By 2012, an estimated 10 TRILLION text messages will be sent and delivered globally. Needless to say the future of SMS is indeed very bright. The global mobile advertising market will be valued at over $16 Billion by 2011. Having said that, I wanted to find out what some of the challenges may be with this genre and who better to ask than the guys over at Paradox M. They are one of the leaders in services for advertisers, permission based list owners, lead buyers, and marketers in need of assistance with their SMS marketing strategies, data monetization efforts, and customer acquisition requirements. Here is what I asked them:

What is most important to Paradox M as an SMS marketer and a third party SMS opt-in list manager?

First off, thanks for the invitation to be a guest on your blog this week, Ricky.

Generally speaking our biggest concern regarding SMS marketing is the attitude of the mobile phone users toward the text message advertisements they receive. As an SMS marketer using third party lists we lack the direct consumer relationship that other advertisers have with their subscribers. If SMS marketing becomes a big source of complaints for cell phone carriers then there’s little doubt that the backlash will mainly hit the marketers like us who manage third party opt-in lists. Naturally we do as much as possible to avoid consumer complaints. One part of that effort to control complaints is the way we opt people out. We use a global suppression list across all of our short codes and in house offers regardless of what short code or what particular campaign the mobile phone users opt out of. For any readers who are not familiar with the term short code it is a mobile number considerably shorter than a typical telephone number that is used in text messaging and may sometimes spell out something chosen by the advertiser such as GOOGL or Fox24. I’d like to let Michelle add more detail about how great the reward could be for SMS marketers and list owners if the suppression process is managed in this way.

Thanks Kevin. Consumers who are accustomed to opting out of email advertisements are oftentimes not aware of the differences between email marketing and mobile phone marketing. Because of the relative newness of text message marketing many consumers miss the fact that messages come from various short codes and think that opting out once is enough to put an end to any future text message marketing. As a direct result of this, we have found that using a global suppression file is beneficial to our company.

The main driver we’ve found so far in customer attitude is the number of third parties messaging the consumers. Since data owners are focused on revenue it seems to make the most sense to allow more than one SMS marketer access to their list. But having the same data going to multiple list managers is likely going to create confusion for the consumer and generate a high opt-out rate for every list manager who sends messages to that list. It may also lead to a higher rate of complaints from the consumer since they will become increasingly confused and agitated the more times they are contacted.

Since we are not always able to know the extent of the re-marketing that occurs with a list we manage we have found it very necessary to adopt other methods of proactively managing the mobile phone user’s experience with our messages. One way we have approached this is to avoid managing lists which do not have highly detailed SMS opt-in language in their privacy policies. We have found that this approach not only helps to reduce mobile phone user complaints but also provides our third party advertisers and other clients we generate messages on behalf of reassurance that we are doing all we can to avoid complaints at their level or damage to their brand. This tends to be very valuable in our conversations with clients who are just beginning to see a need to use this developing channel of marketing.

Ultimately in order to best manage the mobile phone user’s experience with this type of marketing we must also consider what we choose to accept as an opt-in list. If we rely strictly on implicit consent to the privacy policy of a particular website the user submitted their mobile phone number on then we risk misinterpretation of the messages being sent without any permission. In the long run some companies may choose to deal with this approach until they are forced to change but what we’ve noticed is a trend on the advertisers’ ends of proactively moving toward an explicit opt-in for SMS. This can involve an extra check box on the consumer information collection form. Example: “I consent to receive 3rd party advertisements and promotional messages to my mobile phone via SMS and have read and agree to the privacy policy governing this messaging.” Just from the complaints that I personally am answering each week it seems that nearly all of the upset mobile phone users are unaware that they ever consented to receive marketing messages via SMS from an implicit standpoint. While this is probably also common in email marketing there is a cost factor for the mobile phone user receiving the message in some cases which is not present in email marketing. We feel it’s mainly due to that cost factor that messaging too much to the implicit group will cause many more complaints. I don’t want to underplay the real reason we are active in this part of performance marketing. Profits are the bottom line in this, both for us and for our list owners.

Still, in the long run our goal is to be a part of a valuable segment of performance based affiliate marketing and to achieve that we know it’s a must that we anticipate the effects of messaging mobile phone users who don’t understand why they are receiving SMS marketing messages.

This is a guest post by two of my favorite people in the industry. I have known them a little over a year and seems as if we have known each other for ages. Their communication, mannerism, demeanor is very professional and more importantly respectful. If you would like to get to know them, drop me a line and I will gladly do an intro.

Kevin Wallach – CEO

Kevin has spent the last six years learning and working in various segments of Internet Marketing. Prior to co-founding Paradox M highlights of his work in the space include advertiser sales roles at TheUseful, Monetizeit, and Media Whiz. Kevin is a graduate of Broward College in Davie Florida and now lives near Atlanta Georgia with his fiancée and their “Brady bunch” of five boys ranging in age from 19 to 3 months.

Michelle Horn – President, List Management and Mobile Marketing Channels

Michelle started in internet marketing with LeadFlash and then moved on to consultant positions for a number of different companies, including iLeadOnline. Although Michelle’s background was mainly from sub-prime lead generation, she also has been involved in the SMS space individually and on a consultant basis for 3+ years.

Author's Bio: 

Ricky Ahuja, a serial entrepreneur, is a ten year veteran of the online marketing industry and currently serving as the CEO and partner in Affiliate Venture Group, a privately funded performance based network located in Richmond, VA. Affiliate Venture Group has quickly become the go to network for some of the hottest penny stock offers in addition to some exclusive sub-prime offers. One of the most accessible guys in the industry, calls it like it is and continues to develop a loyal following with his Affiliate Marketing Mastermind Group on Facebook and through his blog at