Text messages more effective than mobile Web?

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The gloves are off
The gloves are off

Text messages more effective than mobile Web? Text messaging is fast and simple, but the growing use of smart phones offers greater capabilities for mobile Web usage. Our experts gauge the effectiveness of text vs. mobile.


CONTENDER
Allison Mooney
Director, Trends and Insights, Mobile Behavior
Six years experience in media and marketing

The early days of digital were all about “e-mail marketing.” Now, we call it “spam.” SMS marketing is on the same track, and those who rely solely on it will suffer.

Text campaigns can be effective, but (to quote John McCain) it's not a “strategy,” it's a “tactic.” As such, it needs to be tied to a larger mobile presence. Just as any digital marketing must include more than just e-mail blasts, so must mobile marketing. To think otherwise is incredibly shortsighted.

As a tactic, SMS definitely has some things going for it: It's targeted, immediate and interactive. But even these advantages can be drawbacks in the long run. If more and more companies engage in SMS marketing, “targeted” will become “invasive,” “immediate” will turn to “distracting.” And while “interaction” is a two-way street, consumers want to initiate and control the relationship. This means being able to reach you anytime, anywhere—not the other way around. Brands can enable this by establishing a more sustained presence in mobile, e.g., WAP and iPhone sites, branded applications and cross-platform integration.

In the not-so-distant future, every cell phone will be a “smartphone,” and data will be much more affordable. People will be able to utilize mobile Web technology on a regular basis. If companies don't start to think outside the mobile inbox, they will be left out of the bigger picture and scrambling to catch up.


Contender
Amielle Lake
CEO/co-founder Tagga.com
More than 10 years experience in marketing

There is little doubt as to the value of the mobile Web. After all, much of the information we seek out while surfing at home is as useful to us as when we move throughout the offline world. Advances in smart devices are rendering the mobile Web more accessible. Still, it continues to be painful to use. Why? Two key problems persist: lack of discoverability of mobile sites and poor user experience.

Today, industry analysts report that less than 15% of smart device owners utilize their Web capabilities. Such a statistic is not surprising given that data charges, for most, remain high, and mobile site addresses are often difficult to find. 

What's more: The user experience from Internet to mobile is totally different. Small devices are for being “on-the-go.” Information must be delivered in a specific way: short and relevant. There is no time for tab browsing, and search on a 3-inch screen is less than desirable.

SMS or text messaging provides a simpler and better solution to the problems posed by the mobile Web. Nearly all mobile phone owners have text messaging capabilities. Texting a keyword to a short code is simpler than typing a URL.

Finally, SMS can be used as a powerful tool in mobile site discovery. With smart devices, it's easy to include a mobile site URL within the actual SMS message. Thus, users benefit from the relevance and accessibility of an SMS, while also being able to consume richer content by simply clicking through. SMS acts as a gateway to the mobile Web.


DMNEWS' DECISION: Lake argues that test messaging is simpler and more accessible, while using the mobile Web can be pricey with mobile site addresses hard to find. Mooney counters that smartphones will increase in the future, making data more affordable. Companies will lag in creating a sustained presence in mobile will be left to scramble.

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