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Making the Case for Mobile Marketing: How Redbox Has Used SMS Marketing to Stay Ahead

The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. In this week’s case study, we’ll examine how Redbox uses text messages to successfully market their products and grow their customer base.

The next time you walk out of your local grocery, retail store, pharmacy or fast food restaurant, take a look around. There’s a good chance you’ll see one of the 42,000+ Redbox locations that are scattered across the country. By combining cutting edge rental technology with a smart mobile marketing campaign and a healthy dose of convenience and affordability, Redbox has made a name for itself as an industry leader.

Prepare to Promote

At the heart of the Redbox approach is great marketing initiatives, like the July 2013 “10 days of deals” campaign. The key to making these campaigns work, has been in building up to them effectively. Before kicking off this promotional deal, Redbox made sure people knew it was coming by enlisting the help of email and social media sites to advertise the big event. Stickers placed on the kiosks gave more information, ensuring that as people walked by the vending machines, they’d be drawn in to learn more about the upcoming promotion.

The Reason for the 10-day Campaign

So why did Redbox bother with a mobile campaign in the first place? The answer lies in the very structure of the rental sales situation. By relying on unmanned kiosks, Redbox missed out on the opportunity to have employees interact with customers in a physical setting and use in-store sales techniques. This means that pushing promotional materials and acquiring additional sales is significantly harder for their organization. That’s where the SMS strategy entered the picture.

The strategy was a natural continuation of the company’s commitment to mobile and SMS operations. Before the campaign even began, Redbox had more than 2.7 million SMS subscribers, at least 4.5 million iPhone app downloads and more than 2.1 million Android app downloads. They’d been committed to mobile marketing from the beginning, so the 10-day campaign was a natural continuation of this.

Digging into the Campaign’s Success

Beginning on July 14, 2013, Redbox offered a new deal every day to those who participated in the text message campaign, thereby overcoming the hurdle of limited customer interaction. After the interested consumer agreed to the promotion, they would receive a response with a discount amount and a code. These discounts varied from 10 cents to $1.50 – in other words, up to a free movie rental.  Participants were eligible for one deal every day of the challenge. From that point, all they had to do was pull up the code on their phone and enter it into the kiosk when renting their next flick.

The option for participants to join Redbox’s mobile marketing list served as the capstone of the campaign, giving future deals to the customer and a greatly expanded texting list to Redbox. By the end of the marketing initiative, more than 400,000 people had participated in the promotional deal. The SMS promotion gave Redbox 200,000 new text club subscribers and resulted in 1.5 million texts. In both the short and the long-term, Redbox proved without a doubt that a properly implemented mobile marketing campaign can pay off huge dividends if you know how to work with the customer.

Redbox Text Club

Redbox continues to appeal to the mobile generation through its text club, showing that business is good when you successfully communicate with the customer. Members of this club receive monthly freebies and discounts, sent straight to the user’s phone. For the customers, this is a convenient and simple way to save money. For Redbox, this club helps grow its relationship with customers and keeps its brand at the forefront of the market. With members now numbering over 4.4 million, it’s safe to say that Redbox understands the importance of connecting with mobile customers. Furthermore, Smart Insights noted that approximately 98 percent of text messages are read. It’s pretty clear why reaching out to your customers through mobile platforms is a great way to shine a spotlight on your brand.

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