Digital Age marketers know how to direct prospects to their websites: we simply pop a URL into our ads’ call- to-action. That approach may work well for digital media, but is it still the right tactic for TV, print, or
radio ads — especially now, with so much commerce conducted on mobile devices? I would contend that when using
legacy media (TV, radio, direct mail, and print) to reach
prospects and when your goal is to drive online sales, online
form-fills, and/or app downloads (not phone calls), a texting
call to-action works better than offering up a URL. Here’s
URLs embedded in live-links work fine inside digital
media — where a fingertip pressed to a mobile screen can
whisk a prospect directly from an online ad to an online
landing page. But legacy media — TV, radio, direct mail, and
print — is different.
In most U.S. households, there’s no one-touch connection from the ad seen on TV directly to your website — except, perhaps, now there is. Arguably, the best tool available
to bridge that gap between legacy media and online commerce is the ubiquitous mobile phone.
Today, people go everywhere and do everything with
their mobile phones close at hand. If a marketer conveys a
call-to-action through a TV, radio, print, or direct mail ad,
the response — voice, online, or otherwise — will likely
come through the customer’s mobile device.
With that in mind, direct response marketers need to
think clearly about exactly what really happens when their
legacy media ads display a URL. Is their URL easy to remember and easy to type? Domain names like Vegas.com,
1800Flowers.com, or Cars.com can
help with the recall and typing problem, but domain names like that can
cost millions to acquire. Most direct
marketers are left using URLs like
Can your customers remember something like that? Or accurately thumb-type it into a mobile search window?
Putting aside the recall and
thumb-typing problems, here’s the
real issue with using URLs in a legacy
media call-to-action. Assuming it can
be recalled and accurately thumb-
typed, when a URL is entered into a
mobile browser, most consumers’ phones will display a list of
search results. In other words, the advertiser’s website is pre-
sented along with an array of competitive offerings. By using
a URL in the call-to-action, the marketer is inadvertently
driving an untold number of prospects into the welcoming
arms of the competition.
Ever since stores were invented, marketers have known
one simple thing: if a prospect wants to visit your store, don’t
just point them in the general direction of a nearby marketplace. So how do we do that in a world where everyone is
using mobile phones?
Try using SMS texting in the printed or broadcast call-to-action. Rather than telling prospects to find you on the web
at a long, laborious URL, tell them to simply “Text SLIM
to TODAY (86329).” To see how it works, try this: use your
mobile phone to text message Donut to TODAY (86329); or
Find to CHASE (24273); or Drugstore to RADIO (72346).
In each case, the user’s text will trigger an immediate reply
that carries an embedded link. When the prospect touches
the embedded link, their smartphone takes them directly to
the sponsor’s website, without the potential for distraction
or diversion which inevitably comes whenever a consumer is
asked to type anything into a mobile web browser.
So why hasn’t this tactic been tried more often? Some
worried that sending texts to consumers might create liability under the Telecommunications Privacy Act (TCPA), a
federal law that bars unwanted phone calls, spam faxes, and
unsolicited texts. Now, that concern has been addressed by a
long-awaited Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
ruling confirming that businesses can respond to
consumer-initiated texts without requiring a separate “opt-in” and without
running afoul of the TCPA.
The ruling makes it clear that a business won’t get sued
just for responding to a customer’s text. Keep in mind, however, that the FCC’s ruling doesn’t allow for unsolicited texting at any time or on any subject matter. The recent TCPA
ruling is a game-changer for direct marketers who want to
seize the power of smartphones to enhance their campaigns.
While transactional texting may not yet replace the toll-free phone number in the typical direct response program,
texting could supplant the use of URLs seen in infomercial
programming. Tacking a web address onto television campaigns just points customers to the mall. Properly utilized,
consumer-initiated texting technology will take your prospects directly to the cash register. ;
How Text CTAs Outperform Web
By Robin Shapiro