I received an SMS message out of the blue the other day from my mobile phone provider Globe. The message read:
Globe Bidakard member: Congratulations! You are entitled to a FREE Vaseline Total Moisture Trial Kit (Lotion + discount coupons)! Just present this text and claim at any Watson's store from Oct 12 - Oct 31, 2007. [other text omitted]I must admit I was a bit excited to read that message, because I've always been curious about how direct marketing could be achieved through SMS.
So that day, I made a point of heading to the nearest Watson's store during my lunch break, just to see what the promo mechanics were.
When I got to the store, I showed the SMS message on my phone to one of the cashiers, and asked if any purchase was necessary to claim the free kit.
She said no (whew!), then punched something into the cash register before pulling out a free kit from behind the counter. After the register spat out a little receipt, the cashier then asked me to write my name and signature on the back of the receipt.
She did not ask me for any form of ID to confirm that I had used my real name, nor did she check what I'd written on the back of the receipt. For all she knew, I could have just scribbled something completely unintelligible.
After I signed the slip of paper, she handed me the kit, then asked me to delete the SMS message from my phone. I deleted the message and told her as much. She did not bother to verify that it had indeed been erased.
And that was it! As easy as that, I got my kit.
And it looked like this:
Kit contents: 25ml bottle of lotion (left) and a thin blue booklet that contains discount coupons to the following stores: Freeway, Ensembles, Bioessence, Wendy's, Ystilo Salon, Osim, GNC, Body and Sole, Matabungkay Beach Resort, and Ace Water Spa. There was also a P20.00 discount coupon for the future purchase of any Vaseline lotion.
What a Shame: Lost Opportunity to Collect Customer Data
While the kit itself was fine (I really had no expectations as to what its contents would be), I found myself disappointed that the claim process had been left so open-ended. Consequently:
- Neither Globe, Watson's, nor Vaseline were able to collect any kind of meaningful data regarding the customers who had claimed the product.
- At best, Watson's can only report the number of customers who claimed the kit, and indicate when and where they had been claimed.
- None of them can consistently and reliably connect the Globe cellphone number to the person who actually claimed the kit.
- If I were Watson's or Vaseline, having these numbers would improve my ability to reach my prospective customers directly, and reduce my dependence on Globe.
- If I were Globe, I would now know who among my subscribers are more likely to respond to similar promotions in the future, and I can therefore cut down on the number of messages I'd send out for the next text promo while achieving a higher response rate.
- using a unique "coupon code" in each SMS
- tracking which cellphone number received which "coupon code"
- asking for the coupon code when customers claim the kit
Those codes could then be collected on a daily basis together with the point-of-sale (POS) data, and Globe could then have obtained that data from Watson's and merged it with actual customer records to get a better sense of who responds to what kind of promo.
If unique coupon codes had been used, all the companies involved would also have a way of checking whether customers were fraudulently claiming more than one free kit.
Obviously, I'm over-simplifying things a bit when I say all this; after all, it's no easy feat to get data out of POS systems, and it's even harder to negotiate data sharing of any kind between the companies that are involved.
I guess I just felt that it was a shame to go through all this trouble to prepare a kit, send out a call-to-action to so many anonymous customers, and still not use the opportunity to find out who actually responded... all this despite the fact that such knowledge can inform future direct marketing efforts.
Oh well. I guess I just have to wait a little while longer before I start seeing closed-loop, SMS-based direct marketing.