SMS Marketing

Mobile Marketing, SMS Style

With millions of people owning their own cellular phone, and with the simplest units capable of using many of the latest multi-media technologies, mobile marketing has become an important, if not integral, part of campaigns.

Some mobile marketing campaigns try to use the emergence of the cellular phone as a major Internet “portal” by developing tools and techniques to maximize this shift of Web denizens from the browser to one’s mobile handheld unit. Especially with the emergence of smartphones like the iPhone and its competitors, even mobile marketers can’t help but get caught up in the hype.

But before the smartphone, before Flash content and Internet via Wireless Access Protocol, before Bluetooth, and even before colored screens and digital sound, the modern cellular phone as we know it has one common feature: short message sending (SMS), or texting.

Mobile marketing, SMS style is perhaps one of the oldest means of promotion via the cellular phone. At its most basic, you can type in a message worth 160 characters and send it to every single person in your phone’s address book. Today, software exists that allows one to make a message not limited by 160 characters (and most phones, even the simplest ones, can accept SMS past the 160-character limit), and easily send it to a large number of recipients.

Whether you do mobile marketing, SMS style, through a more manual technique or utilize the latest software to do so, the principles and the advantages remain the same.

Because the SMS feature is almost an afterthought among today’s cellular phones, you can be assured that even the simplest unit being sold by the most obscure phone company will be able to send and receive text messages. The sheer ubiquity of the SMS feature means that anyone with a cellular phone is, indeed, part of your target market. You can reach everyone, so long as they have a mobile phone.

Another advantage of mobile marketing SMS style is that it is relatively cheap, perhaps the cheapest among the many technologies available to cellular phone-based marketing today. At its most basic, you just need an SMS-capable phone and lots of patience and finger-stamina. Even the specialized software that greatly eases SMS-based marketing comes relatively cheap, and can be used by most anyone after a few sessions of training. On the other hand, you need a person familar with the programming language of applets to make full use of smartphones in your mobile campaign targeting such units.

Mobile marketing SMS style also takes advantage of an almost-instinctive reflex among cellular phone users. When one’s unit sounds off with that familiar tone that says someone has just texted you, your first reaction would be to pick up your phone and look at it.

The problem with most forms of advertising and marketing mediums is that viewers have the option not to look at or hear your message. The remote control and digital TV allows us to channel surf when its time to hear a word from the sponsors. Readers can just skip pages with ads on newspapers or throw away that expensively-made supplement insert. Radio listeners can turn the knob, and their digital cousins can just download podcasts and music, listening to these in their own, private players sans the advertising. Internet surfers can choose not to click on your banners, skip pop-up or intervening ads, or just configure their browsers to screen out your advertising entirely.

On the other hand, answering that SMS-received tone, though, by reaching out for the cellular phone and looking at the message is almost instinctive. The person can choose to delete your message or even disregard it totally but at least he or she has seen it. Which is more than you can say for a TV commercial or print ad.

Mobile marketing, SMS style might be using the oldest trick in the cellular phone to get your message across. But just as the top executives of the leading advertising agencies will tell you that the most effective advertising tool is still word-of-mouth, texting is still one of the most effective marketing and advertising tools available for the mobile marketer, even in a new world of applets and 3G features.

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