Canadian firms win big time with mobile marketing

By adding a mobile social media feature to their overall marketing campaign, two Canadian companies were able to achieve unexpected profits.

A mobile channel was not at the top of the list of Weston Bakeries’ shopping list when it sought to promote its Gadoua multi-grain products in Quebec and Wonder+ breads in English Canada.

However, when B-Street Communications, a Toronto-based marketing firm, added a mobile Web component to the marketing ingredients, Weston Bakeries saw interest in their products shoot up.

“We were trying out a new strategy, so we allocated a large chunk of the budget to traditional channels and a smaller amount to the mobile Web, so as not to scare the executives,” said Phil Barrett, vice-president of digital and mobile at B-Street.

About 70 per cent of the advertising budget was expended on traditional online channels, such as Web sites and online ads.

Twenty per cent was allocated to the then emerging social media channels, such as Facebook, while 10 per cent was used to develop a mobile marketing component and a mobile Web site.

Barrett said it was important for the project to develop a standalone mobile Web site and not a “shrunken version” of the online site to provide users with an inherently unique Web experience.

The result he said was that, there were five times more consumers accessing the mobile Web sites than the other online sites.

The Quebec mobile site for Gadoua was the most popular site in the province for eight weeks — that was days after the marketing campaign.

Yahoo even called up B-Street to tell them the mobile site for Wonder+ was among the “best performing sites” they saw.

Cara Foods Ltd. is another Canadian firm that experienced spectacular results from its mobile marketing campaign, according to Brad Cressman, director of sales and marketing for Mobile Network.

Cara Foods – which owns restaurant chains such as Swiss Chalet, Harveys, Milestones, Kelsey’s, Montana, Coza and Cara Airline Solutions – had an online site but it was not optimized.

Cara brands cooked up more steam on the Web after Mediaedge:cia, a global communications and implementation agency, heated up the company’s mobile strategy.

The changes involved “rethinking” mobile’s role in the overall strategy, Cressman said, by using mobile Web sites to give each Cara brand a unique feel.

The results, he said, included a 175 per cent higher click through rate on the mobile Web sites as compared to other Cara campaigns. About 95 per cent of this traffic was considered “sticky”.

When an online application for the restaurant was launched mobile traffic for the Kelsey brand spiked by as much as 200 per cent.

There were also indications mobile site users who frequented one Cara restaurant tended to try other Cara brands as well, Cressman said.

Referrals between divergent brands were high, and even after the campaign the mobile sites continued to draw traffic.

“The takeaway was clearly that mobile Web sites should part of a mobile strategy. Failing to do so will be a missed opportunity,” Cressman said.

B-Street and Cara exemplify the tremendous power of mobile to drive social media marketing success.

Little wonder then that experts urge firms doing social media marketing to definitely consider a mobile overlay.

It’s a point Deborah Hall made emphatically at the Mobile Marketing Conference organized by the Canadian Marketing Association in Toronto last week.

“More than 100 million users now access Facebook through their cell phones,” noted Hall, managing director of web2mobile , a Toronto-based firm that uses mobile applications and Web sites to connect clients to new audiences.

Recent research also indicates that mobile social net users are “nearly twice as active” as their desktop counterparts, she noted.

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According to Hall, businesses simply can afford to ignore the opportunity mobile offers.

Hall’s observations are borne out by recent data on U.S. mobile users culled by comScore Inc., a digital media monitoring and survey firm.

It reveals that the number of people accessing social networking sites via mobile devices appears to be growing faster than those who access them using computers.

In 2008, around 18 million people accessed sites such as Facebook and MySpace through their PC’s, while around 8 million accessed the same sites through their mobile phones, noted Bryan Segal, vice-president of comScore, who also spoke at the conference.

But last year, social net users for both channels (PCs and mobile) were tied at 60 million, Segal said in a presentation titled Mobile State of the Nation.

While these numbers are from comScore’s U.S. survey, Segal says the situation in Canada is likely to be very similar.

“One thing is clear — mobile [social net access] is breaking away.”

Mobile social net enablers

Segal cited three main drivers of mobile social net adoption.

New smart phone devices – Users can’t get enough of sleek and sexy powerful mobile devices such as Apple’s iPhone, Research in Motion’s various BlackBerry models, and even the new Adroid phones.

Mobile phones are no longer just for calling, Segal noted.

The top five smart phone uses for consumers are: games, e-mail, instant messaging, weather check and social networking. Phone calls did not even make it to top 10, according to comScore.

Fun and useful apps – Users love the flexibility of new cell phones and now manufacturers and quite a few companies are serving up fun and useful mobile applications that entertain users and make them more productive.

All-you-can eat data plans – More than 21 per cent of mobile phone users in the U.S. are now on unlimited data plans. This, Segal says, is the “de facto market enabler.”

To realize the maximum use of their phone’s capabilities, many U.S. users are willing to shell out $100 a month for unlimited data plans.

Segal rued that similar plans in Canada are more expensive.

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