|Need a mobile marketing program? Instead of building it yourself, ClearLine Mobile builds a mobile presence for card providers from the ground up. Ok, so you’re a provider of prepaid financial services or gift cards, and you need a mobile presence, what do you do?Most believe at this point that building a mobile relationship with customers increases retention and even boosts sales. After all, upward of 80 percent of Americans have cell phones and more than 70 percent of those phone owners text regularly. Consider further that 70 percent of all mobile searches result in action, and mobile coupons get 10 times the redemption rate of traditional coupons, according to Mobile Marketer.But there’s a fine line to walk in building a mobile relationship with customers. How do you get your users to agree to be contacted via SMS or email for promotions? Where do you draw the line between harassing customers with promotions on their phones and offering them useful incentives and services?Most providers don’t know the answers to these questions, but ClearLine Mobile hopes to help them figure that out.ClearLine Mobile offers a mobile marketing plan that ultimately aims to increase customer retention and boost sales. ClearLine’s programs can feature mobile rewards and incentive plans, location-based couponing, mobile websites and content, as well as mobile customer support.
“Nothing comes close to mobile marketing, especially when you’re talking about how fast your message is delivered,” said Nate Moshkovich, VP of business development at ClearLine. “Ninety-five percent of messages are open within the first 15 minutes.”
Specifically ClearLine says it “will create your mobile presence, manage your campaign, make sure you’re in compliance, and send evaluation reports.” ClearLine will work in conjunction with a provider’s existing marketing teams or simply act as the entire marketing arm of the company.
I was able to view two of ClearLine’s overall mobile marketing programs – one for a gift card company and the other for a prepaid financial services firm – both were complex, but clearly explained and based on technology that was simple for me to use.
Initiating the Mobile Relationship
Prepaid wireless providers have it pretty easy. They ask a customer for the permission to reach out to them via mobile phone as soon as they sign on and they come out of the gate with important information, such as phone number and geographic region. Any other prepaid provider isn’t quite that lucky. They’ve got to find a way to both convince the customer to agree to mobile contact and then they’ve got to get as much information on the customer as possible.
ClearLine seems to have figured this out. Using ClearLine’s technology, prepaid providers can invite their users either to text a specific code (for example the word WIN or GIFTCARD) to a specific mobile number. Another option would be for users to scan a QR code with their phones.
“Once you do this, you’re opting into a marketing company so now we can send your mobile messages. Now we know your carrier, we know your device and your browser. We also know where you are,” said Moshkovich.
But how do you get customers to do this? ClearLine helps its customers place advertising to join the “mobile club” on purchase receipts, POS displays, gift card racks, gift cards, websites and social networks. Generally these invitations offer customers gifts or rewards in return for signing up. For example, one sign might read: “Scan this code to win $100 in gifts.”
ClearLine sent me a sample code to dial in, as well as some QR patches to scan. I did both and was immediately sent back a welcome message on my phone, as well as offered a mobile website link to visit for further incentives. On the backend, Moshkovich sent me the information that had been captured about me. It included my mobile phone number, service provider, IP address, email and geographic location.
Building the Mobile Club: Or a Really Sweet Database
The idea of getting customers to scan a QR patch or text in a code is to gather the kind of information for a database that can be parsed for specified marketing campaigns. The more information gathered, the better.
“We are into data management so we can help you analyze your users,” said Moshkovich. “If out of 50,000 users, many are calling Mexico or Israel, we can send relevant messaging. For example, you could offer deals for an extra service of international top ups to those countries.”
And that’s just the beginning. Once information is captured on a user’s phone service company, a gift card provider can offer discounts on Sprint airtime cards, for example. Using the geographic location of a user, gift card companies can send location-based coupons for local stores or events.
Creating the Long-Term Customer Relationship
Since marketing campaigns aim for customer retention and an expanded customer relationship, mobile marketing can go beyond offering discounts and get into gaming and other long-term contact programs. One example would be for a company to host a vote-in trivia poll through SMS or on a mobile website in exchange for rewards. These programs can even be based on region, so, for example, a trivia game based on a local sports team.
ClearLine also encourages companies to add mobile SMS-based or email customer service as part of these programs, as well as sending account alerts with balance information on a gift card, for example. In these scenarios, customers might actually find themselves dependent on a mobile relationship with the provider.
Mobile Campaign Meets Social Networking
For every bit of pressure there is on providers to build a mobile campaign, there is just as much to create a social networking presence. The real sweet spot is where mobile and social networking meet. To this end, ClearLine offers the ability to scan a QR code or text in a code that takes a user directly through to Facebook or Twitter link that lets users “like” or “follow” the provider.
I scanned a QR code with my phone and was immediately offered up a link to Facebook to “like” the card provider in question. The process was simple and by the time I was done, not only did the provider have my phone info for their “mobile club,” but they had established a Facebook relationship with me. By the next morning, I was seeing the provider’s updates on my own Facebook feed – including one that offered me a gift card discount.
Going further, Moshkovich explains that Facebook and Twitter can be wrapped into SMS broadcasts and mobile websites. It can also be used for further mobile opt-ins – meaning if the customer comes to the provider’s Facebook first, they can be offered the opportunity to opt into the mobile program through the social networking tool.
Evaluation and Reporting
Probably the most innovative part of mobile marketing programs is that they offer the ability to more closely evaluate outcome – unlike in traditional, non-mobile campaigns. After all, it’s easy to track how often a user scans a code and then follows through on a coupon or participates in a loyalty campaign. ClearLine says it focuses on analyzing these numbers so that its customers know when to expand and/or alter their services. The idea is to provide ongoing evaluation and analysis in order to build a strong campaign despite the “absence of decades of best practices,” the company says.
The Final Sum
Overall, ClearLine takes what could seem like a very complex program and breaks it down in a way that is succinct and easy to understand. More importantly, the company follows up constantly to be sure it is working. How well it’s used by customers will in large part reveal itself over time. •
ClearLine Mobile Marketing
• Creates mobile presence – even to companies that have none at all
• Enables customer opt-in technologies for mobile programs
• Helps companies implement a range of mobile features, including SMS blasts, mobile incentives and rewards programs, mobile customers support and more
• Integrates with social networking tools so that providers can have an intertwined mobile and social networking presence
• Creates mobile user databases and offers analysis of information to create more services
• Offers ongoing reporting and evaluation of mobile program effectiveness
• Gift card providers
• Prepaid financial service programs
• Mobile providers
• International top-up and money transfer companies
• Any program seeking to build retention and expand customer base with a larger mobile presence
• ClearLine makes a complicated strategy seem simple and easy to understand
• ClearLine can either work with existing marketing teams or completely act as a company’s mobile marketing organization
• Technology behind the program – including text-in links and QR codes – work simply and easily
• Mobile programs can be tricky and providers must be careful not to turn users off
• Mobile presence programs are new and therefore largely untested. Customers of this service must be willing to be guinea pigs
Editor’s Rating: 4 STARS