It’s a Game Changer: People are Texting More than Talking

by Lee Simonson, OrangePoint: Phone Broadcasting

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Surveys are confirming what you’ve been seeing with your own eyes — people are using their cell phones more for texting than talking. The old fashioned phone conversation may go the way of the smoke signal as the nature of communication and technology continues to change. Ask young people and they’ll tell you that they don’t check their email “because it’s too slow” and some don’t even answer the phone. If you can’t text them a message, “it must not be that important.” (Where did they pick up that line?)

This generational-driven cultural shift in preferences is a game changer. 85% of Americans now own a cell phone and you’ll begin seeing marketing and advertising programs include 2-way texting as part of the standard strategy in designing new media campaigns. Otherwise known as “mobile marketing” or “SMS (short message service) marketing,” texting will kick print and broadcast advertising to new levels. While some may think it will compete with traditional marketing channels, others will use texting as an extremely powerful add-on to what they are already doing.

For example, let’s say you own a chain of restaurants. You advertise a “keyword” your patrons and prospects can text to receive an instant reply on today’s luncheon special. You can see an example of how it works right now. Text the word HUNGRY to the number 81888. Within seconds you’ll receive a coupon you can show the waitress.

Here is what happens within those few seconds:

  1. Customers have a compelling reason to have lunch at your restaurant today.
  2. Customers have the opportunity to opt-in to your list that you can use later to send them text messages, reminders and more coupons. That list could become the most valuable asset you own.
  3. Customers appreciate having the coupon on their phone, always within reach, versus trying to remember to carry a paper coupon.
  4. You have a measurable means to judge the effectiveness of your advertising and you’ll know the ads people respond to.
  5. You can change your offerings at will and update them as often as you like. You can manage your program online and there is no ramp up time.

“Keyword response” programs are just are part of mobile marketing and just one way to build opt-in lists. Because text usage is highly regulated by the government, and the mobile carriers themselves, you have to be careful to have proof that your list has truly opted-in. Carriers are determined to prevent spamming and have no intention of allowing it to harm the text industry, as it did email. If carriers discover spamming, they will shut down access to the perpetrator and ask questions later.

Texting can also be used for voting and polling. You’ve seen examples of that on network reality television, when millions of people vote for their favorite singer or dancer. The applications are limitless. Sports fans will be voting for their choice for MVP, and concert goers will be deciding what they want to hear for the encore.

One of the big advantages in implementing a texting campaign is that it doesn’t require any special equipment or software. Start up costs are small and actual text messages are inexpensive. A key element in a text marketing program involves the use of a “short code” — a five or 6 digit number that, in effect, becomes your text address. Unique short codes can be very expensive to obtain, so that’s why the vast majority of companies use a “shared” short code that is actually shared by other companies. The thing that distinguishes those using the same short code is the unique keyword. In other words, if you shared the short code 81888, you would be the only one who had the rights to use the word HUNGRY. You can set that up very easily with your text marketing provider.

Marketing and advertising professionals will begin to embrace texting as an integral part of their plans in an effort to provide customers with the most effective outreach possible. Those who tap into the popularity and exponential growth of texting as the newest way to communicate will reap the biggest rewards.

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