During the weekend on which we held the Bay Of Plenty Mashup competition we were given the use of a text message service run by local Bay business startup Itext.
The service called Vortext (neat pun) is aimed at helping smaller business take advantage of the use of mobile phones in today’s society.
The last figure I saw showed three in four New Zealanders own a mobile phone.
I have looked into mobile text marketing in the past and was pleased with the straight forward approach and ease of use this service offered.
During the weekend of the mashup, Vortext gave the organisers unlimited text messages to use to update the contestants and anyone else who subscribed.
I set up messages to go out at certain times to remind the teams of milestones and when to hand things in.
Last year organiser Bruce Fraser ran around teams doing this task, but this year with the messages going out he was able to sit back and relax a little bit more. Setting up the messages was a breeze and Vortext has been built with ease of use as a core feature.
When you register you create a keyword, ours was mashup. You can have more and pay extra. You then start to use this keyword and the subscription number as a way to get people to sign up.
It’s another point of contact like your website or phone number. You build a recipient list and then start creating campaigns. A campaign could be a one-off or a series of text messages to reinforce a message or offer.
The service does not cost your subscribers anything beyond the 20cent of the initial "subscribe me" text they send and they can unsubscribe with ease. Simply type stop 4363 to the last message.
The subscriber is in control. This I think is the strength of Vortext. In the age of social and brand interaction they give the same control in which Twitter and Facebook give on who people follow or do not.
As I was writing this I also found the business can decide to cover the cost of the subscribe message for 15cent, making it free for users. Think of this in the same way as an 0800 number.
Vortext does a great job of keeping the complexity of the spam laws out of the way, but at the same time guiding users to ensure they will not breach them.
The system keeps a record of all messages which is invaluable for regulatory purposes.
It can even be monitored in real time so you can see new subscribers or replies, allowing you to interact with specific subscribers.
I was asked why this was would be better than other services such as the plethora of voucher sites. Here is why I rate it:
1. Its a personal relationship between the Subscriber and the brand or brands.
2. The subscriber can manage the noise and decide which brands they want to hear from.
3. Its text, its pretty much real time and it does not require a browser or a smart phone.
4. It becomes an integral part of the marketing strategy along with the social, the web and the billboards. It can be managed by a small team with no middle men (or mad men?).
The Vortext approach makes it easy and I think, cost effective for small business to dip their toe for occasional or small use, although I think there is an opportunity for a new pricing model on that point.
The way we used in the event management of Mashup worked a charm, and I think it would be brilliant for school and club activities as well as big events.
On the site Vortext show a use case which sums up some good thinking, just because someone has subscribed does not mean they want to hear from you all the time, just when you have a deal they may want to take part in.
It’s a relationship tool.