Thursday, May 10, 2012

Picking a Mobile Partner: Would You Let a Surgeon Operate After 4 Months On the Job?

By: Carrie Chitsey

3Seventy booth at NRA 2012 Show
The 3Seventy team just returned from the Food & Beverage industry’s biggest trade show, the 2012 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, IL.  There were thousands of attendees, food samples as far as the eye could see, and master chefs showing off their talents.

However, the biggest thing that everyone was talking about was mobile marketing. From every point-of-sale (POS) system company advertising their new mobile POS, to QR codes for restaurants, text message marketing, and over 20+ loyalty app companies, it is clear that mobile is the next big thing for the food & beverage industry.  However, a few things stood out to me from an implementation point of view:
  1. There is a larger need for education about mobile that needs to take place with restaurant owners. The corporate and larger franchise groups know they need to get there, and have done research on mobile to ask appropriate questions.
  2. The independent restaurant owner isn’t a marketer and struggles with social/email marketing programs. So, for him or her to stay tuned to the newest technologies like mobile is a real struggle. This restaurant owners needs ease of use and results.
  3. A large number of vendors/exhibitors at the show were showcasing technology that wasn’t truly mobile and had not been developed to mobile web or application best practices.
  4. The majority of the QR codes on products, booths, and even show material didn’t go to a mobile website. The majority went to a traditional website and a few went to a responsive mobile website.

There is a large interest in mobile in the restaurant industry, which is a double edge sword. Mobile is projected to generate billions of dollars in a few years and this attracts a lot of opportunists to the space looking to make a quick buck. Before selecting a mobile partner, there are several critical questions you need to ask during the evaluation phase:

  1. Are they using 5-6 digit numbers or 10+ digits numbers? Ask to see an example of their keyword and short code for yourselves. Your text messaging campaigns need to come from a short code (only 5 or 6 digits) and adhere to the proper mobile compliance and regulations.
  2. Does the message have STOP or HELP in it? Does it allow you to reply with either of those words and get a confirmation message back?
  3. Does the partner offer two way messaging? What I mean by this is you text a keyword PIZZA to a keyword 375275 and you get a message back. This message allows you to respond A, B, C, D and when you respond instead of getting a confirmation message (just text back) you receive another question that allows you to again respond to a questions with A, B, C, D again.
  4. How long has the company been in business and what type of clients do they have? You will find a lot of the companies have been in business a very short time and don’t have a good client portfolio on a national level.
  5. Ask the company if they own their SMS platform or if they are merely reselling another company’s technology. Find out about the company that built the technology and research them too.

The bottom line is that, in order to be successful in mobile, you must find a partner with experience, thought leadership and technology ownership in order to build successful campaigns and a long term strategic relationship. After all, you wouldn't pick a surgeon after 4 months on the job, you shouldn't pick your mobile partner that way either. The life or death of your mobile initiative depends on it.

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