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a quick how-to for mobile marketing with text messaging

mobile marketing

by Kenneth Rudich

(Editor’s Note: If you’d like a more in-depth exploration of mobile marketing, go here.)

Text messaging, also known as texting or short message service (SMS), may well be one of the better options available for building stronger customer relationships.

There are three notably good things about this mobile marketing tactic.

First, it works on nearly all mobile phones, not just smart phones and mobile devices.  This maximizes reach and scope, as opposed to capturing a small fraction of the total mobile market by doing stuff only the more sophisticated devices can handle.

Second, it typically has a higher open rate than email marketing, as high as 97% according to cell phone carrier research (83% within one hour).

Third, it can be done inexpensively.

As an added incentive, the Nielsen mobile research group reports that we now text more than we talk.

how texting works

You can use this marketing tactic to broadcast to people who’ve chosen to be included in your text messaging database.  That they’ve chosen to subscribe or opt-in means they want to hear from you, as opposed to you randomly sending out spam to people who don’t want it.

Why would customers want to opt-in?

A common reason for opting-in is because you offer an incentive.  Perhaps you’re giving them a chance to sign up for exclusive offers, coupons, and contests; or you send announcements they are interested in — like information about an upcoming sale.  Really, it can be anything that they value.  The most important aspect is to make it relevant and timely to them.

One widely enlisted practice is to incorporate text messaging into a marketing campaign that seeks to achieve a certain objective within a specified time frame.  If, for example, the objective is to increase sales on a select item, you might send out a text in the middle of the week to let people know about an upcoming sale for that item on Saturday.

A second objective might be to increase brand engagement, much as you would with other social media.  This might be done in the form of short surveys or polls.

Another good deployment for brand engagement is to integrate text messaging with other marketing materials, like print for example.  You might place a keyword text code on signs, fliers or menus so people can retrieve more information about your product, see where you’re located, or opt-in to receive future messages from you.

This tactic not only encourages consumers to become actively engaged with your product, but it’s also likely to get a better response rate than a website url because people almost always have their mobile phones with them (more so than they do a computer), and you’re maximizing reach and scope by catering to the broadest possible range of phones within the mobile platform.

measuring marketing performance

Text messaging comes with the ability to measure it.  Providers of text messaging services – that is, SMS providers — offer a range of analytics for monitoring and tracking performance.  For instance, they can furnish:

  • key performance breakouts
  • subscriber segmentation by keywords and by day, by time and by region
  • opt-out or unsubscribe rates by day
  • which messages attracted the most response
  • carrier popularity
  • contest/voting campaign results

It’s important to identify at the outset of a campaign what you would like to track, based on the objective chosen for it.  Experience suggests you limit your objectives to one per campaign.  This will make it easier for you to remain focused within the timeframe of the campaign, and it’ll minimize the risk of confusing customers.

a real world example

A sports retailer recently executed two separate advertising campaigns that included a combination of direct mail, text messaging and a sweepstakes with a prize.

Each campaign sought to engage a different customer segment.  One targeted tri-athletes, and the other targeted cycling-only enthusiasts.  The objective was to increase the number of subscribers in their text and email database.  The two campaigns were conducted during different time intervals.

The direct mail piece, which was sent out within a specific geographic area, contained a text short code for entering the sweepstakes.  The text short code, the content of the direct mail piece and the sweepstakes prize differed depending on which segment was being targeted.

When respondents entered the sweepstakes, they were asked if they wanted to opt-in to the retailer’s text and email database.  Those that chose to opt-in would receive future promotions relevant to them.

By the close of the second campaign, the retailer had significantly increased the number of total subscribers in its database, and it was able to keep future promotions relevant by having the subscribers segmented according to the campaign that captured their interest.

mobile text messaging

When done well, text messaging can be a powerful tool within the context of your overall marketing strategy.


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