Why Mobile Marketing is the Same as Dating -- the Top 7 Worst Texts You Can Send

March 8, 2011

(Re-post of a blog post I wrote http://www.vibes.com/company/blog/?p=55. I'd love to know what everyone thinks.)


Well, we’ve done it. We’ve figured out the secrets to successful dating. Okay, not really. We have, however, figured out this mobile marketing thing and you would be surprised at the similarities between the two.

Let me back up. One of our clients asked us to help them understand the subtleties of text messaging and how they can affect the messages they were sending their customers. We thought about this for hours and finally one person in our group noticed a pretty cool similarity with the dating world. She said “you know whenever I text someone I met a few days ago, I always take like 15 minutes to think about the message before I send it.” That got us thinking, and we really noticed that just like how you’re trying to develop a relationship with that certain someone you met last weekend, brands too are trying to establish a relationship with their customers. It all comes down to one word: relationships.

Essentially, what and when you text someone when you are dating isn’t too far off from running a mobile marketing campaign (ok that sounds creepy but it’s kinda true). There are a few obvious ones. You can’t just start a relationship with a random text message; the person must first be introduced to you. Either through online means or in the real world, that person has to decide to share his or her phone number with you.

But what do you say once you’ve earned enough trust to begin a dialogue? The secret to success is a combination of time, location and interaction. But for today, we’re just looking at the message itself – the interaction piece of the puzzle. Context is everything and timing is critical. Here’s our list of the worst messages in the text dating scene.

  1. The Blast: “U Out Tonight?” It’s short and impersonal. The girl or guy knows it probably went out to more than just him or her and not getting a response shouldn’t be too big of a surprise. If you send out an impersonal message, you should not expect anything back. “Have you visited our new Natick store yet?” Your customers will feel exactly the same way, and will probably just delete the text.
  2. The General: “Want 2 do something 2night?” How is a person supposed to respond to that? There is no information; you know the person is thinking, “depends on what it is.” It could mean a movie. It could mean skydiving. You should probably specify if you want a reply. Only really good friends can get away with this message. For mobile marketers, specificity is critical. If you are offering something to them, a good offer is something such as: “Free Coupon for 20% off This Weekend at XYZ Restaurant.”
  3. The Overeager: “Had a great time tonight :) ” Whoa. The lesson here is that you need to use your mobile databases wisely. Don’t abuse new customers with instantaneous and frequent communications. If you’ve told your customers, “Thanks for coming to our event! Remember, we hold them each Monday! For more information, visit our website at…” all in one text message, you’re guilty of being overeager.
  4. The Impossible Response: “Had a great time last night, let’s go out again!” You’re making some pretty big assumptions there big guy. How about including me in the decision? Are you even asking me, or did you just tell me? Does my opinion even matter?
  5. The Obvious: “You there?” Um, yes, you just texted my mobile phone, which is with me ALL of the time. Don’t send meaningless messages to your mobile customers. Make sure that every message is an interaction, not a comment. “Do you wish you could pay less for your cell phone bill?” Of course they do.
  6. Lost in Translation: “Where u @ 2nit? LOLJKLMAO :P ” Seriously? I don’t even know what that says nor do I have the time to try to figure it out. When in doubt, just stick to English when communicating to your customers. Sure you may think you get points for using shortcuts but don’t assume that a shortcut means the same thing for everyone. “Hope 2 C U @ 2Nite’s Big TweetUp!” Maybe, if they can get their moms to drive them there.
  7. The Stalker: “What are u up to?” (followed quickly by a call and) “Hey, you there? Why won’t you answer my calls?” – A classic move and it has never, ever worked. Ever. If you don’t get a response, leave the person alone. You know what comes after the follow up call? A restraining order. The same goes for your customers. “Check your email! We’ve resent that coupon you haven’t used yet!” If they are not responding, they may not be interested in talking to you anymore and you are doing more harm than good by continuing to pursue them.

So what are you supposed to send?

How about The Invitation: “Going to PJ Clarke’s with some friends want 2 come?” – Specific and timely, this message tells a person where you are going to be and that you are interested in him or her. It sends along a clear invitation with a call to action. It’s engaging and elicits a response. This is exactly the type of information you should be sending along to your customers.

Of course we know both dating and mobile marketing are not as simple as this post, but if you take the time to think about how your messages are going to be interpreted, as well as what you are trying to accomplish, they should be a little easier. Are you looking for a response or are you just sending information? Am I engaging this person and or is this a one-way conversation?

It’s not rocket science (well, mobile marketing isn’t, at least).