A5 Outbound Mobile Marketing


Part of a series of Top 10 Branding/Pre-Sales Mobile Marketing Strategies

Outbound Mobile Marketing involves obtaining opt‑in permission from customers and prospects and then proactively reaching out to them. This is also referred to as push marketing.  There are many different platforms that can be used to send out push notifications including SMS text, e-mail, in-app notifications, Apple Passport notifications, Twitter and social media messages.

Outbound marketing may be even more powerful than your Inbound mobile website and/or app strategy because you have more control over the frequency of communications and resulting brand impact. In fact, many apps only get used once or a few times for a few minutes and then never used again; not a great formula for long‑term success.

To create a successful outbound strategy, organizations must totally change their mindset from blasting messages to everyone on their list, to personalized messages tailored to individuals at the right place, in the right context, at the right time and for the right purpose. Furthermore, the term right, means right for the customer, not just right for the organization trying to sell something. It could be a timely reminder of something, a discount for something important, a valuable piece of information, etc.

Push notifications can be especially effective if they are customized to each individual and leverage the phone’s sensor input capabilities (e.g., GPS). Think of the power of receiving a smartphone coupon for Pampers® diapers, but only if you have a baby, and only when you are standing in the diaper isle at Walmart. Very powerful.

But more than any other strategy discussed in this book, a push notification strategy also carries the biggest risk of annoying customers and hurting your brand. Proceed with caution: opt-in is mandatory; simple opt-out is critical; transparency of the frequency and nature of the notification is important; and moderation is key.

The frequency of push notifications must not be overwhelming, but it really depends on their purpose. For example, most people would not typically want frequent notifications, but on the other hand, may be perfectly happy with frequent notifications from a fitness service such as Fitocracy to remind them to work out every day. Also, consider a quiet time so that you do not wake up customers with text messages or app alerts in the middle of the night.

The key is providing value for customers – not just focusing on blatant sales. Not only is it important to follow this advice, but Apple’s guidelines actually stipulate that “apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.”[i]

Learn from what’s working and adjust your strategy accordingly. When creating your outbound marketing strategy, consider the push method that is likely going to be the most effective to reach your target market. To help you prioritize your outbound marketing strategies, I have created the Outbound Mobile Marketing Impact Scale.sm This scale varies considerably based upon your country, target market (e.g., B2C vs. B2B, age, etc.), marketing objectives and the price/margin characteristics of your offering.

The Outbound Mobile Marketing Impact Scale is being presented here as a point of reference; you must determine which outbound method will work best for you. For example, LinkedIn may have a big impact reaching a business audience, but much less impact reaching a consumer audience. A personal voice call may be ideal for a high‑priced B2B item, but less practical for a low‑priced B2C item.[1]

It’s interesting to note however, that technology is enabling personalized voice conversations, even for many lower priced items. For example, some McDonald’s restaurants have outsourced their drive-thru order-taking function. When you drive up and place your order, you might actually be talking to someone at the other side of the country or on another continent. The completed order is then electronically transmitted to the pickup window.

Retailers are even experimenting with wireless speaker-equipped shopping carts that could instantly connect a customer with a call centre for shopping advice (e.g., find out which aisle a particular product is located in).[ii] The cost of this level of personalized support could be reduced by actually connecting customers with a remote call centre, anywhere from Bangalore, India to Halifax, Canada.

The following two impact scales consider the differences between the B2C and B2B markets. Both scales should also be viewed in the context of the sales cycle: branding, presales, closing the sale, executing m-commerce transactions and providing customer support. For example, a costly phone conversation may not make sense in the early branding stages, but could be critical during the commerce transaction phase. Strategies that have bigger potential for making a difference are listed higher on the Impact Scale.

The Outbound Mobile Marketing Impact Scale

The B2B Outbound

Impact Scale

The B2C Outbound

Impact Scale

  1. Phone calls (i.e., voice)
  2. SMS text messages
  3. App alerts
  4. E‑mail messages
  5. LinkedIn messages
  6. Twitter tweets
  7. Facebook messages
 SCALE
  1. SMS text messages
  2. App alerts
  3. E‑mail messages to an adult audience
  4. Facebook messages
  5. Twitter tweets
  6. Phone calls (i.e., voice)
  7. E‑mail messages to a teen audience
  8. LinkedIn messages

Figure 32: The Outbound Mobile Marketing Impact Scale

The Outbound Mobile Marketing Impact Scale highlights the potential effectiveness of various proactive push mobile marketing approaches. SMS text marketing and alerts directly from mobile apps can be powerful approaches for reaching customers and prospects. Phone calls score high for B2B markets and high‑priced items. E‑mail marketing can reach both B2C and B2B markets, but its effectiveness depends upon the demographics of the market you are targeting. The key is determining which approaches make most sense for your organization.

Instant messaging has some interesting potential but a significant disadvantage – it requires knowledgeable employees able to engage in real‑time chat conversations with customers. An SMS text or e‑mail message however, can be sent to thousands of people at once.

As well, consider that posting to Facebook walls or tweeting may have much less impact than direct messages to friends and followers. For example, your Twitter impact may be greater by sending direct messages to followers, rather than public tweets that many followers are likely to miss. Let’s delve into SMS text and e‑mail marketing strategies in more detail.

SMS Text Marketing

An SMS text campaign can be one of the most powerful outbound marketing strategies because of the priority that people place on incoming text messages as well as the ubiquity of SMS.

There are a number of interesting facts about text messaging that support its potential importance as part of the marketing mix.

  • Over five billion smartphones and feature phones globally can send and receive SMS text messages.[iii]
  • Four trillion SMS messages were sent globally in the past year.[iv]
  • One and a half trillion texts were sent in America last year (tripled in four years).[v]
  • “18 to 34‑year‑olds now use text messaging (58 percent) as often as their mobile device’s telephone feature (55 percent).”[vi]
  • About 97 percent of text messages are opened.[vii]
  • 90 percent of text messages are opened within three minutes.[viii]
  • Many text messages get read often mere seconds after they are sent.
  • About 70 million Americans are frequent text users.
  • By 2016, usage of SMS text and mobile instant messaging apps is expected to triple.[ix]

Celebrity Cruises sends weekly text messages to opt‑in customers to encourage them to purchase a summer cruise deal, a simple example of text marketing.[x] Coca‑Cola understands the power of SMS marketing, dedicating 70 percent of its mobile marketing budget to this area versus just 20 percent to mobile web and ten percent to apps.[xi]

Politicians are even using text marketing campaigns to drive voter turnout and engage people in their election campaigns.[xii] But the future of these campaigns is even more interesting. Imagine the ability to send out a mobile political message on Election Day at the exact moment that a voter has entered within range of their polling station. Talk about the ability to deliver a message at the exact moment someone is about to make a purchase decision.[2]

A variation of an SMS text marketing campaign could be a live interactive instant messaging conversation with a customer. This has some interesting marketing potential but also has a significant disadvantage – it requires a knowledgeable employee able to engage in a chat conversation. Contrast that with an SMS text message which can be sent to thousands of people at once. Alternatively, an automated text message could be sent to a single customer once certain criteria have been met. For example, SMS text messages could be programmed to automatically be sent to customers on a particular date (e.g., their birthdates) or when they come with a certain distance from your retail store.

SMS Text Marketing Best Practices

  •       Consider a wide range of uses for SMS: discount coupons, commerce transactions, appointment reminders, delivery notifications, etc.
  •       Be sensitive to when your push notifications go out – some people actually sleep with their phone right beside them and your text message could wake them up – not good.
  •       Ensure that customers have agreed to opt in to receive your communications and coupons.
  •       Integrate your SMS text strategy with your web and app strategy.
  •       Ensure you are addressing your customer’s “What’s in it for me?” factor.
  •       Track the ROI of each of your campaigns.
  •      Conduct analytics to better understand what worked and what didn’t work and adjust your strategy accordingly.[xiii]

SMS TEXT MARKETING OVERVIEWWatch the Video: SMS Text Marketing Overview: General overview of the importance of SMS text marketing.[xiv] <goo.gl/nkqcn> (Duration: four minutes)

QR SUMOTEXTWatch the Video: SMS Text Marketing Scenario: SMS text marketing retail scenario with SumoText.[xv] <goo.gl/x8hEH> (Duration: four minutes)

QR RESTAURANTS MARKETINGWatch the Video: SMS Text Marketing – Restaurants: SMS text marketing can be a very effective way to reach out to your customers, especially for deals to drive instant traffic. Watch how restaurants are successfully using this strategy.[xvi] <goo.gl/uwmXJ> (Duration: four minutes)

E‑Mail Marketing

An outbound mobile e‑mail approach is also a very viable marketing strategy; especially if you are targeting an older demographic that is still very much inclined to using e‑mail. In fact, e‑mail open rates have increased in the past year. One important aspect of a mobile e‑mail marketing strategy is that you must consider the differences between receiving e‑mail on a mobile device vs. more traditional desktop or laptop environments.

Consider the use of e‑mails that are triggered by a customer’s action since they are 75 percent more likely to be opened and over 100 percent more likely to generate a click-through to other content. “Triggered e‑mails include welcome, thank you, abandoned shopping cart, anniversary, birthday, purchase confirmation and saved cart.”[xvii]

Mobile E‑Mail Marketing Best Practices

  •       Select a comprehensive, secure e‑mail publishing platform to manage your e‑mail subscription lists, newsletters, content for your autoresponders, social media integration, etc. (e.g., MailChimp, AWeber).[xviii]
  •       Double or triple the click-through rates on your e‑mail marketing campaigns by sending them from six to eight pm or after midnight.[xix]
  •       Ensure that customers have agreed to opt in to receive your communications.
  •       Follow up every abandoned shopping cart with an e‑mail to trigger a purchase transaction.

E-Mail Marketing Best PracticesWatch the Video: E-Mail Marketing Best Practices: Overview of e-mail marketing best practices.[xx] <goo.gl/SRIkG> (Duration: three minutes)

Personalized Marketing Communications Through Analytics

Personalizing mobile marketing messages can be a powerful way to build customer loyalty. It’s also a great alternative to offering price discounts and coupons. While many companies focus on distributing mobile discount coupons, more savvy retailers will send a mobile message about a new pair of “peep‑toe shoes that match perfectly with the cocktail dress you bought last week.”[xxi] Effectively executing this strategy requires sound data mining, market segmentation and personalized mobile campaign strategies.

Mobile Outbound Communication Best Practices

  •       Be opt‑in.
  •       Be net and to the point.
  •       Be consistent with your brand.
  •       Create and communicate your privacy policy.
  •       Don’t overwhelm the user with too many messages.
  •       Be tailored to your customer’s preferences and actions.
  •       Be designed correctly with good readability on multiple mobile devices.
  •       Absolutely ensure that your links point to mobile-optimized content rather than a website that must be pinched to zoom.

Outbound Mobile Marketing Best Practices

  •       Delight your customer with each interaction – each interruption is an opportunity for them to decide if they want to opt out.
  •       Select content and offers that address your customer’s “What’s in it for me?” factor.
  •       Make a persuasive and compelling call to action such as a deep discount, contest, new product launch, special event or freebie.
  •       Use micro segmentation or one-on-one personalization strategies rather than sending the same content, messages and offers to everyone.
  •       Combine customer behavior analytics from different sources to create a single view of your customer – from the web, in‑store, e‑commerce, mobile and even social media analytics.
  •       Integrate with social media to reach more people and achieve viral impact.
  •       Provide an incentive for customers to share your message with their friends, family and social network.
  •       Provide customers with complete control over the type and frequency of the information they receive – allowing them to select the specific city as well as categories of products they are interested in makes it more relevant to them.
  •       Use location-based information to make your outbound notifications even more compelling.
  •       Use analytics to target customers (e.g., a product offer that addresses a new customer need such as pregnancy-related products).
  •       Use analytics to make your targeted outbound marketing strategies even more powerful such as an accessory offer that matches a previous purchase (e.g., “a shoe retailer who has captured its best customers’ shoe sizes and favorite colors and then uses mobile to push that information to a female customer’s husband before Mother’s Day”).[xxii]
  •       Use A‑B testing for almost everything you do and dynamically react to learnings.[3]
  •      Track all campaign results including ROI, click-through rates, opt‑outs, sales, etc.[xxiii]

Challenge Questions

Outbound Marketing Strategies: What type of outbound marketing strategies could you apply to your business? What approach could you take to provide value to your customers to get them engaged with you for the long term?


[1] Most countries have Do Not Call (DNC) legislation in place. Ensure that you obey the DNC laws in all countries you are operating in.

[2] In many countries, advertising is not actually allowed on Election Day, so this may not be possible. However, other options may exist, such as supporters offering rides to other voters to encourage them to vote.

[3] A-B testing is the process of simultaneously making two different offers, measuring the results and then adopting the strategies that are more effective. Ongoing A-B testing can be used to continually improve your marketing impact and effectiveness.


[i] “App Store Review Guidelines.” Apple. Accessed February 1, 2013. http://maniacdev.com/2011/05/tutorial-ios-push-notification-services-for-beginners/.

[ii] Matt Richtel. “The Long-Distance Journey of a Fast-Food Order.” The New York Times. April 11, 2006. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/11/technology/11fast.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.

[iii] Rimma Kats. “Paramount Pictures targets movie-goers with SMS campaign.” Mobile Marketer. June 25, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/messaging/13172.html.

[iv] Chantal Tode. “Coca-Cola SMS-enabled vending machine changing future of mobile payments.” Mobile Marketer. June 17, 2011. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/commerce/10231.html.

[v] “iZigg Mobile Marketing at it’s (sic) BEST!” YouTube. Uploaded by j3solutionsrock on June 26, 2010. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1bRj7JxOQI.

[vi] “Newad reveals the results of a pan-Canadian survey on the habits of 18-to-34 year-old adults.” NewAd. July 6, 2011. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.newad.com/140-presse-room/newad-reveals-the-results-of-a-pan-canadian-survey-on-the-habits-of-18-to-34-year-old-adults.html.

[vii] Gene Sigalov. “Fast Fingers: When It Comes to Marketing, Text Trumps Email.” The Small Business Playbook. Accessed December 24, 2012. http://www.thesmallbusinessplaybook.com/fast-fingers-when-it-comes-to-marketing-text-trumps-email/.

[viii] “Conversational Advertising.” MobileSquared. June, 2010. Accessed December 24, 2012. http://www.mobilesquared.co.uk/pdfs/singlepoint_june2011.pdf.

[ix] Lauren Johnson. “Mobile instant messaging usage expected to triple by 2016: study.” Mobile Marketer. June 22, 2011. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/research/10266.html.

[x] Tricia Carr. “How luxury brands can trigger mcommerce during summer sales.” Luxury Daily. June 22, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.luxurydaily.com/how-luxury-brands-can-trigger-mcommerce-during-summer-sales/.

[xi] Steven van Zanen. “Making the case for SMS marketing over email.“ Mobile Marketer. July 18, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/opinion/columns/13323.html.

[xii] Chantal Tode. “Romney campaign elects mobile to drive voter turnout.” Mobile Marketer. January 11, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/advertising/11866.html.

[xiii] Steven van Zanen. “Making the case for SMS marketing over email.“ Mobile Marketer. July 18, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/opinion/columns/13323.html.

[xiv] “Inbound Mobile Marketing.” YouTube. Uploaded by BizInApp on July 1, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://goo.gl/nkqcn or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nxYhWuUPE4.

[xv] “SMS Marketing – SUMOTEXT.” YouTube. Uploaded by sumotext on March 4, 2011. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://goo.gl/x8hEH or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGYA8H5XgLs.

[xvi] “How Restaurants Make Money Using Text Message Marketing – iZigg Mobile Media Marketing.” YouTube. Uploaded by MobileMediaMktg on October 24, 2010. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://goo.gl/uwmXJ or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJ_BrYKbsVs.

[xvii] Rachel Lamb. “Email abandonment rate up for lack of mobile-optimization: study.” Luxury Daily. June 25, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.luxurydaily.com/email-abandonment-rate-up-for-lack-of-mobile-optimization-study/.

[xviii] “Email Marketing Software.” AWeber Communications. Accessed December 24, 2012. http://www.aweber.com/?411508 Disclaimer/disclosure: This if my affiliate link. (Note: Other free email management software is available, but often doesn’t include features such as autoresponders to automatically reply to subscriber queries. Do your research.)

[xix] “Email Open, Click Rates Seen Lowest During Work Hours.” MarketingCharts. July 25, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.marketingcharts.com/direct/email-open-click-rates-seen-lowest-during-work-hours-22731/mailermailer-email-click-rates-by-time-scheduled-in-2011-july2012png/.

[xx] “Internet Marketing Boston – eMail Best Practices.” YouTube. Uploaded by billenross on April 11, 2011. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://goo.gl/SRIkG or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CHRKItIQ-s.

[xxi] “Get ready for considerably higher mobile marketing budgets in 2012.” Mobile Marketer. January 13, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/strategy/11886.html.

[xxii] Dan Taylor. “Why A/B testing is essential to your startup’s campaigns.” The Next Web. August 4, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://thenextweb.com/entrepreneur/2012/08/04/why-ab-testing-is-essential-to-your-startups-campaigns/.

[xxiii] Dan Gesser. “Smart push notifications make for smarter mobile marketing.” Mobile Marketer. June 20, 2012. Accessed November 4, 2012. http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/opinion/columns/13129.html

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