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 http://usshortcodes.com 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 Woot.com 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!

Woot.com

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My new book

I’m listening to Barack Obama’s first book about his life and race. It’s amazing. But what seems more interesting is the timing of the book. The book was released in 2004 – before Barack had done much of anything (relatively). The way that Barack looks at his life and family is inspiring. Most of all it’s got me thinking about my own biography, written not necissarily for others, but for myself.

There is so much in my life unrecorded and half forgotten and now seems like a good time to regroup and write it down. On that note I’d like to take a look back to remember some stories, notice a few patterns and hopefully impress myself with my memory and the journey so far.

Here is the first stab at some of the chapters.

  • Garfield – the context of my childhood
  • My parents before me
  • Zinner Grandparents
  • Grandma Sabat
  • Grandpa Sabat
  • Moving
  • Still Friends – starting to make lifelong friends
  • Moving forward/separating – going to Miami
  • Floating after College
  • GAC
  • Saturns Return
  • Floating in New York
  • Finding a Mission

That’s all for now.

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