Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mobile Marketing At The M Resort

CM Comment: Some insight to those looking to implement their own mobile marketing solution.

August 21, 2009: summarized from mobile-financial.com -- A short while back, I had the opportunity to meet with Raquel Rodriguez, the VP of Marketing at The M Resort in Las Vegas. The M Resort launched their mobile marketing initiative for the purpose of improving loyalty and frequency of visits to the casino from their target customers. The initiative is tied to their Imagine Rewards loyalty program and is already experiencing better than expected results.

M-F.com: Raquel, can you describe the solution that the M-Resort has implemented?

R.R: The M’s challenge was to build a database of numbers with which we could communicate with our customers immediate and effectively. To build that database we created M Call. Every customer can make the call everyday and win a guaranteed prize of points in our Player’s Club system. To claim those points, they have to come into the casino and earn 1 point, and then those points belong to the caller. They can call everyday for 30 days and at the end of 30 days, we expect to have a very large database of mobile number that we can text offers to anytime we want. For example, yesterday, we created a new promotion for today and we sent via text message to the 9000 people who have already enrolled in our M Call program. In the old days, you had design a piece of collateral, you had to proof it, you had to go to press with it, and then you had to send it out. It’s a 2-week turn-around. With a text message it’s today.

M-F.com: Are there any other casinos in the Las Vegas area that have similar programs?

R.R: There are other casinos that are dabbling in mobile marketing. Nobody is doing anything like what we are doing, with a give-away to capture numbers. They’re generally sending messages to saying “Come on in and spend $50 on a room and we’ll give you $25 in free slot play”. Our program is a little different and our goals are a little different. We’re trying to build a database and we’re also trying to drive frequency because we are a local casino.

M-F.com: So that’s a key differentiator for you then. The program gives you access to those individuals and you can market to them quite frequently. What benefits are you deriving?

R.R: What we are going to see is increased frequency. With M-Call the players have to come in everyday, and players coming into a casino everyday translates to dollars to the bottom line. But because we can reach our customers anytime we want once we’ve built this database, if I have availability in my restaurants, I can text out a message. If I have a room available, I can text send a message. I can reach the local customer right now.

M-F.com: What made you want to go mobile vs. using the more traditional channels

R.R: Because it’s immediate, it’s inexpensive, it’s personal. A text message feels very personal. In a local market, we call our customers the board of directors. This casino is personal to the customers.

M-F.com: Have you been able to measure response rates, and are you reaching your expectations at this point?

R.R: This program has been live since June 1, and it has exceeded our expectations. We took 4500 phone calls on day 1 and we had projected to take 1500 calls. We’re hitting 5000 calls /day now.

M-F.com: How do you plan to evolve the program? Do you have a strategy for the next 6 months?

R.R: Right now, that strategy is evolving based on what we are seeing. But the basic plan is to simply build the database and then communicate our programs and promotions to our local player via mobile instead of by direct mail or email.

M-F.com: How have you educated your consumer with the mobile aspect?

R.R: It was actually a very simple concept. They simply call a number, enter their Imagine Rewards Club number, and win a prize. So communication was very easy. We did a direct mail campaign 3 weeks ago. We added outdoor billboards, we ran a newspaper ad, we have several radio and TV commercials going. So it’s been a very smooth process for customers to learn. I just had lunch with 6 customers, and all 6 of them at noon picked up their cell phone and made their M Call. They get it. It’s very simple for them.

M-F.com: There is a notion in the industry that customers don’t want to receive promotions via text message. Did you have any of these concerns when planning this project?

R.R: The casino industry is unique. Junk mail from any other industry is junk mail. Mail from a casino is valued. I had absolutely no fears that anybody would not want a text message from a casino. Customers like to receive phone calls from casinos, they like to receive mail from casinos, and now they like to receive texts from casinos

M-F.com: Why do you say that is?

R.R: When you’re getting an offer from something you’re truly interested in, and people who play at casinos are interested in taking what the casino is offering, that message is exciting to them.
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