To Text or Not To Text
SMS offers huge potential in that people have their cell phones with them most of the time. But marketers suggested itâ€™s a very private arena and they run the risk of appearing overly intrusive when they use it.
On a panel, Chip House, vice president of marketing services at ExactTarget, endorsed using SMS as "another tool" to build an email list, and "not as a promotional device."
He cited an example of artists asking fans at concerts to text their email addresses and then using the contact information for future communications -- perhaps to provide updates on a tour schedule.
Marketers that sat on the panel and those in the audience mostly agreed that SMS programs should have consumers opting-in.
Those in the audience expressed varying opinions on what directions to go with SMS. One suggested messages functioning essentially as advertising can work, citing texts sent by Borders that persuade a family member to visit the store.
But another email marketer said the space calls for moving slowly and delicately. "If you view it as another promotional channel, you're going to burn out your customers right away," he said.
There appeared to be a consensus that messages delivered from marketers must have a vastly different tone than the emails they normally send; in other words, SMS is a medium that commands its own creative tactics (even if email, SMS and other mediums are used in an integrated effort).
Audience member Jay Stevens, vice president of international online marketing at MySpace, said the social network doesn't employ text messaging much in the U.S., but uses it frequently in overseas markets, particularly Asia. In fact, in some markets, people prefer to receive notifications via SMS, he said.
Hotels.com's Brad Nash summarized much of marketers' mixed feelings on SMS at a gathering to open the Summit on Sunday evening. â€œIt's such a private thing,â€ he said. "If you do it wrong, you can greatly tarnish your brand. You have to tread lightly.â€
Nonetheless, he said thereâ€™s a need to stay on top of how the space evolves: â€œAs young people get older and older, how do we adapt to them?â€