advertising company has been saying for years, that mobile is the future of the internet.
MOBILE MOVES TO MIDDLE
Ford was the first major advertiser to commit to making mobile part of every campaign they run across any media. Coca Cola now puts mobile to the center of their campaigns. Visa goes even further, saying mobile is the future of payments too! And Kraft the US food giant gives its simple mobile philosphy, 'Leave no phone behind' when they advise their partners and audiences that any mobile ad campaign should start from SMS and then build out from that with MMS, QR, mobile web, etc long before you bother with such tiny niche audiences as individual smartphone platform apps. Coca Cola puts it in their inimitable way, with their famous 70:20:10 rule, put 70% of your mobile budget to mobile messaging, only 20% to mobile web, and 10% to all others including smartphone apps, Augmented Reality, etc.
Thats my primer on Engagement Marketing. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts (and please, I know many of my readers obsess about the smartphone races, this comment thread is closed to smartphone discussions, I will only allow discussion about advertising and marketing here, not the usual iPhone vs Android debates or what becomes of Nokia next). And if you want to see how we are now using mobile in media, advertising and retail, you might enjoy my video in Rotterdam at the end of the year when I gave a keynote to the Emerce Day about Mobile and eBusiness.
Allow me one plug, if you want to see my favorite list of 50 best mobile ad campaigns from the birth of mobile ads to the end of the first decade of it, including several pioneering Engagement Marketing successes, please consider my ebook Pearls Vol 1: Mobile Advertising (with a Foreword by Russell Buckley). More info including its ordering links are here.