What is text marketing?

According to the Mobile Marketing Association, text marketing is defined as a set of practices that enables organizations to communicate and engage with their audience in an interactive and relevant manner through any mobile device or network. 

What are the legal requirements of text marketing?

Text marketers are required to get double opt-in consent from a consumer to send marketing messages to the individual’s mobile device. Traditionally, text marketers and brands have allowed consumers to text message their brand's short code at an event, in store and off any traditional media. By sending a text to the short code, the consumer has legally opted in to receiving text messages from that short code. The text marketing must provide the ability for the consumer to opt out of the service at any time by texting the word STOP.

What is the size of the SMS market?

Over the past few years, SMS marketing has increased in popularity. In Europe, as of December 2011, over 100 million SMS marketing messages were sent out each month. In the U.S., monthly SMS traffic reached 119 billion messages, while worldwide traffic reached 1.6 trillion messages in 2011. On a per-capita basis, 2.6 SMS messages per day, per person, are sent throughout the world, which makes SMS the most used communication tool on the planet. By 2016, according to Informa Telecoms and Media, consumer text message usage is predicted to reach 7.7 trillion messages per year.

What is the difference between a short code and a long code?

Short codes are five- to six-digit numbers that have been assigned by the mobile operators in a given country, which are then provisioned to brand campaigns and other consumer services. Short codes can be quite costly. Most short codes range from $500 to $1,500 a month. The mobile operators vet every short code application before provisioning codes, and will monitor short code usage to make sure it does not diverge from the original service description.

Due to the high price of dedicated short codes, many small- and medium-sized businesses opt to share a short code, in order to reduce monthly costs. Shared short codes usually range from $20 to $30 a month. 

Recently, long codes, or long numbers, have been used to support inbound SMS in place of short codes or premium-rated short code messages. Long codes do not require the high upfront costs of short codes, nor the long application process. 

In terms of functionality, short codes enable applications to send SMS at 30 messages per second, whereas a long code is limited to one message per second. Thus, short codes are perfect for applications that need to send SMS messages to many users or need to send many time-sensitive messages. Additionally, based on the type of application or campaign that is deployed, a short code may be the only type of number that can support your use case. Examples of applications that are best for a short code are large scale marketing communications and one-way notifications to users.

What is the difference between a shared short code and a dedicated short code?

A shared short code is shared among multiple brands, whereas a dedicated short code is provisioned for a single brand or organization. Messages sent to a shared short code are filtered by keywords. A keyword is a unique word, which consumers can text to a shared short code. When the consumer texts the unique keyword to the shared short code, a software program adds their phone number to the subscriber list.

Due to the exclusivity of a dedicated short code, the costs associated with purchasing a dedicated short code are much higher than the costs of purchasing a shared short code. 

How much does SMS messaging cost?

The exact cost depends on factors such as which SMS gateway provider is used, if the traffic is within the United States, whether the traffic is inbound or outbound, or if a standard number or short code is used. The average cost of an SMS text message is $0.01 to $0.05 per message.

Innovations in mobile marketing

  • Quick response (QR) codes have been growing in popularity with the adoption of smartphones, and have become more prevalent in offline and online marketing. QR codes act as visual hyperlinks to a page to mobile optimized offer page. QR codes engage consumers at the time when the marketing piece is likely triggering the most emotional response. QR codes also provide a valuable tool for capturing offline conversions and delivering powerful analytics more typical of tracking online conversions.
  • Marketing via MMS. Multimedia message services (MMS) allow marketers to convey timed slideshows of images, text, audio and video. Nearly all new phones with colored screens are capable of sending and receiving standard MMS messages. Brands are able to send and receive rich media contents through MMS. The ability to send rich media content via MMS makes the medium a powerful tool to send marketing content.
  • Proximity marketing. In proximity marketing, SMS messages are broadcasted to users in a specified geographical area. Proximity marketing is heavily used by government agencies for information dissemination. In the Philippines, proximity messaging is used by select government agencies for information on government-run, community based programs. Proximity marketing also has a commercial use for mobile marketers in conveying mobile offers sent to consumers within the proximity of a business. In the United Kingdom, a super-regional shopping center allows customers with a mobile phone to be tracked through the shopping center and see what stores the consumer enters and for how long. 
  • Location-based services (LBS). Some cellphone networks offer location-based marketing services as a way to send custom advertising content to subscribers based on their geolocation. The subscriber’s location is gathered from a GPS chip that is built into their phone system. Alternatively, radiolocation or trilateration based on the signal strength of the closest cellular tower. The application of location-based services allows marketers and brands to send real-time deals and offers to subscribers that are in a desirable proximity.