Short Codes for Marketing

Common short codes move to the mainstream

Over the last five years, mobile marketing has slowly been creeping into the mainstream marketing hemisphere. American Idol is credited for moving short codes into the mainstream in the form of voting for audience's favorite contestants. Now, almost every publisher, brand and agency brought up short codes as part of their marketing success at the recent MMA's Mobile Marketing Forum.

Common short codes are 5 or 6 digit numbers, like abbreviated phone numbers, which consumers can text to give feedback to call-in shows, to join a mobile VIP club, to vote on limitless subject maters, to decide contest winners, or just receive information about a company or brand.

The appeal of short codes fits in with the 'fast and immediate' response mentality that American's have grown accustomed to. Because short codes for marketing are just that - short - users save time by typing in a 5 digit code, rather then having to remember an entire phone number. Lots of codes are made even easier by spelling something easy to remember, like 7ESPN, OBAMA, or CHACHA. This type of code is called a 'vanity' code is is significantly more expensive.

Short codes must be provisioned

In order to start a mobile marketing campaign, businesses must utilize a short code, or an abbreviated phone number. Consumers can text in a keyword on a short code to become a part of the mobile database, and can then receive future messages from the business.

Before a business can even use a short code, it has to be provisioned. All shortcodes are provisioned by the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA). The provisioning process has 3 steps and usually takes 8 to 12 weeks to complete.

First, the marketing short code is provisioned by every wireless carrier. After it is provisioned, it is sent on for testing by the aggregator. After thorough testing, it is sent back to the carrier for certification. When the short code is certified, it is ready for launch and to be used by businesses.

It is best to hire a respected service provider like SUMOTEXT who can assist you with all these steps as well as advise and educate on many other aspects that you will need to begin a successful mobile marketing strategy.

Short codes take fishbowls to a new level

For years, businesses have been collecting mobile numbers and email addresses using the 'fishbowl' technique of having customers write down all their contact information and drop it into a bowl or box to be gathered later. The business is unaware that they cannot legally do anything with the phone numbers, but they try to gather a name and number and an email address to add to a database.

But now with the launch of short codes, businesses can legally market to their mobile numbers if they will first get a compliant 'opt-in'. Short codes approved by wireless carriers are the genius behind SMS marketing. Businesses now have the opportunity to promote a call to action, asking customers to opt-in to their keyword through a short code.

Many businesses like this alternative, but don't want to give up on that fishbowl list of email addresses. Well mobile is the easiest way to collect email addresses. Simply send a message that says.. "Reply with your email address to get a free dessert with your next entree". Now the business is using mobile and technology to assist with their old-time fishbowl concept.

This opt-in automatically adds the customer to the business’s mobile database, but you could just as easily ask for their birth date, their favorite menu item, their number of children, their zip code, etc. All of this is instantly accessible through their mobile platform if they are using a quality service provider like SUMOTEXT.

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