S texting d nxt big thng? Or Marketing Via SMS

I lov d travL 2.0 blog. lol!

I lov d travL 2.0 blog. lol!

This week Nielsen published a new report / whitepaper titled The Short Code Marketing Opportunity, focusing on the rise of marketing and advertising via SMS or short code or text messaging. Certainly a timely topic and one that I was speaking about with my counterpart Josh (from the Scottsdale CVB) as recently as yesterday.

So, let’s take a look at some of the highlights from the report and then discuss the ‘Marketing Texts I Want and Don’t Want.’

For those of you who would rather skip ahead, you can find the full report on the Nielsen site (.pdf).

In August 2008, Barack Obama’s presidential campaign made either history or political spectacle when it attempted to announce Joe Biden as the vice presidential candidate over SMS text message. Before the campaign could send the text message announcement to supporters, mass media scooped the news and broke the story, but the magnitude of the campaign’s mobile efforts is noteworthy.

The most recent example of a massive texting campaign, however I seriously doubt that the mass media ‘scooped’ anything.  More than likely, the campaign deliberately ‘leaked’ the info to increase text subscribers.

Quick Facts:

  • As of Q3 2008, 203 million of the 263 million U.S. wireless subscriber lines paid for text messaging either as part of a package or on a transaction-basis.
  • U.S. mobile subscribers now send and receive more text messages in a month than they make phone calls.
  • A typical U.S. mobile subscriber between the ages of 35 and 44 will now send or receive more text messages, on average, than make phone calls.

Examples of Texting Campaigns:

Through My Coke Rewards, Coca-Cola customers collect unique codes found on various Coca-Cola products and enter them into an account they’ve registered at mycokerewards.com. When they reach certain point levels, they are able to redeem points for rewards. The mobile component of the program allows consumers to enter the codes over their mobile phone on the go. Coca-Cola’s mobile users typically send and receive about 32 messages a month to Coca-Cola.

Importantly, it’s not just kids or teens who are an active audience for short code marketing. In the Coca-Cola example, nearly half (47 percent) of users were 35 or older. That age diversity is not unique to Coca-Cola either. Overall, 53 percent of those engaging with free (standard rate) short codes, such as those used by brands in marketing, are sent by texters 35 and older. For an audience accustomed to traditional channels of marketing, it seems, the opportunity to engage with brands in a new way is a welcome experience.

When a chain of Ashley Furniture Homestores in the Carolinas wanted to bolster sales during a slow period this summer, they sent 6,000 text message coupons to customers who had opted in to receive information about special offers. Billed as a four-day “secret sale,” the chain of eight stores also sent nearly 29,000 e-mails to promote the sale. And the text message campaign ended up paying off. The chain says that $85,000 of the $135,000 in revenue generated from that sale was attributed to the SMS coupon, further estimating that for every $1 they spent in executing the text message campaign, they generated $122 in revenue.

Earlier this year, in one of the first mobile barcode couponing efforts, the Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort in Oregon distributed barcode coupons over mobile phones, promoted through an opt-in alert system that provided customers with updates of weather conditions at the resort. The coupon rendered on users phones as a barcode that could be scanned at the resort for discounts. The barcodes could be read as coupons by the resort’s existing scanning software, with no technical or software changes to either the user’s phone or the registers.

What’s Next:

Marketers should look at SMS and see an opportunity to engage with a core customer base in a new and unique fashion. Short code marketing has the potential of a mass medium but requires a personal execution. Short code marketing, perhaps more than any other advertising medium today, is as simple as a conversation.

In between those summary points, the piece mentions the popularity of texting due to or because of watching TV, however American Idol accounts for almost every case study within segment.  Also mentioned is utilizing texting as an entry method or communication method with outdoor, radio and print executions.  However the results of using a texting component as the call to action in these mediums is still unknown.

Okay, we know a lot of people use mobile phones and a lot of those people are texting each other, but how does someone within the travel industry take advantage of texting?  Without getting into all of the logistical and infrastructure needs to operate a proper texting campaign, let’s start at the very beginning:

Do you have a product, service or content that people are interested in, desire or feel passionate about?

If you answered yes, then proceed with your mobile dreams.

If you answered no, then you can stop and get back to your SEO campaign.

A similar theory to our post on Facebook, Why Facebook Will and Will Not Work For the Travel Industry – Part 1, certain aspects of social media work well for some organizations because consumers are passionate about that product.

Look no further than the Barack Obama example.  People were passionate about that campaign.  Understatement of the year.

In terms of the report, the results or examples highlighted certainly show some passion, but the idea of desire…in this case for coupons, deals or rewards…was the driving force behind the success of the campaigns.

With that, let’s review some examples in a section we like to call: Marketing Texts I Want and Don’t Want.

Marketing Texts I Want and Don’t Want

I Want:

Coupons and Offers:  No need for clipping coupons anymore.

Helpful Information:  Flight status, football scores, entry tickets via barcode, weather.

Rewards:  See the Coke Rewards example above.

I Don’t Want:

Branding Messages:  Of any kind.

Trivia, Games or DYK Facts:  Not useful, thanks.

Impersonal Information:  As the piece mentioned above, texting equals 1-on-1 marketing, your mass media marketing campaign message does not work.

A short list, but a pretty good summary.  Have your own list?  What texts do you currently receive from marketers? Tell us about it in the comments section.

A post on texting would not be complete with a mention of the rapid pace of technological change.  Even with the promise of texting campaigns, the mobile web and the applications being built around it are quickly replacing the need for text message updates on such things as weather.  A complete replacement for texting?  Of course not.  However some information currently delivered via text will be more relevant delivered via the mobile web

As for our outlook on texting.  A great communication tool for certain organizations and campaigns, but not right for everyone.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.