Commentary

SMS - Beyond Offers

In my previous Mobile Insider columns, I took the easy road and called out those who were doing less than great in the mobile messaging arena. So it’s time to be more constructive and provide some good examples. I sign up for every text-message program I run across (you should too!), so I have some good ideas to share if you want to go beyond the standard X% or Y$-off offer. 

Make no mistake -- customers want coupons and offers, probably more than anything else you can send. But if you are constrained by those pesky profit margins, or are not in retail, you may find inspiration in these options. 

App Promotions – SMS subscribers are loyal customers, so an invitation to download or update an app will typically get a good response.

Site Content – Assuming your site is optimized for mobile devices, invite subscribers to experience new high-value (repeat: high-value) features and tools.

Social Campaigns – The majority of traffic to the major social sites comes from mobile devices, so it’s a natural tie-in for SMS.  Announce and promote your campaigns and hashtags. For a good example, check out #aeriereal.

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Subscriber Sharing – Another natural extension of smartphone use is sharing pictures. If you are SMS-enabled, ask subscribers to share pictures of themselves enjoying your product or service or related to your brand.

Sweeps and Contests – Invite subscribers to register to win, check the leaderboard, or re-enter daily. Submitting a photo is a good entry option that drives social sharing. Tying the device ID to the entry page is a good way to connect the dots and capture subscriber information beyond phone number.

Product and Event Announcements – Drive traffic to your site or physical location via SMS. Since your subscribers are likely to be superfans, reward them with a special freebie, VIP experience or sneak preview.

News – It was a sad day for short-message marketers when the WWE (yes, World Wide Entertainment, aka professional wrestling) ended their SMS program in favor of their app. They had the best pure content program I have seen. There was always some new drama, match, challenge, retirement or event. 

Service, Service, Service – Service is one of the very best use cases for SMS. Your payment or return was processed, your order was shipped or is ready for pick-up, here’s your password reset or verification code, your coupon is about to expire, your payment is due, your table is ready, your cab is here… the list is long.

Progressive Profiling – SMS is a wonderful two-way street. Don’t introduce friction, but do ask for that key piece of information that will help make your messages more relevant -- ZIP code, email address, loyalty number. Then use it!

Come on, people -- it’s only 160 characters. Surely you’ve got something valuable to say -- and 15 minutes to set it up! Be sure to use bit.ly links to track clicks and monitor your Quit Rate to gauge the impact of your content. And please share. Provide your good ideas in the comments section. 

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