SMS enhances CRM/loyalty programs: Mobile Marketing Day panel

NEW YORK ? Panelists at Mobile Marketing Day, cohosted by the DMA and Mobile Marketer, discussed how to build an opted-in SMS database that ties in with other channels such as email and direct mail.

The panel was moderated by Mobile Marketer?s Mickey Alam Khan and covered how to use keywords and short codes to drive traffic to stores and Web sites. Panelists also discussed the virtues of SMS for mobile coupons and alerts announcing sales, store openings and product launches.

?The basis of a loyalty program is you want to get people to opt in and texting a keyword in to a short code is the perfect opt-in mechanism,? said Matthew Valleskey, senior marketing manager for mobile services at Neustar, Sterling, VA. ?There are more mobile phones out there than computers and televisions combined?everyone puts their Web URL on various media, why not put a short code call-to-action?

?You have mobile phones with you everywhere you go, and so do consumers and the people you?re trying to market to and get to opt in to your loyalty program,? he said. ?When we talk about mobile marketing and advertising, people are not just using their phones to make phone calls any more.

?Think about all of the things this device can do?it?s always on, and very personal.?

Neustar manages the Common Short Code Administration registry at http://www.usshortcodes.com on behalf of CTIA ? The Wireless Association.

Almost every mobile phone nationwide, smart or basic, can accept and send SMS. An estimated 1 trillion SMS messages were exchanged nationwide in 2008, with double-digit growth expected for last year.
Indeed, SMS has become the equivalent of email on mobile.

To not have a permission-based SMS program or a common short code?those five- or six-digit numbers?is to be locked out of a relationship with early-adopters, younger consumers and those sold on the charm of text messaging.

?The reason SMS makes sense for CRM is immediacy, ease of use and targeting,? Mr. Valleskey said. ?You can use multiple keywords based on what you want to communicate back to them, and segment them to see which medium performs best.?

Text 4 info, text 2 join
Sumotext is a mobile application provider specializing in SMS that provides tools to control message flows and campaign logic.

There are two types of SMS campaigns, according to Sumotext: text 4 info and text 2 join.

?Text 4 info clearly implies there?s not an opt-in?it?s a one-off such as text the property ID to this short code to get the school system, price and real estate agent associated with a home,? said Tim Miller, CEO of Sumotext, Little Rock, AR. ?Auto dealerships will also use it for lead capture, and query responses from ChaCha and Google are also good examples.?

Other examples are text 4 detail, text 4 link, text 4 code, text 4 callback and text 2 feedback.

On the other hand, text 2 join campaigns ask for permission to send messages to the consumer?s mobile number again, and thus require an opt-in.

Examples include text 2 win, text 2 vote, text 4 rewards and text 4 alerts.

?Text 2 join does imply an opt-in, and there are only two ways?carriers don?t allow paper sign-up sheets,? Mr. Miller said. ?The first is a Web form with a permission box that must initially be unchecked and a link to terms and conditions.

"When submitted, The system should then generate a confirmation request such as ?Reply YES to confirm,'? he said. ?The other way to opt is by texting a keyword to a short code, for example, text EYES1 to 702222."

Marketers need opt-in confirmation for all SMS alerts services, both standard-rate programs where only message and data rates and premium programs that carry a charge.

To be above board, marketers must provide a compliant opt-in information confirmation message with the content provider?s name, a program description, the frequency of alerts, how to QUIT and how to get HELP, as well as rate disclosure.

A sample opt-in confirmation: ?Thanks. You?re confirmed. Mobile VIP Club (Max 8 msg/mth) Reply STOP to end or HELP for help. Msg&Data rates may apply.?

?With SMS the opt-out is inherently part of applications?if you opt out you will be removed, it works,? Mr. Miller said. ?Mobile is a channel that you?re going to be able to control.

?There?s a relatively high barrier to entry cost, and also not that many application providers, so most of the people that take the trouble to get into the space are going to do it the right way,? he said. ?The mobile channel is very clean, and that plus time sensitivity makes it effective.

?It?s concise?we like it because it?s short?we keep text messages brief.?