Measuring a Mobile Campaign

When I discuss mobile campaigns I’m focusing on opt in text messaging. We already know how to measure mobile advertising, with click-throughs, and possibly actions, if you’re lucky. Opt in text messaging is a little different. It’s most similar to an email campaign, but with SMS there are usually more metrics available due to the mobile device on which the text is received.

I’ve helped design hundreds of campaigns for Mobile Commons clients and would like to share some of the most common metrics that help prove the success of mobile campaigns.

Opt Ins: These the number of subscribers on the SMS list currently. The number of opt ins all time (including people that have opted out of the list) is probably important as well. In almost every case, the number of opt ins is the most important stat in the campaign. In most cases, the number of opt ins determine if the campaign is a success or a failure. When many people are subscribed it’s possible to try a lot of different approaches and when no one is subscribed it really doesn’t matter what communications you try.

Unfortunately, the opt in stat is a bit of a trick – it’s not a mobile stat at all. The number of opt ins really measure the effectiveness of the media promoting the campaign (and that’s valuable too). If a TV commercial asks people to text in PEPSI, the number that text in are primarily a measure of the clarity of the commercial and perceived benefit of taking the action. If you compare the number of people that text in from the commercial and the number of people that visit a website or call a phone number that would give a better idea of the effect of mobile on a campaign.

Since opt ins are a good way to measure the effectiveness of a media campaign, it can also work to compare different media campaigns. It’s possible to set up different campaigns, or different opt in keywords to measure what channel, media or commercial cause the most people to pull out their phone and text in. At Mobile Commons we’ve tested this several times. We’ve tested the same TV commercial on different stations and we’ve tested the same message on Twitter, Facebook, radio and through QR codes. (In the latter test, radio CRUSHED twitter radio and QR).

Phone Calls: On unique aspect of a mobile campaign is that it takes place on a mobile phone. Generating phone calls is probably the second most common goal for mobile campaigns that I’ve worked on. Tracking the number of phone calls placed and calculating a conversion rate based on the number of text messages asking people to call in are both good measures of a mobile campaign.

Why would you want to drive and track phone calls? Different organizations drive phone calls for different reasons, but the most popular reasons are for advocacy, donations or purchases, to set up appointments or for customer service.

The number of calls made and the conversion rate are only the two most high level stats that are important to track. It’s important to track who is making the calls, how long they are staying on the phone, and whether or not their calls are being connected. It’s also important to pay attention to what promotions are driving calls, as calls can be generated from text message or the web in many cases.

Clicks: Link shortening services can make it easy to track how many opted in subscribers are clicking on links included in text messages. If you are trying to drive subscribers to mobile web pages, it’s important to understand mobile web browsing habits.

It’s best practice to direct links to pages on your site that have content. Sending a visitor to your home page on a mobile phone is not that valuable – mobile visitors won’t surf your site on a phone, as much as they would do on a desktop or laptop. Obviously it’s advisable to have web analytic software to track mobile web visitors and measure the value of each click.

One surprise that we found is that you can find your biggest influencers/evangelists by tracking web clicks. At Mobile Commons we not only track how many clicks each link gets, but we track who clicks on the link, and how many times they click. When looking through the data, we discovered that certain subscribers were clicking a link 50 or even 100 times – and always from different phones and browsers. It quickly became apparent that a single subscriber wasn’t clicking 50 times, they had Twittered the link, or posted to Facebook, and their followers had clicked 50 times.

Text Responses: Sometimes measuring success is as simple as keeping track of how many people respond. Since their is no “open rate” with text messaging, response can be the most basic action that subscribers are asked to take. Believe me, people will reply to text messages – as if they were texting the CEO of the company!

Asking people to respond is fairly straightforward, depending on the campaign. It’s important to follow up with people appropriately and offer increased engagement for people that are looking for that.

Forwards: Forwarding a message, or telling a friend can be tricky with text message. There are basically 2 ways that subscribers can forward to a friend, and they each have different tracking mechanisms.

The first way subscribers can forward your message is simply by forwarding the message on their phone. In this case the message should be written to ask users to forward the message, and ask the recipient of the forward to take some action. For example the message could read “Forward this message to a friend, and ask them to text JOIN to 12345.” In this case the keyword JOIN should be unique to the forward, and the best measurement is to track how many forward recipients take action by texting in.

Some texting platforms offer a Forward to a Friend feature. In this case a subscriber can send a message to their friends through the messaging system and the system should be able to track how many messages were sent to friends, and also how many friends took action. Tracking is much better with this method, but the user experience suffers. With the second method, the original subscriber must tell the messaging system their friend’s number either by text or the web.

Generally tell a friend is a recommended promotion for messaging. When the recipient is asked to forward on their number, we’ve seen as high as a 15% opt in rate from friends. This has been lower when subscribers use the system’s mechanism to opt friends in to the campaign. The Tell a Friend feature works much better from the web especially on a redirect page after a click to call.

This post has been longer than expected. Hope it helped. Please don’t hesitate to ask me questions or leave comments.

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What is a shortcode?

A short code is a 5 or 6 digit number that is used for text message marketing. When you see a call to action that says “Text VOTE to 12345,” VOTE is the keyword and 12345 is the shortcode. For most organizations, they will use one short code, but may use many keywords on that short code in order to designate different campaigns.

Why do we use short codes?

The carriers want organizations, both non profit and commercial, to use short codes for SMS marketing and communications. There is a layer of businesses called aggregators that connect directly with the carriers and are able to deliver text messages over short codes at higher rates and they’re able to verify delivery. Aggregators only send messages over short codes. In almost all cases, if you send messages over a regular 10 digit number, delivery verification cannot be confirmed, and throughput is very slow.

How much do short codes cost?

In the United States there is only one place to obtain a short code and it’s rather straightforward to lease a short code. If you want to choose the short code number, the cost is $1,000 per month. If the number is not important, you can lease a random short code for $500 per month. Similar to a website, you’ll need to host the short code (with an aggregator). Generally, the hosting price is $500+ per month. Hosting and delivery is important so you don’t necessarily want to go with the cheapest option.

Many vendors (including my employer) offer the use of a shared short. A shared short code is owned by the vendor and multiple clients can use the short code – hence the word shared. The setup is comparable to using gmail or yahoo for email, you are sharing a domain. All of the basic rules apply to shared short codes, except the cost structure will be different. If you are looking to get started with mobile communications starting with a shared short code is cheaper, faster and easier to get up and running.

How long does it take to get a shared short code?

This is definitely the most complicated question to answer. A good estimate is that it will take 6-8 weeks to be up and running with a new short code. Leasing the actual short code is easy, just go to choose your short code and pay.* The next step is to aggregate the short code with the carriers. This means that the aggregator hooks up the short code with each respective carrier. Each phone carrier has their own schedule and process so this process can be a little confusing and it’s hard to forecast exactly when the short code will be live. Just hang in there and stay in contact with the aggregator.

*You can reserve a short code for up to 60 days without paying.

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Do keywords matter?

If you’re launching a mobile marketing campaign where users text in a keyword to interact with your brand, does that keyword matter? The answer is… it matters a little bit, but a lot of the time, the team focuses too much on the word.

Most people that interact with your campaign, whether it’s voting, entering a contest or signing up for emails will be texting in while they are viewing the call to action. The keyword does not have to be memorable, like 1-800-COLLECT. The most important aspect of the keyword is that it’s clear and hard to screw up. Examples of good keywords are VOTE, JOIN, JUSTICE, GREEN. Keywords that are not as good are GIVE4CHANGE, VOTEGWB, JOINX7.

Basically, you want to avoid the question from the texter, “What am I supposed to text in?”

At the point in the process where teams are choosing keywords, they should really be building the media plan to promote the keyword. The success of a campaign where people text in is 99% about a clear call to action, good media placement and customer engagement and only %1 about the keyword.

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Dog running in his sleep video – very funny

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What is Twitter?

A few weeks back I was joking that 2% of my 2009 has been spent explaining to people what Twitter is. After a recent trip home, that is probably closer to 4%. Thank God for Common Craft and their video explaining Twitter.

Friends and family, see below.

Twitter in Plain English from leelefever on Vimeo.

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Pushing the envelope

If you haven’t seen this yet, prepare to be amazed. A few geniuses figured out how to anayze blood and detect diseases with a cell phone. It sounds like it’s a rather quick and inexpensive way to save lives and educate people in rural areas about disease. The obvious use case is volunteers in Africa testing and identifying sick people in tiny villages without having to send blood samples into a lab and wait for weeks or even months.

This will save millions of lives and billions of dollars if it works as promised.

Here is the amazing part.

These scientists that probably worked for years towards this device totally mailed it in on the final yard. The device is supposedly called the LUCAS imager which stands for, Lensfree Ultrawide-field Cell-monitoring Array platform based on Shadow imaging. Who do you think you’re kidding? The LUCAS?

Don’t you mean the LFUFCMAPBOSI?

I don’t care if you cure cancer, save global warming and win the superbowl, you can’t skip 7 words because they don’t fit in your acronym. An of, a or the – ok fine. This is the USA after all, but this is a Field Monitoring Platform Based on Imaging. Show some fucking respect.

Do you guys really think that an African village wants to be saved by cheaters – that probably sucks at scrabble?

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Woot is awesome!

I re-found Woot for the second time recently, and came to the discovery that they now have shirt woot and wine woot. I may actually by something from them this time around.

I’m writing this post because of the marketing email that woot just sent me. When was the last time you heard that – someone writing a positive post about a marketing email?

Here’s why.

BREAKING: Economists declare water 50% wet.

Attention, mikesabat:

Welcome to Woot’s first official recession-era newsletter! For the next 12 to 24 months, all citizens are expected to fret over, worry about, or even directly experience the nadir of a consumerist society – OMG! What will we do when we stop buying stuff? Economists now agree that we’re headed through a prolonged period of decreased consumer spending (you really need an advanced degree to come up with insights like that). Beyond that, it’s anybody guess. Will the only growth sectors in the economy be shoe repair, pipe salvage, and roadside apple sales? Or will we bring on a quick recovery by doing patriotic things like buying stuff we can’t afford and spending more money than we make?

As a retailer, it’d make sense for us to fall in with the BUY STUFF, AMERICA conga line. But by now, you know that we at Woot never do things the “normal”, “sensible”, “rational”, “intelligent” way. We’re not about to follow the herd over a cliff. When we go over a cliff, it’s because of our own poor judgment, not someone else’s. That’s been our credo since about five minutes ago, when we first thought of it. And we’ve stayed true to it ever since.

That’s why we’re encouraging you and your fellow wooters to save this holiday season. Save your money! Save until you pull a saving muscle. Horde your money until you are literally choking on it. Save until maybe, like, mid-February or so, when the market will be a-glut with great deals for the taking every day. You’ll avoid the crowds, take advantage of desperate retailers, and not have to hear “Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time” even once.

Sure, maybe you’ll disappoint some of your loved ones. But if they really love you, they can wait a couple of months, especially if your finances are at stake. Besides, if your so-called loved ones wanted you to set yourself on fire, would you? Of course you wouldn’t. And that’s the kind of independent thinking that will one day break the mindless conformity of our consumerist holiday ways.

But be warned: you’ll want to stay far away from this week. The breadth and scope of bargains we’ll be offering – especially starting Tuesday morning at midnight – will be powerfully tempting. They could even lead you back down the spend-spend-spend path with the rest of the sheep. And that would make us sad enough to cry while we’re taking your money.

See you in February!

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