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How Retailers are Using the Marketing Power of Text Message Advertising

Aug 17, 2007
Retailers are "capturing" their elusive, on-the-go customers with Mobile Marketing programs designed to deliver real-time advertising in consumers' pockets

Today, the marketing budget of retailers has to be much more diversified than it was a decade ago. Traditional media has fallen fast in its position of effectiveness and this has forced retailers to accept that the consumer is in greater control than ever before.

Consumers today are on the move. And they rely on their cell phones to keep them informed and organized. Presently in the United States, 76% of the population uses a mobile phone, and over one half of those mobile subscribers regularly use text messaging. In fact, text messaging is the number one feature that people use on their cell phones outranking picture taking and playing music. (Pew Internet & American Life Project Associated Press and AOL). In many opinions, it may be "the most powerful advertising medium of all time" (NY Times).

Contrary to popular belief, the profile of frequent text messagers is not limited to teenagers. More and more, text messagers mirror the typical high-value retail customer. They are mostly adults 35 and over, with an annual income at or above $75,000. (American Consumer Institute).

All of the above have made text messaging the obvious choice for the next medium which retailers must manipulate if they want to keep in touch with their target consumers. Text message advertising can reach these consumers right in their pocket.

Several retailers have already jumped on the idea of text message advertising and text message coupons. The results have been very positive.

Target Corp. has been sending text message advertising to its customers since 2005. Customers opt-in to the service from the company's website and subsequently receive messages to alert them when a new fashion designer is going to have product in their stores. This has been shown to increase in-store traffic, and provide a valuable database for the company.

Uncle Ed's Oil Shoppe, out of Battle Creek Michigan uses text message advertising to send out mobile coupons. Customers send the word, "Uncleeds" to the short code WYCD1 and receive a message back telling them "This is your $5 off coupon. Show this text message at checkout". Customers love the fact that they don't have to cut anything out or remember to bring it along, because they always have their cell phone with them!

Restaurants have taken advantage of the immediacy of text messaging. For example, upon opt-in, customers can receive alerts about lunch specials right before the lunch hour. Some will even text a mobile coupon which the customer shows to their server to receive the discount or promotion.

While mobile coupons and sale alerts are among the most popular text messaging campaigns with retailers, some chains are taking to the next level. Meijer, a supercenter/grocery store chain based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, launched a campaign to alert its customers when gas prices were about to increase. Text message advertisements are sent to customers who have registered their cell number, when gas prices are about to increase by 5 cents a gallon or more. Customers receive the messages a few hours before the increase will take place, so that they have time to fill up their tanks at the lower price.

A marketing campaign which includes text message advertising and mobile coupons can be implemented so quickly and efficiently that it can help companies be the first to market, and is less intrusive than other methods. It also makes them stand out from their competitors. Because it is an opt-in program, customers are expecting the message which improves the response. Text message advertising is truly the next wave in retail promotion.
About the Author
http://www.advancedtele.com/mobile-marketing-terms.htm Anthony Wayne works for a telecommunications company in Suburban Philadelphia. Anthony believes that mobile marketing is going to be the next huge thing in marketing and advertising.
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