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The past decade has seen cell phones grow sleeker and “smarter”; most boast bells and whistles such as cameras, email, Internet accessibility and even video cameras. Yet for all the technological advancements, one cell phone feature has remained virtually the same: the text message. In November 2011, ComScore estimated 234 million Americans ages 13 and older own mobile devices (globally, that number is at 5.3 billion). Of the U.S. subscribers, 72.6% send and receive text messages. According to CTIA, the mobile industry trade group, some 3-5 billion text messages are sent and received every year, and 97% of those messages are opened. When compared to the 33% of U.S. mobile users who use their devices to access social media websites and blogs, the obvious is revealed: it might not be the fanciest trick in the bag, but SMS, or text messaging is an effective and popular way to engage consumers. Or, as Naushad Huda, from Vertical Marketing Network’s mobile marketing partner agency Textopoly adds: SMS should be part of every brand’s mobile strategy. “It’s more of a promotional tool than a branding tool,” he concedes, but “it’s a driver. It drives consumers to a mobile campaign.
Maybe I’m just blogging out loud, but it seems like cell phones and mobile marketing campaigns have a lot in common. While once they were accessories, now they are necessities.
SMS (short message service) enables cell phone users to exchange information, but it also can act as a gateway for consumers to learn more about a brand or promotion. Huda used last year’s VitaminWater campaign featuring none other than Gary Busey playing Fantasy Football lawyer Norman Tugwater as an example of how far a SMS campaign can reach. The VitaminWater campaign launched with a billboard in Times Square, which prompted fans to text message a code to receive a reward. That “reward” was a phone call from Tugwater himself, followed by a text message back that contained a link to an online video featuring Busey as the fictional Tugwater and real-life football star Adrian Peterson (there’s even a cameo from Shaq). At the close of the video, consumers had the option of sharing the video on social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. In other words, the SMS was a gateway to a multi-faceted mobile marketing campaign. It created brand awareness, it entertained, it engaged consumers and it prompted them to share their enthusiasm, all via their cell phones. But not all mobile marketing campaigns need be so involved. Vertical Marketing Network is currently working on a client campaign that will be more basic in structure, but suits the needs of the brand by promoting retail and special events. Research shows that SMS promotions such as these are effective. The Direct Marketing Association recently conducted a study that found that among mobile users text messaging remains the preferred vehicle for receiving promotional offers: 33% prefer text messaging; 21% prefer the Internet; 11% prefer mobile apps; and 8% prefer voice mail.
Mobile marketing: 160-character messaging, and a clutter-free marketer’s dream.