Text message marketing has been around for a while now. Short Codes have typically been the chosen avenue for delivery mainly because it was all that was available. In 2009, non-wireless text enabled phone numbers became available with the intended purpose to open the avenues for more peer-to-peer traffic. I’m getting ahead of myself though, let’s get back to marketing and text messages as the means of delivery.
With Advertising, first there was print, then radio and then television. All these outlets had in common a captive audience, where they served one to many. Unless the audience had the option or ability at the time to flip the page, tune to another station or flip the channel then they were force-fed whatever commercialism was being offered to them.
Now, text messaging has been around since 1993 and as the price of mobile phones got less as well as mobile network coverage got better, mobile carriers brought about the short code in the early 2000′s. The mobile carriers controlled the ability to know what a ‘campaign’ was going to include and they controlled whether it would be allowed to reach their own subscribers. With all this control, essentially mobile carriers were now part of the advertising agencies. this commercialism continues its upward momentum even today.
Today though, in 2012 this is not the way things are continuing, mobile marketers feel they are no longer limited to using only short codes as the way companies and their brands advertise themselves to peddle their goods. Mobile marketing is trying to get around short codes and the control from carriers by utilizing the new long code text enabled numbers as the transport for their message, the issue is this is wrong.
It’s wrong for various reasons:
1. It’s not the intended purpose mobile carriers globally want long codes used.
2. It’s abilities compared to delivery with short codes is vastly different*
3. It’s not what the consuming public wants as another way to receive a brand or company’s propaganda.
4. there are others…
The intended purpose, the desired use and the way text enabled long codes should be used is for a peer-to-peer application. This means people talking to people, not broadcasting advertisements or machine generated responses and replies to generic inquiries. Two way conversations is the gist of it. The added ability to no longer require the use to only be across mobile networks means the implementation of these conversations is wide open.
Customer service rep’s speaking with clients, dispatch agents engaging field personnel, localized business’s interacting with local people without both parties being limited by a mobile network provides multitudes of opportunities to build a community from an audience. Then add the option of having one number be used for text or a voice call and you bring convenience to your community that is sure to justify any ROI.
This interactivity with a community gets tossed in the waste bin as soon as a brand or company begins to abuse this innovation by removing the community aspect with blasting adverts or spamming unwanted junk. Think of text enabled long codes as a local get together at a block party or hanging with your friends at the bar, how long do you think it would take for someone who walked in and all they did was talk about themselves and their products while constantly trying to push a sale. Pretty sure you would be tossed out on your keister or shunned into the corner before you got through your first syllable. If you wouldn’t do that to your friends or family, then why do you think it is acceptable using this method? Just because that is what has been done? Bad answer.
I know, there are tons of articles, e-books and traditional printed materials trying to tell everyone that mobile marketing is the big thing, and this is where your company needs to be if it wants to survive in today’s world. The problem is, you cannot do what you have always done an expect the same results any longer, that is the definition of insanity. You want to use this texting and voice ability to communicate and connect.
So, if you’re a realtor, do not post your listings, but instead speak about neighborhoods or the housing market, or key things to make sure of before applying for a loan. Video game vendors, talk about game ratings or product safety tips. Clothing retailers, talk about DIY tips around fashion week or changes in school kid clothes (like reenforced knees going away…just saying I could have used a heads up about that one). The odd thing is, once you as a brand or company begin this process and make it a habit you will notice all of a sudden that you will gain some sales out of it.
Begin practicing the skill of listening more, responding more and engaging more and you will notice that your audience is now turning into a community and you will become trusted among them. Once you begin to gain the trust, once your community starts to form, then your community will begin to grow. The important part of this whole process is being real and relevant. Both of those are going to be tough for any enterprise to embrace and add because for so long they have been accustomed to say anything and they will come.
Stop using text enabled long code phone numbers for broadcasting and start using them for what they are, places to have conversations. Whatever you do, make sure do this, and leave the broadcasting elsewhere.