How can text messaging (SMS) and mobile websites be a strong mobile marketing combination? Let's start with the basics:

Text message marketing

This is when you use a 5- or 6-digit card code to create an interaction between your organization and your audience. The user will be asked to send a keyword to a shortcode to start the interaction (sign up for the mobile club, go in to win, vote on something, etc.). Every time someone sends a text message to your system, their number is stored in your database. Provided you have notified your users that they are signing up for future text messages, you can use this database to send more messages later.

Pro: SMS is great because it is cost effective and it works on almost any phone that is active in the US. Almost every mobile user knows how to send an SMS. Like email, it is also a direct marketing channel. The larger your database grows, the more traffic and sales it can generate.

Con: SMS is restrictive because you can only use 160 characters per second. Message. It is made for short, sweet and current messages. It's hardly a rich multimedia experience.

Mobile sites

This is the cost-effective, widely accepted, work-at-most-phone, "cousin" of apps. You build them to better reach your mobile audience with cut pages, store placements, mobile-specific features, etc. Because a mobile site can work on any HTML-compatible phone. You do not have to build an iPhone version, then an Android version and then a BlackBerry (OK, you get the idea).

Pro: Mobile sites are good because they are also budget friendly to build and maintain. In most cases, they are just your main site on a very strict diet. When your users load your main site on their phone, they can be automatically redirected to the streamlined mobile version. This allows you to create a specific mobile experience for your audience without asking them to download another app.

Disadvantage: Mobile sites can be disappointing, because unless you have a large number of users searching for you on their mobile phone, the mobile site may be sitting there with very little traffic. You can also sit there and wonder how you promote it. You can try to place the mobile URL on signs and advertisements, but no one likes to type URLs into their mobile phone. You can try placing QR codes everywhere, but there is a better way that appeals to a much larger audience.

Using SMS marketing and mobile sites together

On their own SMS marketing and mobile websites, both are perfectly fine mobile marketing tactics. But when you put them together? Then you can:

Use SMS to make it easier to access your mobile site. Ask users to "write now" to read more about a product, learn more about an event, donate and more. A quick text message and they get replies back with a handy web link ... and you get their phone number in your database for future messages.

Use a mobile site to enhance your SMS campaign. Instead of just sending a 160-character message, link your audience to something on your mobile site; pictures, more details, schedules, registration pages. Make it easier for them to act now as they read your message.

Use SMS to "launch" your mobile site. Start an SMS campaign while you are done developing your mobile site. Try some simple promotions like giveaways at events or a campaign based mobile club. When the mobile site is ready, you are ready with a database full of active mobile users waiting for the link.

Use a mobile site to gather more information from your SMS database. When someone sends a keyword to a short code, the only information available by the wireless operators is their mobile number and their operator. Sometimes you can ask for more information via text message, but sometimes it is easier to send them to a mobile web page where they can fill out a form or take a survey. Suddenly they are not just a number anymore!

Marketing text messages and mobile websites are good first steps in mobile marketing because they appeal to the largest mobile audience. Using them together will not only give your organization a valuable direct marketing asset, but also a useful and engaging mobile presence.

Author's Bio: 

Lascom Solutions Telecommunications for all business sizes, VoIP, Broadband, Business mobiles, Leased lines, SMS text message marketing.