Dart in the center of a dartboardWhy is SMS so powerful? Well, quite frankly, the adoption is here and in a huge way. Ninety-eight percent of cell phones in the U.S. have text messaging capabilities, and 78% of people are text messaging. Heck, I have my grandpa sending text messages now. It blows me away that most businesses still think SMS is for a younger demographic. Sure, it started out that way, but those kids taught their parents and grandparents how to use text messaging. Actually (and if you are a parent of a teenager, you probably would agree), if you are not sending text messages you probably are not communicating with your kid as much as you would like to. I have often pointed out that shows like American Idol and President Obama\’s Vice President announcement have significantly advanced the understanding of what a short code is and how to interact with it, which is the backbone of SMS marketing.

Let\’s look at all of the options other than SMS that companies have available in their mobile marketing quiver:

  1. Mobile Advertising: Using a platform like Admob, you can place ads on mobile sites and mobile apps to get your word out. Google and Apple (and Microsoft soon to follow) are headed heavily into this space.
  2. Mobile Apps: Mobile apps are a great way for people to interact with your brand, getting content, information, and promotions. People can also show you their location, allowing the marketing to become more personalized and timely.
  3. MMS: This is also known as SMS 2.0. It converts SMS messages to multimedia, allowing for images, video, pictures, and sound.
  4. Social Mobile Gaming: Platforms like Foursquare and Gowalla are leading the charge when it comes to consumers checking into their favorite locations to unlock badges, deals, and specials.
  5. Bluetooth: You can use Bluetooth to find people in the area and deliver content and information to their mobile devices.
  6. NFC: Also known as Near Field Communication, we are just in the infancy of this technology that will become the new way of doing proximity marketing in the future. Apple already has patents for a mobile ticketing platform, and they will most likely start selling tickets through iTunes.
  7. Email: More and more people are checking their email on mobile devices, and email marketing platforms are giving businesses avenues to make sure their emails are optimized for these devices.

Disclaimer: If I left any other methods out, let me know. I wrote this article in 30 minutes, so I had to have missed something. I would love to receive your feedback.

The purpose of this article is not to throw any other mobile marketing arrows under the bus (because we believe they all have a purpose; well, maybe not Bluetooth), but it is to show you how even though you should have a quiver that holds many other types of arrows, there is one arrow that is currently sharper than all of the rest and that currently is SMS.  I am also not saying that SMS will always stay the sharpest, but for now it\’s hard to argue because of its ubiquity.

Mobile Marketing Technique

Set Back Compared to SMS

Mobile Advertising

Even though pundits predict unbelievable growth in this sector on spending, there are still a lot of experimental budgets because people are unsure of the success. Also, advertising is about displaying your product or service; it\’s not always about building your database for future communication and offers.

Mobile Apps

Mobile apps are hot, but only one in five phones are smart phones. This number will increase dramatically over the next few years, but right now the majority of people do not have phones that can download mobile apps. Likewise, anyone can download your app and then remove it, and you might not have any contact info on that person to remarket future apps or upsell apps to a paid model. Finally, mobile apps are not ubiquitous. There are three main platforms developers that are all having to be developed for separately:  Andriod, iPhone/iPad, and Blackberry.


MMS takes SMS to the next level, but the adoption just isn\’t there. Around 1/3 of all handsets in America can send and receive SMS messages. Sure, that sounds like a lot, but compared to 98% of phones that can text, it\’s way behind.  The iPhone only added MMS two months ago. Finally, MMS is expensive to use, and there has not been a program like American Idol that provided mass education. AT&T recently ran a large sweepstakes, which is great, but we need a lot more of that.


Bluetooth sucks. I am sorry to say it. It was marketed poorly and on top of that, the user experience is horrible. Who knows how to make themselves discoverable and pair up devices? Sure, you do, but what about the general population? Also, carriers are starting to open up APIs that allow you to ping a user to find his location so you can send a text message. Users are also downloading apps whereby they can turn location on to get relevant content sent to them. For marketing, Bluetooth seems like it\’s going to be reserved for wireless headsets and device pairing.


Otherwise known as Near Field Communication, NFC is awesome, and it\’s the future, but it\’s really in the future.  Handset adoption will take five years and there will need to be killer lifestyle applications that make the technology very easy to use, such as getting money out of ATM machines by waving your phone. NFC can learn from Bluetooth\’s mistakes.


Email is still a killer marketing channel and, yes, people are starting to check it on their device, but if you are like me and get 500 emails a day, unlike SMS you are not having it buzz every time you get a new email. The psychological effect of getting a new SMS message is much different from getting email. Ninety-five percent of SMS messages are read within the first four minutes while email message read can take up to 48 hours. Sure this timeframe will be reduced as mobile consumers check email on mobile devices, but it has a long way to go to catch up to the immediacy of SMS.

I am very excited about the future of our industry and am looking forward to expanding our product to help our customers reach their audience in more ways. For now, develop for the lowest common denominator and make decisions on new marketing techniques at the last possible moment. For more information on our SMS marketing platform or services, visit us at http://mobilestorm.com/go/sms-marketing/ or google \”SMS Marketing.\” Yes, I had to go and show off our SEO capabilities; we have killer employees.

Cheers, Jared Reitzin