VOICE : Phone the future, ET

The hottest tool in marketing right now is one you will have in your pocket everywhere you go. And it will offer you world of information and services you can only dream of right now.
Some of the most exciting marketing plans around the world are being based around smart phones, says marketing commentator Michael Carney of Net Marketing. But we have yet to see the real impact of the m-marketing techologies here, he says.
“New Zealand has its own challenges,” Carney says. “Our penetration for smart phones is only 20 percent, whereas it’s more like 50 percent in the United States. Right here, right now, it’s not necessarily enough. But it’s huge growth area and yes, it’s only going to grow.”
He predicts that soon all phones will be smart phones with internet capability and GPS, making location-based applications even more exciting.
Locally, Subway is about to release world first for the chain – New Zealand’s first iPhone fast-food ordering application. Direct marketing manager Jo Reynolds explains: “For the first time you can order via an iPhone or iPod Touch – and you can also use geolocator to tell you where your nearest Subway store is.”
The chain already uses text and internet ordering, which Reynolds says is currently small but growing part of their business. In the UK, Subway loyalty card holders can also use 2D barcode scanning technology.
The application is provided on iPhone, BlackBerry and many other popular handsets. 2D barcode is embedded within the App and customers scan this at checkout time, to acquire or redeem points. Customers can also see their recent transactions and current points balance.
Reynolds says we’re likely to see that here soon too, when the company makes decision on which scan technology to use. “Subcard customers here are already used to scanning technology,” she says. “We use it for household mailer offers. The iPhone application is the final step.”
In the United Kingdom, insurance company Direct Line has free “On the Road” App for iPhones, which includes route planner and live traffic updates to help plan journeys around traffic, says Warren Tobin of Altaine.
It also features an easy-to-use ‘help for accidents and claims’ tool, should drivers have an accident.
This function enables them to immediately record and store key information, such as the other motorist’s car insurance and vehicle details – including photos of any damage – on their iPhone in simple step-by-step notebook at the scene of an accident. The details go straight through to the claims team so your claim can be approved quickly.
Says Tobin: “The convenience with which customers can request breakdown service or instantly file claim – and be guided through the process – compels consumers to engage. These services pull customers towards brand and engage them with valuable proposition.”
American-born Kevin Ptak of the Auckland Social Media Club says the US is more advanced in smart phone applications; about year ahead of New Zealand in how mobile savvy their population is, he says. Social media marketing via Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare will build as local smart phone penetration increases, he says.

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