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SMS Marketing Industry News

The Short Code Marketing Opportunity

In August of 2008, Barack Obama’s presidential campaign made history when it announced Joe Biden as the Vice Presidential candidate over SMS text message. The magnitude of the Obama campaign’s mobile efforts has set the trend not only for political campaigns on all levels, but for each and every form of organization as well.

Nielsen estimates that the Biden text reached 2.9 million mobile users in the U.S. over the course of that weekend, making it one of the biggest, broadest mobile marketing stunts to date. So why make such an important announcement via text message? Why tap SMS as the outlet for one of the campaign’s most important messages?

This kind of announcement is a highly visible example of short code marketing. A short code is essentially an abbreviated phone number used for text (SMS) and multimedia (MMS) messaging. Today, short codes are used not just for political updates, but for marketing TV shows, cars, restaurants, soda and dozens of other goods and services. This medium has now become a mainstream marketing vehicle, as the opportunity continues to grow at a staggering rate. The audience, which has changed the way we communicate, is now texting more than ever before. All demographics ranging from age 13 to age 44, are now doing something that would have seemed unreachable five years ago: they are sending more text messages than they make calls (see below).

Along with Obama’s 2.9 million subscribers, Coca-Cola has engaged in some of the most prominent short code marketing over the past year, with 1.1 million customers receiving messages as part of the My Coke Rewards program. Companies in all industries are messaging their communities with information, discounts, giveaways, etc., as they ensure that the pervasiveness of the text message is by no means hindering its unique engaging capabilities across the media and advertising spectrum.

Today, consumers look at every text message they receive; for marketers, that presents an immense opportunity. Businesses should look at SMS and see an opportunity to engage with a core customer base in a new and unique fashion, driving personal interaction and engagement through the mobile phone.


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