Nov 17 2009

Hitting a Moving Target: Tips for Success in Mobile Marketing

If you could get your hands on footage of 10 of your target consumers right now, 9 of them would probably be on the move. In today’s fast-paced, frenzied world, a majority of buyers are relying on their cell phones and hand-held devices as a primary means of receiving information.

So it makes sense that more and more businesses are making room for mobile technologies in their marketing strategies, using SMS (Short Message Service) to deliver ads, special offers, and brand-building content. In fact, according to the Aberdeen group, approximately ¼ of best-in-class companies are dedicating 10% of their marketing budgets to mobile marketing, and 62% are actually increasing those budgets year-over-year—an investment that speaks volumes, especially in today’s cost-cutting advertising industry.

Consumers are in a different mindset when they’re using their cell phones than when they’re sitting in front of a computer or television; understanding and capitalizing on their frame of mind is the key to succeeding with mobile marketing. When texting tactics are properly implemented, this very personal means of communication can result in skyrocketing response rates. Below are a few tips to help you connect with your moving targets:

  • Build a solid database. Be sure to collect cell phone numbers using legitimate methods, such as capturing them from a form on your website or encouraging customers to send you text messages in exchange for special offers. To ensure that everyone on your list wants to be there (thus increasing response rates and decreasing opt-outs), it’s a good idea to include a follow-up prompt (i.e. “Are you sure you want to subscribe?”) before adding their number. Also be sure to convey how often they should expect messages from you, and warn them that standard text rates may apply.
  • Make it fun. When consumers are checking their mobile devices, they’re usually waiting for (or on) the subway, stuck in line, or bored in a meeting. They’re looking for some easily digestible servings of amusement—and if a can’t-miss offer is embedded in it, all the better. Pair your offer with games, sweepstakes, and exclusive sneak previews. Remember: entertain first, promote second.
  • Make it personal. A text message is innately personal, so mobile messages should follow suit. Including the recipient’s first name is a great way to make an impact and begin developing a relationship with the consumer. Whenever possible, include customized information related to their region or interests (i.e. “Check out this weekend’s music sale at your local Target!”).
  • Consider investing in an exclusive short code. By paying a little more for a dedicated short code from, you’ll prevent other companies from using the same one, ensuring that you won’t have to share the branding stage with anyone else.
  • Be concise. SMS typically has a 160-character limit, so every letter counts. Convey your message as succinctly as possible, putting the most attractive or urgent content first. Feel free to abbreviate whenever possible (i.e. “2morrow” for “tomorrow” and “w/” for “with”) to save characters.
  • Be timely. Unlike emails, text messages shouldn’t refer to events happening weeks from now. Make sure your message contains a sense of urgency and relevancy that applies today, to compel immediate action.
  • Build bridges between channels. Integration is key when implementing mobile marketing strategies. Make sure your campaigns are supported across all other media, like radio, print, and TV. It’s fine to board the mobile bandwagon, but be sure to round out your campaigns with other forms of communication. Whet their appetites with direct mailers and emails, and then follow up with text messages shortly before the offer expires to create a sense of urgency.
  • Consider taking it a step further. Although standard SMS is by far the most popular mobile marketing technology, some forward-thinking businesses are also utilizing MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) to include photos, videos, and graphics.
  • Make it easy to opt-out. It’s best practice to allow users to remove their numbers from your database by texting you back with UNSUBSCRIBE, REMOVE, or STOP. Be sure to include brief opt-out instructions with every message. (Conversely, invite them to forward your messages to friends, and provide them with a keyword for opting in.)

Mobile marketing strategies can be a great way to connect with customers in real time. With the right foresight, creativity, and analysis, even the shortest messages can create some profitable long-term relationships.

Blue Acorn


Vitaliy Levit
Nov 18 2009

Great post. This is a fantastic overview for anyone looking to get into mobile marketing. I hope you don’t mind us using this as an intro post for some of the newbies that contact us 😉

Vitaliy Levit
Nov 18 2009

Also, a quick note —

Beginning October 1, 2009, the phrase “Standard Message charges apply” is no longer acceptable. For all digital advertising formats and message flows, one of the following phrases must be used in its place:

Message and Data Rates May Apply
Msg&Data Rates May Apply
Msg&data rates may apply
Msg&data rates may aply


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