Info

Figure 3.7 Number of text messages sent monthly in the UK, 2001 to 2005

Source: Mobile data association

SMS applications

For the creative marketer who respects opt-in and privacy legislation, SMS has proved a great way to get closer to customers, particularly those in the youth market who are difficult to reach with other media. These are some of the applications showcased on

Text.it (www.text.it):

1 Database building/direct response to ads/direct mail or on-pack. This is one of the most significant applications. For example, Ford engaged its audience when promoting the Ford Ka by offering consumers to text in a unique code printed on their postcard for entry into a prize draw.

2 Location-based services. Text for the nearest pub, club, shop or taxi. In London you can now text for the nearest available taxi and pay the congestion charge through texting once accounts are set up via the web!

3 Sampling/trial. Nestlé used an opt-in SMS database to offer samples for a new chocolate bar to consumers in its target group.

4 Sales promotions. Timed e-coupons can be sent out to encourage footfall in real and virtual stores. Drinks brand WKD offered its consumers to 'Peel Off and Win' on its bottles. The competition offered prizes of 3,000 football club shirts, mini footballs, 10,000 referee cards, and 1m exclusive ringtones and logos designed by WKD. Half a million people played the game, a campaign response rate of 3%. A 3,000-strong opt-in database of the company's 18-24-year-old customer base was created. The company plans to use this database to trial new WKD variety Silver.

5 Rewarding with offers for brand engagement. Valuable content on mobiles can be offered via SMS, for example free ringtones, wallpaper, Java games or credits can be offered to consumers via text.

6 Short codes. These are easy to remember 5-digit numbers combined with text that can be used by advertisers or broadcasters for response.

7 Offering paid for WAP services and content. Any service such as a ringtone delivered by WAP can be invoked from a text message. For example, Parker's Car Guides now prints ad text 'go parkers' to 89080 (a short code) for quick access to the Parker's WAP site which provides car prices on-the-go, at £1 for 10 minutes.

SMS Messaging has recently been augmented by Picture Messaging or Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS). While volumes have been relatively low initially, the overlap between text messaging and e-mail marketing will decrease as there are more handsets with larger screens.

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