June 9, 2010, 4:38 PM

Personal connections through mobile marketing

The 'third screen' is a fertile field for text marketing, say IRCE speakers.

Lead Photo

Eoin Comerford discusses text message marketing at the Internet Retailer Conference.

Mobile marketing drives brand engagement, said Eoin Comerford, vice president of marketing at Moosejaw Mountaineering, a retailer of outdoor and casual apparel. A recent Moosejaw survey showed that engaged customers are 2.7 times more likely to have placed 4 or more orders, he told an audience today at the 2010 Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition.

Moosejaw is known for its innovative and sometimes off-the-wall tactics designed to maintain a digital connection with consumers. Their motto, "Love the madness," has well positioned the company for short and sweet messages to its fan base for sales, giveaways and general silliness. Moosejaw got into mobile communication in 2004 with an order-tracking feature and has expanded its capabilities since then to include mobile transactions.

"We got into mobile because our customer expects it," Comerford said. "The channel has new and unique touch-points. It's more personal than the personal computer—what could be more personal than being in your pocket? Mobile increases personalization of the 'madness' experience."

Comerford warned against inundating consumers with text messages. "Don't overdo it; twice a month is good," Comerford said. That's partly because coaxing mobile phone numbers from consumers isn't easy, and merchants should be wary of killing the golden goose. Retailers also must police themselves or else the federal government could step in, he cautioned.

But the mobile market is enticing, said session co-presenter Rodney Joffe, senior vice president and senior technologist at Neustar Inc., a communications services company.

Mobile marketing gives retailers a highly personal and trackable medium for interacting with consumers, Joffe said. And the future is bright, he said, citing a study by the Personal Finance Education Group that showed a child receives his or her first cell phone at age 8. The so-called "third screen" for information flow has a solid place in the U.S. because common short codes—5- or 6-digit text codes—are the only carrier-approved gateway to connecting with more than 280 million users in this country, he said.

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