Max Thorpe is a marketing manager at mCordis, a mobile marketing educational & strategic advisory agency.

There are more mobile connections than there are people—7.7 Billion mobile connections and only 7.3 Billion people. It’s safe to say that mobile devices have gone from a high-tech luxury item that only the wealthy can afford, to a common medium that is familiar to the vast majority of people. Brands are increasingly recognizing the adoption of mobile as a significant behavioral change in their target customers and have begun exploring how to meet people on their own terms and to use mobile marketing tactics, like text messaging, in their marketing efforts.

When it comes to mobile, it is not a one-size fits all proposition. Each generation, and each individual in fact, uses it differently. Over 85% of people born between 1980 and 2000, for example, the Millennial generation, are mobile natives, if not mobile dependents. They own a smartphone, 20% of which access the internet exclusively through mobile, and 28% of which only watch TV on their mobile phone. This is compared to older generations that are adapting and using mobile capabilities at much slower rate. For those marketers looking to engage Millennials, there is no question anymore that mobile must be at the heart of their strategy. Three brands I see that really understand how to service a Millennial, especially through Text Messaging, are Smashburger, Drinkeasy and Domino’s. Let me explain.

As a 22-year old that shares many of the Millennial behavioral traits, particularly shopping and eating habits, I’m going to highlight a few brands that I frequently engage with, and explain how they are doing an exceptional job reaching me, communicating with me, and ultimately won my loyalty through mobile. First, you should know a few things about my habits to better understand why these brands stick out from the rest.

I never leave to go anywhere without my phone, so aside from those rare moments when I lose my cell signal, I’m always connected. I’m spontaneous, so I rarely plan the little things like where or what I’m going to eat until I’m hungry. It’s not until my stomach is growling where I start thinking about what I’m going to eat. This gives brands a short window of opportunity to woo my interest and earn my dollar when I am most receptive. Think I’m the only one like this? A study by Think Insights with Google showed that 72% of people either choose where they will eat less than an hour before eating or completely on impulse. I can’t speak for everyone, but if a brand sends me a promotion of a delicious meal during that 1-hour window prior to meal times, I will probably eat there.

It should go without saying, but since I always have my phone, the best place to reach me is through my smartphone. Although my phone is just one device, it is not just one channel. I engage and interact with brands through a variety of different channels including branded apps, mobile websites, social media channels, email, and of course, text messages. When I am on the go however, despite all of these different channels, I’m most receptive to my mobile roots, text messaging. I will generally reply to a text message within 5 minutes of receiving it and will read it within 3. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same thing about email, branded apps, or even social media channels. So for all those restaurant marketers reading this, the best time to reach me with your lunch special promotion is between 11 a.m. and noon via text message.

So what are the best practices and tricks of the trade when it comes to mobile marketing? I’m no expert, but I have caught on to a few commonalities among the brands that do a good job of winning my dollars:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Be timely—Deliver the message when I’m most receptive
  3. Provide a benefit or incentive to opt-in

Smashburger is the first brand I want to highlight. They do a good job integrating text call-to-actions (CTA) into their traditional media. While enjoying my first burger at Smashburger I noticed a text CTA on the table card offering exclusive deals and discounts if I opted in to receive texts. I figured why not, what’s the worst that could happen. Since then, I receive a weekly offer or preview of new items coming to the menu. I’m now officially part of the Smashclub and I’m experiencing nothing but benefits.

I think many brands underestimate the benefits of the little CTA like those at Smashburger. Their offer was very simple, straight forward, and I doubt it cost them much to print out CTAs on table cards. The card clearly explained the benefits I’d receive, I don’t get spammed with messages every day, and I now save a couple bucks every time I eat there. As a consumer, I am clearly getting a benefit and the only thing I had to give in return was my email address.

My experience at Smashburger is an example of how easy brand text messaging can be, and yet also effective. The next brand I want to highlight doesn’t even have a physical store location.

Drink Easy, while not necessarily a restaurant or retail store, has done a tremendous job of making a business out of the most basic of channels, text messaging. A friend of mine informed me about Drink Easy and told me to text in to join the club. I began by texting “DRINK LOCAL” to a short code and I now receive a promotion about once a week for a unique craft alcoholic beverage that can’t be found in traditional stores. I was able to refine my drink preferences so I only receive promotions for my favorites, tequila. When I see an offer I like, I simply reply “hell yeah” and a bottle gets shipped to my door.

I like Drink Easy for a couple of reasons. First, it’s extremely simple. So simple that I’m surprised that there aren’t more companies following a similar business model. Furthermore, Drink Easy makes the effort to understand me. If I receive a promotion for a bottle that I don’t like I tell them and they’ll avoid promoting similar beverages. The brand also does its best to send a promotion when I’m most receptive. They must assume that I consume alcoholic beverages during the weekend because I only receive messages at the end of the work week on Thursday or Friday. This gives them ample time to send me my order before Saturday night.

The last brand that I want to highlight is Domino’s Pizza. Domino’s took somewhat of a shotgun approach for their mobile strategy by marketing over multiple mobile channels including; Twitter, mobile app, mobile website, and of course, text messaging. Although Domino’s definitely exhibits a much more complex and costly mobile strategy by investing in so many different mobile avenues, its core idea is simple. That is, make ordering pizza as simple and easy as possible. They follow an effective framework to get new users to opt-in offering incentives such as discounts or even buy one pizza get one free. Domino’s also allows each individual to create a unique profile to save their pizza preferences for future purchases.

At the end of the day, the brands that are doing a great job connecting with me are those that have implemented text messaging into their mobile marketing strategy. I enjoy and appreciate the brands that deliver value to me before I spend my dollar, or those that reduce the friction in me spending my dollar. Whether it’s Domino’s making the order process as easy as possible by giving me multiple mobile avenues to do so, or Drink Easy promoting their products when I’m most receptive, or Smashburger keeping me informed about sales and promotions exclusive to their Smash Club.

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