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Like any great innovation, the road to SMS marketing that you’re familiar with today is littered with the failures and successes of those who came before your brand. Of course, these lessons learned don’t just make for interesting conversation, there’s actually quite a bit you call pull from the past to ensure that you always maximize your mobile impact moving forward. With this in mind, let’s dig into a couple SMS bests practices and faux pas so that the next time you fire off a message to your loyal following, you’ll have everything you need to represent your brand in the best way possible.

Do Figure out Your Frequency

Starting off with the positive side of the discussion, Rimma Kats of Mobile Marketer explains that hammering out the questions regarding frequency should be at the top of your “to do” list. While there’s no standard number of daily or weekly messages that applies to every single branded audience, that doesn’t mean you should approach this part of the process with nothing more than a cursory review of the subject.

Essentially, you’ll want to avoid the extremes of the messaging spectrum. Too many messages and you’ll come off as overbearing; too few and you risk irrelevancy. Naturally, these aren’t the tightest parameters, but using this system as the basis and mixing in some split testing and survey techniques can help you continue to refine your frequency as you get to know your audience more over time.

Do Understand the Two-Way Street Paradigm

Kats goes on to explain that brands and marketers alike need to understand that mobile marketing is very much a two-way street. Too often SMS marketing comes off as robotic or impersonal because brands simply bombard consumers with deals and offers, leaving no room for interaction. However, the best campaigns in the world go beyond this basic methodology and not only accept customer feedback, but encourage it.

Think of it this way; by keeping your communications open – either via regular surveys, an active social media presence, or some other open channel – you cannot only produce a better SMS product, but enhance the return on your investment by getting tips and suggestions straight from the people opening your texts. It seems so obvious when laid out in this manner, but plenty of brands struggle with the idea that SMS marketing truly thrives when both sides of the transaction get a voice in the conversation.

Don’t Think Brevity Isn’t Always a Bad Thing

On the “don’t” side of things, Business 2 Community’s Liga Bizune has a few suggestions that could save you from an SMS disaster. First off, don’t assume that brevity is always a bad thing. Trying to explain everything, down to even the tiniest detail, not only overwhelms the reader, but terms the expedient and fun affair of opening a text message into a laborious chore. It doesn’t take a mobile marketing expert to know that this is a decidedly bad situation.

Instead, embrace brevity and leave your consumers hanging on the edge of their seats with enticing content. Not only does this process keep your readers on the go interested and waiting for your next correspondence, it can also spur them on to come check out your brand website or connect with your organization on social media – a win-win scenario regardless what you’re selling.

Don’t Assume Segmentation Is Only for Email Marketing

Outside of getting the wrong idea about brevity and refined message content, Bizune also notes that assuming everyone wants the same type of content in the first place is also incorrect. If you’re already operating an email marketing campaign, you know about the power of segmentation. Even if you’ve never sent an email in your life, the idea is fairly straightforward to understand.

Different portions of your audience like different things, so tailoring your content to each portion – or “segment” – can help you maximize the power of an already effective system. It takes a little time and effort to delve into the particulars of these varied individuals, but it’s well worth the work to reap the rewards that follow.

Naturally getting to know your audience in greater detail and creating text content meshes well with surveying and other interactive tactics, so deploying this mindset, as well as the rest of what you’ve learned, should keep you on the right track for success and increased awareness in the SMS inbox. Even if you’re on the first step of your journey, you’ve made this trek significantly easier by learning more about what does and doesn’t work from others who have already traveled down this road.



In the world of SMS marketing, getting to know your audience is not just an important thing, it’s potentially the most important thing your brand can do. Unfortunately, plenty of campaigns fail to succeed on this front, thereby inhibiting their ability to make an impact in the mobile inbox. But what if you could combine the desire to learn more about your audience with the outreach that every brand craves? To find out how, let’s take a look at the power of SMS surveys and how this tool can help bridge the gap between your brand and the people that matter most to it.

How It Works

As the name would imply, the concept behind an SMS survey is fairly straightforward. In his look at this process, Liam Supple of Business 2 Community breaks down this approach into a few key phases. The first part starts with reaching out to your contact list and requesting some sort of information or response. Whether it’s insight into a new product or just learning a little more about your average customer, gleaning a little extra data from the survey is key to the operation. Finally, Supple points out that you’ll want to incentive the process with a reward for your loyal list members to make participating worth their time and effort. Coupons and exclusive offers work wonders on this front.

Why Bother with SMS Surveys?

Of course, at this point you’re probably wondering what you’ll get in return for firing off a well-planned and enticing survey to your shoppers. As John McMalcolm of USA Business Review explains, surveying your contact list comes with a plethora of benefits. First, there’s the sustained contact with these shoppers that keeps your brand at the forefront of the discussion.

However, if you’re looking for some more tangible benefits, McMalcolm notes that most surveys conducted via SMS channels generate a 98 percent open rate and a near 50 percent response rate, so it’s safe to say that you’ll generate enough data to truly paint an accurate picture of the people that make up your contact list.

On the logistics front, SMS surveys require minimal resources to reach consumers virtually instantaneously, creating a powerful confluence of viability and budget-friendly operations. Obviously costs can vary based on the size and scale of the campaign, but McMalcolm helps illuminate the fact that this – or any other – SMS program gives your brand some serious bang for its buck.

Building a Lasting Connection

So now that you know what SMS surveying is and why it matters to your brand, it’s time to talk about the best ways to pull off this practice and create a lasting connection with your audience. According to the team of experts at Marketing Sherpa, there’s several crucial steps that lead to the completion of this kind of campaign. Once you decide that this is the best route for your brand in terms of mobile marketing, it’s important to lay out your objectives. What do you hope to learn? Can this information change how you approach SMS marketing? These and many other questions need to serve as the cornerstone of your initial planning.

From here, creating the survey content and potentially exploring supporting channels comes next. Some members of your contact list won’t want to respond by text, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave them out of the loop. Directing this portion of your audience to social media accounts or web pages not only provides them with more options, it ensures that you have a higher response rate and a more accurate data set representing these shoppers.

Before you fire off this mobile survey, make sure you test it with a portion of your audience, as well as in-house. Just like marketed emails, getting this content right before handing it over to the public is vital to its success and helps keep your brand persona in tip-top shape. If you really want to go the extra mile, setting up a customer panel comprised of some of your most valuable audience members can help provide real-time analysis regarding your survey and any other SMS content.

Finally, and most importantly, incorporate all of the legal fine print regarding unsubscribe options and a generous reward for participation into the finished product. Both running afoul of the various SMS governing bodies and turning off your customer base with lackluster offerings can quickly lead to a campaign that falls flat on its face. However, if you’re able to put this breakdown of the survey process to good use, there’s nothing stopping your brand from making a lasting impression with these valued customers and learning a little more about them at the same time.



It’s no surprise that SMS marketing is often viewed as a layup, or “gimmie,” in terms of consumer outreach and influence. After all, people can’t put down their phones, so why wouldn’t this type of marketing stand as the path of least resistance when compared to other alternatives? Unfortunately, history is littered with simple shots and opportunities gone wrong, from Rutgers’ Myles Mack firing off this unbelievably bad shot, to the various blunders of His Airness, Michael Jordan. To ensure your brand never makes the SMS gag reel, let’s spend a few minutes talking about the five simple SMS mistakes you simply can’t afford to make as you move forward with your mobile marketing operations.

Forgetting the CTA

First up on the list of unforgivable mobile blunders is forgetting to include a call-to-action (CTA) in your message content. While some of you are probably staring at the screen and shaking your head with disbelief in response to that mistake, Rimma Kats of the Mobile Marketer points out that this issue pops up quite often in the world of SMS marketing. Naturally, you’ll want to support your CTA with solid details and message content, but try not to lose sight of just what you’re aiming for with this outreach. Otherwise, you could be the not-so-proud owner of a mobile marketing campaign that didn’t bother engaging its target audience and spurring these individuals to further action.

Succumbing to Generic Content

Additionally, Kats also hones in on the fact that generic or boring content is another prime issue afflicting many SMS messages. Sure, there’s something to be said for getting straight to the point, but this approach omits one crucial fact – customers who sign up for your contact list generally see a lot of other mobile content as well, so you better find a way to differentiate yourself in a sometimes crowded inbox. If you’re just one among many, standing out and making a name for your brand in the text message inbox won’t come easy.

Being Too Complex

Conversely, Business 2 Community’s Matt Baglia points out that cramming a novel’s worth of text into one of these messages isn’t exactly the right answer either. The beauty of the text message is that it’s a short and sweet way to connect with customers, so keep these attributes in mind as you build your content. A good rule of thumb is that if you can impart the same engaging and exciting message with fewer words, there’s no reason not to distill your content down to a more straightforward and simpler form. For the brands that find the middle ground between complex and generic solutions, SMS success and growth shouldn’t follow too far behind.

Thinking Everyone That Owns a Phone Is the Same

When it comes to getting to know your audience, Douglas Karr of the Marketing Technology Blog explains that, just like the people who open your marketed emails, not everyone who owns a phone is the same. If you’re familiar with list segmentation and targeting specific portions of your audience via email marketing or social media management, then this revelation should come as no surprise.

Naturally, the ways in which you differentiate viewers might be a little different – phone type, data plans, etc. – but the basic premise remains the same; if you’re able to build unique and personalized content for each portion of your audience, your campaign’s ability to convert these messages into sales and brand page visits should rise by a significant margin.

Skipping the Unsubscribe Details

Finally, Karr rounds out our list of unforgivable SMS mistakes with a look at the most egregious error committed by modern brands – failing to inform your audience about their mandated right to unsubscribe from your list. While the other follies found on this list can deal temporary damage to your reputation and ability to generate influence among your target demographics, skipping the unsubscribe details can put you firmly on the wrong side of the law.

From our anti-spam laws here in Canada (CASL), to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) sister legislation imposed by the lawmakers south of the border, the message remains clear; if you don’t give these readers a chance to say “no thanks,” expect some serious backlash. However, as long as you play by the rules, as well as take to heart the other solutions laid out by this list, there’s nothing that says your brand can’t exist and thrive in the world of mobile marketing.



If you’re a fan of keeping up with the latest tech stories – or you just like kicking back in the evening and watching Netflix with the family – chances are you’ve heard a bunch about the issue of net neutrality over the past year. In fact, some would argue that the political and social implications of this debate far exceed the tech world and reflect on the very future of technology and consumer services.

However, despite all of this publicity and fanfare, few people realize that the concerns and arguments surrounding net neutrality could also affect the future of SMS marketing. To help catch your brand up with the SMS implications of this ongoing news story, let’s spend a few minutes digging into the particulars of this development, as well as what your brand needs to do to keep its connection with mobile consumers alive and well moving forward.

What Is Net Neutrality?

Of course, there’s plenty of people who are still in the dark regarding what net neutrality is, so we’ll start by explaining both sides of the debate and discussing the points of contention that divides much of the tech world. As Kazi Stasna of CBC News explains, net neutrality focuses on whether or not Internet service providers (ISPs) have the right to discriminate between various data and usage requests and what rights consumers and brands have in the whole process.

Essentially, the question can be boiled down to if ISPs should throttle or inhibit connections based on what’s happening on the other side of the screen with the end user. While advocates of both sides have made strong cases, Stasna goes on to note that not only is this fight far from a resolution, it’s also has the potential to affect the way businesses operate in Canada as well.

Currently, major providers like Rogers and Bell have eschewed the more heavy handed tactics embodied by their counterparts south of the border, but that doesn’t mean that the status quo is set in stone forever. Adding in that many net-based services also operate out of the United States further complicates the matter and ensure that sooner or later, Canada will play some role in this overarching discussion and its eventual resolution.

The Role of SMS Marketing in the Debate

So where does SMS marketing fit into this greater technological and philosophical debate? According to Nic Denholm of Tech Crunch, service providers like Verizon have begun to claim that text-based marketing falls under the “Internet” designation of mobile operations, therefore making it subject to fees, regulations, and the discretion of the ISP. In fact, some organizations have already learned the hard way – thanks to thousands of texts suddenly bouncing back and failing to reach the targeted contact list member – that the battle of usage and neutrality has firmly grasped the mobile front.

As far as your brand’s current operations go, chances are that your messaging programs don’t place the same strain on ISPs as Netflix and Amazon streaming video, but Jefferson Graham of USA Today explains that if these major Internet outlets succumb to throttling or usage fees, don’t be surprised if the trickle-down effect eventually takes some toll on even the smallest SMS or MMS texting campaigns.

Protecting Your Brand Moving Forward

In terms of the future, there’s a variety of outcomes that could drastically affect your brand’s SMS operations. For starters, if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States resolves the issue and banishes the idea of restrictive services and fees, then life will go on as usual for your mobile operations.

If things take a turn for the worse though on the mobile marketing front, WIRED magazine’s Robert McMillian forecasts a decidedly different future. Instead of relying on standard SMS communications, McMillian expects services like Google Hangouts and Apple iMessage to rise to prominence and reclaim the fractured bond of texting that once existed between consumers and brands.

Of course, at this point it’s near impossible to predict just how the debate surrounding net neutrality ends. However, that doesn’t mean that you should go forward completely in the dark. Until the time comes that a change needs to be made, the best course of action – and the one that will protect your SMS operations and return on investment (ROI) until this theoretical point arrives – is to stay abreast of the latest developments and stay connected with your SMS messaging provider. This way, you’ll never be caught off guard when the next big story regarding net neutrality, and the future of mobile marketing, sends shockwaves through the industry.



Whether you’re knee deep in a successful email marketing campaign or just testing the waters of texting with customers, blending in a bit of social outreach isn’t just recommended, it’s getting pretty close to being mandatory these days. But what if you could have your target audience pitch in and help spread the word about your latest offerings and promotions? As crazy as this dream scenario might sound, the truth of the matter is that if you get your email, text, and other digital marketing content on the right track, expecting the people that like, follow, and interact with your brand to help increase your social reach isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Images in the Inbox and Beyond

As Nicole Fallon of Business News Daily points out, getting your audience to react, respond, and share with their friends and family starts with eye-catching imagery. Naturally, graphic content has a place in plenty of email marketing programs, but if you really want to go above and beyond, consider developing these images with social sharing in mind.

From infographics to user-generated selections, images that either provide value or evoke a certain emotion ignite a special spark that rests inside each of these social butterflies. Once this desire has taken hold, it’s only a matter of time before the various networks and circles that connect these people to others online become a part of your growing brand audience via engaging, and shareable, imagery.

Make All of Your Content Shareable

Speaking of giving your audience a reason to share images, why not take the next step and make all of your content shareable? We’ve talked before about sharing your offers and discounts on Facebook, Twitter, and other networks as a way to grow your mailing list, but as Entrepreneur magazine’s Ann Handley explains, there’s something far more credible and compelling about making this experience a peer-to-peer affair.

If you’re just getting started on this front, adding social link plug-ins with simple reminder text, like “Click here to share this with your friends,” to your emails is a good start. For those looking for a slightly more advanced approach, consider turning related content, including white papers and presentations, into shareable selections or even rewards for those who participate in this new program. It might seem like a little extra work, but if you want your audience to help promote and enhance the reach of your brand’s message organically, it’s only fair you give them something worthwhile in return.

Understanding the Power of the Consumer Testimonial

Continuing on with the peer-to-peer theme is the concept that consumer testimonials can help enact this strategy as engaging and creative content. In his look at the usage of these user-based offerings, Paul Gustafson of the Content Marketing Institute notes that tethering a podcast to your email, SMS, or social content lets satisfied customers tell their stories in their own words. The best part about using this type of consumer content is that it not only helps keep your brand’s efforts from coming off as contrived, but these testimonials can serve as a major part of your content arsenal for as long as the relevant product or service stays in production.

Even if you don’t want to go down the podcast route, there’s still plenty of good tidbits and suggestions found within Gustafson’s article. First off, skip the sales pitch and focus on telling a story. Too many brands think of testimonials from the infomercial perspective, but the reality is that today’s content consumers would rather enjoy an honest and natural recollection that skips the fluff and speaks to them in a way that captures their attention.

Additionally, if you’re going to use a video or audio format for your testimonials, don’t skimp on the production values. Sure, your brand might not have the budget to turn this content into a major motion picture production before it hits the inbox and starts to spread among your audience, but using a scratchy mic or a low resolution camera is a quick way to invalidate and trivialize the message held within your testimonial.

Interact Across a Wide Variety of Platforms

Of course, the best way to turn your audience into a powerful marketing tool that operates on behalf of your brand independently is by going above and beyond in terms of interaction. This isn’t to say that putting your email or SMS content on the backburner is a good idea, but instead that taking every opportunity to connect on social sites, consumer review pages, and even in the comment section of your own blog posts can complement your operations and ensure that the people closest to your brand help spread the word to potential new customers across the web about your email, SMS, and social presence.



When you think of great customer service, chances are some blend of interpersonal conversation, intimate knowledge of the product or service in question, and a willingness to go above and beyond for the consumer help establish an acceptable ideal for this process. While there’s definitely merit to championing all of these points, it’s also important to understand that with every modern advancement via mobile technology, the consumer experience is moving farther and farther away from just what happens within the doors of your brick-and-mortar shop. With this in mind, let’s talk about how adding in a few customer service features to your SMS marketing operations could give you a crucial advantage over the competition that’s still stuck focusing on the best practices of the past.

The Particulars of SMS Messaging as a Consumer Service

If you’re familiar with how SMS marketing works, chances are you’re probably wondering just how this medium actually helps enhance the service offered to your customers. Sure, you’re already offering deals, discounts, and vital product information via text, but what else can you really do to make this connection even better?

According to Michael Essany of Mobile Marketing Watch, it’s all about answering the questions and inquiries that matter most to these shoppers. Whether it’s offering account balances and notifications via text, or firing off sales confirmations and fraud warnings, utilizing texts to handle any problems that would require the helping hand of a customer service professional is the key to deploying this SMS “trump card” on behalf of your brand.

Supporting This Shift

Obviously, all of this sounds nice, but is making this move really what your customers want? If the information offered up by T.J. McCue of Small Business Trends is any indicator, the answer to this question is an emphatic yes. Essentially, there’s nothing your customers would rather be doing than texting – especially when compared to more traditional methods of reaching out to brands and organizations. Considering that text messages have a 98 percent read rate, in addition to the fact that consumers read most of these texts within 15 minutes, it’s safe to say that there’s plenty of extraordinary data to back up such an extraordinary claim.

Making This Move Your Own

Logically, now that we’ve set up the reasons why customer service deserves a complimentary role beside your standard SMS marketing tactics, it’s time that we tell you how to implement this system. Unfortunately, there’s no “one size fits all” method or process that translates to every brand. With each audience you add into the mix, as well as an ever increasing number of products and services with their own problems and concerns, the formula for success becomes even more muddled and convoluted.

However, that doesn’t mean you’re completely in the dark when it comes to establishing a customer service texting system that goes hand in hand with your brand’s other text operations. As Kern Lewis of Forbes magazine explains, your best bet to adding text messages to your customer service repertoire and giving these shoppers what they want is by starting with the big picture, specifically in terms of service, and working your way up from there. By doing this, you can build peace of mind and spread quality service among the loyal shoppers that rely upon your brand.

For instance, as you delve into the consumer data surrounding your audience, think about what problems and issues face these individuals on a daily basis, as well as how you could eliminate these concerns with a simple text. Even if you have to get a little conceptual with your thinking by putting yourself in their shoes from time to time during the development of this system, you’ll still find that all of this hard work is well worth your time and effort.

Going Above and Beyond for Your Customers

Of course, this is simply the beginning of the steps that go into integrating customer service into your text operations. As great of a start as this discussion has been in terms of getting you acclimated to this new take on two formerly disconnected services, if you want to stay one step ahead of the competition on this front, you simply can’t stop here. Whether it’s increasing your marketing efforts and spreading the word about this new take on customer service within your target demographics, or testing out new features and offerings from time to time, avoiding the temptation to rest on your laurels is the key to sustained success on both the SMS and customer service fronts.



Much like the CASL series of updates that rocked the email marketing world earlier in 2014, CTIA has completely changed the game for those looking to connect with customers via SMS messages. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, don’t worry. With our in-depth look at the latest SMS guideline update, as well as the background storylines that led to this change, you’ll have all the info you need to keep your text campaigns running and successful throughout this change – as well as any others waiting beyond the horizon.

What Is the CTIA?

For those of you sitting at your office chair and wondering just what the CTIA is, the answer to this question is simple. Originally known as the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, CTIA is a nonprofit membership-based industry group that aims to provide uniform regulation and promote best practices across all wireless connections in North America. From helping guide the debate surrounding the proliferation of consumer data and net neutrality, to how to properly text consumers, CTIA covers a wide spectrum of issues that relate to businesses and organizations like your own.

What Sparked the Update?

Now that we’ve got the particulars of CTIA out of the way, it’s time to talk about why this governing body decided to switch things up in terms of SMS best practices. According to Natalie Gagliordi of ZDNet, the storylines behind this one focus on the role of net neutrality when it comes to the functions utilized by cellular devices. Essentially, the debate revolves around whether or not mobile carriers have the right to regulate the content they provide customers – specifically marketed messages and content originated via the Internet.

Additionally, January of 2014 saw the major mobile service providers – like AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile – agree to cease billing customers for short code messages that fall under the premium designation. Naturally, this move sent ripples throughout the SMS community on both the service provider and marketer side of the equation.

While there’s currently no end in sight to this particular discussion, or a clear cut understanding of all the ramifications of the major service provider short code shift that occurred in January of 2014 – CTIA hopes to cut off any drastic moves from other industry forces by guiding brands – like your own – with a specific set of best practices. This way, the world of SMS marketing can keep on rolling toward a happy confluence of great deals and eager customers who can’t wait for the latest update from the brands they care about.

Building a Plan That Promotes Compliance

So what exactly goes into maintaining compliance with CTIA’s new SMS guidelines? As Derek Johnson of Mobile Marketing Watch explains, it all starts with clearly identifying your brand at the beginning of the text transmission. Without this transparent approach, you could easily turn customers off who are unsure of the origin of this message. From here, explaining the particulars of the program – such as recurring deals or the frequency of messages – ensures that the reader knows exactly what they are getting into.

As for disclosures, CTIA suggests putting the request of consent and terms of usage somewhere in the body of the message. In Johnson’s recommended template, this info comes right after the call to action (CTA) – a position that’s definitely going to attract some attention from customers skimming over the finer points of the text. Finally, giving some real estate to messaging and data rates, as well as opt-out instructions, rounds out the process and gives your brand the ability to stay in line with CTIA’s guidelines and best practices.

Bracing for the Future

Of course, it wouldn’t be appropriate to gloss over the fact that CTIA doesn’t hand out fines or penalties based on those who fall out of compliance like the proponents of CASL and other email marketing anti-spam laws. However, it’s an ill-advised path to disregard these guidelines and best practices completely. With the discussion of net neutrality now incorporating mobile data and SMS operations, it’s only a matter of time before adhering to these enhanced methods becomes the common standard.

Additionally, keeping your offerings of the highest quality – based exclusively on value and transparency – is never a bad idea. Consumers respond to top tier selections when it comes to SMS marketing, so why not set high standards for your creative mobile content? Otherwise, don’t be surprised when you’re behind the times in terms of industry best practices and unable to stand out in a cluttered text message inbox.


The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How The Globe and Mail kept the people of Canada up to date with the latest happenings of the G-20 Summit in Toronto.  

With global leaders descending on the city of Toronto in 2010 to talk about some of the most pressing worldwide problems at the highly important G-20 Summit, saying that this was a big time for the news industry is putting things mildly. For any reputable news source, like Toronto’s very own The Globe and Mail, keeping readers informed and in touch with the latest developments at this meeting was priority number one. However, waiting for the next day’s edition just wasn’t fast enough, so the team behind this trusted newspaper decided to take on a faster approach.

Developing a Winning Strategy

Knowing this, The Globe and Mail decided to develop a strategy that focused on real time connections with readers who couldn’t wait to find out the latest about the G-20 Summit – SMS messages. Aside from covering breaking news, traffic updates, protests, and everything in between via text messaging, The Globe and Mail also wanted to promote a deeper level of interaction with loyal readers and increase the reach of both its mobile website and email contact list. Lofty goals to say the least, but considering the raw power of SMS marketing, well within the reach of a brand willing to take the proper steps.

Making Headlines and Raising Awareness

So how did The Globe and Mail put this text system into place? To start, the team behind this campaign spread the word to loyal readers via the newspaper. Aside from traveling down this standard physical print route, The Globe and Mail also targeted its ever-growing online constituency via informative upgrades to the paper’s web page. At the heart of both promotional avenues was a call to action emphasizing the quick, simple, and easy nature of signing up for the SMS program, as well as the benefits held within.

Gaining Ground and Building for the Future

While the members of the G-20 Summit might not have left the meeting feeling any better about the pressing issues up for discussion, The Globe and Mail definitely came out of this major news event feeling good about its position with the Canadian people. After the weeklong affair came to a close, over 53,000 news alerts were sent out as part of the campaign. In total, 89 percent of alert subscribers originated via online awareness materials, leading to 52 percent of these individuals staying with the SMS program or joining the email marketing contact list in order to keep up with all the latest breaking news.

Plotting Your Own Course for SMS Results

Clearly, The Globe and Mail capitalized on the powerful confluence of an effective medium – text messaging – and a major international event – the G-20 Summit. However, even if your industry doesn’t generate headlines of quite the same magnitude, there’s still plenty to learn from this newspaper’s successful SMS run.

First up, don’t be afraid to tether your campaign to an event that matters to your audience. Keying in on these exciting times, and offering up a useful service or offer like The Globe and Mail did in regard to the G-20 Summit, can help set your brand apart and boost SMS interaction in a major way.

Once you’ve honed in on the right time to unveil your SMS campaign, spend some time spreading the word. Whether it’s via social media, your branded website, or even more traditional methods like print media, ensuring you raise awareness among your audience is key to the success of your text offerings. While you’ll still generate some buzz one way or the other, without maximizing this phase of the process it’s hard not to leave some opportunities for outreach and connection with customers on the table.

Finally, after your campaign is up and running, don’t be afraid to engage in a little crossover with your other operations. As we saw with The Globe and Mail, this top tier news source helped bolster its email marketing campaign while building a healthy SMS following. As long as you provide quality content and offerings during your text initiative, there’s no reason not to keep the good times flowing in the inbox as well.



The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How the Viking Cooking School started with a grass roots approach and built a powerful SMS contact list in no time.

Have you ever wanted to chase a culinary dream and learn to cook with some of the best chefs around? If so, chances are you fall right in line with the Viking Cooking School’s target audience. Unfortunately, reaching out to these aspiring food savants wasn’t always as easy as pie. With this realization guiding the way, let’s take a few minutes to see how Viking Cooking School whipped up the perfect SMS recipe, as well as what you brand can do to mix in a few tips and tricks as well the next time you try to connect with potential customers on the go.

The Basic Ingredients

At the heart of this campaign was a desire to reach out to kids, moms, dads, business professionals, and anyone else who enjoys the art of cooking and making a great meal for friends and family. Naturally, there’s was no better place to start than with past and current cooking students. From this point, honing in on potential new students helped lay the foundation for a successful and interactive SMS campaign.

Mixing Things Up

Of course, targeting the right audience is one thing, but spreading the word and generating sign-ups is an entirely different matter. To successfully accumulate the latter, the Viking Cooking School fired off an email blast to existing customers with a slew of exclusive offers and discounts. This practice helped stabilize the burgeoning contact list with individuals known to be interested in the services offered by this culinary learning center.

Once the wheels started rolling on the awareness phase of this campaign, the team behind this initiative posted in-school signage, enabled word-of-mouth promotion by instructors, and looked to traditional print advertising to help spread the word. On the digital front, revamping the school’s website with an informative opt-in widget helped capture curious visitors who might not have been aware of the physical campaign materials.

Raking in the Results

After a strong four months of testing at the Ridgeland, Mississippi branch, the Viking Cooking School proudly claimed control of an SMS contact list of close to 300 members. While this might not seem like much to some, the fact that this list contained a highly interactive audience should not go unnoticed.

For instance, a single text message to this group – costing just $15 to generate and ship – filled eight $79 spots in a class that would have otherwise been under capacity. If you’re keeping up with the math on that exchange, it’s a net gain of $632. Today, the Viking Cooking School now has two more of its 16 locations enacting SMS operations, with plans to implement the same strategy at the remaining branches as well.

Finding Your Own Path to SMS Success

Now that we’ve recounted the successes of the Viking Cooking School, it’s time to lay the foundation for your own inspiring SMS success story. To do this, let’s talk a little about what made this campaign so effective. First up is the fact that the Viking Cooking School utilized as many resources as possible to build a strong contact list. While some brands might assume that current and former customers aren’t the target demographic, this initiative proved that there’s nothing wrong with starting with these consumers before branching out to new potential customers.

Once you’re on track for a strong foundation, it’s time to leave no stone unturned when searching for new members for your SMS contact list. From traditional print advertising to online promotional materials, going the distance on all fronts is the best way to ensure you maximize the reach and impact of this texting operation.

Finally, don’t worry so much about raw numbers. We’ve covered SMS campaigns before that easily dwarf the Viking Cooking School’s 300 member list. However, few examples come close to the return on investment (ROI) generated by the texts offered by this institution. As long as you understand this and enact the strategies covered in this case study, you’ll be enjoying a massive boost on behalf of your brand via SMS marketing like the Viking Cooking School in no time.



The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Tampa, Florida Turned out a 35 Percent Redemption Rate

One part great content, one part timing, and a little smooth talking sprinkled on top for good measure. If you’re new to the world of SMS marketing, chances are your idea of the perfect text message follows along these lines to some degree. However, if you really want to stand out from the crowd, you’ll need to look beyond this rudimentary recipe and uncover the truth behind powerful and effective mobile marketing tactics.

To help you find the perfect blend of SMS “spices” that make up a great campaign, let’s dig into the tasty particulars of the top-notch initiative set forth by Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Tampa, Florida. This way, when it’s your time to whip up a winning batch of text offers, you’ll have all the ingredients you need to wow the eager customers waiting for your next great message.

Prepping the Kitchen

First off, it’s important to understand why Carrabba’s decided to enact this strategy in the Tampa market. Aside from the obvious desire to boost sales and increase foot traffic in its local restaurants, this brand also wanted to see if it could replicate, and exceed, the prior success enjoyed by the branches in the nearby Orlando region. With this in mind, the team behind this campaign laid out a four week stretch of text marketing. During this time, the goal was to reach a healthy five percent redemption rate – something any brand would be more than happy to collect at the end of a mobile marketing run. However, as you’ll soon see, this campaign went above and beyond in a major way.

Reaching out to the Audience

The outreach and education portion of this campaign featured segmentation on a variety of levels. First, each branch in the Tampa area set up a localized database to ensure a closer connection with repeat and unique consumers. Additionally, these locations also applied separate promotional strategies in an effort to appeal to varying patron groups. This specialized approach focused on early diners (4 P.M to 6 P.M.), late dining customers (8 P.M. to 10 P.M.), “Carside” carry-out patrons, Sunday lunch fans, and the “Happy Hour” demographic. Even though the promotional materials and outreach methods varied from group to group, each customer interested in joining the SMS list simply needed to text “AMICI” to the 82672 short code in order to join the contact list. Once on this list, members received a steady stream of relevant offers and discounts.

Exceeding Expectations in a Major Way

At the end of the four week campaign, the Tampa branches of Carrabba’s Italian Grill tallied up the results. In total, 443 local patrons joined the SMS contact lists, which in turn accounted for a 35 percent redemption rate. After dwarfing the original five percent goal, the team at Carrabba’s quickly made plans to expand this initiative to the national stage. Today, this campaign serves as the basis for a continuing bond between locations across the United States and the happy customers who can’t wait for the next great text message deal.

Creating Your Own SMS Success Story

Naturally, this is a lot to digest in one sitting. However, there’s a couple key themes to pick up on and help guide you during your next SMS campaign. First, even if you’ve already been around the block with your SMS operations, there’s always room for improvement. Even though the Orlando version of this campaign was a success, the team at Carrabba’s pushed the envelope in the Tampa market, and then later on a national stage.

Aside from constantly innovating your approach, learning how to break down your audience goes a long way toward specializing promotional offers and outreach methods. You might not have as many varied demographics within your base of consumers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least learn to hone in on what each group likes and dislikes in terms of SMS marketing. If you can pull this tactic off, in addition to the rest of what you’ve learned from the stellar example set by Carrabba’s Italian Grill, you’ll have the perfect blend of SMS methods backing up your brand in no time.


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