How to Create a Mobile Text Marketing Campaign

by Steve Struass

If you want to make an impact with your marketing, you have to go to where the eyeballs are, and increasingly, they are looking at text messages on mobile phones. Certainly that is what the big boys have concluded.

  • Dunkin Donuts wanted to increase the sales of lattes among high school and college kids in the Boston area, so they sent a text coupon out to those who opted in. The result was a 21% increase in sales
  • What about the lawyer who defends drunk drivers? He has a campaign that asks you to text him and in return, he will send you all of his 24/contact info, “just in case you ever need it.”

Lots small businesses are getting in on the act. Ice cream stores are texting specials, gyms are offering free trials, chiropractors are texting coupons.

Here’s how you can join the party:

1. Consider your audience. Texting is especially effective with younger people, although it is by no means exclusive to them. The important thing is this – people on mobile phones are, well, mobile. Any campaign has to take this into account. They are not watching TV, they are not sitting at their computers. So whatever you decide to text, just be sure that your product or offer fits the audience you target.

2. Create a “pull” campaign: Essentially, with a text campaign, you have two options: Push and pull:

• Push is when you send unsolicited text messages. Not only do people not like that, they have to pay for it, so it’s a double negative whammy.
• Pull is when people opt-in and give you permission to text them. That is what you want.

The best way to create your opt-in list is simply by letting your clientele know that if they sign up for your text campaign they will get exclusive offers that others won’t get. You can get the word out in your store, on your website, via email, in your advertising, through Facebook, and via tweets: “Sign up now for our text alerts and be the first in line for our popular Sunday special!”

Any list you create will be far more effective than any list you buy.

3. Choose the right service: As with anything, there are inexpensive text message service providers and gold-plated ones. The cheaper ones will let you send or receive a batch of SMS messages for a set fee. For example, with Salon.TextAlert.com, beauty salons can easily and affordably send promotional texts to clients.

More sophisticated SMS marketing services offer campaign software, a dashboard, reports, customer databases and more. An all-in-one service like MobileCommons allows you to create a list, start a campaign, track it, and refine it as necessary – just as you would with any ad campaign.

You can use a service like MobiQpons, which allows people in your area to sign up and receive coupons for discounts. Only people within 10 miles of your business will receive your coupon. (Another factor to consider is whether you want to have your own short code, i.e., “text in Idol07 to vote for Adam.” You do this by applying for a short code, though this is both time consuming and expensive.)

4. Create a campaign that will work: Cell phones are, even still, relatively free of a lot of advertising. As such, your campaign has to fit in with the culture of the mobile phone. People use them when they are on the go, and they use them for fun. Contests, polls, sweepstakes, games, and of course promotions and coupons work best.

More than ever before, people are looking up, interacting with, and purchasing from businesses using their phone rather than their computer, and if you’re not prepared to accommodate those people, you’ll quickly find yourself falling by the wayside.