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ShopText expands mobile coupon business via AOL Shortcuts partnership

ShopText has partnered with AOL Shortcuts to expand the network of retailers where consumers can send coupons to be added to loyalty shopper cards.

Deals are driving consumers to shop, even in the economic downturn and traditional couponing vehicles are flat or declining, according to ShopText. Additionally, email open rates are plummeting while digital couponing vehicles are evolving. Add to that, the fact that mobile and social are driving new direct relationships, and that makes the case for mobile coupons.

“I think what has happened is the mobile industry has been going through various different phases,” said Steve Roberts, CEO of ShopText, Norwalk, CT.

“First Web sites were being mobilized or made into apps, then there was the QR code craze to drive people back to digital content and now brands and retailers are using mobile as the connector to offline media,” he said.

“We are able to use mobile to connect to fulfillment.”

So far brands such as The Kellogg Co., Planter’s Trail Mix, M&Ms, redbox and Hershey’s have used mobile to activate their advertising via ShopText, letting consumers send coupons directly to more than 4,000 stores that are part of AOL Shortcuts.

These brands can also ask consumers to opt in to receive mobile offers without having to register their own short code.

Here are some examples:

The Kellogg Co. mobile call to action

RedBox’s free rental offer with a mobile call to action

<— Hershey’s free chocolate bar offer

Here is how it works.

Brands attach a mobile call to action to existing media such as TV, print, direct mail or on packaging. Consumers text the keyword to the short code and then reply back with their shopper card number that is located on the back of their loyalty card.

At the point of sale consumers swipe their shopper card to get savings. There is no printing coupons and having to bring them to the cashier.

The AOL Shortcuts network expands the reach of the ShopText program to more retailers such as Kroger, A&P, Waldbaums, Hilander and FoodTown, to name a few.

ShopText’s Mr. Roberts said that the program allows brands and retailers to produce national branding campaigns and also to drive consumers into stores.

Brands and retailers using the service can do a cross-media push for the mobile call to action using various keywords to measure which channels are working best for them. For example, supermarket chain Shop’n Save takes a cross-channel approach to promoting its mobile call to action.

Shop’n Save’s cross-media push

“If you are running a bunch of ads you can activate them by getting people to opt-in,” Mr. Roberts said. “If you think about it, what are you going to lose?

“You are already going to run the ad, so why not include a mobile call to action such as SMS or a QR code,” he said.

The ShopText technology allows brands and retailers to get real time ad response rates and coupon load reports. Using the technology, clients can see which ad or offer drove the best response, which stores saw the most redemption and the best mobile opt-in.

Mr. Richards of ShopText said that clients are seeing up to a 1.7 percent response in terms of media impressions. On average, clients are seeing a 70 percent success for initial loyalty card capture and a 21 percent average redemption. Forty percent of consumers opt-in for future mobile offers.

“Results depend on the offer and the call to action,” Mr. Roberts said. “These are the things that trigger response.”