How can Text Messaging and Mobile Web Sites be a powerful Mobile Marketing Combination? Let’s start off with the basics:
Text Message Marketing
This is when you use a 5 or 6 digit shortcode to create an interaction between your organization and your audience. The user will be instructed to text a keyword to a shortcode to start the interaction (sign up for the mobile club, enter to win, vote for something, etc). Anytime someone sends a text message to your system their number is stored in your database. Assuming you have notified your users they are opting-in for future text messages you can use this database to send more messages later.
Pro: Text messaging is great because it’s cost-effective and it works on nearly every phone active in the US. Almost every mobile user knows how to send a text message. And, like email, it’s a direct marketing channel. The bigger your database grows the more traffic and sales it can drive.
Con: Text messaging is limiting because you can only use 160 characters per message. It’s made for short, sweet, and to-the-point messages. It’s hardly a rich multimedia experience.
Mobile Web Sites
These are the cost-effective, widely-accepted, work-on-most-phones, “cousin” of apps. You build them to better reach your mobile audience with trimmed down pages, store locators, mobile-specific features, etc. Because one mobile web site can work on any HTML-capable phone. You don’t need to build an iPhone version, then an Android version, then a BlackBerry (ok, you get the idea).
Pro: Mobile web sites are great because they’re also budget-friendly to build and maintain. In most cases they are just your main web site on a very strict diet. When your users load your main web site on their phone they can be automatically redirected to the streamlined mobile version. This lets you create a specific mobile experience for your audience without asking them to download another app.
Con: Mobile web sites can be disappointing because unless you have a large number of users searching for you on their mobile phone, the mobile site may sit there with very little traffic. Also you may sit there wondering how to promote it. You could try putting the mobile web address on signs and advertisements, but nobody likes to punch URLs into their mobile phone. You could try putting QR codes everywhere, but there’s a better way (see our comparison of Text Messaging and QR codes).
Using Text Message Marketing and Mobile Web Sites Together
On their own text message marketing and mobile web sites are both perfectly fine mobile marketing tactics. But when you put them together? Then you can:
- Use text messaging to make it easier to access your mobile site. Ask users to “text now” to read more about a product, learn more about an event, make a donation, and more. A quick text message and they get a response back with a convenient web link… and you get their phone number in your database for future messages.
- Use a mobile web site to enhance your text messaging campaign. Instead of just sending a 160 character message, link your audience to something on your mobile site; images, more details, schedules, registration pages. Make it easier for them to take action now while they’re reading your message.
- Use text messaging to “launch” your mobile web site. Start with a text messaging campaign while you finish development of your mobile site. Try some simple campaigns like giveaways at events or a promotions-based mobile club. When the mobile site is ready you’ll be ready with a database full of active mobile users waiting for the link.
- Use a mobile web site to gather more information from your text messaging database. When someone texts a keyword to a shortcode the only information made available by the wireless carriers is their mobile number and their carrier. Sometimes you can ask for more information via text message, but sometimes it’s easier to send them to a mobile webpage where they can fill out a form or take a survey. Suddenly they are not just a number anymore!
Text message marketing and mobile web sites are great first steps in mobile marketing because they appeal to the largest mobile audiences. Using them together will not only give your organization a valuable direct marketing asset, but a useful and engaging mobile presence as well.