Short Codes are a Scam, and SMS Marketing is Dying. Is there Hope?

Editor’s note: This guest post was written by Jared Reitzin, the CEO of mobileStorm, a Communication Service Provider (CSP) that provides digital marketing services including SMS, as well as mobile applications and secure communication technology for healthcare organizations. Think about it, what other industry or company do you know of that charges you for service every month …   Read More

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Editor’s note: This guest post was written by Jared Reitzin, the CEO of mobileStorm, a Communication Service Provider (CSP) that provides digital marketing services including SMS, as well as mobile applications and secure communication technology for healthcare organizations.

Think about it, what other industry or company do you know of that charges you for service every month but you cannot start using the service for 4 months? Go ahead, I will give you a few minutes, please add your comments below. Can’t think of any? It’s because if a company like this existed, nobody would want to do business with them, and they wouldn’t be around for very long.

However if you have a monopoly on the space and people really needed your service to grow their business, they wouldn’t have a choice. For mobile marketers this may sound like familiar territory. We all know that mobile marketing through a short code is ultimately the best way to go. I’m not sold on QR codes yet as the user experience isn’t that great.

I’ve been at the helm of mobileStorm, a top mobile marketing company since 1999, even before short codes really existed (and yes this link is strategically placed for SEO goodness). There was really one aggregator back then, Simplewire, and if you didn’t use them to send SMS messages via SMPP (Short Message Peer-to-Peer Protocol), then you sent your messages via SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) which is how email is sent. However, everyone knows that sending SMS messages this way is unreliable and doesn’t offer much in the way of analytics and reporting. I can’t remember when it happened but at one point Neustar, founded in 1996 to meet the technical and operational challenges that arose when the U.S. Government mandated local number portability, and the CTIA, the all-powerful carrier association, got together to create USShortcodes.com. USShortcodes was, and still is, the only service that would allow you to lease a 5 or 6 digit short code that either meant something (a.k.a. vanity short code), or was completely random (a.k.a. random short code). Two major events in the U.S. taught Americans how to text in to a short code. The first was American Idol, where you could vote for Sanjaya by simply texting VOTE to 4701, and the second was Barak Obama’s VP candidate announcement of Joe Biden via his vanity short code 62262, which spells OBAMA. The latest statistics from Pew show that 80% of Americans send text messages, with billions being sent on a daily basis. To say SMS is mainstream is an understatement.

SMS is a brilliant way to engage with potential customers and retain existing ones. Response rates dwarf other channels like email, IVR and direct mail. The average SMS is read within 4 minutes. If you’re still not convinced about the power of SMS, think about how it’s disrupting healthcare. Our client Kaiser Permanente proved they could reduce the number of no-shows by sending SMS appointment reminders. They saved close to $275k in 30 days at one facility. SMS is helping pregnant moms through pregnancy, smokers to quit smoking, and keeping those with Diabetes adherent to their medication.

So why does Neustar and the carriers make it so difficult to do business with them? Wouldn’t you think a technology that improves peoples’ lives, and has 80% of Americans engaged, could be as simple as buying a domain name? If I went to Godaddy.com and registered a domain name, it would cost me $10 for the year and I would immediately get to start using it. With USShortcodes, it costs me anywhere from $1,500 – $3,000 for the quarter depending on if I license a random or vanity code. Going back to my opening sentence, the average wait time to get your short code approved is around 4 months, and guess what; you’re paying for that code even though you can’t use it. Most people would consider this a scam, but this is how things are done and you don’t have a choice in the matter. If you want to do SMS right, you need a short code.

At mobileStorm, we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per year with USShortcodes.com because SMS is a wonderful channel — but it doesn’t mean we love the experience. The cost of the codes, the time it takes to get them working, and the audits performed each month with the “guilty before being proven innocent” method is beyond frustrating. I really can’t think of another industry that makes it so difficult to do business, other than maybe complying with city code when trying to build an addition onto your house.

Each code is hand approved by someone at the carrier, and they have a pile of applications sitting on their desk. When they go to test your workflow, if your application doesn’t match it seems as if you go to the bottom of the pile. Oh I almost forgot, you can’t talk to the carrier either, you have to work with your aggregator, so it becomes a game of telephone.

Recently Verizon wanted a client of ours to indemnify them of any litigation that would arise from their SMS program. Are you kidding me? How is SMS supposed to be the killer app in healthcare if the carriers demand indemnification clauses on a short code?

The system is completely inefficient. Let’s recap:

  1. It’s expensive: Small businesses cannot afford the cost of a short code. Most have to resort to a shared code. But oh yeah, there’s rumblings that USShortcodes wants to do away with that as well. Soon most companies in the U.S. will not be able to use SMS. It’s as if the industry is forcing people towards QR codes.
  2. The time to market seems like an inside joke, but it’s not:  If your business is built on top of SMS and you need to wait 4 months to get your business going, you might as well stop everything you’re doing and wait for the code to be approved. Just don’t pay any attention to the stat that most businesses fail within the first year, because you only have 8 months left.
  3. The cost of doing business is high: The CTIA spends millions of dollars a year on independent auditing firms. Their entire goal is to find SMS programs that do not follow the original workflow and shut them down because spam is such a huge problem with SMS. Can you hear the irony in my voice? Think about email. Now think about how many unwanted SMS messages you get. Is there even a comparison? Keeping spam out is one thing the carriers did right. Unlike email they control the pipe and can shut someone down quickly. So if it’s not spam, why the audits? It must be the lawsuits they don’t want to be involved in right? When you get an audit, you have to stop what you are doing and respond. To say this disrupts your business is an understatement. Imagine having to manage and audit 20 clients. Now imagine trying to find every single location these clients have ever promoted their short code and add some copy that would further indemnify the carriers from a lawsuit. Our friends over at TextPower wrote a great article on this called “It’s Official: Cellular Carriers Have Gone Nuts.” Audits are nightmares that take important employee resources away from other revenue generating activities, like helping a client understand how to properly build and market to their database. It’s as if the carriers are looking for ways not to do business with you.
  4. It feels like a scam, but supposedly it’s not: Why do we need to pay to license the code when it is not usable? Can someone please answer this for me? Now is your chance to tell the industry why they pay for a service they can’t use. If you give us a good reason we’ll forgive you, but we want our money back for the years we spent on codes we couldn’t use.

It almost feels to me like the carriers don’t want to provide short codes, but they have to. Why else would they make it timely, expensive, and wasteful?

There’s something else that doesn’t sit well with me. The carriers should be a lot less worried about the small businesses that occasionally send a coupon to their customers, and a lot more worried that legitimate companies are being sued because they were following the MMA’s consumer best practice guidelines. Let me repeat that, businesses are being sued for millions of dollars because they followed consumer best practices, as set forth by the MMA (and the guidelines were created with the carries input as well). I would laugh, but I feel bad. Sounds like these companies were just trying to do the right thing. Soundbite Communications, Redbox, and American Express were just a few of the companies blessed with lawsuits for sending a confirmation message to consumers after they’d opted out of their SMS program. These companies were sued under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) because they sent someone a message confirming an opt-out. This is a classic “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” situation. If they send the message they are sued, if they don’t send the message the carriers will audit them and shut down their short code. Oh the joy!

On April 5th and April 9th of this year, two mobile marketing companies (Eztexting out of New York, and TextPower out of Los Angeles), filed punitive class action antitrust lawsuits in the Southern District of New York against the country’s major wireless carriers, the CTIA trade association, and various text-message (or Short Message Service) aggregators.

I know the CEOs of both companies and for years we’ve discussed how the squeeze is becoming more like a choke. In short, these entrepreneurs reached their breaking points and decided to fight back. All eyes right now are on these lawsuits. Will they bring the change needed to reverse the industry’s biggest problems? Or will they be crushed by the unlimited funds of the powerful association?

I personally don’t think the parties involved (the CTIA, Neustar and USShortcodes) are evil, I just don’t think they have a very good process for how things work and it’s too expensive for them to go back and fix anything. Maybe they don’t see this as that big of a revenue stream, even though it’s reported that the CSC industry brings in  roughly $2.3 billion a year in revenue.  Hey Neustar, spend 1% of this revenue and create a fully automated approval system. This would bring the cost of short codes down and get businesses up and running in the same day. Don’t you think SMS marketing would at least double in size?

My hope is that these lawsuits will wake someone up over there that has the power to bring swift and immediate change. If we continue down the path we’re on, businesses will be forced elsewhere; and we already see it happening. Push notifications and in-app messaging are already threatening SMS usage.

This is a warning to the carriers — if you guys don’t make changes necessary to make mobile marketing more attractive, you will lose billions in revenue a lot sooner. This isn’t a threat, it’s a fact. We know how much money SMS brings in revenue so I understand the need to protect it, but you’re guarding it the wrong way. The security team at Fort Knox isn’t packing squirt guns.

Please make marketers happy again about sending SMS. If you make it cheap, easy and free like the Internet is supposed to be, then you have a shot at the 88 million small businesses in America. I know we’ll need to add a couple more numbers to the short code, and maybe they’ll need to be called medium codes, but hey, that would be considered a good thing right?

In this article

41 comments

  1. ThumbVista

    This is a older post, but still completely relevant today in 2014. The shortcode system nearly killed us before we got started. We witnessed everything that Mobile Storm did. Thanks for posting wish I would have read earlier.

  2. kelvinmiller

    Great
    Blog,SMS marketing never dies yes there is always hope because SMS marketing is the effective way of getting customers and is very
    cost effective, its the best way to get connected to the customers to send
    the updated details of any products or offers etc to know more on sms
    marketing visit <a href=”http://www.globalemaillists.com/sms-marketing/”>globalemaillists.com</a>

  3. Jonathan

    Jared,
    I have just re-read the article. I would like to see you write an updated article on this topic every 6 or 12 months. So you are either early or late in giving us your updated view on the topic.

  4. Matt

    Good article, but I disagree with the whole short codes going away and that they are not affordable for small businesses. A shared short code requires a business to think outside of the box for their keyword, nothing wrong with that. The reason short codes SMS don't work is when businesses use them to push sales to peoples phones or use them to often. If you can't provide some sort of value or something informative the is relevant to the receiver, then you are just wasting everyone time and to me would be considered a spammer. Short Codes are a great way to market, if done correctly.

  5. Virtual SIM

    Is there a short code to find out a cell phones number?

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  7. Steve Wilson

    This is a remarkable write up and a helpful piece of information you got here my friend. well for i don't think that the sms marketing is dying. It's just that there may be some challenges but i don't see how this would fade. As long as there are people using Mobile phones and apps and companies manufacturing them..We are here to stay bro. We're gonna make it.

  8. Dean

    It's unfortunate that such an awesome technology and marketing gem has to be so ridiculously inept at providing a working code. By current efficiencies it forces the little business owner out. There best hope is to use an intermediary and lease the line which appears to be effective. SMS is a viable mobile marketing trend that I see potentially falling to mobile apps before QR codes.

  9. moceantechnologies

    Using Sms advertising people scam a lot and suffer people, ruin their life. This should have proper law.

    1. Jared Reitzin

      Um ok Mocean…

  10. Derek Johnson

    Interesting insight Jared… I can't believe you started your company before short codes even existed, that's crazy!

    Just to be clear, SMS providers and brands aren't being sued under the MMA’s Consumer Best Practice Guidelines, they're being sued under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. In my personal opinion, the MMA should stop wasting their time with creating best practices, we already have the CTIA, the carriers and the TCPA, why do we need one more organization making rules, that aren't even enforced?

    I'm torn in regards to what to do next, on one hand it would be nice for wireless carriers to charge less and be a little quicker in regards to approvals, but on the other hand, if this happens it will just encourage more spammers and more competition in our industry. Both of those I'd rather not see…

    One thing is for sure, something is going to happen very soon, and it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Thanks for the article, at the very least it gets people talking…

    1. Jared Reitzin

      Thanks Derek! Ya we didn't know much about where things were headed, we just knew that the mobile revolution was going to be bigger than the PC revolution.

      And not sure where the confusion lies but companies are being sued by lawyers who are using the TCPA as a law they can reference (which by the way should change). The companies being sued are following best practices as outlined in the MMA's consumer best practice guidelines. . I thought I was clear about that,sorry if I wasn't.

      I think best practices are just that, a set of best practices. They are not the law, you don't need to follow them, but it's a good idea if you do. Our platform was built with all of those practices baked in, so for instance you cannot, not have a STOP footer. I am sure you guys built your platform with the MMA in mind as well. As you know, it makes our lives easier in the long run. Everyone is happy if you are playing by the rules (I mean best practices).

      You make a very interesting point about encouraging more competition if approvals were faster. I have thought about this for a long time and I believe that you are right, there will be more competition. There will be more competition because their will be more demand. But I think that demand will bring in a lot of money and I welcome good competition. I believe in the end my firm will be standing as one of the more successful competitors, so for me, the more business means more revenue. Sure we are going to lose some deals, but I think we will close more than we lose.

  11. Jeff

    Great Post Jared

    As someone who has worked on both the American Idol and the Obama programs, I take a special pride in seeing you reference the role of those campaigns in creating public awareness of short code messaging.

    I agree with all your comments about the unacceptable flaws of the short code provisioning/auditing process. The worst of which is getting charged during the approval period. Clearly, the approval period depends on how quickly the content provider/application provider/aggregator and carrier teams work actively to review the programs. If the shortcode owner is dragging their feet, I wouldn't expect Neustar to give them a free ride indefinitely. But, at least a three month grace period would be a smart show of goodwill.

    Neustar does deserve credit for providing a significant reduction on short code pricing to non profits. That was a good move.

    I agree with your remarks about long numbers needing to be regulated. I'm afraid that I don't fully agree that all spam occurs via long numbers. There have been many D2C companies using premium shortcodes to spam people over the years. I don't just mean a lack of clear/conspicuous commercial terms in online affiliate advertising…I actually mean blanket unsolicited text messages to hundreds of thousands of mobile numbers, inviting them to "reply Y" to confirm their premium subscription.

    So…I agree that the shortcode provisioning process and audit process do need to be regulated…it just needs to be more efficient. Standard rate codes should not be held to the same requirements as premium rate codes.

    1. Jared Reitzin

      Thanks Jeff, kudos on those programs, they really helped us all out. Is this Jeff from Hipcricket? Regarding your comment on shortcode owner dragging their feet; I would love to be in a position where that could happen. I would gladly support a code taking longer if the USSCR does their job and is waiting around for the short code owner. Let's at least get ourselves to that point. Also why doesn't Neustar provide discounts to people who buy short codes in bulk? I heard there was one coming but it was going to be very small. Every business model in history gives you a discount for buying in bulk. Help the "for profit" businesses out as well; they are the ones employing most of the U.S.

      Don't get me started on premium SMS. I think premium was less about spam (although there was some) and more about "above board" companies putting consumers into these subscription models where they couldn't get out. Well known companies were sued for this. That isn't spam, that's a scam. I agree standard rate codes should be no where nearly as regulated as premium. Premium missed the boat though. Nobody wants to give the carriers 50% of their content. So mix that with the spam/scam issues and its just not really that important any more. I have always said, carriers could give Visa a run for their money. They already have a way to bill 99% of American's. Why don't they power every transaction that goes thru their wireless service and take 2% like Visa. Then you get a bill like you would from your credit card company. They are leaving billions off the table.

  12. Jared Reitzin

    I love this opening sentence! Please if Neustar, usshortcodes or the CTIA is reading this, please take a moment to think about what this means.

    Why is it that we can clone animals, draw with friends across the world, communicate to hundreds of millions of people in 5 seconds with a click of a button and have computers perform open heart surgery, but it takes 2-3 months to “properly” “by the book” provision and set up a shortcode to mobile carriers standards? Fact: A mobile app can be built, approved, and in the Apple App Store more quickly than an SMS shortcode can get approved.

  13. Christina

    Jared- I totally agree. Everything about SMS is frustrating!
    http://fingerfood.5thfinger.com/2012/06/01/the-le

  14. guest

    I am an outsider commenting on "legitimate companies are being sued because they were following the MMA’s consumer best practice guidelines". Better that a legitimate company gets sued than a scammer spammer sends a single text to someone who doesn't want it. Although I recognize that there are a few reputable marketers out there, as a consumer, I support aggressive legislation to prevent this bad behavior of intruders, and support an exclusive SMS opt-in as the law of the land, meaning you must explicitly agree to receive SMS messages, specifically, before any marketer can send you anything, and the fines for non-compliance are crippling.

    1. MobiMaxx

      You may be missing the point. Typically, "scammer spammers" aren't using approved short codes with opt-in from users. They're using slash n burn 10 digit numbers they can obtain in 30 seconds. They have zero waiting, no approval or certification process and pay very little in fees.

      Approach anyone in this industry who has personally gone through the short code approval process with a list of 10,000 phone numbers and ask them to send an unsolicited text message blast on their short code. Almost every single one will say "sorry, no way, not worth it" and the very few, desparate providers who would consider it will try and talk you into delivering the message another way: 10 digit numbers. Spam is not worth losing a short code, it's not worth paying the fines and it's not a sustainable and honest way to build a business.

      The mobile carriers will get what is coming to them: shrinking revenue and zero innovation, stuck holding a commoditized pipe that fights losing battles against cheap/free wifi. The rest of us will figure out ways to survive by ultimately going around them and talk about the days we had to walk 4 miles in the snow, uphill, both ways to work with carriers in our wishes to offer SMS services to customers. Good riddance!

    2. Jared Reitzin

      I agree completely. You need to agree and then when you opt out they need to remove you immediately. What is in question is sending that confirmation message that says "congrats you are off the list and will receive no further sms messages from us." Best practices tells us to send that opt out messages, but money hungry lawyers see that as a loop hole to sue for $500 per opt out message sent. They get 33% of the class action suit so when you send a million opt out messages, this is a windfall for them.

  15. Marv

    QR Codes is becoming major in the U.S due to the publicity of the QR Code. It's everywhere, so the consumer will soon pick up the message that a QR Code Reader is needed to even save on an instant coupon deal.. I believe its moving faster now that we are going into the 3rd quarter.. SMS was introduced late last year, and as a mobile marketing company it was hard to pitch to small business because the concept of texting was something new! Our experts have jumped those hurdles by using like you mention american idol or other PIZZA commercial as examples of how SMS works.. I do believe if Shared short codes are not available small business will hurt from it but Vanity will always be good because now any information or message they send to that vanity number will be captured and their is really no need to develop KEYWORDS anymore..

    1. Jared Reitzin

      To me the jury is still out on QR codes, as you can tell from my comments above but I wouldn't be surprised if it became popular. And you are right shared codes are needed unless they make costs affordable to small businesses.

  16. Haru

    Can someone suggest if there are any rewards programs out there based on mobile coupons..

  17. Barry

    Collusion in the name of "self-regulation' always fails. I blame the folks at the MMA. The FCC should have been asked to rule on short codes from day 1 to protect all parties but instead we pretended to self regulate and the business was crippled. In the end, the consumers were and still are denied basic information & communication services.

    I have no doubt that the actions by the carriers shortcode teams have come back to bite them hard. All of the carrier app stores are complete failures. The carriers 2D barcode initiative was a complete failure. All of their developer programs and API programs are complete failures. The reason EVERYTHING they are doing fails is becuase the carriers have already burned their bridges with developers. Nobody who has been in the short code business would ever consider allowing a carrier to stand between them and their customer again. And of course nobody has really told them the carriers to their face because we like to go to their developer events and eat their food, drink their beer, get free devices and listen to them try to explain how "open" and "friendly" they are. .

    1. Jared Reitzin

      Barry we stared a non profit almost two years ago called the Mobile Internet Content Coalition. We lobbied the FCC about having regulation for these types of mobile issues. The MICC is not around today but it was really spot on in calling out the issues for keeping the mobile internet open. But you are right, the carriers missed the boat on a lot by trying to keep their walled gardens. Then a smarter person with a much bigger walled garden came by and now you can go around the carrier for almost everything. Push notifications, apps, in app purchases etc.. That hurt their premium SMS business, SMS in general and most types of mobile commerce.

  18. hypo(c)ri(t)(i)c(a)l

    Thanks for writing this article, Jared! The hypocrisy of it all is nauseating.

    It wasn't that long ago AT&T spammed tens of millions of its own users for an American Idol marketing push.

    Short code advertising violations from the "powers that be" were floating around in a "WTF?" email circulating last month. Apparently they are above the, uh, guidelines-that-act-like-laws.
    Mobile Marketing Association:
    Short Code: 21534
    Violation: No Stop or Help Messaging http://forum.mmaglobal.com/newyorkcity

    CTIA:
    Short Code: 70491
    Violation: No Stop or Help messaging in bold http://www.ctia.org/media/index.cfm/AID/11987

    Neustar:
    Short Code: 676767
    Violation: No Stop or Help Messaging http://www.gomocode.biz/events/rules/

    Verizon (with Disney):
    Short Code: 6777
    Violation: No Stop or Help Messaging http://disney.go.com/partners/discoverwhatyoutrea

    I'm no fan of litigation and there is way too much of it in the US, but more mobile companies should join the class action suit mentioned and make a change.

    1. Jared Reitzin

      "It wasn't that long ago AT&T spammed tens of millions of its own users for an American Idol marketing push." I remember that, I unsubscribed and the messages still came. I guess there are double standards. Hypo, these are some good finds. We get audited and have to make sure everything is perfect or face our codes being shut down, and here are programs that wouldn't pass an audit being run by all of the main parties. Very interesting. The problem is none of this is malicious, like the rest of us, how can you remember all of these guidelines and make sure that every single program is run perfectly? Imagine the auditor that has to comb thru thousands of pages, looking to see if copy was bolded or not. Lol, what a job.

  19. Elyse

    USSHORTCODES provisioning process reminds me of the Federal Government. The small businesses that make up the backbone and lion share of the American economy get shut out of a viable, intimate, immediate marketing touch point because of cost. Excellent article!

    1. Jared Reitzin

      Thank you Elyse!

  20. Text Marketing News June 15, 2012 | Text Marketing Companies

    […] Short Codes are a Scam, and SMS Marketing is Dying. Is there Hope? – Mobile Marketing Watch […]

  21. Susan

    Great article.. we at txtimpact also feel the same and fully support idea to bring short code cost down, and streamline the audit process. Carriers and CTIA are building all kind of safe-guard and deploying audit for short code to reduce spam or protect their subscribers. But remember most of the spam is happening due to freely available uncontrolled cheap long codes, there are no audits, no spam control.

    –JD

    1. Jared Reitzin

      Thanks Susan. You are right, all of the spam I get comes from long codes as well. They have done a great job protecting short codes. I am in full favor for having the same restrictions on long codes as we have on short codes as far as best practices are concerned but if they are going to do that they need to make them affordable like a long code generally is.

  22. Brian

    Great article! Thanks for sharing. The entire system is based on how carriers operate and we all know how bloated and inefficient these folks are. If the process were run like a startup or early stage company, things would be different. I've been saying the same thing for years. The process is a joke, but once you get past the initial setup, all you have to deal with are the audits.

    1. Jared Reitzin

      Thanks Bri. Can I call you Bri? Anything to save another syllable. You make a great point, get some young kid from the Valley with a budget and 1 year and the entire system would change. Heck we already have ideas on how to build the SaaS platform they would need to create an auto approval system. I say open it up. Make short codes cheap and free so everyone can play. Not sure what type of business you have but if you have one codes audits are not such a big deal, but once you start hosting a lot of codes it really does take up so much time. The person in charge of short codes for mS has a really good salary. He does a lot of other things but he told me that when you get 37 audits in a row, he didn't do much for 3 weeks. Imagine all of the other revenue generating activities he could have been doing then trying to just maintain business we already sold? Also do you know how much money the CTIA spends on audits? Imagine if they put that money towards building a great auto approve system?

  23. Ty Cahill

    YES! An article that concisely describes the frustration I've been feeling for years! I don't even care about the shortcodes, really. Why can't my business use a normal phone number to communicate with customers using SMS? I have no problem with that. I never enter a number to SMS a friend–they're in my contacts. Why would a business need to be any different?

    Give us cheap/free SMS using regular phone numbers! (Just make sure it's also reliable.)

    1. Jared Reitzin

      Ty thanks for the kind words. You could try long codes but see my comment above to David.

  24. David Cole

    Jared,

    Nice article and valid on some many fronts. We run a small mobile agency and vanity codes are too expensive for small businesses and shared codes are limited at time in keyword availability making for difficult challenges.

    1. Jared Reitzin

      David, what happens when shared short codes are not an option anymore? Will you stop SMS marketing all together? I already know the answer to this one and its a sad one.

  25. Kim Dushinski

    OK, well, first of all, great headline and an excellent article.

    You said, "Soon most companies in the U.S. will not be able to use SMS. It’s as if the industry is forcing people towards QR codes."

    QR codes are not even the same kind of tool as SMS. QR codes are simply a mechanism to cause some sort of mobile action. This is like saying we are all supposed to give up screwdrivers and only use hammers.

    Also, what about long codes as the alternative. Isn't it more likely that companies would go towards long code text messaging instead of dropping SMS all together?

    1. Jared Reitzin

      Thanks Kim! How are you doing? Long time no talk. I view QR codes the same way I view being able to text into a short code. Both actions send info back to the consumer. As I stated in my comment to Tony above I am not sold on them yet. Long codes make a lot of sense because we all get texting a 10 digit number. However a lot of consumers have had a bad experience with long codes being used for spam. Most of the long code systems do no follow MMA best practices and you cannot always stop messages. So I am all for it if we could regulate long codes like short codes are regulated but anyone could buy a GSM modem and start sending spam, there is no approval process. And by the way I am all for an approval process with short codes. I am all for regulating them and making sure that people using them are following best practices, but obviously we are all working with an archaic system. Also another problem with long codes is that the carriers are trying to shut down people that are using them, most likely because a) they cannot generate revenue from them like a short code and b) they have a harder time regulating them like they can short codes to fight spammers. Just ask EZTexting. This is one of the reasons they are suing.

  26. Tony

    Jared, I'm a bit puzzled that someone "at the Helm" of a top mobile marketing company would say, and I quote, "I’m not sold on QR codes yet as the user experience isn’t that great".

    I agree with your points on shortcodes, but QR Codes? Any marketer knows that QR Codes gets a bad rap because of the haphazard way it is being brought to the public's attention. Many Smartphone users still don't know what they do and how to use them, why? Very few of us are taking the time to educate them properly.

    So, back to my point. Being sold on something is a personal decision. The user experience however, is not.

    If you gave me a Porsche and I happen to be the worst driver on the planet, crashing it on my first trip, the user experience, definitely isn't going to be that great, but, is that the car's fault?

    Secondly, a QR Code is simply a different form of hyperlink. It can link to anything that's web-based. Anything including movies, dinner reservations, discount coupons, the SuperPages Business Directory and so on. You're telling me, as a mobile marketing guru, that you don't recognize the potential there?

    The last time I scanned a QR Code it was easy-peasy for me, a click and a touch and I had a great experience. I received a discount of $50 on my vet bill just by showing my phone to them.

    Lack of proper education my man, that's killing the QR Code, not the user experience.

    1. Jared Reitzin

      Tony thank you for your honest feedback. I think we can all agree that SMS is the lowest common denominator. As long as you have a phone you can text, no additional step needed. . I am all about providing a consumer with the least amount of steps possible and getting it done as quickly as possible. With a QR code you do need a reader and maybe it does have to do with the fact that there has not been a lot of education in this space. Maybe QR codes need their American Idol moment. Again I am not totally sold on this technology. Like MMS is remains to be seen if it will go mainstream. Sure you can make money providing it to businesses and I have read some good case studies out there, but it has a ways to go before it sees even 10% of the penetration SMS has in the U.S.

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