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Mobile alerts drive one out of three recipients in store, 27pc to make purchase

July 6, 2010

An opted-in consumer who enters a geofence near a retailer location gets a coupon via SMS

An opted-in consumer who enters a geofence near a retailer location gets a coupon via SMS

Consumer receptivity to opt-in mobile marketing and intent to visit stores is growing, according to a new Harris Interactive survey commissioned by Placecast.

One-third of Americans who are currently signed up for mobile marketing alerts indicate that such services impact their decision to go into stores, and 27 percent report that such programs have impacted their decision to buy products in physical retail locations.

“[These results are] further validation that permission-based mobile marketing has potential to drive in-store traffic,” said Alistair Goodman, CEO of 1020 Placecast, San Francisco. “[Marketers and merchants should] incorporate location in some form into their mobile marketing efforts, and test texting.

“With check-in services only available on smartphones, which comprise roughly 21 percent of all mobile phones in the U.S., reach for marketers through these platforms is still a question,” he said. “Furthermore, both consumers and marketers see texting as similar mechanisms to email, which has made a substantial impact on purchase behavior—both online and in bricks-and-mortar stores.

“Incorporating location—the ability to make the message relevant not just for the user, but also based on where they are and when they are there—is consistently seen as a valuable service by consumers, and easy for marketers to execute at scale.”

Placecast is a location-based platform specifically designed to use digital marketing on mobile to drive consumers into physical environments using tactics such as SMS alerts trigged by geofencing.

Mobile marketing drives commerce
Since Placecast’s first Harris Interactive survey on location-based mobile marketing and advertising in July 2009, overall consumer interest in such programs increased, with ‘somewhat interested’ consumers growing by 2 share points (plus 8 percent) to 28 percent of all respondents.

As in the first survey, interest is most pronounced among the youngest groups surveyed: 42 percent of those 18–34 are at least somewhat interested, and interest grew 6 points (18 percent) among women 18–34 from the survey conducted in 2009.
Interest levels between men and women are now about equal overall, but in the 45–54 age group, women show markedly more interest than men: 26 percent of women as compared to 16 percent of men are interested in opt-in text alerts from their chosen brands/stores.
Food dominates demand overall, although interest categories vary for men and women.
Overall, groceries (68 percent), restaurants (64 percent) and fast food restaurants (58 percent) take three of the top-four most popular segments of receptivity to opt-in mobile marketing.

Women skew higher than men when it comes to interest in groceries and apparel, while men skew higher in interest for electronics and sporting goods products.
SMS does impress
Texting is significantly more valued than application-based services, according to the survey.

One data point across all respondents is the importance of text messaging.

Respondents consider texting more important than any other activity on their mobile phones, aside from talking.

An average of 40 percent of all respondents surveyed said that texting is “extremely” or “very important” to them.

Alistair Goodman is CEO of 1020 Placecast

Alistair Goodman is CEO of 1020 Placecast

“One of the most surprising data points in this study across all cell phone owners is the importance of texting,” Mr. Goodman said. “It is still an overwhelmingly popular activity on mobile versus other activities.”

Even with the buzz of services like Foursquare and Gowalla, only 7 percent of men show the same level of interest in these types of social networks, and only 3 percent of women.  
The survey also delved into consumer attitudes about using the location of their phones to trigger opt-in marketing messages.

Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed think location-based texts could be useful, 29 percent think they would be interesting and an equal percentage (24 percent) think they could be more relevant and innovative.

“Location-based marketing is convenient because it can point consumers to the brands and services we care about when they are nearby,” Mr. Goodman said. “We’re all so over-loaded with the day-to-day—work, school, buying groceries, going to the mechanic—that we appreciate it when information we want comes to us.

“When done right, location-based services make our lives easier,” he said.

Various factors are driving growth in the location-based services and marketing space.

Marketers have seen huge success with email as a catalyst for driving transactions, and location-based text messaging is an easy way to extend these and other marketing activities into mobile.

“Marketers are finally able to run programs at scale using text—and it’s so simple, whether it’s for directly promoting items or just working on the relationship with the consumer,” Mr. Goodman said. “A huge range of digital marketers know how to do this already—location-based text is an easy transition.

“Done right, consumers view this type of marketing as a valuable service, making offers available based on where they are and when they are there,” he said.

“Research with the brands that we work with consistently shows that they think these services are cool—not a game, but useful, automated and timely information from the retailers they care about, when they are nearby.”

Final take

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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