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SMS increases effectiveness of traditional media: Mobile Marketing Day panel

February 23, 2011

Unilever's Axe tapped SMS to drive product sales

NEW YORK – SMS can work with every form of traditional media there is and make it interactive, actionable and trackable, according to a panel at Mobile Marketing Day.

The conference was cohosted by the Direct Marketing Association, Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily. The panel was moderated by Matthew Valleskey, director of marketing for mobile services at Neustar, Sterling, VA.

“It’s all about making the various pieces work together for consumer engagement—SMS, MMS, direct mail, mobile Web, applications, social networking and email. Jay Highley, founder and president of Pangea Partners, Indianapolis. “To me mobile is becoming everywhere—how I access email, the Web or social networking really is all about mobile.

“SMS is intimate and immediate, and the first thing brands have to start doing is build an opt-in SMS database of consumers that have raised their hand and said ‘I want to have dialogue and discussion with your brand,’” he said.

“Brands should think broader about their SMS database to take what they are building and segment down to get the right message to the right consumer at the right time.”

Text a keyword to a short code
A common theme among panelists was that not including a mobile call-to-action across various consumer touch points, including television advertising, represents a missed opportunity for building a mobile database.

“At last year’s Super Bowl, Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast commercial could have had the ability to opt you in by texting the keyword EGGS to the short code 55555,” said Jeff Hasen, chief marketing officer of Hipcricket, Kirkland, WA.

“That is a way to make a passive activity active and ask consumers to come back next week and a month later through remarketing,” he said.

When Arby’s introduced a product called the Roastburger, the fast-food chain partnered with Hipcricket to take its existing channels and add a mobile component.

To activate its sponsorship of Jimmy Kimmel Live, Arby’s had Mr. Kimmel tell his audience to “Text ‘Roastburger’ to ARBYS (27297) to get one Roastburger free with the purchase of any size soft drink.”

Based on the response to that call-to-action, Hipcricket built 172 local databases for Arby’s and asked them to opt in by giving their local ZIP code.

The campaign surpassed the several hundred thousand campaign mark, and the mobile component was part of dollars that Arby’s was already spending.

Building a mobile database is key
Domino’s and Unilever’s Axe are two brands that have used SMS to build an opted-in database to enable remarketing.

Domino’s partnered with Ping Mobile for the launch of its Legends pizza. The goal was to drive foot traffic to its franchise locations and build awareness of the new product.

Ping Mobile, in partnership with Cox Media, placed television spots on various cable networks with a mobile call-to-action to text the keyword LEGENDS to the short code 74642.

Viewers who texted in received a mobile coupon to show in store to get a free oven-baked sandwich with the purchase of any new Legends pizza.

Sales increased 15 percent for one particular location and more than 40 percent opted in to receive further offers.

Unilever’s Axe activated its Dark Temptation campaign with the call-to-action “Want to win the sweet Life? Text AXE 2 to 74642 for your chance to win sweet Axe prizes.”

The brand used mobile to drive participants to make purchases and had people text in the product UPC code to receive additional entries into the sweepstakes.

“That is a great tactic to get around the many different retailers that sell the specific product,” said Shira Simmonds, president/CEO of Ping Mobile, Englewood Cliffs, NJ. “To build opted-in database for remarketing, we recommend clients add a double opt-in—‘Reply YES to receive more messages from our brand.’

“Once you do, you have a captive audience—they not only asked to receive an offer, they joined a mobile club, so the ROI potential is huge,” she said. “Think about the power of what you’re doing by adding various keywords and assigning each to a different consumer touch point—you can track the effectiveness of traditional media.

“Mobile can drive consumer behavior.”

Mobile calls-to-action
There are three types of SMS calls-to-action—text-for-info, text-to-give and text-to-join.

An example of text-for-info is “Get the Gazelle app! Text QUEST to 89700.” That call-to-action is trying to generate leads and brand interaction and increase response rates, but people are not opting in.

Text-to-give involves nonprofit organizations encouraging consumers to donate a certain amount, typically $5 or $10, by texting a keyword to a short code.

The objective of text-to-join calls-to-action is getting consumers to opt in to a mobile database to enable remarketing.

An example is a retailer offering access to its VIP-only private sale rack to consumers who “Text VIP to 84700.”

“SMS is great for increasing response rates,” said Tim Miller, CEO of Sumotext, Little Rock, AR. “To encourage opt-ins, think quid pro quo, and save your best for those that reciprocate.

“If you don’t have compelling rewards to offer consumers, partner with someone who does,” he said. “The call-to-action must be easy for the customer to understand and execute. You can’t make it simple enough.

“Incorporate economy into the original call-to-action—name, email, age, ZIP code or product ID—and capture that as part of the opt-in.”

Final Take
Mr. Valleskey

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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