Consumers think nothing of signing up for text reminders, texting short codes for discounts and coupons, and using text to “vote to win.” They don’t think about it as responding to marketing. It’s a lifestyle. So why are so few MSPs offering text marketing services to their customers?

For many printers, mobile “isn’t relevant” to their business. But is that really true? Do you know one of the most common ways to gather mobile numbers for text campaigns is through print? Short codes can be incorporated into direct mail, in-store displays, packaging, window clings, and so much more. Plus, once you have a customer’s mobile business, that helps to secure their long-term print business, too.

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What might this look like? When Stage Stores, a national retailer with 800 stores, wanted to leverage the back-to-school shopping season to engage with its customers, for example, it turned to mobile. Working with SoundBites, it created an in-store and online campaign that prompted shoppers to text for a chance to win a variety of instant prizes such as gas cards, iPods, and Stage Store gift cards. (As a printer, think enough in-store signage and displays for 800 stores!) While opting in, customers were able to indicate the channel (SMS, voice, or email) and the type of offers they preferred to receive from the retailer, paving the way for more relevant communications in the future.

Not only does creating a mobile database benefit your print business upfront, but it benefits it over time, too. Developing a mobile database isn’t once and done. It’s an ongoing process. Plus, once you have a database, you can drive a variety of other multichannel campaigns for your customers that combine print and mobile.

Among the most common uses for short codes:

  • Alerts and reminders
  • Voting
  • Text to win
  • Get product information.
  • Coupons and discounts
  • Gather donations
  • Polls and surveys
  • Subscription services

So how do you set up a campaign?

  1. Create an account with the CSCA. Your customers must have an account with the Central States Communication Association (CSCA) to get a short code.
  2. Use the search tool to find the code you want. CSCA offers a variety of search options, including “view available cool names,” “find easy-to-remember numbers,” and the options for finding four identical numbers, four sequential numbers, or repeating pairs. If your customer (or you on their behalf) cannot find the code they want, CSCA will randomly assign one.
  3. Get reviewed. The application must be vetted by the CTIA – The Wireless Association. This process confirms that the content provider displayed in the registry is a legitimate company and is identified correctly in the registry. CTIA has commissioned WMC Global to vet all CSC leaseholders.
  4. Follow best practices. The option to opt out must be clearly visible on all communications. If the short code is for a subscription, this must be clearly indicated. All terms and billing intervals must be disclosed. Certain terms cannot be used in short codes, such as those that might suggest illegal or restricted activities. You can download the Short Code Monitoring Handbook in PDF format here.
  5. Add the codes to marketing materials and track results.

With today’s marketing automation solutions, text campaigns can be monitored, measured, and deployed like any other channel. Plus, the mobile number gathering process drives high-value print.  As a MSP, the ability to walk your customers through this process is a tremendous service that then drives the print and multichannel campaigns that follow.

For a quick overview of the process, check out the Common Short Code Association’s website.