The mobile phone is 39 years old. The first text message was sent in 1992. It’s been part of the mix for a good while. And since I started out in digital 12 years ago, I think every year has been dubbed the “Year of the Mobile”. But there’s no denying, with the leaps in technology and bandwidth, phones will soon be able to do everything our computers can, only faster.
With that comes a change in attitude. They keep us permanently switched on, make us impulsive and ready to interact at the drop of a hat. The average UK consumer now sends 50 texts per week – which has more than doubled in four years – with over 150 billion text messages sent in 2011. Almost ninety minutes per week is spent using a mobile to access the internet. And for the first time ever there’s been a drop in phone calls being made on both fixed and mobile phones.
As a result our media consumption is no longer linear. We’re on social networks whilst watching TV, texting whilst reading a magazine, checking emails whilst in meetings. And how much we hang out with our mobile varies as the day goes by. Global research by Ericsson’s ConsumerLab showed that we’re already on it whilst in bed, ramp it up on the commute then stay consistent throughout the day, drop down during dinner, then back up again in the evening before retiring for the night with it. Indeed apparently 35% of people fire up apps before they’ve even got out of bed, 39% use it in the loo (and that’s just those who admit it!), 33% while watching TV, 22% while reading the newspaper and 70% whilst shopping.
From recruitment to retention and upgrade, our strategies should be taking greater advantage of this behaviour.
Mobile search is up 400% since 2010, according to Google, and half of those who see a mobile ad take an action (particularly impressive when compared to the 0.06% average click rate online display gets). But where things get really interesting is how mobile interacts with other forms of advertising. 51% of mobile users have done a mobile search after seeing a TV ad, 41% after looking at a print ad, and 34% after spotting a poster or billboard. And that’s reflected in fundraising. TV response channels have shifted since 2007, with text up 100% and online up 62%.
Marketing is all very well but what are we getting them to do once they reach us?
From the removal of VAT in 2009 to network charge reductions and innovations (such as Cymba’s regular giving product, Connected) text donations are establishing themselves firmly in the fundraising canon. Back in 2009 nfpSynergy predicted that by 2014 £96 million a year could be raised by text. That felt ambitious. Then Comic Relief raised £15 million by text. On the night 225,000 people made an online donation, 750,000 people called and 4.3 million made a text donation. But mobile is about more than cash donations. Cymba’s data shows that conversion rates to regular giving are 8 – 20%. Their research shows that those who give more on the initial text cash ask and are contacted relatively quickly are the most likely to convert to committed giving. With the revolution in other mobile payment formats (contactless payments, phone to phone money transfers) our digital wallets can only add more to cash and regular giving.
More than two-thirds (64%) of smartphone owners are now using their mobile to shop online, a number that had quadrupled in just two years. How mobile friendly are our ecommerce and virtual giving pages? Can our supporters pay quickly in a matter of clicks using, say, PayPal or by text? What about a text “thank you” or a text to the receiver sharing the gift?
Telethons like Comic Relief show the potential of mobile as a donation tool. But beyond getting your participants to give on the day, mobile – be that via SMS, MMS or social networks – is a quick way to promote your event and generate interest. Make your online registration fully compatible and the entire recruitment process is mobile. Then there’s the potential of using location apps such as Foursquare as an integral part of your whole event.
Putting the power literally in the hands of the user, mobile apps, as demonstrated by the likes of One.org and Amnesty, are a potentially powerful advocacy tool. Apps allow you to create a rich experience for your supporters, with direct links to petitions, tools to contact policy makers and so on. But we can keep it simple too, with SMS and MMS campaign alerts, or a text to pledge. Like an X Factor vote but more life changing.
Our supporter journeys are where the Martini effect really kicks in. We can deliver extraordinarily rich content directly – and quickly – through the channel people used to engage with us.
Social networking is one of the biggest uses of mobile, with an estimated 30% of everything posted to Facebook and 40% posted to Twitter coming from mobiles. But beyond that, there’s the exponential rise of tools like Instagram for photo sharing, tools that give us the chance to bring supporters closer to causes with live updates from the field. Or we could use SMS and MMS to the same effect (after all there’s as much space to talk in a text as a tweet). 98% of text messages are opened, and 91% of those within an hour. And according to Google’s research, smartphone users are avid video watchers: 64% do it, 10% at least once a day.
The average smartphone user will visit up to 24 per day. But poor experiences are common – 83% claim to have experienced a problem buying something on a mobile site. Mobile traffic to websites is typically 10 -12% (though we’ve seen much more than that, particularly with healthcare charities) yet the majority of charity websites are not mobile enabled. Developing things in responsive design http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsive_Web_Design means your site will be accessible to users on any screen, be that the myriad of smartphones and tablet sizes or laptops and desktops.
The mobile phone is a rich source of revenue and a powerful retention tool. It’s the one thing we always have on us. It’s democratic, it’s spontaneous, it’s intimate. And with smartphone ownership growing, it’s a whole multi-media platform on its own. But mobile shouldn’t be seen as a stand-alone channel. It’s been around a long time, it’s here to stay, but it’s not the sudden saviour. Mobile truly comes into its own when it’s fully optimised as part of an integrated strategy. To that end we’re delighted to announce that we are now working with Cymba, the UK’s leading and most experienced mobile marketing provider, as our preferred supplier, to enhance our strategic and creative mobile offering. To keep that Martini analogy flowing: mobile is “the right one” to tie together our fundraising and communications campaigns.
A quick post script for all of you younger than me: here’s a particularly classic example of that ad campaign:
She’s our Head of Digital. Usually found online somewhere, rather fond of the real world too.