Guest Post: Mobile Marketing in Emerging Markets

mobile marketingThe ability to use internet-based mobile apps with Wi-Fi and 3G has opened up a huge amount of opportunities for marketers to communicate with audiences all over the world. In some emerging markets in South America and Africa, however, a lot of options are cut out due to a lack of 3G connectivity. We need to be aware of this when planning mobile campaigns to these areas.

In these “3G blind-spots” you may encounter issues with response rates when looking to use web-based communication to reach out to your audience, who could be in areas with phone signal, but no 3G coverage. Below are 3 areas in which a lack of internet coverage can cause difficulties in communicating with your customers, as well as suggestions for overcoming the problem.

Time-sensitive messaging
Last minute deals; a push on the final few event tickets; selling the last of your stock or alerting customers of an event are all likely to be time-sensitive, so if you are communicating with customers who have a lack of 3G coverage, sending web-based communication could cause problems.

Two options for overcoming this issue are bulk SMS messaging and USSD notifications. USSD notifications (or flash messages) are not as common as SMS but are often used in emerging markets. They pop up on your screen and then disappear without being stored. As we have our mobile phones with us a lot (if not all) of the time, this type of communication can be very time-sensitive, even in areas with low 3G coverage.

Some of your marketing communication may benefit from two-way communication. Using a short-code (a 5-digit number) or a long-code, you can generate a two-way conversation with your customers.


USSD Menus

For communication which requires a more interaction and options, you may often use email or a website, but when there is a lack of internet connection, these may not get good response rates and SMS is sometimes not a suitable alternative.

USSD menus allow your customers to interact with you via a mobile connection and are session based, so you don't need to send messages back and forth. Like USSD notifications, menus are not stored on the user's phone, giving you the options of displaying sensitive information or offering account editing.

Mobile app interaction
If your business creates an app which relies on an internet connection for users to update information, poor 3G coverage may result in a lack of usage in emerging markets. In-app messaging can generate an SMS to notify the users of an update, allowing them to stay up-to-date with the app, even without internet access. It is also possible to enable users to update their information via SMS, allowing for interactivity with the app, even when there is a lack of internet coverage.

Image Credit: Ken Banks via flickr

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