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96 posts categorized "SMS Marketing Ideas"

April 24, 2014

SMS Marketing for the Travel Industry

 

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Virtually any industry can make use of SMS marketing tactics, but it’s particularly useful for those in the travel business. Just like vacationers, the mobile marketplace is, by definition, on the move. You understand what it means to reach people who are not at home close to their computer. Mobile marketing and travel is a match made in heaven… 

One of the hazards of the travel industry is the frequency and suddenness with which important information changes. Flight delays and cancellations often don’t become apparent until close to the time of departure, by which time travellers are already on their way to the airport. Even if they’re still at home, they probably aren’t spending their remaining few hours online when there’s last minute packing to be done, and taxis to be called.

This is where mobile plays a key role. Imagine a customer has just got in their car to make the two hour drive to the airport. Last time they checked the departures that morning, everything was on schedule. Before they’ve started their engine, they get a text message alerting them of a four hour delay to their flight. You’ve just saved them a lot of hanging around in the airport – now they can go back inside and relax while they await further updates.

SMS messaging is ideal for staying in touch with customers, but there are all sorts of other ways in which your mobile marketing strategy can benefit from the power of text:

  • Selling last minute fares. It’s not just airlines that are forced to make last minute changes. Between cancellations and no-shows, most flights take off minus a few passengers. The answer for travel agents is offering last minute seats at a reduced rate. Flexible flyers love a last minute deal – and the most reliable way to get the word out is through SMS messaging.
  • Advertising new routes. Adding a new destination should be a gateway to increased revenue – but the traditional methods of notifying customers like email and newsletters will only reach a certain number of people. Texting is the most reliable way to let lots of people know about your new routes.
  • Offering advice. Once the flight is booked, there’s still much to do in preparation for a trip. SMS messaging is ideal for letting folks know about the latest baggage regulations, information about their destination like exchange rates and airport taxi info. They’ll appreciate the helping hand.

 

 

 

 

 

Save Money & the Environment with Text Coupons

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What could be better than the money consumers save when they decide to use your coupons and become a new customer? How about the costs your business can cut by trading in the wasteful paper versions of those coupons for their mobile counterparts? In addition to the money and paper that they save, offering text coupons also means reaching more customers. Therefore, mobile coupons have great potential to further boost the bottom line through a much greater return on investment than what traditional paper coupons can offer.

Mobile Coupons are More Likely to be Seen than Traditional Coupons

Consumers today spend a great deal of time on their mobile phones. They spend less of their time looking at other media, including the newspapers and magazines where print coupons appear. Smart businesses are capitalizing on this trend in consumer habits through mobile marketing. Just as QR codes have become a helpful way of getting potential customers to engage with businesses and to “opt in” to receive SMS texts messages and other promotional materials via their phones, mobile coupons, which don't need to be printed, are an additional way of winning over consumers.

 

More Likely to be Redeemed, and they Won't End up in the Trash

Mobile coupons are ten times more likely to be redeemed than coupons taken from printed materials, with the mobile versions being used at a rate of 30%, compared to exactly the same coupon in printed materials having a redemption rate of only less than 1%. That's a lot of money and time wasted on printing something that will simply end up in the garbage instead of bringing customers through your door. That's also a tragedy for our environment, considering how many trees go into making paper coupons that may never even be seen, much less used.

 

Convenience

Aside from the fact that almost 100% of the text messages we receive on our mobile phones get opened and therefore seen and considered, another reason mobile coupons are redeemed so much more often than paper ones is a simple logistical one: they're always with customers on their phones. People carry their phones everywhere, after all, but often leave printed coupons at home where they can't be used. The number of coupons redeemed via tablet and mobile devices this year, on the other hand, is expected to be up by more than 50% compared to last year, reaching the 10 billion mark

Targeting Exactly the Right Audience

Another reason for the success of mobile coupons is that it is easier to figure out how to get them into precisely the hands of those who are most likely to come into your store to use them. For example, some companies activate mobile coupons when consumers use their phones to check in at their stores. Geo-location features on mobile phones are another way that businesses may target the consumers most likely to use their coupons.

Businesses try to place print coupons in publications that appeal to a targeted audience. However, the fact is that the slow, expensive process that takes place between when the initial idea is conceived and the moment the publication gets into potential consumers' hands results in less certainty about where the coupons end up. Unfortunately, that place could be the waste basket.

Your company's resources are valuable, and so are the world's natural resources. Today's consumers appreciate the convenience of mobile coupons, which reach them wherever they are and are more likely to be used, not wasted.

April 18, 2014

How to Create an Intuitive Interface

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When someone refers to an ‘intuitive interface’ they really mean a program that they intuit easily. Computer programs can’t intuit anything. The widespread use of the term reflects an appropriately anthropocentric view of the technology that we did, after all, design and build in the first place. So now we’ve thrown some grist into the pedants’ mill, let’s concede that ‘intuitive interface’ is the commonly understood expression. But what does it refer to, exactly? How can we measure which interfaces feel intuitive to users and which don’t?

The key questions to ask of the people using your interface are:

 

  • What do they already know?
  • What do they need to know?

Imagine someone comes to use your interface for the very first time. If what they already know is all they need to know – job done, your interface is intuitive. If a user doesn’t know all they need to know, but the design helps them without them being aware of receiving any guidance – congratulations, you too have an intuitive interface.

How to Do It

Developing your understanding of what users generally find most intuitive takes a methodical approach to testing. The easier an interface is to use, the more people will use it.

A good example of a popular intuitive interface is Ez Texting’s SMS marketing service. Ez operates on the notion that a mobile marketing campaign should not be difficult. The clue’s in the name, kids. Ez Texting’s software is incredibly simple to use, and avoids any industry jargon or technical language. The choices available will be familiar to anyone who’s ever had an email account; choices like ‘send text message’ and ‘scheduled and sent texts’. 

What Ez Texting have done right is foster a sense of knowing what you need to do as soon as you see the screen. Want to add a new group? Guess what – click the link that says ‘add a new group.’ That’s intuition. It works wonders in terms of keeping people on your site.

How Not to Do It

There are plenty of examples online of decidedly unintuitive interfaces. You’ve probably used one – or at least started to use one before giving up. For an all-time classic intuition fail, we must turn to one of the oldest electronic communication tools there is: the hotel phone.

I’m sure you’ve been there. Sitting in a hotel room, you go to make an outside call and hit ‘9’. Only this hotel felt that ‘5’ would be a much better choice. More original, perhaps, but not the intuitive choice.

The most intuitive interfaces favor familiarity over originality. Just because you have discovered an impeccable logic in doing things in a new way doesn’t mean your users will prefer it. Intuition doesn’t work that way. Improve your understanding of what the majority of people prefer and you are close to creating a truly intuitive interface.

April 14, 2014

Text Marketing: Short Codes Vs. Long Codes

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When employing mobile marketing tactics, one must choose between using long codes and short codes. There are “pro”s and “con”s for each, regardless of which you use for your mobile marketing campaign:

Benefits of Long Codes (Some Questionable)

While long code per message fees are higher, the set-up and monthly costs make them ultimately more affordable. Messages can be sent internationally, and messages and calls can come from the same number. Their most appealing features, though, are also their biggest downfall: because no customer opt-in is required and set-up is quick and easy (due to the lack of a vetting process), abuse of long codes for spamming purposes runs rampant. Long code use over a U.S. carrier network is actually considered stealing because carriers are paid for the right to send texts via their networks.

Drawbacks of Long Codes

In addition to the problems already named above, long codes are hard to remember, don't support video or picture messaging, can't be used for billing, and are limited in speed to the number of messages per second that can be sent. There's also no option to make these free to end users. While short codes include an option to pay the cost up front instead of charging the consumer for use, this is yet another thorny issue that makes long codes problematic. 

However …

What it comes down to it, any message sent to a U.S. long code requires that the parties must be actual people. In theory, therefore, it's conceivable how, in an age when mobile devices are employed in ways once seemingly unimaginable, long codes could be used legitimately for applications involving more personal business exchanges, such as for financial, gaming and dating sites.

Short Code Drawbacks

This is not to say that short codes don't carry their own sets of problems. First, short codes, for some companies, are prohibitively expensive, with set monthly costs hovering around $500. Short codes must be individually activated for each country, as well as approved by each carrier. Short codes also cannot be called.

Short Code Advantages

Just as the assets making long codes convenient also make them problematic, the features making short codes a hassle are simultaneously what they have going for them. First, they require a vetting process that can take weeks – which also means they are less susceptible to spam and thus offer consumers better protection. The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and other regulatory bodies have put consumer protection rules into place requiring companies using short codes to ask permission before making contact. They must provide, in exchange, a certain amount of value. This benefits not only consumers but also businesses, since it establishes a much better rapport with consumers. It also doesn't hurt that businesses can – and do – make this exchange free to end users. Short codes are also more memorable, allow for thousands of messages to be sent per second, and can be used for billing.

The full advantages and disadvantages of short and long codes is a complicated issue, further complicated by the fact that carriers often change their capabilities and rules (as well as the fact that companies lack resources to keep track of – and test – each update).  Short codes, with a few noted exceptions, are the way to go in the U.S., however; and the very miniscule amount of text spam that most of us receive is a true testament to their efficacy.

April 01, 2014

6 Mobile Marketing Tactics That Won’t Get You Sued

 

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Crafting a quality SMS mobile marketing campaign requires ensuring none of the tactics you use will get you sued. Mobile data collection practices, political spam, patent infringement and scam subscriptions are just some examples of the many mobile marketing issues that result in legal trouble. Let’s look at a few surefire ways to avoid such trouble and keep your mobile marketing strategy on the right side of the law:

Get the Permission You Need 

Not everyone has unlimited text messaging, meaning unsolicited text messages can cost up to $0.20 per message. Since this practice results in seriously unhappy potential customers, always obtain formal permission before launching an SMS mobile marketing campaign. Creating a list based off of invoices, contracts and “fish bowls” is not considered “permission.” Opt-in lists are your best bets, and allow customers to subscribe to your company’s alerts, updates and exclusive deals as they wish. The “call to action” must be very clear so customers know exacting what they will be receiving when the sign up.

Remember, Full Disclosure is Key

Full disclosure is highly recommended, as companies often find themselves in proverbial hot water for failing to clearly describe offer terms. Your customers should have a strong sense of what they’re agreeing to when they sign up rather than being surprised by fees and similar issues.

Maintain Records

Maintain detailed records of mobile marketing lists so you know exactly who has opted in...and who has opted out. Keep such lists for at least six months if not more, and update them frequently to avoid getting sued by one or more customers looking to make easy money.

Stop Sending Messages When Customers Opt Out!

When a customer unsubscribes or otherwise opts out of an SMS mobile marketing campaign, it is imperative that you stop sending them messages. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled companies may send one follow-up text verifying customers no longer wish to receive texts, but that is all. This message must be sent within five minutes of the opt-out. Continuing to send marketing and promotional materials can easily result in lawsuits and other legal trouble.

Keep Customer Data Secure

Hackers looking to use your mobile marketing lists can result in a significant number of lawsuits, making it essential that all customer information is protected from unauthorized use. Choosing the right platform and using every available security measure reassures customers that their information is safe, and upholds your reputation as a company who cares about client privacy and security.

Be Careful When Choosing SMS Mobile Marketing Campaign Wording

Another cornerstone to an effective SMS mobile marketing strategy is the right wording. For example, the word “free” should mean just that--the message is free to the end-user (FTEU) with all supported carriers. If this is not the case, this word can result in legal trouble, as unhappy customers will be billed for something they thought wouldn’t cost anything. Avoid misleading customers by using phrases such as “Msg & data rates may apply.”

It makes logical sense that people are going to buy from a company they can trust rather than one that slams them with unsolicited text messages and hidden fees! Keep these tips in mind as part your SMS mobile marketing strategy! Use these and similar mobile marketing tactics to avoid legal issues, maintain relationships with current clients and attract new customers. And remember to always consult an attorney when making final campaign decisions.

 

March 25, 2014

HTC One M8 Goes on Sale in UK

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HTC’s new smartphone went on sale today at several stores in London, ahead of a general release on March 27. International consumers will have to wait until April 11 to get their hands on the device.

The HTC One M8 was officially unveiled just one hour before it became available to shoppers at six Carphone Warehouse and three Phones 4U stores. A few handsets were also released at a press conference in New York.

The HTC One is being heralded as one of the best designs to hit the smartphone market to date. According to a press release published on the T-Mobile website, the HTC One has “the brainpower of a true superphone… [and] stunning hardware design.”

The device has two cameras on the back, allowing photographers to take shots capable of mimicking the depth-of-field control that was once the sole preserve of DSLR machines. Another winning feature is Motion Launch, which lets users quickly deploy their device without having to first unlock it. A phone call can be taken by putting the device to your ear; the camera can be activated simply by upending the phone and hitting the volume button. 

Despite all the bells and whistles, HTC’s new offering faces an uphill battle in terms of marketing. The company aims to make high end products capable of competing with iPhones. To a certain extent, they’ve achieved that with the HTC One, but they lack two key things that Apple has in spades: a fanatic, loyal customer base, and an app store that rules the roost.

That’s not to say HTC doesn’t have potential. For every hardcore Apple fanboy, there’s an open-source devotee who wouldn’t go near an iPhone if their house was burning down. And they’re precisely the same people who care more about design than market ubiquity. In that context, HTC has a place in the hearts of the anti-Apple brigade who don’t want to slum it with a Samsung device.

Whether there are enough of those people out there remains to be seen. In marketing terms, probably not. Few mobile marketing tactics include a pressing urge to reach out to HTC users – and their SMS messaging glitches are documented across the web. But for individual users with a taste for good design, and an antipathy towards good marketing, the HTC One could be the answer.

March 14, 2014

Weekend CTRs Significantly Higher

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Recent research comparing click-through rates (CTRs)  found mobile device users much less likely to click on ads during the week as opposed to the weekend. Findings published on AppFlood claims click-through rates are 30% higher on weekends after analyzing some 300 millionmobile ad impressions in the United States between August and September 2013.

Click volume is reportedly the same on Saturdays and Sundays, beginning around 8am and continuing at a steady rate until about 6pm. Weekday clicks go up once the workday is over, or around 6pm. Click rates on weekdays tend to decrease throughout the evening, but pick back up around 11pm, indicating people are looking at their mobile device screens before bedtime. Differences in mobile and desktop/laptop usage were also evident, with mobile use remaining fairly steady throughout the week and weekend, particularly around 7pm to 9pm on weekdays. Desktop/laptop use is less frequent on weekends, and after 5pm, or commute time, on weekdays.

So why the dip in CTR on weekends with laptops/desktops, but not mobile devices? A possible explanation is people use their laptops all day at work, and can’t even think of going near one on weekends. This eschewing of laptops doesn’t necessarily translate to smartphones, as people generally have their phones on them at all times and use them to look up any number of things, from show times to restaurant directions to answers to common questions. A mobile phone is usually on and ready to use at all times, whereas people have to sit down and turn on a laptop or desktop, which can seem arduous when trying to enjoy the weekend.

An effective mobile marketing strategy is one that researches and utilizes underlying motivators that cause people to click on an ad, read a blog or follow a link. Marketing strategists can therefore use CTR patterns to create engaging campaigns that cater to specific audiences. For example, do people appear to click on a travel company’s vacation ads on Saturdays during the day? Create mobile marketing solutions that cater to such prospective clients. What about those who click on local attraction ads when browsing for fun weekend ideas on a Thursday or Friday night? No matter what the product or service, a mobile marketing strategy must pinpoint its target audience and how best to cater to it.

If you’re a mobile marketing strategist looking to maximize campaign output, review your company’s CTR numbers and create solutions that target your audience at certain times on specific days. Understanding when and why your audience is most active is one of the cornerstones of a successful mobile marketing strategy! Good luck!

 

 

March 10, 2014

iOS vs. Android Users: Who Should Mobile Marketers Target?

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There’s nothing mobile marketers love more than a good scrap about the best operating system. Ever since the first generation Androids and iPhones emerged in 2007, their relative merits have been hotly disputed; you can usually tell which side of the debate a person will be on by the phone in their hand.

Of course, there is no easy answer to the ‘which is best?’ question. So much is subjective, and some Android (or iOS!) devotees will never be persuaded to change their personal preference, no matter how compelling the arguments for doing so are. Broadly speaking, iOS generates more revenue, but Android has a greater market share. Neither of these truths are going to help you create the right mobile marketing strategy.

The very fact that this debate has raged continuously since the smartphone boom took hold is indicative of the complexity of both operating systems. Deciding which device your mobile marketing strategy should focus on requires careful consideration of a whole range of metrics. Let’s take a close look at some of the factors at play:

US Performance

comScore report revealed 133.7 million people in the United States owned a smartphone during the first quarter of 2013. Android was ranked as the top smartphone platform, with 51.7% market share next to Apple’s 38.9%.

Similar results were gleaned from a Kantar Worldpanel Comtech report, which showed Android beating the iPhone by a 9% margin. It’s important to note, however, that the cut and thrust of the smartphone market means these figures are bouncing around on a daily basis.

Plus, device ownership is far from the full story when it comes to iOS vs. Android. Whilst the latter enjoys a greater number of customers, the former generates more money from online commerce. A Black Friday report conducted by IBM showed iOS users spent an average of $127.92 per order, compared to $105.20 spent by Android users. Android users accounted for 11% of ecommerce traffic, next to iPhone and iPad users’ 28.2%. These facts are of more relevance to your mobile marketing strategy than pure ownership.

Worldwide Performance

Phones supporting Android sell significantly better than iPhones in global markets. During the fourth quarter of 2012, Android had a 70% share, compared with 21% for iOS. If your business is global, you should adjust your mobile marketing strategy accordingly as such a marked difference in ownership levels undoubtedly supersedes the greater online spending conducted on Apple’s devices (which remains true internationally).

Tablets

Mobile marketing solutions targeting tablets should always differ from those targeting smartphones, because people use them in different ways. Apple’s iPad outperforms Android tablets and, again, ecommerce revenues are greater for the former.

Apps

According to data collected by Canalys, just over 50% of all app downloads in the first quarter of 2013 were for Android, with iOS taking the lion’s share (40%) of the remainder. What this means for your mobile marketing strategy depends on the type of business you run, so study your market closely. Find out which apps your customers regularly use and, if building your own app, create one for both operating systems.

Web Use

Apple rules the roost in terms of web use, with a 60.1 % share (according to NetMarketShare). Android lags with 24.9%, which, considering there are more Android devices out there, corroborates the evidence for iOS users being significantly more active online.

Overall, it’s important not to draw too many conclusions from the wealth of data on which device performs the best. When devising mobile marketing tactics, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. We’re talking Apples and oranges (or rather, Apples and Androids) – so come up with a separate mobile marketing strategy for each, especially if your business has a global reach.

 

February 27, 2014

4 Reasons Coupons are an Effective Mobile Marketing Tactic

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According to a recent study conducted by ABI Research, 52% of consumers would definitely use mobile coupons for obtaining discounts at local stores. This evidence tallies with the rapid upsurge in smartphone adoption, as consumers become increasingly reliant on mobile devices to help them with every area of their lives.

As smartphone penetration deepens, mobile coupons and other mobile marketing tactics move to the forefront of any well-planned marketing strategy. Some analysts estimate mobile coupons are redeemed ten times as often as traditional paper coupons.

So why are mobile marketing coupons proving so popular with the general public? The answer to that is largely self-evident: paper coupons have been a mainstay of commercial promotion since Coca Cola pioneered their use in the 19th Century – why wouldn’t consumers want all the benefits of a paper coupon stored on their smartphone?

Search guru Gerald Murphy has expanded this idea on his blog, identifying four key reasons why mobile marketing coupons are infinitely preferable to their old paper counterparts:

  1. Convenience. Clearly, mobile coupons serve the convenience of consumers far better than paper coupons, which require consumers to fiddle about with a pair of scissors, diligently chasing those broken lines around 90 degree angles before pocketing the fragile voucher and trundling down to the store. Seriously – who can be bothered? From a marketer’s perspective, digital coupons are much likelier to be redeemed.
  2. Locality. With the emergence of geo-targeting, smartphone owners can be reached only when a coupon is of use to them. They enter a pre-determined zone within a short distance of the store and are immediately hit with an irresistible 50% off coupon. And when you cut out that hit-and-miss bombardment of special offers, focusing only on customer preference, they are much more likely to engage.
  3. Relevancy. Mobile marketing solutions are becoming increasingly sophisticated in terms of identifying personal preferences. Again, this reduces unwanted, spammy offers that are simply tuned out. When consumers are predisposed to ignore ads, they are prone to throwing the baby out with the bathwater, skimming past offers that might actually be of use to them. Coupons geared towards personal preference are now de rigeur for canny businesses with an eye on effective mobile marketing solutions.
  4. Timeliness. Unlike flicking through a magazine for cut-out vouchers, mobile coupons can be timed to reach their audience at a moment when they are most likely to respond and redeem the offer. For customers on the move, it might mean the moment they have entered the locale of a particular store, but it can work just as well for those sitting at home – issue a special offer on pizzas, say, just before lunchtime, and you can capture people in the throes of midday hunger pangs. But timeliness also refers to an awareness of when not to send text and email coupons. The art of maximizing redemption rates for mobile marketing coupons requires a measured, staggered approach.

 

February 20, 2014

Mobile Marketing Tactics for Precision Geo-Targeting

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Location-based marketing, also known as geo-targeting, is becoming one of the most useful weapons in the retail marketing arsenal. The technology allows businesses to contact customers as they enter a certain geographical radius.

As mobile marketing tactics go, geo-targeting is highly successful, with consumers 30-300% more likely to click a geo-targeted ad compared to an untargeted one. This success rate has not been lost on the big brands, 58% of which employed geo-location strategies during the first quarter of 2013 – more than double the 27% of the previous year.

Consumers like geo-targeting because it only gives them in-store offers at times they can actually use them. Businesses are getting ever-more sophisticated in the way they use the technology; many are starting to use micro location-based mobile marketing strategies, whereby customers download an app in-store and receive personalized offers once they enter the store.

So what about the stragglers? If it’s one of the most effective mobile marketing solutions, why aren’t all companies using geo-targeting? Despite the obvious benefits, the complexity of using the technology effectively – and ethically – is beyond the ken of many businesses, especially those who lack the financial clout for high-end tech support. Matching a person’s location to a relevant communication is achieved in a number of ways, and not all of them will be feasible. Let’s take a quick look at the main methodologies used for geo-targeting, and the implications thereof:

  • IP targeting identifies a user’s location based solely on their IP address. This is attractive to marketers as it presents no privacy or legal issues, since it does not require users to opt-in. The individual is not targeted, just the ISP infrastructure within which they are present online.
  • Location-as-a-service solutions (LaaS) are cloud based, using locations according to mobile phone towers. LaaS does require the user to opt in.
  • WiFi triangulation locates mobile devices using the MAC address and nearby wireless hotspots. Not the most accurate or instant form of geo-targeting, it’s unlikely to be taken up as a mobile marketing tactic.
  • User supplied location is information gathered from opted-in users.
  • Cookies are already familiar to most desktop internet users. They don’t necessarily provide accurate information on mobile users, as a cookie may be recorded in one place before the user moves on to another location. Cookies are also frequently deleted by users.
  • Location-based proximity networks are extremely accurate as they generally operate in store and can locate users within 200-900 feet of the point of purchase. This method is favored by big department stores and malls, but they rely on users who have opted in – something which many shoppers refuse to do.
  • GPS is the most accurate of all, providing location information within a few feet of the device. Again, it relies on users opting in to the service.

The usefulness of these mobile marketing tactics depend entirely on the objective of the business, the type of message, the target audience and the required level of engagement. The efficacy of these metrics in terms of user engagement comes down to creative mobile marketing solutions. What’s not in doubt is the potential of geo-targeting as a B2C and B2B mobile marketing strategy – just make sure you use the right method in the right way.