January 10, 2009

Mobile SMS Marketing - Short code, Long numbers

Mobile SMS Marketing has rapidly expanded as a new channel to reach the consumer. SMS marketing initially received negative media coverage for being a new form of spam. Some SMS marketers & advertisers purchased mobile customers' lists and sent unsolicited content to consumer's phones; however, as guidelines and regulations were put in place by the mobile operators, SMS has become the most popular branch of the Mobile Marketing industry with several 100 million advertising SMS sent out every month in Europe alone.

Short codes are 5 or 6 digit numbers that have been assigned by all the mobile operators in a given country for the use of brand campaign and other consumer services. The mobile operators vet every application before provisioning and monitor the service to make sure it does not diverge from its original service description.

In North America the first cross-carrier mobile SMS shortcode campaign was run by Labatt Brewing Company in 2002. Over the past few years mobile short codes have been increasingly popular as a new channel to communicate to the mobile consumer. Brands have begun to treat the mobile shortcode as a mobile domain name allowing the consumer to text message the brand at an event, in store and off any traditional media.

Besides short codes, inbound SMS is very often based on long numbers (international number format, e.g. +44 7624 805000), which can be used in place of short codes or premium-rated short messages for SMS reception in several applications, such as product promotions and campaigns. Long numbers are internationally available, as well as enabling businesses to have their own number, rather than short codes which are usually shared across a number of brands. Additionally, long numbers are non-premium inbound numbers.

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