Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ignoring Details – iLoop Renders SMS Campaign Useless

This is a guest post over on, who offers a superior self-service interface for marketers who want to implement an SMS marketing effort.  Here’s an excerpt:

“As someone in the mobile marketing industry, I’m always signing up for things on my mobile phone. I’ll scan QR codes, click on URLs, and sign up for SMS marketing programs. Not long ago I signed up for iLoop Mobile’s ILOOPDEALS which is a program that allows you to “see mobile marketing in action”. It’s a good idea, but as it turns out, can be disastrous if not done correctly..”  Continue reading…

Pampers Tries SMS But Leaks Out Anyway

I hate diapers. On the one hand you need them to keep your baby clean and on the other hand they are filling up landfills and decompose slowly.  And the reminders come multiple times per day. Sure, we tried cloth diapers but you may not realize how much water and electricity you go through cleaning and drying these absorbent things.  It’s insane. I’m not convinced it’s worth it. I’m back to disposables.

Which leads me to Pampers. I was taking a shrink-wrapped bundle of them to the daycare when I noticed a sticker on the pack with a long number/code on it. I’m actually surprised it got my attention because the sticker was so small. Seemed almost like a packing or shipping label of some sort.

image:Pampers GTG Sticker

Turns out it was a Call-To-Action!

Naturally curious, I tried to read the thing. Ever try to read the text on a coin? It was about half that size. I needed my glasses. It was painfully small. Here’s what I saw:

image: Pampers GTG Sticker Closeup

I guess you could text the code in as part of some sort of rewards program. I’m not a ‘member’ but not knowing what else to do I forged on sending the 15-digit code to 726777.

Expecting to be told I’m not a ‘member’ I received the following message in return:
“Sorry, we couldn’t find your mobile number. Please enter your email address. Msg&data rates may apply. reply STOP 2 quit, HELP 4help & T&Cs”

Fine. I replied with my email address. Here’s the reply:
“Sorry, we could not find your email @ Pampers GTG. Please register at Msg&data rates may apply. reply STOP 2 quit, HELP 4help”

(wow, those CYA bits about data rates and stop and help are really annoying)

Really? I need to go to a ‘regular’ website to register? I’ve gone so far as to stop what I’m doing, locate my glasses, find my phone, send the code, send my email and now you bail on me? This site is not meant for mobile and requires all kinds of data entry. Forget it.



What could have saved this campaign?

First, these stickers are way too small. I’m not a 20-something but I only got reading glasses in the last 4 months and rarely use them. I see fine in normal conditions. If you want people to participate, make it easy (maybe Pampers doesn’t really want participation?).

Second, follow MMA (Mobile Marketing Association) guidelines for promoting shortcode-based programs. This will keep you from being audited and subsequently shut off.

Third, allow people to sign up via mobile. Do NOT make them use your regular web site. People on their phones won’t type and confirm-type email addresses and passwords, fill in addresses and make a bunch of preferences selections. Let them sign up and then follow up with them (via email) if you want more info. This can be done on a mobile web site or using SMS. Contact Atomic Mobile to see how this might work.

MIT Enterprise Forum NFC Fail

Last week I attended the MIT Enterprise Forum on Near Field Communications (NFC). This is the Northwest chapter of the Forum and was held at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle. On the way into the museum I noticed an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper taped to the cement pillar to the left of the many entrance doors.

The paper had a QR code on it but didn’t tell you what would happen if you scanned it. I didn’t scan it. (In-part because I’ve been trying out a Windows Phone and I had yet to download a scanner.) I continued inside to the conference.

After the conference ended I had more time to stop, get a scanner, and scan the code. What a surprise! The QR code was pointed directly at a .pdf file hosted on the Amazon cloud servers ( .

The .PDF was a 28 page whitepaper on Near Field Communications!

Was I supposed to read this on my phone? I tried zooming in to the point where the type was legible but then I was forced to pan across the page twice in order to read a single line. Panning on a smartphone is both a side-t0-side and up-and-down affair so as I was panning the line of text was also floating up and down as my finger wasn’t dragging it perfectly sideways. Kind of makes you seasick.



What could have saved this campaign?

I understand what the organizers were trying to do here, distribute the NFC whitepaper to attendees. But was it their intention the people have the whitepaper in their hand to refer to during the conference? There were printed versions available to attendees for that purpose. To their credit, the mechanics worked fine. The scan resulted in a download.  Saving this campaign, however, would have required a different approach:

First, it’s never a good idea to tie a QR code directly to an asset url such as a document or video, which this one is. QR codes should point to urls than can be redirected at the conclusion of a campaign. In addition, if the url of the actual doc/video ever changes – particularly if it’s hosted somewhere like YouTube – the QR code will no longer work. Not good if something is in print or worse, tattooed.

Second, a mobile phone is no place for a 28 page document. On the Android phone (on which I also tested this campaign) there’s no easy way to get the document off the device. You can’t attach it to an email and side-loading is a hassle.  Instead, the QR might have either initiated  a new email where the user could then email the link to themselves or it might have landed the user on a page where they could input their email address in order to receive links to the whitepaper as well as video or pictures of the actual conference. The idea is to use the ‘in-the-moment’ impulse of mobile to secure a future contact or interaction, not necessarily to be the delivery agent of the content.

Babies”R”Us Still Crawling With SMS

I saw the call-to-action inside a recent Babies”R”Us direct mail piece.  It was their usual multi-page piece and I saw the mobile call-to-action near the back just before several pages of coupons. Taking up about 1/6th of a page it would have been fairly easy to miss

image: BabiesRUs Mobile SMS


but my eyes are rather tuned to looking for anything mobile so I caught the now familiar line, “Text BABIES6 to 30364” It didn’t really say what kind of  ’deals’ but these SMS alert programs rarely do, unfortunately.

Initially, the process was pretty standard. Once I sent BABIES6 I received a basic welcome message comprised mostly of verbiage required by the mobile operators and the MMA (Mobile Marketing Association). That was fine. But then another message came in a minute or so later. This one said,

“Hi! Help Babies”R”Us personalize the messages we send you! Reply now with your FULL NAME and ZIP CODE ex: JOHN SMITH, 55555.”

Hmm, interesting. Not sure why they want my full name, perhaps that’s the ‘personalize’ part. I guess they will probably match these three items (name, zip, phone number) to my Toys”R”Us loyalty account so they will know some of the stuff I’ve bought? Makes sense; they could roughly determine the age of my son based on the age category of the toys and diaper sizes I buy. We’ll see!

I go ahead and send my full name and address just the way they instructed. I get no reply so I’m not sure if they understood it or if they even got it. Whatever. I’ll just see what happens.

The next day I receive a message from 30364:

image: BabiesRUs Mobile

The first impression.

Wait. Where’s the personalization? I sent them my info in order to help them ‘personalize the messages’! I was really expecting to see my name in the message at the very least even if they didn’t have an offer for me based on my past purchases. Minor disappointment. In fact, looking closer at the message I don’t even see the offer. Apparently there are two days remaining in which I can ‘stock up’ but that’s not an offer. Are they going out of business and closing their doors in two days? Can’t I go in next week and ‘stock up’? What’s the offer??


As I write this I also notice that the ‘offer’ message starts out using title-case (i.e., capitalizing every word) and halfway through drops to regular or sentence-case. The author also seemed to run out of room at the end eliminating spaces in the stop instructions. Not a huge deal but the message lacked a certain consistency. I’ll stick with it for now, though, and see what happens next time.


What could have saved this campaign?

This appears to be a very early effort by Babies “R” Us.  I give them some credit for promoting their mobile efforts in the direct mail piece and not making me wait two weeks for my first message but overall there were many misses. Generally, it appears there is either little strategy behind the effort or they simply need some experienced help, probably the latter.
1)  Acknowledge every SMS. When someone sends you a text message – especially one with personal information – you need to acknowledge that you/your system received it.
2)  Make a valuable offer. If a consumer allows you to be ‘in their pocket’ you need to avoid anything that smacks of spam. Babies “R” Us should have an offer in their broadcasts, ideally one that is only available to mobile subscribers.
3)  Promote your other mobile efforts. Babies “R” Us has a mobile-optimized e-commerce web site. This url should be in every single broadcast.

- Kelly

ASUS Computers Gets a 404 Fail

From Randy Leslein (edited):

This week’s mobile campaign was found in the lastest (Oct. ’10) edition of Wired magazine. I found the ad by scavenging the entire magazine in hopes of finding some sort of mobile campaign taking place. Oddly enough, the QR code presented on this ad was the lone thing I found in this technology magazine that is just saturated with marketing.

image: Asus QR

Asus ad in Wired Magazine

To participate with the QR code you must have a mobile device capable of reading and an internet connection. Well, that is if you want to experience the delight of a “Page not found” (image) site. Because once you scan the code, that’s where you are taken.

Once again, the world of QR code fails.

There was no payoff, and again I was left curious as to the mystery of what the code contained. I even spent a good amount of time googling variations of “Asus nx90JQ wired qr code”, with nothing left to be found. I’m starting to think that making these things available to the searchable internet may be a good idea for the campaign creators.

Having such technology in a venue that targets people who usually have smart phones also seems wise. Maybe next time they will do some more internal testing.


What could have saved this campaign?
Randy pretty much sums it up. Testing. The QR code was clearly created before the magazine went to print. If someone had simply tested the code before finalizing the ad this failure would have been avoided. This should be SOP.
Unfortunately, ASUS didn’t use a QR generator that supports redirect which would have allowed them to change the URL (it was missing “Jq” at the end), fixing the error.
ASUS still could just replicate the landing page at both URLs. Why they haven’t done this is a mystery. Perhaps they still haven’t tested it?
Then again, the corrected url simply points to a full, non mobile-friendly landing page where you have to pan the screen in all directions or zoom out and make the text too small to read. *sigh* – Kelly

Conde Nast Traveler’s Travelscape FAIL

As part of the class I teach at the University of Washington we seek out and participate in all kinds of mobile media. Students do it during the week and we all do it in-class. In one such class exercise I handed out pages from some magazines I’d purchased just for theImage from Conde Nast Magazine occasion. The October issue of Conde Nast Traveler was one of them.

Near the back of the magazine is a section called Travelscape where readers can get more information on advertisers (Does anyone really ever do this?). Among the methods for requesting information is via SMS. Being partial to SMS I was certainly curious to see how this works! Would they send a single text or maybe a series of 160 character texts? Maybe just one text with a URL where I could get more info and perhaps a picture or two?

The method was pretty standard, send a keyword to the short code to get the process rolling. Oddly, there wasn’t a keyword for each advertiser but rather a single keyword for an entire category (e.g., cruises, Mexico, Hawaii). Ok. So I pick the Hawaii category and seeImage: Conde Nast SMS the instructions to “Text CNSEP*13 to 41411″. Huh? There’s a star in the keyword? Is it supposed to be like that? I check the other categories and indeed each has “CNSEP*” and then a number. Fine. A bit confusing but whatever, here goes.  I text the keyword to the short code and…


I get no message back. I try again. Same, nothing. FAIL.

Having been in the mobile marketing arena awhile I know that it is required for shortcode programs to support the “HELP” keyword. So I send HELP to 41411 and almost immediately get the following reply, “TextMarks mobilizes groups & web apps. Freq of msgs varies by keyword. Rply STOP to stop. Msg&Data rates may apply. Visit or”.  At least now we know who Conde Nast Traveler should send packing.

Weeks later, the keywords still don’t work. Sigh.


What could have saved this campaign?
First, the service needs to work. Marketers absolutely must test the user/customer experience at all stages of the effort. Had the person at Conde Nast Traveler responsible for compiling this page simply picked up her cell-phone and tried it she would have discovered the problem.
Second, the use of stars in a keyword, though technically no different from any other character, is uncommon and unfamiliar. Stick with alpha-numeric keywords.