As young people are for the most part surgically attached to their cell phones, it makes sense to engage them via mobile. This makes mobile an attractive proposition for many sectors, but particularly for the charitable sector that had previously struggled to connect with this demographic and for the education sector where the target audience is mostly young people. However, it is only recently that either sector began to wake up to the potential. And mobiThinking has been introduced to two great examples of organizations that are leading the way on mobile engagement, one in each sector – both of whom have shared their vision for mobile.
• Donald McLeod, head of marketing services, University of Hertfordshire – the first university in the UK to launch a full mobile Website at: UHerts.mobi
• Gerhard Guenther, CEO and co-founder, Digitalsunray Media, Austria, which ran a powerful mobile and social media campaign for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
• Both experts will be speaking at the mobileSQUARED Roadshow in London, on September 29, 2010 (mobiThinking readers get a 25 percent discount this event).
The University of Hertfordshire (UH) launched its mobile site in early 2010. Donald McLeod believes this to be the mobile site launched by any UK university – well, the first that’s more than just a single page.
To date UHerts.mobi has delivered a very respectable 17,000 visits. The site includes details of all courses, fees, accommodation, term times and extra information for international students, such as timetables of when University staff will be visiting different countries. One of the primary motives for the site was to target prospective students overseas, in particular those young people in nations where PC Internet/fixed broadband is less prevalent, for example, in African countries such as Nigeria.
The mobile site was promoted by adding quick response (QR) codes to the prospectus – QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes that take the mobile user directly to the site when the image is captured on a compatible camera phone.
Also, in the UK, the mobile site was promoted using the opt-in targeted mobile marketing service run by Blyk over the Orange mobile network, which delivered a 7.5 percent response rate. The University had also been interested in the mobile marketing service run by rival UK network O2, but apparently the representative failed to show up for the meeting.
UH is currently developing phase two of UHerts.mobi, which will be more dynamic.
The University is also planning to expand how it uses SMS to interact with students. Today UH sends prospective students a text near exam-results time, but the University is planning to integrate SMS more tightly into student recruitment plans.
While today mobile is being used by UH as a marketing tool for student recruitment, in the future McLeod sees mobile playing a multifaceted role all most areas of education including:
• Teaching and learning
mobiThinking on mobile + education: considering the huge popularity of mobile with young people, we find it surprising that all educational establishments have not started engaging their target audience via mobile. While we’re impressed by the UH’s use of mobile as a marketing/student recruitment tool, this is the tip of the iceberg.
Remote or m-learning is an area of huge potential, particularly in countries such as Nigeria, where UH is using mobile to recruit students. In developing countries where the penetration of fixed broadband is low and/or many people live in rural areas, the potential for m-learning to help bridge the digital divide is compelling. So much so, it’s surprising there isn’t more philanthropic activity in this space.
The charitable sector is probably better known for its use of mobile – but this has been focused predominantly on collecting contributions via SMS, i.e. text your donation using a keyword e.g. “Haiti” to a four or five digit short-code number.
This practice of SMS donations isn’t new, but has snowballed in past year or so, with the American Red Cross raising 25 percent of all donations to the Haiti earthquake relief campaign via mobile.
This is great, but we’d also like to see charities using mobile as a marketing and engagement tool, particularly to reach the youth market, that’s why mobiThinking liked the look of this campaign by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or Ärzte ohne Grenzen (ÄoG) as they are know in Austria.
ÄoG ran a cross-media campaign – mobile, online, TV and outdoor – from late 2009. The mobile site invites people to fill in a virtual donation box, by adding various medical relief supplies to their medical parcel (shopping cart) – e.g. €5.00 (US $6.53) will buy a meningitis vaccination for 10 children or €10.00 (US $13.07) will buy malaria treatment for 5 people. The total donation is confirmed by SMS (though there are plans to make billing more integrated with the mobile site once respective payment solutions are available across all operator platforms).
Donors are then encouraged to invite their friends to add more aid to the medical parcel, by using send-to-a-friend or (automatically) posting the invitation on Facebook, all adding to the viral element of the campaign. MSF is considering rolling this campaign out to other countries.
Asked about the potential mobile offers to charities, Gerhard Guenther of Digitalsunray Media – the agency that ran the campaign for MSF, told mobiThinking:
“The idea behind this campaign for ÄoG was a playful approach to one of the most sensitive topics in our days: aid to people in need.
Given the number of all catastrophes and wars all over the globe, charities/NGOs have an ongoing requirement to raise as much awareness and funds for their activities and projects. NGOs need to spread the word to as many people as possible. Digital media and mobile specifically is one of the most widely spread and effective means of direct communication with your target group. Additionally mobile enables direct billing for quick transactions.
Furthermore social networking has become even more popular now with social networks easily accessible via mobile, allowing people to stay in contact with friends and families whenever and wherever they like. This is why mobile is the perfect means for charities/NGOs to spread their mission.
Moreover, the mobile medium is heavily used by young people, enabling charities to tap a group that previously was very hard to reach. Furthermore this new target group posts messages, sends SMS/MMS, updates their status messages, twitters, etc all day long, thus creating a huge viral impact.
Our campaign for ÄoG combined all those elements thus guaranteeing the uniqueness and success.”
mobiThinking on mobile + charity: The MSF campaign adds that extra level of sophistication and the viral element that is missing from the usual text-2-donate campaigns. With influencers such as Ogilvy’s Rory Sutherland telling audiences for over a year that young people go from being low to generous contributors to charitable causes when engaged through the medium of their choice, i.e. mobile, mobiThinking had been expecting charities to mobilize more quickly. Also the efforts of US President Obama’s team to encourage opt-in subscribers to his SMS alerts to donate to relief efforts, should have underlined to charities mobile’s massive viral impact.
mobiThinking has watched with interest the millions of people that now donate via SMS, and wonders what proportion of these donors receive a thank you/confirmation text inviting them to opt-in for future communication via SMS; or if the confirmation contained a link to take them to the mobile site, where they can get the latest news on the relief effort and sign up for future communications?
A quick search suggests that many NGOs do not have mobile sites – exceptions include WWF.mobi and Greenpeaceuk.mobi. Also charity mobile sites often tend to be at a fairly early stage, rarely including the possibility of make a donation even.
On the marketing/awareness side, one campaign stands out in particular for its cutting-edge use of mobile. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) China used augmented reality to get the message across to China’s urban youth about habitat depletion, by superimposing a virtual reality bear upon – and interacting with – the real world environment as seen through the phone’s camera. See the WWF video.
• Guide to mobile agencies
• Guide to mobile industry awards
• Guide to mobile ad networks
• Global mobile stats: all latest quality research on mobile Web and marketing in one place
• The insiders' guides to mobile Web marketing:
Japan, Canada, USA, Germany, UK, India, Australia, Spain, South Africa, Brazil
• Conferences & awards for mobile marketers, with offers
• mobiThinking’s page of essential links