Companies 2 Customers: ILU; as Text Messaging Becomes a Hot Direct Marketing Channel, Marketers Must Be Careful That the Message Is Helpful, Not Harassing

By Sebor, Jessica | CRM Magazine, December 2006 | Go to article overview

Companies 2 Customers: ILU; as Text Messaging Becomes a Hot Direct Marketing Channel, Marketers Must Be Careful That the Message Is Helpful, Not Harassing


Sebor, Jessica, CRM Magazine


Cell phone in-boxes just may be the next direct marketing holy grail. Now that 90 percent of cell phones in the United States have texting capability and 95 million Americans consider themselves active text messagers, the short message service (SMS) channel seems an obvious choice for marketers to reach out to their desired customer base. However, customers are weary of big business invading their space. Who wants another line of their personal communication jammed with spam? Marketers are also facing stricter regulations on what they can send and whom they can contact. Many marketers (and customers) wonder: Will text-message marketing be shut down from above? Will cell phone in-boxes end up as clogged as an email account? Is there any way for customers and marketers to have a positive SMS relationship?

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Gerry Purdy, vice president and chief analyst for mobile and wireless at Frost & Sullivan, says that text messaging has quickly evolved from a person-to-person communication system to person-to-company text-ins (think American Idol). Now, the structure is moving toward customer to company on an opt-in basis. Purdy says that while there may certainly be detractors and roadblocks, SMS marketing may "become the largest and most successful media of advertising and promotion of all time."

Text-message marketing campaigns have been going strong for some time in Europe and Asia, but there has been a long growth period in the United States. However, this summer saw an outbreak of surprisingly successful campaigns:

* Starbucks created "Starbucks Summer Pursuit," a scavenger hunt in New York City, in which customers opted in to receive text-messaged questions and reply with cell pictures of the answer to compete for a trip to Costa Rica. …

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