The long and short of mobile marketing for your dealership

Choosing a mobile vendor to work with and help communicate to your most loyal customers is a critical endeavor. In mobile marketing, like any marketing, there are many options. You can select a partner based on price or services or reputation. At the end of the day you want to find a solution that not only fits your needs but will best serve your valuable customers.

Don’t fall victim to the idea that mobile is a secondary marketing tool and doesn’t require investment and attention. There are NO shortcuts. If any vendor tells you they use long codes (a 10-digit phone number) over a short code to mass text because their research told them that’s what customers prefer, they are serving only themselves and not being completely aware or forthcoming on how it impacts your business.

To help you know how to choose a vendor you must first understand some terminology and what it means. In text marketing you will find vendors offering 2 types of messaging capabilities utilizing a phone number (long code) or a short code number. Some vendors offer both and know how to implement them for you in various scenarios.

Long code: A unique 10-digit phone number that’s tied to an area code. Used by various businesses to send/receive SMS messages and voice calls.

Short code: A 5- or 6-digit number that can send and receive SMS (and MMS) to and from mobile phones.

To help you better understand which code is best for your business let’s look at the pros and cons of each:

Long Code Pros

  • Can be assigned to a business for long term use.
  • Easy to set up.
  • Very inexpensive to obtain.
  • Easily implemented for international messaging.
  • Easier to secure keywords when code is dedicated to one business.

Long Code Cons:

  • Not subject to carrier regulations and typically used for spam. With minimal regulations businesses who use them are typically not following the best mobile marketing practices.
  • Carriers do not like long codes and will, if discovered, shut them down. The long code does not followMMACTIA, or carrier guidelines which leaves businesses open to lawsuits from customers who did not agree to receive marketing messages from them.
  • Capable of one-to-one, low-volume messaging and NOT recommended for mass messaging to many recipients in a single instance. Think of alerts from your dentist or doctor. They are sending very few messages per day.
  • Not easily remembered by customers. When’s the last time you memorized a phone number? What’s your sales managers mobile number? What’s your spouses mobile number?
  • Because carriers do not regulate they will deliver at a much slower rate to handsets and you are given NO delivery reporting from carrier. Best case scenario for message delivery is 1 per second. Whereas Short code delivery can be 1000s of messages per second.

Short Code Pros:

  • The Common Short Code Administration (CSCA) and iconectiv are responsible for overseeing the short codes on behalf of participating U.S. wireless carriers, including administrative, technical and operational duties. Seriously reduces spam and misuse.
  • Mobile platforms using short codes must be approved by carriers before they will be allowed on their network. This means carriers are aware of the activity from a short
  • Optimal for mobile campaigns to mass message hundreds or thousands of customers instead of just a select, small group.
  • Easily remembered, especially when the number is shown or spoken for a few instants on television, radio or on a screen at a large event . Because of the high response rates, they generate significant
  • MUCH faster for delivery and far more reliable. When paying for a mobile service, why spend money risking that your messages may or may not make it to your customer?
  • Very detailed reports sent back from carriers in terms of delivery. Carriers will tell a mobile services provider if a message failed, got buffered, delayed, etc…

Short Code Cons:

  • Can take 2-3 months to get one provisioned for your mobile platform if you don’t choose a vendor with preexisting, approved short codes.
  • Can be rented only on a short-term basis. A business can never outright own a short code.
  • Higher cost due to leasing and regulation. Leasing can cost from $500 to $1000 per month depending on the type of short code, plus payments to an aggregator for connectivity. But this is not a cost that you would have to pay for because the text message marketing company you employ would be responsible for this overhead cost.

Long codes can serve a function to specific business needs like single appointment reminders and one-to-one communication with customers. But in the powersports industry often times you want to communicate to your entire audience as quickly as possible. This can mean sending a text message to 1000s of your customers with the expectation they will receive it in a matter of minutes. There are many examples with dealerships trying a long code vendor where messages sent via arrive to customers hours after the fact, or not at all, and far too late for effectiveness. This is not only inconvenient to your customers but can also make you look inept as a marketer and could impact the decision a customer may make when it comes to shopping with you.

It pays to be thorough and choose a mobile vendor that has your best interest in mind over his or her own. Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible and challenge any potential mobile vendor to meet the high standards legitimate mobile vendors have already set.

Consider educating yourself further with this very helpful “Mobile Playbook” provided by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA).

Ron Cariker is owner/president of 7 Media Group, a diverse mobile marketing firm based in the U.S. and the leading mobile provider for the powersports industry. Ron and his company have worked with over 100 dealers across the U.S. for the past 6 1/2 years. He speaks extensively across the U.S. and internationally about the mobile industry and mobile education. Ron also formed a partner company called Ready2Ride exclusively for the powersports industry. This new mobile solution combines SMS, mobile application, mobile web, analytics and much more.