Mobile Marketing: Start Now to Cash In on Year-End Commerce, Part 2
Last week, in the first installment of this two-part series, I discussed the basics of mobile marketing, offered a few mobile marketing success stories and talked about the importance of a good mobile marketing strategy.
This week, I offer five quick steps you can take now — four to five months ahead of time — to get on the road to mobile texting in time for the holidays. They include the following:
1. Decide on your mobile marketing strategy. This can take days, weeks or months, depending on how quickly your marketing department moves.
2. Find the right technology partner. How long does it take your company to vet a vendor and sign contracts? Unlike the early days of email, you can't ask Joe in IT to create a homegrown system for sending text messages. The giant mobile carriers like AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile work through mobile aggregators, or middlemen that provide short codes and connectivity to individual companies. You can either work with an aggregator or go with an application service provider that offers a user-friendly tool.
3. Apply for your short code. If you want to use a catchy short code, known as a vanity code that's unique to your company, it can take eight to 10 weeks. You can shave a bit of time off the process if you're willing to use a "shared short code," which is exactly what it sounds like: an existing number that several companies use. You get short codes through your mobile technology vendor.
4. Get carrier approval for your program. Also handled by your mobile technology vendor during the short code waiting period, carrier approval takes about two weeks. The major mobile carriers must sign off on your program in advance. Each one has slightly different rules, but most want to review a sample message and test your opt-in processes.
5. Build your list. Think you're going to upload an existing database and start texting away? Think again. In email, opt-in is an often skirted best practice. In mobile, opt-in is a mandatory requirement. The mobile carriers come down hard on companies that spam, and they consider it spam if a user didn't specifically send you a text message from the mobile phone number in question.
This also means you need a plan in place to promote your mobile marketing program on your website, in emails, in print, in stores and anywhere else your customers gather. Unless they expressly opt in by texting your short code, you can't text them without the risk of serious repercussions.