A federal appellate court has ruled in favor of Taco Bell after a lawsuit accused the restaurant chain of violating commercial text message legislation.
Last week, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2012 ruling that said Taco Bell was not responsible for SMS messages sent to consumers by a marketing agency in 2005.
The promotion at the center of the legal drama allegedly saw twelve franchisees in the Chicago area send text messages to local residents asking them to vote on two varieties of the Nacho Bell Grande item. Ad agency ESW outsourced the mobile strand of the campaign to a company called Ipsh (now the Marketing Arm).
A woman from Georgia sued Taco Bell in the wake of the campaign, claiming she had received two unsolicited text messages – a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) which prohibits companies from using automated dialing systems to send cell phone communications without the recipients' consent. After the judge dismissed her case, the plaintiff decried the ruling as a “blueprint for retailers to evade liability for transmitting spam text messages en masse to the public.”
During the case, Taco Bell denied involvement in the text message campaign, which was put together by a group of local franchise owners and Ipsh, without the knowledge or consent of the parent company. According to court papers, Taco Bell successfully argued that it played “no role in the decision to distribute the message by way of a blast text or that it ever reviewed any proposed text message, or even knew about the outgoing text message component of the local promotion.”
The TCPA was recently updated to reflect the shift towards mobile. Historically, advertisers could depend on pre-existing business relationships (such as a prior purchase). Now, mobile marketing campaigns must obtain express written consent in order to contact consumers.
The court’s decision has probably made it harder for consumers to sue advertisers for campaigns that potentially violate the law. It could prove to be a landmark ruling. It’s certainly dealt a blow to opponents of aggressive marketing strategies. Whether or not it sets a precedent remains to be seen.
The rate at which states are banning texting while driving is one of the most dramatic displays of legislation shifting with popular public opinion in recent memory. Forty-four states have now added their name to the list of jurisdictions in which all drivers are banned from texting.
The drive to reduce road deaths has been remarkably free from distractions – and few could oppose such well-intentioned laws (those few being, so far, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana and Oklahoma). The latest state to say ‘no’ to distracted driving is New Mexico, where a ban on all texting and driving took effect last Tuesday.
Under the legislation, drivers are prohibited from sending or reading texts and emails – even if they are at a stop light or stuck in traffic. New Mexico motorists are also banned from searching the web on smartphones or other mobile devices, but the law does allow them to pull over to the side of the road to send or receive SMS messages. Anyone in breach of the text messaging law faces a $25 fine for a first offence, and a $50 fine for subsequent violations.
According to the bill’s main champion, Santa Fe democrat Senator Peter Wirth, the law will “save lives and make roads safer.” "New Mexicans need to understand that texting while driving is six times more dangerous than drinking and driving," Wirth continued. "If you have to look at your phone, pull off the road."
Before the Legislature updated their distracted driving laws, New Mexico’s strictures on texting and driving extended only to teenage drivers with a provisional or learner’s license. Expanding that to encompass all drivers means New Mexico joins 43 other US states and a growing number of other North and Central American jurisdictions to have banned all texting and driving incidents.
Similar laws are being passed all over the world. The legal response to such deadly behavior has been swift, and reflects a wider societal intolerance of activity that puts irresponsible drivers and other road users at enormous risk.
There are some caveats. New Mexico will allow a text to be sent from behind the wheel in an emergency situation, provided the message is being sent to a medical team or emergency service unit. Nevertheless, this new legislation is a resounding victory for the majority of drivers who recognize that the only text message important enough to endanger lives is one that intends to save them.
Every four years, the World Cup serves up a thrilling taste of the best footballing talent on the planet, but for developers, the month-long extravaganza is an opportunity to capitalize on soccer fever. And although there was no shortage of apps released during the 2010 tournament, smartphone ownership was leagues below where it’s at now. Mobile-powered football fandom has finally come of age.
The app everyone is talking about this time is “Yo”. It helps subscribers keep track of all the goals scored during the competition by sending text message alerts to users who add the user name “World Cup” to their account.
Unlike other sports news apps, no further information is sent. Yo doesn’t send the name of the scorer, or even which team they’re on. Users receive the titular two-letter greeting as a kind of ‘heads up’ to look out for coverage of the goals. It may sound rather limited, but it’s all part of Yo’s attempt to carve out a ‘contextualized messaging’ niche in a crowded text app marketplace.
Sure, it’s a little gimmicky – but gimmicks have their place, especially if they can claim to shave even a second or two off any of the manifold tasks we perform each day. With contextualized text messages, users can see at a glance that something they are interested in has undergone some sort of development and they should investigate further. There’s no need to even open the message. When it comes to brevity – one of the golden rules of text message marketing – ‘yo’ is as fiendishly efficient as it gets.
The app has already surpassed one million users, despite only being launched earlier this month. And while it’s riding the wave of the world’s most watched sporting event, Yo’s founders hope to carry on finding uses for contextualized SMS.
Company CEO Or Arbel believes major brands like Starbucks could use the ‘Yo’ alert to let customers know their orders are ready. So he’s certainly thinking big. Whether or not such a major brand will favor a start up’s product over their own well-established app remains to be seen, but with millions of “yo” text messages now zipping between smartphones, and an app market more exciting and unpredictable than the World Cup itself, you’d be a fool to dismiss the idea with a red card just yet…
“Smartphone” has passed well and truly into the lexicon, and some would have us believe that “smartclothes” are next. At least, that’s the message from a group of NYU students who have come up with a prototype for a hooded sweatshirt capable of sending preset text messages.
During a demonstration, the designers showed off the smart hoodie’s three triggers: touching the hood, touching the sleeve and rolling up the sleeve. Each action results in a different, pre-programmed SMS message being sent to a pre-determined recipient.
If you’re still scratching your head wondering how many applications there could be for such limited capabilities, join the club. Many industry analysts have questioned how users will forsee the type messages they need to send at short notice – and so surreptitiously.
There are a number of other obvious limitations. Like how do you wash an item of clothing with built in electronics? And how sensitive is the technology? Is there a risk of accidentally sending a text message?
The designers say the main objective of the smart hoodie is to help people in emergency situations. With 911 texting now being adopted by law enforcers across the continent, you can imagine how a preset message might help someone in trouble. You find yourself embroiled in a bank robbery, or an outbreak of public violence, and the smart hoodie could alert authorities with the villains being none the wiser. But are there enough hyper-cautious folk out there who would actually pre-program such paranoid messages and then wear the same item of clothing every day, just in case? Without washing it in between?! Plus, 911 texting programs require users to text their location in order for the authorities to find them. How would this help if you’re out in a random public place?
Even worse, couldn’t texting police about an ongoing bank robbery make you look rather suspicious? How, they might ask as they shine a light in your face in some dingy interrogation room, did you know to preset the message? It sounds like more trouble than it’s worth?
We haven’t even mentioned airport security – that’s a whole other can of worms right there. Compared to that, the benefits of wearing a secret texting device pale. And there are a few minor advantages we can think of. Tapping your sleeve is, to date, still perfectly legal whilst driving; perhaps the system could help in the fight against distracted driving by giving motorists a way to let their family know they’re getting close to home.
If you have a busy work day ahead of you before picking a friend up for dinner, the smart hoodie could be a convenient way of letting them know you’re going to be late, without interrupting that overrunning conference call.
These applications seem pretty trivial next to the pitfalls of owning such an item. It seems unlikely that the wearable text message device – at least in this prototype form – will catch on, but it’s an interesting new direction for SMS technology, and we await the next innovation with interest.
Not only did Manitoba recently become the first Canadian province to provide it’s citizens with a 911 texting service, it has also made the platform available to the deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired.
The new wireless text messaging program is the first of its kind in Canada. Unveiled last week by Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS), the system requires hearing or speech impaired people to first register their wireless devices.
Text-to-911 software has proven popular with law enforcement services all over North America. In May, the four major wireless carriers in the United States have been emergency SMS capabilities as an alternative to voice calls. It’s important to note, however, that the FCC says Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T only support text-to-911 in areas where dispatchers are already equipped to receive SMS.
For those areas, using the technology is very simple. Users simply type 911into the number field, and state their location and the nature of the emergency in the body of the text.
The National Emergency Number Association states that call centers equipped to receive emergency text messages can field SMS in a variety of ways. Centers without the latest SMS technology can simply upgrade their systems.
It’s hoped that more communities will adopt the technology over the coming year, and it could take several years before implementation is nationally adopted.
According to the FCC, anyone who sends a text to 911 via Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, or AT&T in an area where the program is not yet supported will immediately receive a "bounce back" text informing them that their text could not be delivered. If you find yourself in this situation, you would then need to make a voice call to emergency services.
The advantages of text-to-911 are clear. In certain criminal situations, it’s not always possible – or advisable – to bring attention to yourself by talking on the telephone. Emergency text messages could save lives in such situations. Nevertheless, the FCC and law enforcers stress that when contacting 911, the first choice should always be to place a call, with SMS suggested only when a phone call is impossible or dangerous.
Mobile technology is making a major positive impact on the lives of rural workers and farmers in some of the most remote, deprived parts of the world. Since 2007, It’s estimated that individual farmers have made up to $4000 in additional profits, and saved up to twice that amount, figures that represent a significant ROI for struggling businesses in developing markets.
It’s all thanks to the pioneering work of mobile-based agri information hub Reuters Market Light (RML), a service specifically designed to help farmers by forwarding timely alerts regarding relevant agricultural information. It works like a watchdog, issuing vital information at every stage of the agricultural season, from pre-sowing to post-harvest. So far, millions of farmers across the globe have used RML, which tailors information to each farmers’ personal profile so they only receive relevant text messages. The service includes the following features:
- Local market crop prices
- Local weather forecasts
- Advisory information to improve productivity
- Advisory information to reduce risk
- Latest agri information that could impact prices or costs
As a safeguard against unscrupulous middlemen and a globalized food chain dominated by multinational corporations, RML is unimpeachable. The impact has been felt especially strongly in India, a country whose rapid economic growth in recent years has barely raised the living standards of many rural communities.
Examples of the real-world impact of the program are legion. One maize farmer learned of the spread of bird flu in time to store his produce and wait the crises out. Forbes recently ran the story of a grape grower who began exporting produce to Russia after RML informed him that prices were higher there. Another 1.2 million farmers in India use the system to optimize their chances of survival.
It’s not just India. As China’s telecommunications industry grows at an astonishing rate, their contribution to the world of mobile becomes increasingly significant. In Kenya, mobile phone payments are helping reduce crime stats in a country plagued by literal daylight robbery; one quarter of Kenyan GDP now flows through the M-Pesa mobile payment system.
Studies have shown that introducing ten mobile phones per one hundred people in the developing world can add up to one percent to a country’s economic growth. We’ve seen compelling evidence of developing countries getting a leg up from SMS. Between making services cheaper, creating higher expectations among the citizenship, and offering greater choice, the future just looks brighter with mobile.
Clothes shopping for kids can be a perilous experience. They either don’t like anything you see, or they don’t want to go in the first place. Dragging the little ones round a mall on a Saturday afternoon can seem like a thankless task that you still end up with a huge bill for.
Enter Dean & Grace, the boutique kids clothing store that lets you buy threads via text message. The idea is as refreshing and devastatingly simple. The company texts pictures of clothes to parents who have opted in to their SMS list. The image includes a shot of the outfit, a brief description and the size and pricing information. Customers simply reply to the message to place an order. Sign up is free, and can be done via the website, or by texting ‘Joindg’ to 76000.
On signing up, parents select the age, size and gender of their child so they only receive relevant texts. As with any reputable boutique store, supplies are limited – the first respondents get priority on purchasing the items they want.
The number of texts your receive will vary according to inventory, as well as the size and gender details you submit. Sign up for one child and you’ll get around one text per week (opting out is a simple matter of texting “STOP” at any time).
And the clothes are cool enough even for the most jaded tween, with plenty of cute styles going on, enough to satisfy diverse tastes. In addition to carrying boutique lines from across the globe, Dean & Grace carry classic kids brands including Viva La Fete, Silly Goose, Masala Baby, Toobydoo, Trish Scully and Doodlepants. Sizes range from newborn to size 7. If you want a specific item, you just respond with the keyword “want’ to place a bid”. Shipping is free.
Demand is so high, many customers have been placed on a waitlist, so it’s important to get in early if you want a piece of the action. If you do end up on the waitlist, Dean & Grace will notify you by SMS as soon as a spot becomes available.
Shopping via text message is a thoroughly 21st Century experience. So why not give it a whirl?
Mobile phones, particularly smartphones, have revolutionized the retail industry, as shoppers rely on their phones for purchases now more than ever. The retail landscape is expected to change even more over the next three years as retailers continue to respond to consumer behavior. The Mobile Marketing Summit will hit the America Square Conference Centre in London on June 5, 2014, offering retailers the chance to examine the impact of mobile in the retail world and what they can do to stay ahead of the proverbial curve. The event will feature speakers, workshops, an “innovation lab” and more.
The event is divided into four streams, the first of which is “On Device.” This will cover what retailers are doing to generate sales on mobile phones and tablets via apps and transactional mobile sites. Sessions include those on the “choices and challenges” retailers and brands deal with when going mobile, the common mistakes companies make when “setting up, running and optimizing their own mobile and tablet experiences,” and even a session on Domino’s Pizza! Entitled Domino’s Journey From a Bricks & Mortar to Online Retailer, the session features the brand’s head of eCommerce, Paul Francis, who will discuss how Domino’s shaped its eCommerce strategy, as well as the company’s plans for the future.
The next event stream is “Driving Footfall,” which will cover how couponing, location-based services and mobile advertising can draw customers to both physical and digital retailer outlets. Sessions will include those on the key retail and leisure news of 2013, the future of in-store promotions and what opportunities m-commerce offers high street retailers, the power of “weather marketing,” and the many reasons to embrace mobile in the world of retail.
The event’s “In-Store” stream will look at how mobile can guide the shopper’s experience while in actual stores. Sessions are set to examine the future of retail in regards to SMS, insights on using mobile to enhance in-store shopper experiences, and the “bigger picture,” i.e. how brands can set themselves apart from the competition via apps, real-time Facebook integration, SMS and more.
The final Mobile Marketing Summit Stream is called “The Future,” which (unsurprisingly) looks to the future of retail and what part mobile and similar digital technologies will play. This stream will feature two sessions in addition to a panel discussion. The first session includes Humble Grape founder James Dawson, who will share his story on how the brand’s tech wine bar project and its mobile philosophy applies to apps, purchase systems, location technologies and more. The other session will look at mobile’s influence on the total retail experience, including which trends are set to define the future of the mobile world when it comes to retail. It will also examine beacon technology and the omni-channel personal experience.
These and other exciting events make up the third annual Mobile Marketing Summit! The opportunity to network is one of the many reasons the summit is so worthwhile. Will you be attending?
As smartphones become the dominant means of communication for many people, the pitched battle between platform providers is fought to lock users into their digital ecosystem. Some – like Microsoft’s Nokia X – are offering people a way out of a Google world with which many have grown disillusioned. It’s fascinating to watch, but such aggressive competition can be a headache for anyone who does make the leap and switch to another service provider. Cross-platform support is woefully inadequate.
A perfect example of this careless approach emerged this week, as iPhone owners who switched to Android found they could no longer receive text messages via the iMessage app – despite Apple’s SMS service claiming cross-platform capabilities.
The problems dates back to an old bug in the system that stems from the way iMessage was developed. As a separate messing system with end to end encryption, anyone who signs up is assured a high level of security. Their number is stored in a separate database, accesses only when another Apple device sends them a message. Other iPhone users can share text messages for free using the app, but for numbers not in the database, a charge-carrying SMS is sent instead.
Fine, but what happens when you switch to a new device? Oblivious, your contacts send you a text via iMessage, which searches for your Apple ID and keeps trying to send you an iMessage instead of an SMS. Neither type of message gets through.
Understandably upset defectors have initiated a class action lawsuit against Apple, which experts believe may ultimately involve thousands of litigants. The suit requests that Apple fix iMessage to allow users to exit the ecosystem without problems, and also seeks punitive damages.
According to Apple, the only fix for the bug is to have every contact delete and re-add your name to their own contacts. This is an unwieldy ‘solution’ that will cause more problems than it solves. We wait with bated breath to see if Apple offers a more satisfactory answer…
At the end of last year, MobileMarketingWatch predicted 2014 would see $8 billion spent on mobile advertising. According to their prediction, one of the key drivers of this expanding market would be the rise of the ‘digital wallet’.
In an age of widespread smartphone ownership, mobile transactions are the logical continuation of an increasingly cashless society. Convenient, secure and easily tracked, digital payments are now possible via a number of apps:
Probably the best known digital wallet, Google’s app lets you pay for goods and services by waving or tapping your smartphone across a checkout reader which identifies credit card information linked to your Google account. Right now, it only works in the US with selected merchants, but more companies are adding the technology all the time. It even works with Google Glass.
Apple’s take on the digital wallet was introduced to iOS 6. It relies on scanning 2D barcodes that help you manage anything from movie tickets to loyalty cards and coupons. Again, only a few merchants are accepting this form of transaction right now, and it’s not (yet) possible to sync it with your credit card, but as a convenient way of managing store accounts, Passbook takes some beating.
The lesser known Square Wallet is available on both iOS and Android. The app links your credit card details to a fairly limited directory of merchants, and uses geo-location technology to charge you when you’re in store. A neat feature is the potential for purchasing in-store gift vouchers that can be sent to other Square Wallet users.
Chirpify turns your social media apps into payment systems using PayPal. It creates listings enabling you to sell items or start a fundraising project on Instagram or Twitter, all managed from a Chirpify dashboard.
Just like the Bump app that lets you share photos between smartphones, Bump Pay is a free iPhone app that does exactly what it says on the tin: transfers (or ‘bumps’) money from one phone to another using a PayPal account.
Taking digital payments full circle, Isis comes with its very own cashcard, preloaded with $10. Compatible with NFC-enabled Androids, it lets you manage loyalty cards and redeem offers from selected merchants. Isis is also PIN-protected, and can be remotely frozen if your phone is stolen – perfect for security conscious digital wallet lovers.
It may come as a surprise in such a youth-oriented market, but the fastest growing demographic for mobile usage is 45-64, says a recent Nielsen Company report. Mobile marketers must stay alert to this audience if they want to maximize their reach.
The study also indicated an increasing preference for social media among the same demographic. Other research has thrown up similar findings. Baby boomers are now the main growth drivers for Facebook and Twitter. But are mobile marketers appealing to this audience? If not, how can they start developing a strategy that speaks to middle-aged users?
The answer could lie in SMS messaging. Middle-aged users are already an experienced demographic when it comes to texting, and with more and more users buying smartphones, integrating your social media campaign with your text campaign has never been easier.
Used to the SMS interface, older, less tech-savvy users are much likelier to click a link contained within a text message than discover it from browsing online. Coupons, discounts, special offers – they can all be delivered via text, and you can encourage recipients to visit your site by linking directly from SMS. As ever, offering real value is the most effective way to attract business.
When devising a mobile marketing strategy for baby boomers, think about their specific needs. Healthcare products, vacation rentals, flights. The possibilities for targeting older consumers are endless.
One of the first decisions to make when developing a text marketing campaign is whether to use short codes or long codes. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, largely dependent on what type of business you have.
Long codes are attractive to small businesses with limited marketing budgets. Easy and affordable to set up, long codes allow for multiple messages to be sent internationally from one number. For companies outside the United States who need to watch every penny, the long code is an understandably appealing option.
Trouble is, this ease of use can spell disaster when used for commercial purposes. Using long codes over a U.S. carrier network is actually illegal, and organizations that send unsolicited messages to consumers violate the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM Act). A number of companies are currently facing litigation for such violations.
Legal ramifications notwithstanding, the marketing benefits of long codes are questionable. For one thing, they don’t support videos or pictures and there are severe restrictions on the number of messages that can be sent per second. The bottom line is, long codes are intended for communication between individuals, not businesses and consumers.
Which brings us to short codes. Yes, they can take weeks to be vetted, and they are undoubtedly expensive (with monthly costs averaging around $500), but that’s the price of an effective, legitimate service. The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) have implemented rules to protect consumers, namely an obligation to gain permission from each recipient before sending a text message.
Instead of viewing this regulation as inconvenient red tape, look at it from the consumer’s point of view – they don’t want to be hassled with unsolicited commercial messages. Why do something that alienates people from your business? Gaining explicit permission will vastly improve your relationship with users – not to mention keeping you within the bounds of the law!
From a purely marketing perspective, short codes are more memorable, and allow you to send thousands of messages in a second. They can also be used for handling payment services, which will save your business resources in the long run.
Customers prefer them. So do law courts. So do commercial enterprises with an eye for the long-term strategy. With few exceptions, the legitimate, accountable business uses short codes.
When devising a text marketing strategy, it makes sense to study successful campaigns pulled off by other companies. Not every tactic will be appropriate for your industry or business, but at least you’ll get an understanding of what works. Let’s take a rundown of our favorite SMS and mobile campaigns from recent years…
The fast food behemoth recently launched a ‘Merry Xmas in the Restaurant’ sweepstakes in Italian outlets. Customers could enter the competition while in a restaurant, and stood to win instant prizes. A classic use of short codes printed on packaging, prizes ranged from free mobile content to free burgers. Within five weeks, a million and a half people had participated in the event.
In 2011, Heineken introduced a ‘dual screen’ app that allowed fans to interact during soccer games. Predicting outcomes of set pieces and scorelines, trivia questions about teams - StarPlayer awarded points for them all. They even skirted the tricky issue of fans simply looking up trivia answers online by awarding more points for fast answers. The competitive element of the app ensured it was shared across social media, and Heineken gained huge exposure as a result.
The Las Vegas hotel and casino ran an SMS campaign offering prizes to people who opted in to receive messages and upgraded to an A-List Player’s Club membership. Prizes included free game credits on the floor. The campaign increased membership by 13%.
The food company offered new mobile signups a free sample of instant coffee. The campaign resulted in 400,000 requests for samples, and more than 80,000 mobile message opt-in offers.
When Adidas launched their Adizero F50 soccer boots, they had all the components of a winning marketing campaign. Top Argentine footballer Lionel Messi was the face of the promotion, and Penn Station in NYC was to form the centerpiece of a dramatic light show. In order to spread the word, Adidas targeted all mobile users within a 3-mile radius of Penn Station during the run-up to the light show. Their ad linked to a promo video describing the event’s location and time. By using an element of mystery, a free show and a famous face, Adidas attracted thousands of spectators to Penn Station.
In 2012, Arby’s used SMS as part of a campaign to raise awareness about global childhood hunger. They partnered with the ‘No Kid Hungry’ campaign, and encouraged users to opt in to their mobile contact list – all while promoting a good cause.
Text marketing really works for these huge brands – and it can work for you too. Get inspired by these success stories, and start your SMS marketing campaign now!
Mobile marketing relies on creating robust strategies for multiple channels. The key areas for any winning mobile marketing strategy are social media, SMS messaging and email. If you’re developing three entirely separate campaigns for each, you need to rethink your approach.
To create a successful, holistic campaign, you need to foster a ‘cross channel synergy’ between each channel. If, for example, you have an email contact list, encourage those who usually only use email to visit your Facebook page, where you can offer a freebie to people who opt in to your SMS list. This ‘feedback loop’ maximizes engagement with your customers – but it has to be done right. To wit, an important message to understand:
Don’t Ignore Email
As mobile marketing tactics begin to focus more on texting, a lot of businesses are beginning to forget about email, regarding it as a relic from a bygone era. This would be a mistake. The many, varied reasons belong in another post – in fact, here’s just such a thing all about the value of email. Above all, think about how often you check your email. Yes, much of what comes into your inbox is spam filtered, deleted, or ignored, but the fact remains, nearly everybody has an email account – smartphones haven’t quite achieved that level of penetration.
Now we’ve established that email is far from over, how can you integrate it with your social media and SMS campaigns? Here’s three top tips for getting the most out of your integrated campaign:
- Provide incentive. If you want people to connect with you on social networks, you need to offer them something of value. Before asking people to share a link or visit your website, ask yourself, what’s in it for them? An easy way to do this is by incentivizing Facebook ‘likes’ by offering a discount to anyone who gives the thumbs up to your page.
- Get people Retweeting. Highlight a particular tweet in your emails, and embed a ‘Retweet This’ snippet that makes it easy for people to share.
- Provide an opt-in form. Facebook allows you to add an email sign-up form as one of your apps. Use it! Your Facebook followers will soon be asking you to send them emails with special offers.
In mobile circles, it’s well known that more than nine out of ten text messages are opened and read within minutes of receipt. Numerous studies have corroborated this impressive claim, and yet a number of businesses are still to catch on to the potential benefits of a mobile campaign.
The reasons for this vary. In some cases, businesses simply don’t want to try anything new, whether out of fear or corporate apathy. As in life, people tend to stick to what they know – especially if they are older and more set in their ways.
And yet, there are so many advantages to mobile marketing – when compared with other forms of advertising – that it to ignore it could be putting the future health of your company in serious danger. Here are five reasons mobile should be an essential, central part of your overall a strategy:
- It’s fast. A text message can be created, delivered, and read much faster than any other form of marketing. Look at the best Twitter and text campaigns to find out how to create engaging content in less than 160 characters, and remember, when it comes to delivering a punchy, memorable brand message, brevity and levity are your friends. Text has both.
- It’s cheap. For a small business, the affordability of SMS is one of the chief appeals. Compared with billboards or radio and television advertising, a text campaign gives you a big reach at a fraction of the cost.
- It’s trackable. Keeping an eye on the success of your campaigns will help you figure out where to focus future budgets. With texting, it’s a whole lot easier to track metrics and create a detailed analysis of each campaign’s performance.
- It’s direct. Emails are checked once or twice a day at most, and the majority of commercial missives are filtered in one way or another. Text, on the other hand, is a frequently-checked medium, with many users looking at a message as soon as it has arrived.
- It’s interactive. Engaging customers is so easy with SMS. Surveys, polls and questionnaires can be sent to thousands of people at the touch of a button. Not only will texting encourage people to visit your social media pages and website, it can provide your business with crucial data on personal preferences and spending habits.
If you’re embarking on a new mobile strategy for 2014, it pays to look around at success stories from the world of mobile marketing to see how it’s done. Here, we take a look at three of the most successful mobile marketing campaigns ever conducted!
American Express, Foursquare and Austin,TX
In the summer of 2010, Foursquare and American Express teamed up to devise a mobile marketing strategy that would promote customer loyalty for local businesses. The results were launched in Austin during the Spring of 2011. Some 60 local businesses offered Foursquare users a ‘spend $5, save $5’ reciprocal deal – provided they completed the transaction using an AmEx card. This ‘Loyalty Special’ sent push notifications to participants, informing them that they had successfully redeemed the offer. The beauty of this campaign was the seamlessness of the user experience: the special offer happened at exactly the same time as the sale, without the need for further action, effectively closing the loop between consumers’ online and offline behavior.
Irish airline Aer Lingus used to rely solely on emails to inform passengers of any flight delays or cancellations. This was far from perfect, only reaching around 10% of passengers. The carrier’s solution? SMS. Within a month of implementing an SMS communication program, Aer Lingus successfully informed 75% of passengers of a problem with a flight, and have since largely avoided shelling out compensation and fielding tricky complaints. This is a classic example of an indirect mobile marketing solution that worked its magic by improving customer service. Word-of-mouth did the rest.
A great example of a long-running mobile marketing strategy that’s had consistently high results is the partnership between UK cinemas and communications company Orange. Launched in 2003, ‘Orange Wednesdays’ offers 2-for-1 movie tickets to all customers, every single Wednesday. According to research conducted in 2010, Orange had issued 23.5 million freebies to date. Many customers took advantage of the scheme multiple times, and Orange claims to have generated another three million annual ticket sales for movie theaters. The campaign has been an undisputed success, taking Wednesday attendance figures from the lowest to the highest in a few short years.
So take a leaf out of some of these books when you come to devise a mobile strategy. If you offer something of value, get it to the right audience, and improve your customer service using text message technology, there’s not limit to what you can achieve.
Businesses of all stripes have found ways to make use of SMS messaging as part of their marketing tactics. Compared with more traditional channels (such as television or radio advertising) texting is affordable and easy to implement. Little wonder it’s such an attractive proposition – especially for small and medium sized businesses.
Equally, other forms of mobile-based outreach are taking hold as a primary form of marketing. A growing number of people own smartphones. Companies can now engage with consumers using sophisticated technologies like geo-targeting. Done right, such tactics are to the mutual benefit of businesses and customers.
But along with this boom in all forms of mobile marketing comes a raft of new responsibilities. Chief among them is the necessity for protecting consumer data. Businesses must now consider the impact that targeted, personalized advertising may have on ethical issues such as confidentiality and privacy. As exciting as the possibilities of data collection and geo-location are, they demand a whole new level of corporate self-regulation.
Clearly, to get the most out of many mobile services, consumers must surrender a certain degree of privacy. In the case of geo-targeting, businesses demand access to GPS locations in order to provide the service. The upshot it they have to be transparent and honest about the way in which they plan to use personal data.
Legislation has already evolved to deal with text marketing. New FCC regulations were implemented on October 16, 2013. Under the new rules, customers have to opt-in before a company can send text messages to them. By opting in, they have provided ‘express consent’ to be a recipient of corporate communications. Some of the obligations companies are bound by include:
- Giving a clear description of the nature of the text programProviding the name of the company
- Providing clear instructions on opting out
- Giving an indication of the likely frequency of text messages
- Giving an explanation of any additional carrier costs
The federal government has considered introducing legislation to further protect consumer data privacy for mobile users. Some steps have been made at the local level - notably Senator Al Franken’s endorsement of the Location Privacy Protection Act in 2011, which would require businesses to obtain express consent before collecting or sharing data. The Senate has given the legislation the nod, but Congress has yet to deal with it.
Currently, the onus falls on companies themselves, so it’s vital that consumers are alert to the integrity of brands with whom they do business. As far as companies go, the existing situation provides a platform to build strong, personal, long-term relationships that are based on mutual trust. Do this, and you will develop true brand loyalty – without the need for ethical practices to be imposed by law from above.
Despite the aggressive onward march of smartphone penetration in the developed world, the vast majority of people on earth are still not connected to the web at all, let alone through a sophisticated handheld device. That situation is unlikely to change any time soon.
Bridging the gap is good old-fashioned cellular technology, which is becoming more widely available in some of the more impoverished reaches of the globe. In Chikwawa, Malawi, a text message-based nutritional monitoring program was introduced in September 2012. In the intervening months, it has forwarded crucial data on children’s health to a central hospital in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe – and undoubtedly saved lives in the process.
Once a week, the mothers of Chikwawa – some 250 of them – bring their under-fives for a check up. A health worker logs their weigh, height, arm circumference and age, before sending the information by a text beginning with GM (for growth monitoring). Within minutes, the health worker receives a reply from the capital, determining whether or not the child is malnourished and needs further medical attention.
Growth Monitoring does not, in itself, identify the root causes of malnutrition, but it does expedite treatment for the most at-risk children, allowing district hospitals to get supplements to the needy. Supplements like PlumpyNut, which was developed to treat severe acute malnutrition at home. This in turn lightens the intense burden placed on the health system by eliminating the need for hospital stays. In a country with one doctor for every 44,000, measures like this are genuinely life-saving.
According to UNICEF, two in 25 children die in Malawi before reaching their fifth birthday, with at least a third of these fatalities attributed to malnutrition. Across the country, 17% of children under five are underweight, and 47% are stunted. The effects of stunted growth cannot be underestimated; where physical growth is stunted, so too is economic growth, and the effects of stunting can be passed onto the next generation, potentially hindering the country’s development for decades to come.
Before the SMS program was introduced, paper notebooks were mailed to the capital. The process could take up to a year, by which time the most at-risk children would have seriously declined – or worse. Furthermore, a study found that more than 14% of handwritten data was illegible – not an issue when it comes to texting.
Similar SMS-based initiatives have been used to great effect in other parts of the world. Some track diseases, other hold corrupt governments to account. UNICEF and other organizations are overcoming previously insurmountable problems across the developed world – and it’s all being achieved via the power of text.
Facebook experienced accelerated growth during 2013, largely as a result of its monetizaton of smartphone and tablet users via mobile advertising. The company is now trading close to all-time highs, and, with the recent additions of Instagram and WhatsApp, has plenty of room for growth during 2014.
Acquired for a billion dollars in 2012, Instagram was seen as a bold purchase for Facebook at the time, as it was not yet a revenue generator. Facebook changed that in 2013, and they are starting to reap big rewards from the photo-sharing network, which now has more than 180 million MAUs.
A key change to the Instagram model was the recent addition of video capabilities. Selective ads from leading brands were added, and Instagram cleverly focused on only the most creative impressions that would fit with the overall aesthetic of the service. With Facebook’s billion-strong user base, Instagram has the potential to grow further still, with some analysts predicting revenues of more than $500 million by the year’s end.
A bigger surprise in industry circles was Facebook’s deal for WhatsApp, the popular messaging service that primarily services the youth demographic.
The massive $19 billion deal highlights Facebook’s determination to remain innovative and stay in touch with the mobile app boom. Facebook sees – as many do – the future of web activity becoming increasingly mobile-based, and is seeking to assert itself as the dominant platform.
Moving forward, Facebook remains an expensive stock, but the firm is doing all the right things – growing its user base, focusing on mobile ads and apps, and investing in product development at a thrilling rate. Facebook’s ability to monetize its increasingly large audience is proving a real boon to revenues and earnings. They are showing no signs of slowing down, and with an appetite for innovation and growth this big, who knows what 2014 will bring?
Geo-targeting or location-based marketing has fast become one of the most powerful tools at the disposal of retailers. This exciting new technology allows businesses to engage with consumers as soon as they – or to be more precise, their smartphone - enters a geo-fenced area close to a store or restaurant.
In the short time it has been available geo-targeting has proved immensely successful, with 58% of major brands employing some version of geo-location strategies during the first quarter of 2013.
Joe Public loves geo-targeting because it sends them relevant in-store offers only when they can actually use them. Businesses are finding increasingly sophisticated ways to use the technology. Some have begun using micro location-based techniques, whereby customers download an app to receive personalized offers as soon as they set foot in the store.
The benefits are patently obvious, and yet not all businesses suitable for geo-targeting have taken advantage. The technology is complex, and beyond the capacity of many small businesses. But there are a variety of ways to use geo-targeting, some of which are easier to implement than others.
One of the most attractive methods to marketers who don’t want to deal with privacy and legal issues is IP targeting, which identifies users based solely on IP address. There is no opt-in required, since the individual is not personally targeted, just the ISP infrastructure of which they are a part. Similarly, cookies provide a broad brush stroke version of geo-location, though they are notoriously inaccurate, being logged in one location before the user moves somewhere else. WiFi triangulation works in the same way, locating users MAC addresses and nearby wireless hotspots.
All of these geo-targeting methodologies have their perks, chief among them the fact that businesses don’t need to seek consent from their audience. To really get the most out of geo-targeting, however, you need to choose a more effective, precise and, yes, consent-based strategy. Location-as-a-service (LaaS) is a cloud based solution, triangulating users locations using mobile phone towers. Laas requires recipients to opt in, as do location-based proximity networks, which provide one of the most accurate forms of geo-targeting there is, capable of locating users within 200-900 feet of the point of sale. Location-based proximity networks are usually favored by malls and large department stores.
For the average retailer, GPS-powered geo-targeting is by far the best option, providing precision data to within a few feet of the mobile device. In most cases, persuading customers to opt-in to receive location-based offers and discounts via GPS is going to generate the biggest ROI. The only tricky part is convincing customers of the usefulness of the technology, whilst reassuring them that their data will not be used for any other purpose.