This article is a reprint from my column at AMEX OPEN Forum from Mar 30, 2010
Various forms of mobile marketing, text messaging, mobile ads, mobile apps, and location aware services, are getting lots of buzz currently.
Marketers large and small are coming around to the reality that those little hand held devices are increasingly significant parts of every day life for consumers.
While some of this technology and the marketing plays it will produce is still a bit out of the immediate picture for small businesses, I believe that text messages or SMS is here now and should be a part of every marketing plan.
SMS stands for Short Message Service. It is a technology that enables the sending and receiving of messages between mobile phones and is a standard feature on all modern mobile devices.
Recently, some carriers started adding Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), an upgraded version of the SMS through which you can send and receive multimedia messages such as texts, pictures, video clips, audio clips, etc., with any other compatible cell phone, but for this article I will focus only on the more commonly used SMS.
There are two primary ways that marketers are using SMS. The first is what might be referred to as bulk sending – you have a database of opt-in mobile subscribers and you send them messages. The second is a mobile generated request that relies on what are called short codes – text “get more info” to 22345.
Using both of these approaches in various combinations provides the greatest flexibility.
The following examples may give you some ideas on how to integrate the use of text messaging into your current marketing efforts.
1) Text for info – I think this is a service every small business should start using right away. The idea is that you set up a hub of information that people may want to receive and allow them to request it via mobile device. For example – for more information on our upcoming events text “ducttape” to 22334. You can create a multitude of options here and get people interacting with your content via mobile with very little work on your part.
2) Members only – Another great way to start getting people interacting with your brand via mobile is to create content that is only available to mobile subscribers. I saw an author use this tactic brilliantly by creating a chapter to his book that was only available via text.
3) Limited time special – Offering flash specials only available via text for immediate use is a great way to keep mobile subscribers interested and responding. This could be a great way to make a slow business day pick up some steam.
4) Customer follow-up – Once a customer makes a purchase you can offer a series of follow-up messages that could include thank you, more information about usage, warranty reminders and add-on offers.
5) Coupons – Mobile couponing is almost a separate industry, but offering coupons to subscribers via mobile is a great way to stimulate trial. This one is a great example of mixing sending texts to subscribers and offering short code “grab a coupon” options to stimulate trial of your products and services.
6) Event buzz – If you host in person or online events you can increase engagement by offering updates, reminders, and follow-ups via SMS campaigns. The up to the minute feel of text messages makes it a perfect way to add last minute surprises and create event buzz.
7) Content stations – taking the short code approach to full use you can set-up a bit of an information or content station that would allow people to choose codes from a menu of options to pick and choose the kind of information that would like to receive. This could be detailed information on products or simply newsletter alerts segmented by topic.
There are many opportunities to easily explore marketing via text messaging and now is the time to start building those lists and campaigns as more and more of your customers and prospects grow to expect this kind of interaction.
John Jantsch is a marketing and digital technology coach, award winning social media publisher and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine.
Image credit: ydhsu