A candid view of [integrated] mobile marketing campaigns in Kenya.

This is the first post I have done on this blog after what has been a horrid 2 days. This blog went offline after I attempted to do a routine upgrade, the sort of which I have done many times when a new version of WordPress comes out (which is quite often these days at a time when the likes of the IMF, Sony and Citibank have been routinely hacked lately). However, as I have done on many occasions, I opted to be “lazy” and not do the highly recommended back-up. As an amateur techie, this proved to be a big mistake and it took two days and the help of one of my more “geekie techie” friends (thanks Mike!) to help sort it out. Lets just say the lesson is well learned and I will be 1) less zealous and 2) more cautious the next time I do an upgrade.

So, to get the blogging started this weekend I wanted to share some insights that came my way this week courtesy of a couple of text-based marketing messages I received on my mobile phone. Let me start by saying I do not yet know which, if, any marketing database has my mobile number but clearly it seems one does. I received two messages at different times. One was presumably from Safaricom promoting the Ngwalito Concert that is happening tonight. It was fairly innocuous and contained the ticket prices, the place (being Safaricom House), a mobile number to call and (yes!) even a shortened URL for a promotional web site/landing page. You can see the image of the screen grab above.

Now, when you open the URL in the above screen, here is what you get below. The big deal here is that this web site has been mobile web optimized meaning its easy to read on your mobile phone. It also has more information that is NOT within the text message. It’s a classic case of using mobile marketing channels to reach the mobile phone user, in this case on two distinct channels – SMS and mobile web. This is the sort of mobile marketing execution that will become more and more common in Kenya going forward, as is already the case in many global markets.

However, the reason for this post is that for every excellent case of mobile marketing there are others that are not as good – it’s about avoiding the pitfalls. Enter the other text message I received on the left from Rwandair this afternoon. Rwandair is the national airline for Rwanda, one of the most progressive countries in East Africa. Clearly, with this kind of mobile marketing it shows they are ahead of the curve (Kenya Airways, are you seeing this?). However, for me, a glaring mistake is that they did NOT to include a phone number to call, or an office location? However, they do have a URL for a landing page on their website for “deals” – excellent! Well, its good, the only problem being that it’s not a shortened URL (many URL shortening services today also offer detailed metrics for who actually clicked it and from where in the world so Rwandair could be losing out on serious data insights).

On clicking the Rwandair landing page for their offers above, one arrives to the page on the right. What’s wrong with this picture? This is a mobile marketing campaign that started off with a text message to a known mobile number, which otherwise could not have been delivered. In addition, the sender of the message also inserts a URL for a landing page on their web site for one to “see” what the “deals” on Rwandair are on their mobile phone. Therefore, why is it that the landing page in question has NOT been optimized for the mobile web and one is instead taken to a standard “full-sized” web site that would only run well on a “full-scale” computer. It’s a big glaring mistake in a country where over 50% of 10+ million Internet users go online via their mobile phones – How did this happen? Ironically, this is not the first time I have seen this happen for other similar campaigns – there are many other cases where the mobile marketing web site needs to have also been optimized for mobile web users – it’s really the basics in my opinion.

In concluding, I applaud both Ngwalito/Safaricom and Rwandair on both of these integrated mobile marketing campaigns. This is what needs happen on a broader scale in Kenya and the rest of Africa where we can leverage the most ideal channel to reach customers in a targeted way – all 500+ million of them throughout the continent on their mobile phones. However, as the manner of execution goes to show, small details really do matter. Nevertheless, mobile marketing is getting more and more advanced in Kenya and this goes to show that the future of digital marketing in this region is finally, and, really going mobile.

New addition:

I also came across the campaign below from Elite Computer who are authorized Apple Resellers in Kenya. They too are using a mobile ad network for marketing and this in turn leads to a mobile web landing page. A good effort from them too!

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  1. July 9, 2011 at 6:13 am — Reply

    You are right Moses, being able to access the internet anywhere anytime is very paramount for anyone whose life depends on it. This sort of technology in Kenya will get people to have first hand information updates. Who will need a laptop to carry around? Especially some of us who don’t have cars? Mobile technology will save Kenyans the hustle and serve the required purpose as long as internet marketing is concern. I like your article.

  2. July 9, 2011 at 1:20 pm — Reply

    Hi Moses. We went through the same issue with WordPress and are now back to the blogger. Lost some four years work. Pole for your loss.

    • July 10, 2011 at 5:10 am — Reply

      @paulo. Thanks. Luckily my databases were intact so no content loss. It’s over 4 years worth too.

  3. July 9, 2011 at 1:58 pm — Reply

    Mobile marketing has taken a long time to pick up in Kenya. What was happening before was annoying sms sent to your phone which no one bothered to read.
    Safaricom has the advantage of numbers and has started of well.
    One thing that would be a concern is how Rwandair got your number. Have you used them before? I hope so. If not, regardless of how great the advert, wouldn’t that be considered spamming?

  4. Ngwatilo
    July 27, 2011 at 9:52 pm — Reply

    Hey moses! great to meet you when you spoke at the Creative Enterprise Course last week – I hope some day you come to one of my concerts. They are few and far between but always a completely different experience. On integrated mobile marketing – its just a matter of time for business people to make more intelligent use of this tool. It’s one of the lessons twitter has taught me anyway – passing on the core of a message, plus the details in 160 characters or less. 🙂 It’s what poetry is about anyway I guess! Best.

    • July 28, 2011 at 6:36 am — Reply

      @ngwatilo great meeting you too – I only realised later I had done a blog post on you 🙂 I would love to come to one of your concerts too – keep me posted? Keep up the good work on mobile marketing.

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