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Aug 7, 2007 | 5 minute read

Text Message Marketing Provider Roundup

written by Linda Bustos

If you've been following my posts here at Get Elastic, you may have noticed I love doing "roundups" -- lists of similar but different services or websites (especially Web 2.0 sites) that give a brief summary of what you can expect if you click through on the pretty little logo. You'll also notice that I'm on a bit of an mcommerce kick lately, as I find this is such a hot marketing channel that you probably haven't heard much about.

Last week I posted about the Moosejaw Texting campaign and Slifter, a GPS enabled local / mobile product comparison engine. Just to recap, mcommerce is hot, text messaging (SMS) is a great way to promote your ecommerce OR brick-and-mortar shop, people can now search for products with their mobile phones, compare prices and locations and get directions to retailers that have the product, mcommerce is hot, people are more likely to have a cellphone handy than be at a computer at any given time of the day, over 90% of text messages get read by their recipients, ummm...did I mention mcommerce is hot?

So today I'm providing a quick comparison of some of the SMS marketing solutions out there that can support YOUR marketing campaigns. Some SMS message services like Peekamo don't allow for more than a handful of recipients at one time and are more suitable for personal use. So I went out and got my hands dirty to find enterprise solutions, and give you a brief comparison of what features they offer, what they cost, geographic coverage and so on.

But before we start, it helps to know what the acronyms and jargon mean:

  • SMS stands for short message service. In other words - text messaging.
  • MMS is the multimedia version of SMS - video, audio, pictures.
  • WAP stands for Wireless Application Protocol which is a mobile-based platform which accommodates the small screens and slow data rates of mobile phones so your pages display properly. Some cellphones support WAP Billing, so they can pay directly through their mobile.
  • IVR means Interactive Voice Response and you've likely encountered it calling your ISP, bank, phone company or any other number where you wish you got a person instead of some canned options. But IVR actually makes life better, and in this case cooler - enabling mobile survey capabilities, contests and other promotions.
  • Short codes are shorter cellphone numbers that are supposed to be easier to remember than longer mobile numbers. These work great for contests, if you've ever watched American Idol, you'd know what I mean. You could for example text the word "GETELASTIC" to 493829 (if I were running a contest and if that were my short code.)

OK, now that that's all cleared's the roundup.

couponzap1.jpgCouponZap is a product of Cellit Mobile Marketing (love that name), and is a more sophisticated service than Group2Call. There is no pricing information on the website, but there's a lot of product information: you can create coupons easily (or events or polls or anything), schedule campaigns, send thank you messages to frequent customers or reminders to contacts who don't respond to an offer (one-to-one marketing), users can subscribe to your messages from your website and you can access reporting tools to manage your campaign success.

You only pay for outgoing messages, although customers can message you free of charge. Currently CouponZap is only available in the US and with the following carriers: Alltel, AT&T/Cingular, Boost Mobile, CellularOne, Dobson, Nextel, Sprint PCS, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon Wireless. Check out some demos (warning: you'll need to provide your company information first).

Group2call offers voice or text message blasts to as little or as many people as you want. Send instantly, or save for later. You can even record a voice message and convert it to text, send a text message from your email client, or even turn an email message into a voice message. Pricing is based on volume, with a minimum of $0.14 per contact per month, and $0.04 per SMS message, or $0.06 per voice message. Works in the USA, Canada, Hawaii an the Carribean Islands.

When you run a campaign with Mobivity, you choose a unique keyword to identify your company or campaign. When customers type your "keyword" to 95495, their cell # is stored in a database for future campaigns, and they will receive a message from you. You can then send follow up messages, contests, polls or link to a .mobi page.

Pricing ranges from $79/month to $799 for 10,000 credits (outgoing AND incoming). There is no contract, but should you fail to pay one month your account will be suspended, and after 30 days your keyword/s will be available to other Mobivity customers. Credits don't carry over to the next month, either unless you purchase additional credits in a given month, so you might want to go with a low plan and scale up until you can predict how many credits you'll need every month as your customer participation grows. Customers may be charged for their messages, depending on their plans. Mobivity currently works on Cingular, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Nextel, Boost, Dobson, Midwest Wireless and Alltell. T-mobile will be available shortly.

Try Mobivity for free and get 25 message credits.

MOVO has an impressive client list including Reebok, Adidas, World Vision and Berkeley University. MOVO's offering includes real-time campaign tracking and reporting, rich media content management, mobile website tools to launch a .mobi version of your site if you need it and Google Maps. Above and beyond that you can add voice messaging, marketing intelligence (gathering demographic data) and MOVO's consulting services. MOVO's mum about their pricing, so you'll just have to contact them for that.
mfusion1.jpgSet up alerts, offer coupons, contests, quizzes, newsletters, IVR and SMS to email. What makes mFusion unique is they offer geotargeting, reverse auctions and it appears you can buy into SMS mailing lists and enable WAP billing. Oh, and you can also PhoneCast which is the mobile web's version of Podcasting. (Why don't they call it Mobcasting?) It's a UK company, and I'm assuming by the flags on the site that they support international customers. Again, no pricing info available, but if you're looking for the Mother of all Mobile Marketing solutions, you may just want to give them a call, just make sure you plan for the time difference.