Mobile Marketing: Start Now to Cash In on Year-End Commerce
If you're thinking about adding text messaging to your marketing mix for the holiday season, the time is now. It takes time to plan a mobile marketing strategy, set up the technology and, most importantly, build your list. Don't wait until the fall, or you might come up short at the cash register.
The basic components of mobile marketing are the short code, the keyword and the message itself. The following list explains each component:
- Short code: a number, usually five digits, that's the mobile equivalent of your company's phone number. It's how your mobile subscribers communicate with you.
- Keyword: a unique word or number that users text to your short code. For example, "American Idol" fans text the keyword VOTE to a unique short code for each contestant.
- Message: SMS is short, sweet and simple. You get 160 characters of plain text. No fancy HTML, no links, no pictures; 160 characters, that's it. Many phones come enabled with a multimedia messaging service that lets you send pictures, video and more, but SMS is more widely adopted.
Mobile marketing success stories
How do you turn a short code, keyword and message into a viable marketing campaign? You can do this by providing coupons, tickets and offers that people can carry with them to brick-and-mortar destinations — all of which are popular. So are text-to-win promotions.
Starbucks stores across the U.S., for example, recently gave away free coffee on a particular day. Consumers texted the word BREAK to Starbucks to get a day-of reminder.
Office Depot ran a travel sweepstakes, with consumers texting the word WIN to the short code. Consumers also could choose to opt in to special offers like, “Office Depot 2 days only; save $30 on orders $150 or more,” by texting the word YES.
Vans Warped Tour, a touring festival of rock concerts, texted the word WARPED to a short code to get the inside scoop on band lineups and to take advantage of perks like skipping the admission line.
The importance of a good strategy
If you're noticing a theme here, it's that SMS mobile marketing doesn't work well as stand-alone, "Hey, look at my message" blasts. Users must find the text messages relevant at the exact moment they receive them. That means the text has to be tied to a wider promotion or initiative.
I recommend taking a holistic approach to mobile marketing. Consider e-mail, social and mobile marketing channels as a three-pronged strategy that supports your marketing programs.
Use e-mail to introduce and explain promotions; mobile to send text alerts to remind your users when they're at the point of purchase; and social marketing to make it easier for recipients to spread the word about your promotions via their social networking sites, social bookmarking pages and other avenues.
You won't come up with a mobile marketing campaign that makes sense for your business overnight, especially if you're a B-to-B company that appeals to 35-and-older decision makers who don't text as frequently as tweens, teens and 20-somethings. But if you put in some time now planning your mobile strategy, you can get started with, learn from, grow and expand your mobile marketing initiatives.
Next week in the final installment of this two-part series, I’ll offer five quick steps you can take now to get on the road to mobile texting in time for the holidays.
Brennan Carlson is a product manager for Lyris HQ, the online marketing suite from Emeryville, Calif.-based Lyris. Reach Brennan at firstname.lastname@example.org.