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Take a tri-messaging approach to mobile marketing

Mobile remains one of the most anticipated interactive channels, with mobile marketing budgets expected to increase by 26 percent this year, according to Mobile Marketing Association research.

But the perceived complexity around metrics, content and carriers has deterred some marketers from taking the bold step into mobile marketing adoption.

However, with more than 50 percent of consumers with mobile phones sending or receiving text messages this is an evolving medium that cannot be ignored. You do not just need statistics to know that most people are spending more time glued to their mobile devices. Just watch all the people talking and texting at the grocery store.

The basic components of mobile marketing are the short code, the keyword and the message itself.

• Short code: a number, usually five digits, that is the mobile equivalent of your company’s phone number. It is how your mobile subscribers communicate with you.

• Keyword: unique word or number that users text to your short code. For example, “American Idol” fans text the keyword VOTE to a unique short code for each contestant.

• Message: SMS is short, sweet and painfully simple. You get 160 characters of plain text. No fancy HTML, no links, no pictures. One hundred sixty characters. That is it. Many phones do come enabled with Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) that lets you send pictures, video and more, but SMS is more widely adopted.

Three’s the charm
So how do you turn a short code, keyword and message into a viable marketing campaign?

Coupons, tickets and offers that people can carry with them to bricks-and-mortar destinations are popular. So are text-to-win promotions.

For example, coffee shop chain Starbucks stores across the United States gave away free coffee on a particular day. Consumers texted the word “BREAK” to Starbucks to get a day-of reminder. 

Office supplies retailer Office Depot ran a travel sweepstakes and consumers texted “WIN” to the short code. The company also chose to opt-in to special offers such as “Office Depot 2 days only; save $30 on orders $150 or more” by texting the word “YES.” 

Vans Warped Tour concert-goers texted “WARPED” to a short code to get the inside scoop on band line-ups and to take advantage of perks such as skipping the admission line.

Mobile marketing is all about opt-in marketing so it offers a powerful medium to have a one-on-one interactive relationship.

Also if you are noticing a theme here, it is that SMS mobile marketing does not work well as standalone “Hey, look at my message!” blasts.

Consumers must find the text message relevant at the exact moment they receive it. And that generally means that the text has to be tied to a wider promotion or initiative.

Any successful mobile campaign is also tied to integration for ease, adoption and cost.

We recommend that you take a tri-messaging approach to mobile marketing.

In other words, consider email, social and mobile marketing channels as a three-pronged strategy that supports your marketing programs.

For example, you can use email to introduce and explain a promotion, mobile to send text alerts to remind your users when they are at the point of purchase and social marketing to make it easier for recipients to spread the word about your promotion via their social networking sites and social booking marking pages and other avenues.

By adding mobile integration to current email campaigns, organizations can enjoy a personal relationship with customers that no other form of communication can match.

Blaine Mathieu is chief marketing officer of Lyris Inc., Emeryville, CA. Reach him at [email protected].