Mobile Technologies: SMS, MMS, USSD and Bluetooth /Wireless /Infrared

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If reaching your audience is your primary goal, Mobile Marketing can make life very easy for you. However, if you use the right tool for the job, Mobile Marketing can be even more effective for targeting the individual in the crowd.

In this chapter we will be introducing and discussing the messaging and information platforms available to Mobile Marketers, as well as the data channels which deliver these services.

Key Terms and Concepts

3G Third Generation of mobile communications system. 3G networks enable network operators to offer users a wide range of more advances services while achieving greater network capacity.
Bluejacking The anonymous sending of unsolicited messages over Bluetooth to Bluetooth enabled devices such as mobile phones, PDAs or laptop computers.
CSC Stands for Common Short Codes. Users send messages to shortened numbers, usually to get something in return, like a competition entry or multimedia download.
EDGE Stands for Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution. A faster version of GSM wireless service. It enables data to be delivered at rates up to 384 Kbps via broadband.
Geographical Targeting Also Geotargeting. Used to allow you to see where your visitors come from and give them specific information that is relevant to them. Security software which monitors and authorises access.
GSM Stands for Global System for Mobile Communications. Most widely used of the three digital wireless telephone technology. Uses a variation of time division multiple access.
IEEE 802.11 The set of standard which outline the Wireless LAN protocol (WiFi)
IM Stands for Instant Messaging. IM is a technologiy that allows users its users to communicate in real-time, via text chat. Essentially your IM system alerts you when a contact on your list is online and you can then initiate a chat session.
MMS Stands for Multimedia Message Service. An extension of SMS that allows pictures, sounds or low quality videos to be sent on a wireless network.
Moblog A blend of the words mobile and weblog. A moblog consists of content posted to the Internet from a mobile or portable device, such as a cellular phone or PDA. Moblogs generally incorporate technology which allows publishing from a mobile device.
Opt-in Also known as subscribing. Explicitly requesting to receive information from a company.
Opt-Out Also known as unsubscribing. The act of removing oneself from a list or lists so that specific information is no longer received from a company or individual.
PUK Stands for Personal Unblocking Code, used to access a SIM card which has been blocked (due to lost or incorrect PIN number).
Segmentation Used to filter visitors into distinct characterised groups.
SIM Subscriber Identity Module, the chip used in a phone to identify the number/account.
SMS Stands for Short Messaging Service. SMSs are text messages that can be sent to mobile phones from the Internet or from other mobile devices.
SMCS Short Message Service Center, the platform for sending and receiving SMS messages.
SPAM Messages sent to someone who has not requested to receive them - EVIL!
Tracking Measuring the effectiveness of a campaign by collecting and evaluating statistics.
USSD Stands for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data. Works on all existing GSM phones, providing session-based communication, enabling a variety of applications.
VoIP Voice over Internet Protocol is a system of rules which allow for voice and sound to be streamed, live , across the Internet. This allows the system to operate exactly as a traditional telephone.
WAP Wireless Application Protocol. A technical set of communication standards for the way wireless devices (like cell phones) connect to the Internet.
WiFi The wireless technology which is the current standard protocol for networking and connecting to the Internet.


SMS (Short Message Service) technology is available on every GSM-enabled mobile phone in the world and is even becoming a popular service on progressive landline telephone devices.

SMSs, text messages, texts – it’s all instant messaging, focusing on personal communication at the quickest speed possible.

Like all direct marketing, Mobile Marketing via SMS necessitates ethical practices that require users to opt-in, and choose to be included in your communication database.

Reaching the Individual Masses with Text Messaging

As the technology is so cheap, service providers often give their subscribers a free message bundle every month, or allow them to send messages for free (from their respective websites).

If you think about it, 160 characters (the maximum allowed in a single message) boils down to only a few kilobytes, which is a tiny amount of data compared to the multimedia splendor one can accomplish via email, for instance.

As cheap as SMS messaging is, getting the maximum benefit out of a campaign requires more than just a mumbled message. A clear message, obvious branding, engaging content and lucrative potential for both parties are some of the important ingredients for a successful campaign while opt-out information is also important for the consumer.

Bulk messaging services allow you to contact countless people via one online platform – and even personalise the messages with each recipient’s name or other details, much like Email Marketing. Cheaper in bulk, these messages can be set up for several different target groups (within your total database).

Common Short Codes, (CSCs) otherwise known as Short Codes or Short Numbers, have a number of uses. Most often, they are used for premium campaigns such as competition entries, charity donations, or the purchasing of mobile content such as ringtones, wall papers and games. The use of these numbers comes at a premium fee, of course, which is charged to the user.

Messages to these 4 or 5 digit numbers are monitored by systems which perform tasks according to the code words used within the messages, such as competition answers or product codes, tailored to the campaign.

SMS spam can see users giving fraudsters their personal details or replying to premium numbers which then drain their funds. Once again, a clear message with trusted branding will increase your credibility with the man on the street who may not remember opting into your contact list in the first place.

As we discussed in the first chapter of Mobile Marketing 101, the younger generation are more in touch with mobile advertising and can recall ads quicker than their seniors – keep this in mind when planning a campaign.

Text Messaging Short Hand

The bane of teachers and educators around the world, ‘text speak’ evolved out of necessity. Alpha-numeric keypads present a typing challenge and while predictive text helps with this, 160 characters doesn’t allow much space for flowery poetic expression.

Trimming down on vowels, cutting out repeated letters and using numbers to create a shortened but phonetically similar word is what it’s all about. Here are some common abbreviations you may have seen on the Web or in a text message:

Abbreviation Meaning
2NT Tonight
BOL Burst Out Laughing
BRB Be Right Back
BTW By The Way
FTW …For The Win (term of enthusiastic endearment)
GTG Got To Go
IMHO In My Honest Opinion
IMO In My Opinion
L8R Later
LMAO Laughing My Ass Off
LOL Laugh Out Loud
NP No Problem
PLS/PLZ Please
ROFL Roll On Floor Laughing
RT ReTweet (when quoting on Twitter)
TBH To Be Honest
TY Thank You
XLNT Excellent

SMS text strips away the fat and gets down to the brass tacks, but the message can often be lost in translation. When planning a mobile campaign, keep ‘text speak’ in mind when necessary, but keep it underst8ed.

Text for Success

Depending on the service provider, text messages can also be sent to landline numbers which are then read out by a computer generated voice. Not only funny, but also functional, this service can often be used as an alternative to calling huge numbers of people. Like with conventional SMSs, however, it is important to try and keep these communications to a suitable time of day.

This is also something that is also important to bear in mind when sending out bulk messages – no one likes to have their sleep interrupted with advertising. Not only is this irritating for the user, but it may also prejudice them against your brand which could be damaging. Thus, try and keep transmissions to an appropriate time of day, and split into groups of time zones when sending messages internationally.

Business to business (B2B) SMS messaging is also a versatile tool, relaying information, reminders, SMS chains or as an automated confirmation for anything from shipping to billing. Business to Customer (B2C) messaging delivers products or services directly to the consumer.

Reverse SMS billing can be set up so the recipient is charged for the message, depending on what is required.

An SMS gateway is used to convert messages from an external source into a channel for bulk SMS broadcasting. These messages can also be used to control electronic devices. By relaying instructions to a computer, one can control lights and appliances, alarms and security etc.

Text messaging may not be the mobile medium with the most multimedia ‘pop’, but it is definitely an established and powerful tool: one that can run independently or as an integral link in a campaign intended to reach the individual masses.

Benefits of SMS Marketing

  • Immediate
  • Private and direct
  • Cheap for both parties
  • Customisable
  • Payment alternative
  • Persuasion at the height of interest
  • Push mobile users to your web, or .mobi site 

Uses for Text Messaging

  • Customer Relationship Management
  • Competitions
  • Promotions and discount vouchers
  • News updates
  • Sports scores
  • Tickets and reference numbers
  • Party invitations and promotions


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