You don’t give out your phone number to just anyone. Oh, I fondly remember these days in college pretending to be Jessica and giving out a fake number…
Back to the point. I’m letting you in my personal space. I know it means much more than giving out my Twitter handle. With 130.8 million smartphones active today, it’s not a jaw dropper SMS/MMS is becoming a more intimate channel people depend on to develop relationships. I was a guest on mobilechat Wednesday night chatting social, personal and client relationships on mobile (see the storify for the goods) but today I want to elaborate on a new trend: brand and consumer mobile relationships and I’ve got just the right brand to use as an example: I present you Engage by Eview!
Their site sums it up nicely: “Engage is groundbreaking software that allows mobile transmission of videos featuring ASL-signed messages about general news, weather and deaf and hard of hearing focused events, specific to each user’s current GPS-based location. Emergency Alerts are sent via text message, accompanied by phone-awakening vibrations and flashing alerts to grab attention in times of severe weather or other emergencies.”
I’m head over heels with the weather alerts. Everybody, Deaf or hearing, would seriously benefit from it. To sweeten the deal, they decided to not stop there – why not deliver location specific news to the Deaf? That’s innovation at work! But let’s check out what marketers and brands can learn from Engage’s success on mobile.
Brand Promise & Security
The customer experience begins with your brand promise. Their slogan is “content for the deaf/ submitted for the deaf/ to engage the deaf” ‘ and tell us they will do it in ASL, with a 30 second limitation and make it exclusive for the Deaf community. The content has not gone off course. Each event and new is directly applicable to us. What’s more, I feel safe. I trust them to alert me during critical weather occurrences. That’s why we sign up for banking alerts or use an app to hail a cab. We want to feel secure.
Mobile Rich Content – Video
Video is the ideal medium for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing audience so the message is delievered in our first language: American Sign Language (ASL). Mobile rich media is gorgeous…but it can be ugly. Fear not – not in Engage’s case. Every video, I’m greeted by an energetic, animated and smiling ASL signer. The clarity is solid on my iPhone and subtitles are included in case a sign is misunderstood. It’s so much more satisfying than a text message.
You don’t want to ruin great media by annoying your consumer. Mobile + spam in the same sentence make me grind my teeth. Timing is delicate and critical for video. On Engage’s website, it says “Receive 30 second videos in ASL…” and they keep their promise. What are people doing when they’re waiting in line, riding the subway or killing time? Consuming content on their phone but they’re in control – they can delete or leave it at lighting speed. 30 seconds is solid. Videos start with 10 seconds for an advertisement and 20 for content. Gasp – advertisement? Yes, but it’s not spammy. We’ll get to that soon.
As for frequency of MMS/SMS….be wise. By opting in for mobile notifications, the stakes have increased – rightfully so – parallel with the consumer’s trust because they have graciously given the brand an opportunity to be in their personal space. Engage sends one to two videos a day per consumer. Videos are either regionally or nationally focused depending on the message (wicked, right?) but they may go up to three a day, according to Corey Axelrod, director of social media. In the Deaf community, this is a thumbs up so the naturally close-knit network stays up to date on news and events. The number is a bit high though, and in the future I would enjoy the option to keep my weather notifications on, and have the videos curated in some type of archive in the app. That way, I can choose what videos interest me, which could especially useful as they increase their content.
Advertising and Brand Inclusion
There are few fans of mobile advertising. Haven’t we all had that moment where we silently whisper or holler “damn it” when we accidentally click on an ad during Words with Friends? Seriously, mobile ads is still new territory but Engage has created a unique approach to help offset costs including sponsorship – and it works! They even make sure to explain why to the consumer in Getting Started video. Advertisers and companies truly have a new avenue to connect with the Deaf through Engage and make a statement as an inclusive brand.
Have purpose. Every Engage video never fails to conclude with a call-to-action. Links, contact information and encouragement to find more and sign up for an event or product are essential – but the links aren’t clickable. I recommend any mobile strategy to have easy click through access to keep your leads from saying peace out.
Engage has earned the trust of its consumers and you can do the same for your audience. Be creative and stick to your word. I thank them for fulfilling a great need by the Deaf community. If you’re Deaf and want to submit news, go here – they’d be stoked! For advertisers interested in connecting with the community, visit this page.
Are you creating a smart phone relationship with brands? What else would you add to help brands woo their customers?