The Voice of the Mobile Customer.
By Scott Hornstein
Wednesday, 23rd July 2008
I am convinced that the thing we understand least about mobile marketing is the individual holding a cellphone in their hand. We need this knowledge if we're going to make mobile work, like the rest of the world has.

Mobile is the most personal medium every invented, giving each of us the ability to instantly decide what we want, or don't want on our device.  We call it the network of me.

What does it take to get on the network of me? 

Seeing no other way, we decided that we were going to have to talk to some of those icky customers. We asked 9 simple questions about mobile marketing of friends, family, acquaintances and referrals, and compiled the answers based on age ranges, from under 18 to over 64. 

These results are directional and very basic, but they raise three issues that appear to be on customers' minds:

  • Corporations must behave with integrity – be honest, speak clearly and live by what you say. Customers' current level of trust is not high.
  • Customers want personalized value.  They want corporations to deliver value that is specific.
  • The customer is in complete control.  We are on a very short leash.
The questions and answers:

1. Are you using your cell to get easily available information off the web, like news, weather or scores?  Please respond on a scale of 1 – 10 where 1 is never and 10 is all the time.  The results are a bell curve, beginning with a 1.9, peaking at 5.3 with the 25 – 34 group and receding to a 1 for those 64+. 

2. Have you completed a transaction via mobile, like for a ringtone or subscription to an alert? 18 – 34 and 45 – 54 scored highest.

3. If a brand or merchant you trust offered to send a message to your cell about a new product, a new offer or perhaps a sale, would you agree to receive the message (opt-in)?  35 – 54 scored this the highest.

4. Would pictures or video help you to find the value?  The average, 4.4, indicates a cautious yes. 

5. Do you trust most brands or merchants with your cell number?  1 is absolutely not and 10 is an enthusiastic yes, Customers up to age 44 score this 3.3 – 4.6, with the peak at 24 - 34. 

6. Could you name a brand or merchant you would trust to send you a mobile message? Apple Computer.  Honorable mention goes to banks, credit card issuers, doctors and pharmacies.  Several consumers mentioned local retailers, individual brands and chain stores.

7. Do you think that there should be some government regulations regarding how companies use your cell number?  The average was 7.9.

8. Would you like trusted brands or merchants to have your cell number in case of emergency – for instance, unauthorized use of your credit card?  The average was 6.1 with the strongest response, 8.3, from the 64+ group.

9. What brief advise do you have for companies who may wish to use the cellphone for commerce-related communications?  There are several  important issues swirling around.  

Fear of rabid telemarketing. "Don't call me unless it's an emergency."

Privacy: "Stick to the limitations that I note when I subscribe." "Be militant about the protection of my information."

Value: "There should be real benefit to me as the consumer and not only for you as the company.  Save me a lot of money or a lot of time.  Or get me access to something that others cant get access to." "I am open to service-related communications."

Overall, consumers caution:

  • "Unsolicited visits are an intrusion."
  • "Err on the side of caution.  People will have a quick trigger if you abuse their cell even once."
  • (and most importantly) "Establish trust.  Trust is the biggest issue".
Scott Hornstein is the Chief Marketing Officer at Wired Assets Data Corporation. scott@wiredassets.com.
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