Evaluating Mobile Calls-To-Action, Part 2

Bryce MarshallOn Monday I introduced this week's topic, calls-to-action in mobile marketing. I mentioned three specific enticements that I would provide a pro/con analysis of. Without further ado, here are the first two.
Call-to-Action #1: Entering a URL into a mobile browser
Simply, this means inviting a shopper to open their smartphone's browser, call up the address bar, and enter the mobile-friendly URL to find the web content. It's becoming common for many brands to add a subdomain to their web URL (such as http://m.brandname.com) for a friendly and obvious mobile web URL. Brands can also detect mobile browsers hitting the standard site and provide a quick redirect to the mobile iteration.


  • This type of mobile call-to-action is very clear and unlikely to confuse anyone since this is the traditional standard for any print advertising call-to-action that directs the reader to a website.
  • It’s also the simplest, and most cost-effective scenario for a marketer to set up. It requires only the mobile web page and the in-store promotions/collateral with the call-to-action. No other systems or technologies are required, so this method includes fewer hurdles for the marketer.


  • Citing only anecdotal evidence, I’m not confident a lot of smartphone users could open their browser and find the address bar, then successfully enter a 12-character URL in under 1 minute. Your addicted iPhone and Blackberry users will not stumble on this step, but they will wonder why they’re being asked to type in a URL. Expect lower response rates.
  • This approach inhibits your ability to easily navigate shoppers to specific pages. To find specific product information, a shopper will need to enter a longer URL (http://m.brandname.com/product_1) or use navigation on the root level web page. Either option is one step too many for a shopper-friendly mobile experience. Remember, instant information is the name of the game.

Call-to-Action #2: Using keyword + short code combination to send SMS

Anybody who watches television is familiar with this cultural standard: inviting viewers to text a keyword (“win” or “vote” or “play”) to a 5- or 6-digit shortcode. This can make for a compelling in-store call-to-action also, giving shoppers access to web content with an automated, instant SMS reply containing a web link.


  • This is the most consumer-friendly option today. Because of America’s penchant for voting for their Idols or Dancers – or predicting which sausage will win the race between innings at a baseball game – the keyword + short code transaction is one the everyday consumer is familiar and comfortable with. This is the present-day best practice.
  • The combination of keyword + shortcode is perfectly designed for delivering specific content to the shopper. With a dozen different keyword variations (productA, productB, productC, etc.) and the corresponding customized URL sent in the SMS reply, marketers can link shoppers to dedicated pages with ease.


  • Carrier involvement. Oh, what fun we’d all be having with mobile marketing if it wasn’t for those carriers! It’s unfortunate – but true – that using the consumer-friendly SMS channel inserts a level of complexity and cost for the marketer. Plus, some carriers prohibit links within SMS messages. Rumors indicate the carriers may soon adopt a common standard, and give the universal green-light to URLs within SMS.
  • Bi-directional SMS requires an SMS agency or application. Much like an email service provider, these folks will license a platform directly to the marketer, or provide the services to manage all aspects of the program.

On Friday I’ll analyze a third mobile marketing call-to-action and provide some conclusions on best practices.

One Comment

  1. Posted April 1, 2010 at 3:44 am | Permalink

    A really great article Bryce. Well considered.

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  1. […] necessary for a mobile marketing program to influence a sale. His second post was devoted to a pro/con analysis of two of the three primary mobile calls-to-action. The first is having a consumer input a URL into […]

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