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Short Message Service (SMS) vs. Spam


By: Marina Elbert Slabyak, Gold Group


No platform highlights the paradox direct marketers currently face more than mobile.  Mobile technology has already begun to realize its potential in identifying relevant audiences more accurately and directly than ever before.  Yet, it remains vulnerable to the looming specter of spam which threatens to quash the huge advances mobile has made in behavioral targeting.  The key is to remain relevant…which requires that audiences self-identify as potential customers and clients.  If direct marketers don’t make mobile an “opt-in” experience for potential customers, they will be regarded as spam by the masses who will “opt-out” from being contacted again. 


Market research shows that a person’s mobile device is very personal…it is the only device they always have on hand.  It is in their pocket, in their car and attached to their ear throughout their typical day, providing companies with the ability to connect and interact with them at the precise moments when consumers are most in need of and most likely to purchase a  product or service.  The challenge for marketers is to become a seamless part of the potential customer’s day, rather than interrupt a person’s routine in order to bombard them with a message that has no relevance to them…one they never “opted-in” for.  Getting consumers to “opt-in” is the key to building community, loyalty, repeat sales, and a large database while steering clear of becoming spam.  


As defined by Webster, a community is a group of people with a common characteristic.  For the purposes of this article, that characteristic is a shared interest in a particular product or service.  A community offers the most cost effective method of building brand loyalty and amplifying your message with those who are predisposed to purchasing your offerings.  In the online space, communities foster interaction and need the four C’s: content, context, communication (two-way), and commitment. 


Gold Group’s community building methodology as it applies to online, offline and in mobile, follows the “Six I’s”:



        Members of the community must receive a welcome and orientation. They must learn the norms, values and rules of the community.


        The community must provide opportunities for its members to bond through interaction.


        Members must be encouraged to participate. The community should provide expectations of involvement and include rewards for participation.


        Members must have the opportunities to influence the community. It makes them feel important and shows them that their perspectives and opinions are valued.


        Investment creates a sense of ownership that flows from involvement and influence. The members must feel invested in their community.


        Members must share a common purpose and identity. Refer to collectively as “we” and “us.” Establish rituals and standards that all members identify with.


Some examples of Gold Group’s best practices include utilizing opt-in to build eco-conscious communities, brand-loyal communities, and service-based communities.   


SIGG Switzerland, which is a producer of eco-friendly aluminum water bottles, utilizes mobile services to reach eco-conscious consumers through daily green tips, urging consumers to think green before making their purchases.  Without much advertising of their mobile program, as it is still in the test stage, SIGG has already received over one-hundred opt-ins from consumers desiring to receive their messages.  Building this kind of opt-in list allows SIGG to meet the needs of their consumers through relevant content, maximizing their credibility and brand loyalty.


Another example of community building comes from the radio industry.  A local radio station in New Jersey, W-RAT, is using mobile to communicate with their loyal audience.  The program allows listeners not only to opt-in to receive special offers from W-RAT, but also to communicate with the DJ’s of the station by texting in their song requests.  This eliminates hold times, and allows DJ’s an easier way to communicate with their listeners, many of whom will receive a response directly from the DJ either on their phone or on the air. 


For the radio station, aside from building a brand-loyal community, willing to receive special messages specifically from their favorite station, this builds an additional revenue stream if listeners are willing to receive messages from the station’s advertisers.  Again, everything solely relies on opt-in, so consumers are never spammed with messaging that is not relevant to their needs.


The third example comes from a slightly different type of industry.  It displays the service-oriented utilization of mobile services.  Preston Automotive, a large automotive dealership based in Maryland is using mobile to maximize consumer convenience.  Opting-in to receive messages from the dealership, takes the dealership’s CRM capabilities to a whole new level.  Not only can their consumers receive specials on cars of their particular interest, but it allows the consumer to be directly connected to the service department.  Consumers can be notified of when their car is ready for pick up, if there is anything else that needs to be done with the vehicle, costs involved, and practically everything else that is connected to the service department. 


This opens the two-way communication between the service provider and the consumer, putting both at ease as they have a clear record of their communication.  To facilitate the process, Gold Group has created an online CRM management interface, which keeps track of all incoming and outgoing messages, allows for automatic message delivery, and notifies the user of the interface on what urgency each communication requires.


In our efforts to create clear and easily accessible opt-in techniques, Gold Group has created the top 5 steps for best practices in this landscape:



    1. Include mobile opt-in on your direct mail, in your product information, and in your radio and TV campaigns

    2. Include mobile keywords on your packaging

    3. Integrate both the mobile web and mobile messaging with your website and CRM workflow



    1. Today’s consumer is more about “information on demand”.  Mobile Web enables them to look up what they need when they want – remember many people are mobile when they want information

    2. Downloadable Applications – training, instructions, and product information can be brought right to their cell phone at the OPPORTUNE MOMENT and now they have it in the palm of their hand.

    3. Mobile Messaging is both push and pull

                                                               i.      PUSH: Your opt-in database of customers can receive information based on their preferences and behavior

                                                             ii.      PULL: using a system of mobile “keywords”, they can get request  specific data whenever/wherever they want



    1. Map out where and when you get your customer service calls. Consider when people would really like their information. Then add tools to enable you to provide “immediate” servicing.

    2. Incorporate location based services in your CRM communications and methods.  While this is more much more common in Europe and Asia, it is fast coming to the US Market.

    3. For International Companies—using mobile is an excellent CRM strategy to cost-effectively penetrate and build your community and database throughout Europe, Asia, and South America.



    1. Imagine a baby car seat manufacturer provides a “how to” video on putting your child in the car seat and that is available on a mobile device as well.  The parent is mobile when doing this task.

    2. Consider a sales training company providing a series of video/audio reinforcement clips available on a mobile device so before a sales call it can be viewed



    1. Mobile communications is an excellent way to build a personal, “live” relationship with customers.  Create applications that reside on your customers’ mobile device that actually deliver the exact type of information they have pre selected.  Downloadable mobile applications are becoming more popular and can be set to retrieve information from your website or CRM system at automatic intervals (i.e. daily, weekly or every 15 minutes).


We hope these steps help you in your process of reaching consumers the right way, a way that allows relevant messages to be delivered to their mobile devices.  Understanding consumers and the potential of the platforms used to reach them is the  key to becoming an integral part of their lives, rather than an unwelcome intrusion. 

It also keeps the spam away.


About Gold Mobile


Gold Mobile is the mobile solutions arm of Gold Group, a social media company that immerses brands in consumers’ daily life. We use audience-driven web sites, proprietary mobile technology and experiential tactics to build "Opt-In" social media networks and create next generation marketing assets for brands.


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