Thursday, July 19, 2007

Txt Msg Mktg 4 Cllg Stors :-)

I recently returned from the new NACS conference Innovate. During this program we saw examples of the amazing technology that’s likely to revolutionize our lives in a very few years. As a follow-on, we were challenged to think about how we might need to conduct our business differently in the months and years ahead in order to be remain relevant to our customers.

Jump ahead to the end of the conference and my plane ride home. I’m flipping through the May 2007 STORES magazine from the NRF (have you subscribed to this one yet?) and found a marketing piece on Domino’s text message coupon campaigns aimed at the estimated $55 billion discretionary spending habit of U.S. college students. The notation of 7-30% (!) redemption rates got my attention. The rhetorical question that followed—“How much is it worth to have 5,000 freshman walk into your store…?”—Now that got me thinking.

What is the potential of text message marketing for college stores? How does it all work, anyway? Will people really respond or is the Domino’s example just a ‘bleeding edge’?

Jump ahead a few days…Sunday, July 15. I get 3 text messages throughout the day from one of my favorite TV shows. That’s right. In fact, I have several TV shows that text me throughout the week with updates, teasers, and promotions. I opted in. I read the messages. It works!

So, over the last few days I’ve spent some spare time with Google and have some interesting things to offer:

1. Some of the Nuts-N-Bolts
I talked with Cellit (which offers CouponZap) and learned that their “standard campaign” with 1000 text messages and one “keyword” (i.e., “Text BOOK to 12340” where BOOK is the keyword) would run you just $100/month.

To illustrate—You might run an ad in the campus paper or via e-mail that tells students to text HAT to 56780 to get a coupon for 25% off any hat in the store through a specific date. They would then bring their cell phone to the store and show you the “coupon” to redeem said coupon.

CouponZap allows you to make each coupon unique and track redemption. A myriad of other options are also available to help you do more advanced promotion, branch promotions, and track effectiveness.

Check out the cool online demos and tutorials at

2. Broader Applications
Promo2Cell ( also offers text message marketing and communication services. Their “Education” division is exploring ways that text messages can be used to notify parts or all of the campus community of updates and other announcements. Get a sample of how a campus might use text messages between faculty and students to convey course updates by texting CLASS to 41513.

Broader still…The Daily Texan Online (UT-Austin) reported in Dec 2006 that Mobile Campus was considering teaming with Blackboard to give students access to course information via text messaging. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities!

Text messaging is here to stay
As cell phones are gradually replaced by Blackberries, iPhones, and other smart phones, the current rate of 11 billion text messages sent/month will be quickly surpassed!

More importantly, the respected Pew Internet Life study suggests that Gen Y (ages 18-27) are more than twice as likely to text message than even the next closest generation (Gen X).

As with so many things in retail--and our niche within that arena--text message marketing is something that is on the rise and worth exploring. If you want to try something new and see how it works, my quick exploration seemed to reveal a low-cost and low-risk accessibility to this emerging marketing technology. Part of being relevant and successful in the future relies on our willingness to test the waters.

Thx 4 rdg!

Tony Ellis, CAE

[Photo credit for this post: Megan Shelby, The Daily Texan Online]


Anonymous said...

To keep us all honest, I feel compelled to add a comment to this post. Shortly after I posted on text message marketing, I came across an e-Marketer article entitled “Retailer Texts a Miss with Gen Y” (AUGUST 14).

According to a study by Maritz Research (, nearly two-thirds of Generation Y consumers likely would not subscribe to offers sent to their mobile phones or PDAs. And only 5% of Gen Y respondents subscribe to texted offers.

As with many new technologies, this study suggests that text messaging remains popular for personal use (staying in touch with friends, etc.), but that it may not work for business connections.

If this new dose of reality turns you off of text messaging, try MySpace or Facebook instead. The Maritz poll found that nearly half of Gen Y respondents said they belong to an online group hosted by a retailer.

Tony Ellis

Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

iText Global said...

Thanks for the article. SMS really is a great marketing tool - just as email replaced regular mail, mobile marketing will replace direct mailings. It is all the benefits without a lot of the physical costs.