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Mobile Marketers Can Add Meaning to Consumers’ Lives


This time of year is traditionally filled with news stories about what resolutions we should be making for the new year. It’s the time when we all expect to read about giving up old vices and starting on new exercise regimes.

What I didn’t expect this week, however, was to see a mobile marketing-related headline that really spoke to me. It caught my eye because it was something different. It was about bringing “more meaning” to your mobile marketing over the year. Actually, I realised soon enough it was about the 2017 mobile marketing year, but no matter, let’s explore how one brings meaning to what we do as mobile marketers…

Sometimes we forget that what we do is actually quite meaningful. According to Anthony Laredo, writing in, “Mobile technology is changing the way people communicate and consume media.” By changing the way people communicate, we really are having life-changing effects on people. I like to think that by enabling purchasing over mobile devices, we are helping to provide the average consumer with more time to do the things that really matter. Less time spent traveling to, and in, bricks and mortar shops means more time with family, more time engaged in the leisure pursuits that bring us pleasure in our short lives.

So, the short answer is we bring more meaning as mobile marketers by getting better at what we do. This enables mobile-based research and purchasing to be done by the consumer faster and more affordably. And we can get better at what we do by experimenting with ways to connect to consumers meaningfully in this fast-paced, ever-evolving era. Let’s start with 2018 and see how it goes!



Mobile marketing really comes into its own when it can offer mobile users something we all love: a freebie. Back in the good old days of low inflation and high growth that characterised much of the world economy before the shock of the 2007 financial meltdown, consumers took free offers for granted. Today, it’s clear that something’s changed with any hint of a freebie attracting massive interest.

It seems logical then, that by pairing the consumer’s two great loves – cellular and freebies – brands might be able to get one over the competition. Enter USSD.

We’ve mentioned Unstructured Supplementary Data Service, or USSD, before. However, it deserves another mention before another challenging year is up. I recently read an article about just how well this tech went down with mobile users in Kenya where Coca-Cola conducted a very successful mobile marketing campaign of late. A hallmark of the campaign was enabling consumers to browse through a zero-rated USSD menu. “Zero-rated”! Those two words are enough to get any online, mobile or bricks and mortar shopper excited.

Aside from being able to capture the public’s imagination (and eyes and ears) by advertising on traditional media like billboards and on radio that a brand is running a mobile campaign and a large part of it involves free browsing, USSD is a fantastic element to include in mobile campaigns for others reasons too.

For one, it can be accessed by both feature phones and smartphones. Sometimes ad execs in their plush boardrooms forget just who is accessing their campaigns. Feature phones remain huge in Africa and USSD was built before smartphone was even a word. Second, USSD can offer very extensive menu options and sub-menus that can’t be offered using SMS short codes, for example. Finally, while it was a challenge initially educating consumers about how to type in a USSD code with its stars and hashes, today the message has pretty much gotten through and a brand manager would be hard-pressed to find a consumer who had never inputted a USSD code. USSD’s the perfect zero-rated mobile campaign enabler for 2018!


Mobile Does Couponing Best

Does anyone reading this post remember a time when coupons weren’t redeemed on mobile? I distinctly remember quite a number of people back in the day going around with thick little books of coupons all sandwiched together, looking quite valuable to the average Joe. Unfortunately, I also remember that very few of those early paper-based coupons were actually worth anything.

For one thing, they often contained offers for retailers and brands that were simply not available where one actually lived. So the great news is that in 2018, one mobile guru predicts that 80 of coupons will be redeemed on mobile. Mobile-based coupons have a distinct advantage over their old-school counterparts in that they can always be relevant through location-based mobile marketing. In collaboration with a smart mobile marketing specialist, brands can design couponing campaigns that are personalised according to a current or potential customer’s location – and that’s just one personalisation attribute. We can also time coupon offers to coincide with realtime, time-based events. Practically any trigger can be set to deliver a coupon to a customer on their chosen device.

Mobile coupons are particularly useful for SMEs and other smaller firms wanting to build a local following. Thanks to spammers, people have grown to dislike giving away their mobile numbers, but if a trusted local entrepreneur ties mobile database-building to mobile couponing, hey presto, where do we deliver that free pizza?

We’ve mentioned this before, but cellphone numbers of regular clientele are easily collected by on-the-ball business owners who are interested in their bread and butter customers. Coupons delivered to these regulars’ mobile phones via SMS show that the business cares about their regulars. This is also a useful marketing research exercise because the business will be able to see which special offers are, in fact, redeemed. Finally, unlike paper coupons which often get lost, one’s text message in-box is a convenient place to store SMS coupons.

In these tough economic times, couponing really is worth another look and mobile does it best!

Hand holding smartphone with media icons and symbol collection

What tickles our fancy over holidays?

As millions of stressed-out South Africans look towards the rapidly-approaching December holiday season for a brief respite, it’s interesting to note the results of a recent survey by a leading mobile marketing platform in the US. Much of what was determined could easily be applicable to South Africa. Specifically, the comprehensive survey evaluated consumers on their personal holiday shopping habits and preferred mobile holiday experience. Now that’s starting to sound interesting! The survey also questioned global digital marketers, advertisers and app developers on their 2017 mobile holiday preparation and campaign plans. One would think that in this day and age, marketers would be aligning their activities to every whimsical wish of the modern day consumer. Amazingly, there is a chasm between mobile marketers and mobile consumers. This is a direct quote from the findings: “Marketers and advertisers approach mobile purchasing differently than their customers, with 60 percent of businesses preferring in-app purchases for the holidays while only five percent of consumers do. And while 54 percent of consumers say they will watch rewarded video for added holiday perks, only 20 percent of marketers are choosing to include it in their holiday campaigns.” The obvious implication is that if US mobile firms are not going to listen to their customers, we certainly should. And it looks from this research that SA mobile marketers need to double-down on their investment in in-app purchases and rewarded video campaigns. The more detailed results of this research focus heavily on rewarded video and this really seems to be a tool SA marketers need to get moving on. Holidays present huge potential for brands and mobile is the way to reach them, with mobile video the best tactical tool right now. Here’s a final quote from the study results that should move you to get in touch with a mobile specialist like Imaginatrix: “Consumer preference is driving mobile engagement, and its critical brands react with the holiday experiences users want most.”

Black Friday Boosted by Mobile Technology

In the run-up to this past Black Friday, retailers were predicting that it would be one of the busiest on record with mobile marketing being credited for helping to deliver this pre-Christmas sales boost.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that South Africa’s own Black Friday did appear to be extremely busy compared to previous years with much more hype than we’re used to.

Indeed, normally staid local retailers with their historically-mediocre discounts of 10% to 20% really went to town on Friday, 24 November. The Game chain of stores, for one, opened some stores at 12am the Thursday before and this total commitment to the spirit of the Black Friday annual shopping extravaganza went down so well with consumers they broke down the glass doors of the Game store in Cape Town’s Canal Walk.

Things didn’t fare too well with online retailer, Takealot, either with their online shopping platform down for a good number of consecutive hours. News24 described the retailer’s woes as a total “own goal” on what’s become a very important shopping day in South Africa.

But back to the role of mobile this week. The growing importance of mobile in purchasing-based events like Black Friday is supported by figures from Google that show that 70% of customers purchasing in-store used their smart phones for research before the purchase and that mobiles have overtaken desktops and tablets as devices used for e-commerce.

So that’s the encouraging part. Unfortunately, and according to, despite such findings, only 50% of businesses surveyed are currently using even basic mobile tools like SMS marketing as part of their marketing strategies.

Let’s conclude with a brief, very un-marketing-like reference to what Capitec did on Black Friday – this fabulous bank sent out an email to all its customers urging them not to buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have. Brilliant, bold and responsible.



When we step back from the activity-based life most of us lead nowadays, it’s amazing to think that the mobile phone as we know it is scarcely two decades old. And the smartphone, which essentially runs our lives in 2017, is about ten years old.

Cellphones used to be simply about coordinating the meeting up of people at a specific time and place. I remember in the early days of mobile in South Africa where newspaper articles used to wax lyrical about how cellphones enabled executives to call ahead if they were stuck in traffic and late for a meeting. That really was the limit of the device’s usefulness back in the day.

Today, any one of us could reel off a couple dozen or more ways cellphones touch our everyday lives and impact us and those around us for the better. However, while the mobile’s general awesomeness became immediately apparent to those early users of Motorola Star Tacs and so on, it has taken some time for the average business out there to understand how the everyday changes brought about by cellular have transformed the rules for commercial success.

According to Tom Farrell, VP of Marketing at Swrve writing in Mobile Marketing Watch, mobile is not just a change in the way in which we interact and communicate; “it often changes the nature of products or services themselves. We do everything from book trips to play games to sell clothing totally differently than we used to, so the old ways of measuring what makes a product ‘good’ don’t apply anymore.”

The message from Tom and his clever colleagues out there in the developed world is that if you’re still using traditional metrics in the age of mobile, you might be falling behind.

Tom says, “Consider the metric of engagement, or in plain English, the amount of time each specific user spends in your app. More time is better, right? Well…actually, no.”

He believes in many cases it is a very bad thing and if you unthinkingly prioritise an increase in engagement, the chances are that you may be making a grave mistake.

The engagement process into 2018 needs to be as simple, intuitive and quick as possible. Businesses can accomplish this by creating, building and designing for the native mobile audience. To do this, consider partnering with a native mobile specialist!


Location Has An Increasing Role To Play In Mobile Marketing

“There’s always something new out of Africa”. Apparently Pliny said that. I’m not sure if it was the Younger or Elder but that’s not important. What’s important here is that, equally, there’s always something new out of that constantly shifting territory called mobile marketing. As we approach the end of another jam-packed 12 months, the two relatively new mobile marketing watchwords on everyone’s lips are ‘location’ and ‘proximity’. And news here is that the market for location data in mobile is heating up tremendously. According to one source, there was a 170% increase in the number of ad requests containing location data. We’re not sure of the exact context here but statistics like this speak volumes, whatever their context. While this sounds encouraging, many brands, agencies and their clients are unsure exactly what location data can do for them. No one really wants to get into the nitty-gritty of location data. The only thing that should matter to us is what it can be used for. Ease of use also comes into play here. Location data, in a nutshell, can predict consumer behaviour if analysed correctly. Location data can find insights that would otherwise have been hidden to the human eye. Eventually, machine learning will help data providers and brands use the location data they have to go beyond marketing in real-time. We’ll be able to anticipate people’s needs and locations. In conclusion, location should be an important component of any mobile marketer’s toolbox. However, we should be mindful of clients’ needs and work to educate them about the uses and potential pitfalls of using location data in marketing campaigns.  
Technology in the hands of businessmen

Mobile Is More Than A Mere Component of A Marketing Strategy

What is mobile marketing? Ask what seems on the surface to be a simple question to people in the industry and you’ll get a lot of diverse responses. According to, mobile marketing is ‘promotional activity designed for delivery to cell phones, smart phones and other handheld devices, usually as a component of a multi-channel campaign.’ Hmmm. We guess that definition is more accurate than most. However, here at Imaginatrix we’re in the business of using mobile to tie it all together. Of course, mobile can indeed be a component of an overarching marketing campaign, like the folks at have suggested above, but the technology really comes into its own when astute marketers use mobile to tie the classic ‘four Ps’ together (Product, Price, Place, Promotion). Let’s put aside the theory of marketing aside for a moment and look at three real life examples of how mobile technology can link an overarching mobile campaign together: Mobile details like relevant USSD strings, short code numbers and .mobi URLs can be highlighted across campaign elements; from billboards, to radio spots, to print advertising. All current and potential customer interaction can be channeled towards mobile platforms so that cumbersome and outdated forms of communication like ‘Private Bags’ (shock, horror!) and even catch-all, general email addresses (yup!) can be consigned to the scrapheap of marketing history. Directing all campaign feedback towards mobile touchpoints means all other elements of the greater marketing campaign can be tweaked much faster for better overall performance. Essentially, there’s no need to wait for the results of more expensive and lengthier forms of marketing research before campaigns can be adjusted in pursuit of optimum results. In conclusion, saying mobile in today’s connected age is simply a ‘component’ of a multichannel campaign is like saying the Earth is a mere component of life.