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Two Reasons Why SMS Should Be on Your Shortlist

by R.J. Talyor  |  
October 14, 2008

Nielsen Mobile estimates that 2.9 million people received Barack Obama's vice-presidential pick text message in the early morning hours of Saturday, August 23, 2008. The 26-word text message was a small communication that answered months of hugely anticipated speculation on who would be Obama's running mate.

In combination with other text-messaging (SMS—short message service) efforts by prominent marketers, it's clear that mobile is proving itself a legitimate messaging medium.

Though heralded as a success, the Obama VP text message caused some frustration for recipients. For one, the text message was sent late in the evening (some subscribers received the message at 3 AM!). Another group of opted-in subscribers did not receive the message at all.

Despite the possibly flawed execution of this campaign, the announcement of Joe Biden as Obama's running mate joined the ranks of other high-profile marketers' use of text messaging as a part of their multichannel strategy.

NBC complemented its Olympics coverage with various SMS campaigns, and American Idol, banks, retail establishments, and even some B2B marketers are employing SMS as a new way to communicate internally with employees and externally with prospects and customers.

Combined, all of these instances of text messaging as a marketing medium prove that there are, in fact, SMS programs for which subscribers will provide their cell phone numbers.

But should SMS be used for every marketing message? No, definitely not. Your company must consider whether your intended message is urgent and determine whether subscribers will appreciate receiving it in mobile form.

That said, here are two major reasons SMS should be on your shortlist:

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R.J. Talyor is vice-president of mobile products at ExactTarget . Reach him at

LinkedIn: R. J. Talyor

Twitter:  @rjtalyor

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  • by Angela Khan Tue Oct 14, 2008 via web

    I love text message communications! I recently used my Papa John's offer received in a text message to order a pizza. For me, it is easier to open up my mobile text and type in the offer than it is to view and open my e-mail to find out what the offer code is. It's great to have the flexibility to view the offer in both places.

  • by kirkr Wed Oct 15, 2008 via web

    I think we need to be careful about overstating the value of text messages as a marketing vehicle. To say that Obama's use of texting to announce his VP pick as one of the "most important text messages ever" says more about the frenzy around his campaign than it does about texting. And people were more excited to receive the announcement via text than email simply because it was new. If this were 1994 and a big announcement had been sent out via email as opposed to fax, people would have been ecstatic as well, simply because it was new.

    While texting is undoubtedly a valuable addition to our marketing mix, let's give it some time to mature before we decide start heaping on accolades.

  • by JANT Thu Oct 16, 2008 via web

    In this new era of comunication, it seem all right for the digital generation. How ever the importance of the message coud be misundertood from the inside (company) and the outside (costumer), you dont want to appear as a braking privacy advetising company. it seams to me that the risck of crossing that line has to be well messured and diagnosed vs the importance of the message to your company or client.

    México DF

  • by Antony Mon Oct 20, 2008 via web

    I know a company called NearU implemented something for small business owners. Mobile advertising is the next wave of direct mailing. The fact that is it for the most part permission based will give you access to your best customers instantly.

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