The other day, I was in a popular national chain pizza restaurant enjoying a meal with friends.
While we dined, I noticed a number of younger people (under 34) showing their mobiles to the server before getting their bill. One family even had a teenage mobile user hold up her phone on behalf of the family.
Now, this particular chain of pizza restaurants does a lot of online marketing, especially email. In fact, many of my friends that evening had printed off 2-for-1 vouchers from the chain’s website.
Being in the SMS (mobile phone text messages) business, I was curious how the pizza chain’s program worked. I used my smartphone to search for the chain’s “mobile voucher.” What I observed at the restaurant and found online only served to strengthen the research I’ve seen on how effectively mobile SMS campaigns reach the younger demographics.
Using SMS to get them to spend
In the example above, the voucher code was for 25 percent off the food bill when you purchased at least two “adult” pizzas. It’s a pretty good deal, especially for those on limited budgets (like most young people), and a sure way to bring customers (who might be otherwise reluctant) into the restaurant for a meal by spending a minimum amount.
But discount codes are only one kind of SMS marketing tactic — there are plenty of other uses, such as:
- Free product offers
- Buy-one-get-one-free coupons
- Priority customer codes
- Special announcements
- VIP access
Like all good offers, you need to consider your audience for your product or service. For example: the local restaurant could offer a free bottle of wine with your next visit; an electronics store could announce when a popular game is back in stock; or a local night club could offer special access to mobile customers on a traditionally slow evening with “Free VIP access this Tuesday night! Show this text code when you get to the door VIPTUES121211”.
SMS messages are actually read
The New York Times reported that email use is declining in younger target markets (those under 34 years old), noting they prefer to use SMS messages to communicate. In a U.S. study conducted by eMarketer, over half of the respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 said that they would give their mobile number to a business in order to receive coupons or vouchers.
SMS is powerful for marketers as well: the average open rate for SMS messages is over 95% (Frost & Sullivan). you suddenly see how effective SMS marketing is when trying to reach younger segments of your audience.
Putting it all together
I signed up online for the promotion by entering my mobile number and immediately received a confirmation text message on my phone:
ABCPizza: Thanks for your interest in our 25% off voucher. To receive your code, reply “yes”. Standard network charges apply. See T&Cs on our website.
The pizza restaurant is using good practice here. The opt in to receive the code is a reassuring sign that I’m not enrolling in something suspicious. Also, the message clearly communicated what the charges would be (standard network rates).
I confirmed and received my code which explained how to redeem it and how long I had to use it.
ABCPizza: 25% off ur bill when you order 2 main meals. Show code to your server when you ask for the bill. 26e1A56 Exp 23.11.2011
Once we finished our meal, I showed my SMS message to my server, who took down the number to check against a live database, and then gave me the 25 percent discount.
What’s more, I told my friends to text to the opt-in short code to get the discount too. Which brings me back to a point I made earlier about considering your audience in your offers. A compelling offer will get shared and with most young people today carrying mobiles, this viral sharing of SMS marketing messages ensures your offers are read by this important demographic.