Wanted to send everyone into the long weekend with some good food for thought, so today we’re going to analyze three SMS message flows that I received over the last few days. Each one shows something different, and all provide important lessons for mobile marketers looking to improve their strategy.


As we all know, Obama’s team has done an nice job capturing the digital minds of American citizens. Even the recent Reddit AMA seemed deserving of kudos.

With this recent message, I liked that there was a clear call to action coupled with time importance. The basic point, “Donate, and do it by tomorrow” resonates with a crucial best practice I’ve written about numerous times: the mantra “SMS is interactive and immediate, take advantage of both.”

Looking back at previous messages from the campaign, you can also see another strength: give and take. Whether intentional or not, prior to asking for a donation, the Obama team offered up the chance to be a VIP guest at the DNC – a cool opportunity I would imagine for those interested in Obama and this campaign. Without providing incentives, campaigns feel unilaterally focused on marketing rather than engagement, and as a result perform worse. This holds true even more so on SMS, given the nature of the medium.

One gripe I have about the Obama campaign: the vanity shortened URL. I know this is a small thing, but the txt.bo domain name doesn’t scream to me that this URL has anything to do with Barak Obama. Something like prez.bo, obam.a or even bo.txt would carry more weight. In addition, the random “pif53” isn’t related to the content itself. An adjustment to txt.bo/donate would be much more powerful. Whatever your feeling in this instance, it’s important to note that the campaign has taken the steps to have branding be a part of its URLs, which I think is crucial.


For the NAACP campaign, I like the inclusion of relevant messaging to the times. Without the starting point, “Elections are just around the corner,” the information about voter rights would not seem as compelling to an SMS audience.

Also, you can see in the previous message that a quotation from Martin Luther King Jr. was sent on the anniversary day of an MLK speech. Though this does go against the interactive and immediate mantra, it still remains effective in my opinion. The reason? Brand building. The MLK text serves as a nice piece of a big picture, ongoing campaign. Could you send something like the MLK quote every time? No. But once in a while to confirm your message and brand? Absolutely.

The piece of the NAACP campaign I wasn’t crazy about: the follow up message after I submitted a zip code. Remember, SMS’s immediacy makes it important for a person to understand where they are in a conversation. What I would have preferred: “Thank for updating your zipcode. We’ll text you state-relevant information over the next few weeks as we get closer to the election.” By including this additional contextual information, the audience knows exactly what to expect and doesn’t feel cut off in the dialogue.


I voiced my concerns with this Sprite campaign before, but warrants another look.

On one hand, I felt that the timeliness of the message mirrored a strong best practice. Using SMS to convey time sensitive information like “4 days left” gets at the heart of what makes the channel so effective.

On the other hand, when I received this message I had no idea what the message wanted me to do. I didn’t buy a Sprite, so wasn’t sure what cap I needed to text in. Is it any cap? A certain one? Totally unclear, which made for a poor user experience. A simple contextual clue like “Txt any cap code…” would have elucidated the offer significantly.

Also, when I originally signed up for these Sprite alerts, it was around NBA All Star Weekend. As you can see, I also received an update offering up Olympic games gear and something to do with Kobe Bryant. SMS messaging has to convey the theme to an audience upon sign up, and then maintain this theme throughout. Here’s the best way to think about it: with SMS you’re sitting across the table from someone at a dinner party having a conversation. It stinks when the person you’re speaking to jumps around from topic to topic without any noticeable transition. The key is to keep the user engaged by relaying information in an easy to follow and engaging way.



All right, said my piece. Anyone else? Please let us know if you have other thoughts on these campaigns, or have seen an interesting mobile message hit your inbox. Just post your reaction to the comments.

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