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Mobile promotions - There's money to be made

01 Oct 2010

We’ve all seen those TV, print ads and product labels: text ‘Prize’ to 226 or similar. It’s addictive. A chance of going into a draw to win something is all we need to reach into our pockets and text a short message. Often, the small cost seems irrelevant.

What’s not realised is that these ‘keywords’ are in fact easy to set up for any business and remarkably affordable too; available on an annual or monthly basis, typically $80-150 per month.

Now people can respond to your offer whenever they see your keyword in print, on the radio, your vehicle, in-store poster or store-front signage. Studies tell us that most people are more comfortable sending you an SMS text than calling your free 0800 phone number or sending you an email. And it’s the recipient that covers the 20c text fee, not the business owner. This means that it doesn’t matter whether 10 or 10,000 people respond to your promotion; there’s no extra monthly cost to the business.

An instant response voucher

These systems include a pre-defined response text message. This could be a simple thank you, or include extra information on the offer, or text that acts as a discount or similar voucher that can be redeemed at your checkout. You can even include a website address in the SMS response message, and those with a modern smartphone will be taken to the website.

Mobile users spend twice as much

All this mobile interaction is particularly important for businesses like restaurants or fashion retailers. In the US it seems that those who arrive at dining restaurants via a mobile promotion or mobile search are more affluent, typically spending twice as much as ‘normal’ patrons.

The Facebook factor

The only problem is that most business websites here can take a long time to display on mobile phones. Facebook, however, is inherently mobilefriendly. The short-term option may be to place your company specials on a company Facebook page or get a free Google Places listing, both of which display quickly and without fuss.

We’re list building

The other vital factor with this technology is that you’re automatically building up a permissionbased list of mobile numbers to future prospects or customers. You can call them back to ask questions or once you’ve got a reasonable size list, you can then proactively send out bulk messages or offers, although this will cost more – typically 20c per person. However, although it seems expensive compared with email, the response rates can be very high; typically 10-25%, compared with 1-2% for email promotions. Incredible.

Kevin Trye is a technologist who runs seminars on the new media opportunities for small businesses.

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