Tag Archives: text message

Feeding America: Who Should Care?

Shopping malls are a popular place this time of year. And it is widely recognized that teenagers often hang out at shopping malls. Add this to the fact that teenagers are far and away the most prolific text-messagers and you have an environment ripe for a mobile marketing effort that uses text-messaging/SMS.

Which is why I wasn’t too surprised when I first read the words on a display ad in a local shopping mall that said:

“HNGR
TXTS,
2.”

Clearly, this was a play on the shorthand used when sending a text message. Right? Actually, it’s not that clear. Intrigued, I really studied the ad (I’m guessing more than a teenager would, or anyone else for that matter). I was looking for the payoff, the something to do, the call-to-action.:

image: Feeding America Full Mall Ad

One thing is clear, this is an ad for an organization looking to feed the hungry.

What’s not clear is what the ad means and more importantly, what can I do about it as I walk through the mall? Let’s look a little closer, perhaps there’s something in the details that clears things up.:

image: Feeding America mall ad closeup

Whaa? I get that there are hungry people. You’ve got my attention with the text-message-like copy.  But now you want me to remember to visit feedingamerica.org to ‘do my part’?  Is there nothing I can do right now? In fact, feedingamerica.org isn’t even designed to be read by a mobile device, sigh.

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

Feeding America has placed themselves in a bit of a tough spot here. They clearly recognize who is likely to be in shopping malls and seeing their ad; they have copy that is short and easy to grasp for a frequent texter. Lost, however, is the connection between who they are talking to and what they want them to do. First, a teen is likely not paying a nanosecond’s notice to the ad regardless of its familiar vernacular. Even if they did engage with the ad is there even the remotest possibility that they’d  write down the URL in order to ‘do their part’? Nope. These are teenagers. This ad is targeting the wrong people.

It is the parents in the  crowd that the folks at Feeding America really want to talk to. Grab them with a more standard line rather than one that looks like a crypic text-message (sorry, no suggestions here. I’m not a copy writer). Then, give them an easy way to do something right there, whether it’s sending an SMS or scanning a bar code. Once engaged, pull them along into a conversation about the cause and even solicit a mobile donation.

ABC Mobile: Lost In The Mobile Abyss

Like many smartphone users, I like to watch videos on my phone when I have a few minutes of down-time. (There are 200 million mobile video playbacks every day on YouTube.) I’ll even watch full episodes of TV shows if I’m going to be sitting somewhere for awhile, like on the bus or in a waiting room. It was the hope for access to full episodes of The View (just kidding) that had me typing in ABC.com on my computer to see what’s available.

At the ABC website there was a menu link for “Mobile”.  It looked promising, I mean, what other content would ABC be offering via mobile if not video? Clicking the link I was treated to the following page and there it was, Mobile Video On Demand! Nice.

Now, how do I get the vids? I don’t see an iTunes icon or little green Android that would point me to a mobile app. Checking the fine print I see that the service is indeed available on Sprint (my carrier) and, “To find out how to access ABC Mobile Video On Demand by texting ABCTV to 22288.”  Simple enough, right? Nope. Here’s what I got back; a message from Sprint:

“9230: Message failed. Shortcode may have expired or shortcode texting may be blocked on your account. Msg 1051″

What the..? How do I get the VOD? This short code was my only option!

FAIL #1.

I try the other mobile ‘offerings’ with increasing frustration.

Text Alerts:

FAIL #2: No list of shows to get alerts on! I’m offered the opportunity to figure it out for myself.

Live TV:

FAIL #3: No way to get the service, which appears to be only available on my carrier.

This is starting to get silly.  As a last resort and with little real hope, I pick up my phone and tap ABC.com into the browser. Perhaps they have a mobile site that will help me. Nope. It’s their full-site:

image: ABC.com on a phone

actual size

Not pretty, and the video links take me to the full-on video player. I try adding ‘/mobile’ to the URL:

image: ABC.com Mobile

actual size

Ugh. Same thing, a non-mobile site. It doen’t even pinch/zoom very well. In fact, the site crashed my phone’s browser forcing it to close. Neat.

FAIL #4.

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What could have saved this campaign?

There is really only one thing to talk about here. I wasn’t able to actually get any of the content so all I can review is the way ABC Mobile is making their content available (or not available as the case may be).

1) Using a short code is a great way to allow users to discover mobile content but it should work on all carriers you claim the content is available on. In this case the content seems to be available on Sprint but the SOLE access method, a short code, is not.  ABC should remove Sprint from the carrier list or figure out how to get them to provision the short code.

2) When promoting content, in this case alerts and live TV, ALWAYS provide a simple and clear call-t0-action so interested users can actually engage on their device. Marketing 101, really.

3) Create a mobile web site and detect mobile devices that come to your top-level domain. This doesn’t have to be complex. A simple mobile landing page with instructions on how to get mobile content would be better than directing to a non-mobile site with rich content and flash elements.

To summarize, it appears the mobile efforts at ABC Mobile are fragmented, lack coordination and and exhibit little understanding of how to engage a mobile user.

Alaska Airlines SMS Offer FAIL

Not long ago I signed up to receive text-message promotions and offers from Alaska Airlines. I like Alaska Air. They are probably my favorite airline and I fly them whenever I can. They also seem to recognize the needs of a mobile traveler (is that redundant? does travel = mobile?) because they have smartphone apps, a mobile web site, and offer flight alerts via SMS.

Their latest SMS promotion said the following:

Mildly interesting, I guess, but I immediately have a series of thoughts.

  1. Why do I need to register? Wouldn’t I just get the credit?
  2. I’m probably not going to book a trip just because I can get double miles. Does this incentive really drive new bookings?
  3. Is this offer only good for today or the next few hours?

With my head filling with more questions than answers I click on the url and my (smart) phone browser displays:

(life-size image)

Ouch. What the heck is this? It appears to be a page on their main web site that is almost completely filled with text that is far too small to read. Even when I zoom in to the point where the type is legible it means I need to pan side-to-side in order to read a complete line.  I’m not doing this. It will be far too painful.

I do, however, scroll to the bottom to see just how long this page is and I find a couple form fields. One asks for my mileage plan number (don’t they already have it?) and the other asks where I heard about this offer, presumably in an effort to track the effectiveness of different channels at driving people to the offer. Zooming way in I tap the selector and there isn’t an option to say I heard about the offer via text-message.  This SMS effort appears to be an afterthought.

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

To put it mildly, there is a lot of room for improvement here. Let’s start at the beginning with the SMS message and work our way through.

The main issue with the SMS is that it doesn’t conform to the standards of the Mobile Marketing Association’s Consumer Best Practices. Any broadcast message like this needs to have opt-out verbiage such as “reply STOP to cancel msgs”.  This is not only a rule it is the right thing to do for the recipient.

Next is the landing page. It wasn’t designed for mobile viewing and is almost a guaranteed poor user experience. It would not have been difficult or expensive to build a single mobile landing page that displays the details of the offer, the terms, and an entry form to capture registrations. Using a non-mobile page will significantly impact participant opt-out rates (assuming you’ve told them how to opt-out). The odd thing here is that Alaska Airlines has a mobile site at m.alaskaair.com.

Finally, Alaska Air should be holding mobile marketing efforts to a higher standard of accountability. I’m pretty sure that they can’t track anything associated with this effort.

  1. They are using a vanity bit.ly url which will only tell you the number of clicks. It won’t allow you to carry through recipient information like mobile number or even the mileage plan number. They will never know who actually clicked.
  2. They are gathering user-reported source info but not including SMS as one of the options. They will probably never know if the SMS generated any registrations.

iLoop Mobile Demo Fail

Having attended one of the many webinars put on by mobile marketing firm, iLoop Mobile, I visited their web site and noticed the following among their rotation of hero banners on their main page: Of course I did what I was told. I texted ILOOPDEALS to the number. Almost instantly I was a confirmed member.

“iLoop Mobile Deals Alerts: you are now a member. 1msg/week. Msg&DataRatesMay Apply. Reply HELP for help. Reply STOP to cancel. HELP: 877.561.8045. TC:iloopmobile.com”

No problems there, though it wasn’t all that engaging. Two days later I received two text-message ‘offers’ (Oops! I was only supposed to get 1msg/week). The first offer was for TGIF restaurants and included a link to a mobile site to sign up for TGIF Rewards (Do people really go to TGIF so often?) The other offer was as follows:

I was immediately confused. Whose sweepstakes was this? Dodge? Maybe, but it didn’t really say. The TGIF message started out with “TGIF:” so I knew it who it was from. Confusion aside, I tapped on the bit.ly url anyway and was taken to a page that took a very long time to load (not usually a good sign).  My patience was not to be rewarded, however. Here is what I got:

Really? A non-mobile web site with a painfully long form to fill out? This picture is just about life-size so you can see how small things are. It’s clearly a web site built for large computer monitors. No way.

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

There is absolutely no excuse for this. iLoop Mobile bills itself out as experts in mobile marketing. Their demo should be flawless.

  1. If they say 1 Msg/week then they should have stopped after the TGIF message. Is their system broken? Are they disorganized?
  2. Few things ruin a mobile web experience more than being sent to site that wasn’t designed to be viewed on a mobile device. This one is doubly painful as it immediately asks you to fill out a huge form and doesn’t tell you anything about the sweepstakes.

No Mobile Slam Dunk for Dunkin’ Donuts

As a retailer, Dunkin’ Donuts is no slouch. They know their customers and give them good reasons to keep coming in. They even have a rewards program. That is, I *think* they have a rewards program.

Halfway through an iced coffee I noticed that I could, “Text CAP to 386546 & play at DunkinDonuts.com.”

image: Dunkin' Donuts Cup

Sounds like a game or something and with a few minutes to spare as I drank my coffee I thought I’d give it a try. I wasn’t about to type the URL into the browser of my phone so I just sent CAP to the short code.  What I received in return was the following:

Image: Dunkin' Donuts CAP ReplyEh? This looks like they want me to enter a sweepstakes or something. What happened to ‘play’? No game? No fun? It looks like I need to go to a website. Why?  Though I’m not much of a gambler I click the link to see just what they’re up to. At this point, however, my expectations are diminished; they lost me at ‘play’.

The ‘Lab’ as it appears to be called starts to load on my phone. Very, very,  slowly. This is suspicious. I think I know what’s happening… And, yes. The site loads and I’m staring at the top left corner of what appears to be a graphics-intensive page, non mobile-optimized.image: Dunkin' Donuts LAB I can’t even pinch-zoom to see the whole page. Nor can I scroll around the page. These functions appear to be disabled for god-knows what reason.  This is seriously broken.

Going back to the text message I reply with HELP to try and learn more. The reply says, “..to learn more about Dunkin’ Perks or opt out go to www.dunkindonuts.com/mobile..” (there’s the hint at a rewards program) Fine. Another web site to try, though this one appears to be specific to mobile somehow. This URL, however, generates a very different experience:
image: Dunkin' Donuts LAB

Ugh.

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

Well, in case it isn’t obvious, any url that is placed in a text message should lead a user to a site that is both available and optimized for mobile devices. This is the very least that could have been done to make this campaign work at its most basic level. But that really isn’t enough.

  • The call-to-action on the coffee cup needs to provide some incentive to text CAP to the short code. Create some mystery or promise some value in the form of entertainment or product discounts/coupons. Why should they bother and risk getting spammed (yes, many people are very concerned about text-message spam from marketers)?
  • When promoting a contest via mobile allow mobile users to enter the contest via mobile. Don’t force them to wait until they are home in front of a computer and expect that they will remember you have a contest they might want to enter.