Text Messaging: A powerful medium…if you follow through

If you have a mobile phone, you’re aware of text messaging – those wonderful 160 character messages that people can send to one another and for mass distribution of information. Mobile marketing is perhaps one of the best (but probably underused) methods of interactive marketing and with the introduction of microblogging applications like Brightkite, Twitter, and Utterz, mobile marketing just seems to have been jumpstarted.

According to a recent Experian study on mobile marketing posted on Mobile Marketing Watch, there are more than double the number of active mobile users than there are e-mail users. Email marketing is still a good way reach your constituents, but mobile marketing could potentially be a higher chance of actually making your audience read the information. Yes, there are downsides to mobile marketing versus email marketing. Like what? Well with email, you have more space for content and creative control. Compare that to mobile marketing, you’re constrained to approximately 160 characters to get your point across and it’s pure text – no formatting is allowed whatsoever. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you weigh the cost of doing mobile marketing, chances are that it could be cheaper of reaching your audience.

Some strategic things to think about when utilizing mobile marketing:

  • You could potentially get a higher response when having mobile sweepstakes or contests.
  • Campaigns are able to have custom text codes that can be tracked so you know how people are reaching your information.
  • More incentive for people to click on your link to find out what you’re talking about – you will need to create a landing page.
  • Landing pages will need to be mobile friendly so that they display correctly on the most popular cell phones (e.g. iPhone, Blackberry, Palm PDAs, etc.).
  • All marketing messages will need to be succinct to grab people’s attention – think about the 160 characters as your subject line in an e-mail. That’s what will get people’s attention.
  • Text messaging/SMS is available on all text-ready cell phones so you won’t have to worry how a text message looks on someone’s cell phone compared to e-mail browsers.
  • You can manage your mobile marketing campaigns with content management systems – yes, they do have them…ask any mobile marketing vendor how they utilize them.
  • Able to offer advertising spots on mobile messaging.
  • Typically you won’t have to worry about your text message be lost as there is low instances of mobile “spam”…65% of email is spam versus 10% of texts.

And if you think that no one in the US text messages, well you’re wrong. Mobile Marketing Watch reports that roughly 300 billion text messages were sent in 2007 alone. In addition, there’s a higher “open” rate for text messaging: they’re opened on average within 15 minutes and if there is a call-to-action, it’s responded to in 60 minutes.

But wait, what about virality? With emails, you can forward to a friend easily, but will people do that with text messaging? Yes…with over 65% of those surveyed in the Experian study said that they forward texts to their friends. That’s a huge percentage that will pass along your information. Obtaining updated information from these individuals will be pretty simple too because with the advent of phone number portability, people will continue to keep their phone number.  This is much better compared to emails because email lists are probably filled with people using a junk mail account, work address (which can easily be outdated), or an erroneous one because they just wanted to download some free file.

Still think there isn’t that big of an audience? In 2006, there were 241 million cell phone users. And out of that number, two-thirds (or approx. 160 million) are “active” users of SMS…just in the USA!

Next time you have an interactive campaign, make sure that you find a way to integrate all the online marketing programs you can to get a better response.

Source: Mobile Marketing Watch