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Four lessons mobile marketers can learn from auto racing

July 18, 2011

By Alex Campbell

At the end of every marketing campaign, regardless of channel, is the age-old question of, “Was it successful?”

Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, ROI is always a different metric. For mobile marketing, it is often engagement and loyalty. Did my mobile marketing campaign help me connect with and/or gain a loyal fan?

We want to help answer that question.

Based on real data from real campaigns that we have run, we are taking a look-back at what exactly makes a campaign successful and how you can apply this information to your own campaigns. 

In looking at the first bit of data, it is hard to put into words how excited I am about what we are starting to uncover.

I feel like Danny Noonan when the putt finally dropped, I feel like I just came downstairs and found a Nintendo under the Christmas tree – with the Duck Hunt gun. I feel like, well, I feel like I am starting to learn something really significant. 

We started off looking at campaigns focused on an event. That event shall remain nameless as to protect our fantastic relationship with a great client who has a very… shall we say “robust” PR process and therefore is not ready to star on a blog. What I can say though, is that it involves auto racing. 

Auto racing is a sport like no other and draws enthusiastic fans across the country.

However, there are some connecting elements that auto racing has to other marketing initiatives that can provide some lessons, particularly when it comes to mobile marketing.

Mobile marketing campaigns have the power of the personal. A mobile phone is a consumer’s most personal device.

Like concerts and other sporting events, auto racing draws passionate fans, making mobile a really good way to interact with consumers – turning them into active participants instead of passive fans.

Here are some lessons we learned as we looked back at our auto racing campaign data.

Lesson No. 1: Opt-outs happen – mostly on the day of the event
For auto racing, this is usually Friday, Saturday or Sunday. This is interesting because in the cases we looked at messages were not limited to those days.

You would expect opt-outs to happen when messages were sent, but we found a disproportionate number of opt-outs on days when the race actually happened. 

Lesson No. 2: Every message matters, but the first messages really matter
You expect some people to drop off at the beginning of a campaign. They opt-in, get a few messages, then realize they do not really want to keep getting messages, and they opt-out.

The really interesting thing here is that half of all opt-outs will likely take place during the first nine messages.

So what does this mean? Well, make sure you pay extra attention to the first few messages you send people. They have paying really close attention to them and will weigh them heavily when considering if they want to stay loyal to your list. 

Lesson No. 3: Loyal fans are … well … really loyal
For subscribers who stuck around for the first 75 messages of a campaign, approximately 80 percent of them stay with the campaign until it ends.

We are starting to see a trend when it comes to number of days in the program too, which will be another riveting post soon.  

Lesson No. 4: Loyalty is awesome but action is even better
When I was in high school, I ran for class president and lost. I will never forget one of my friends telling me, “Man, I was sure you’d win so I didn’t even vote for you!”

That is when I learned loyalty is great, but getting a loyal person to act is way more important.

In looking at the data, it is apparent that some messages are way better than others at compelling people to act. It is interesting to see how the structure of a message seems to matter a lot – even more than I anticipated.

Do not worry, we are going to dig a little deeper into this and find out why. 

So what have we learned from auto racing?

We have learned that while first impressions are critical, and loyalty is valuable, actions really do matter most. 

So if you are creating a mobile club, make sure you think about what is going to get someone to act.  Loyalty is great, but without action it is not going to win you any elections.

Alex Campbell is cofounder/CEO of Vibes Media, Chicago. Reach him

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