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Making the Case for Mobile Marketing: Southwest Airlines and WEEI Team up for an SMS Success Slam Dunk

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. This week’s case study: How Southwest Airlines and WEEI sports radio brought excellent SMS messages and a game-winning approach to fans of the Boston Celtics.

While the 2010 NBA Finals offered up plenty of excitement for basketball fans around the globe, it also holds a special place of prominence in the history of mobile marketing. During this best-of-seven playoff, Southwest Airlines and Boston’s WEEI sports radio station teamed up to promote an SMS campaign designed to heighten the experience for one lucky fan. To find out more about the particulars of this initiative, as well as what it might mean for your brand, let’s spend some time breaking down this campaign like the sideline reporters break down the action standing courtside at the Finals.

Laying the Foundation for a Solid SMS Campaign

Just like Red Auerbach and his team of assistant coaches building a winning game plan before the 1957 NBA Finals, Southwest and WEEI knew that this SMS campaign needed to send a powerful message to Celtics fans in Boston and the surrounding areas. To do this, these brands offered Celtics fans a chance to win a trip to Los Angeles to watch game two of the Finals. Roundtrip airfare, hotel accommodations, and a pair of tickets were all included in the prize package.

To have a shot at winning this dream trip, Celtics fans in the WEEI coverage area were instructed to text “FINALS’ to 850850. Once this simple opt-in was completed, WEEI and Southwest let customers know the submission was accepted by firing back a friendly bounce-back message thanking them for their participation and wishing good luck to all entrants.

Promoting on Powerful Platforms

To spread the word regarding this campaign, WEEI and Southwest utilized promotional vehicles featuring informative decals, on-air talent discussion, recorded commercial spots, social media outreach, and newsletters distributed via email. Needless to say these SMS partners didn’t leave anything on the table when it came to connecting with customers and drumming up interest for this promotion.

However, to add a little spice to this big giveaway, all of the promotional material directed Celtics fans to listen to the June 4 edition of the Dennis and Callahan Show on WEEI to receive the “FINALS” SMS keyword. After revealing the text-in keyword on live air, contestants had 10 minutes to opt-in and try their luck at this dream trip. As far as excitement goes, the amount of suspense generated by this tactic was as close to watching the ball tip into the basket on a game winning shot during the Finals as SMS marketing can get.

The Final Score

By this point, you’re probably thinking that 10 minutes isn’t a lot of time to fully realize the potential of an SMS campaign. However, the numbers surrounding this joint program highlight the fact that with the right promotion and a big enough prize, 10 minutes is all you really need. In total, WEEI and Southwest received 10,154 entries, with these entries coming from 4,220 unique sources. Naturally, any brand would be more than happy to receive this kind of response in such a short period of time. Adding the enhanced listenership of the Dennis and Callahan Show, as well as the lasting commitment of many of these participants to a joint contact list further reinforced the successful nature of WEEI and Southwest’s SMS campaign.

Building Your Own SMS Playbook

Even if you don’t share an industry with WEEI and Southwest, there’s still plenty of powerful ideas you can pull from this SMS case study to build your own mobile marketing playbook. First, don’t be afraid to create an event around this campaign. By doing this, you’ll not only generate additional excitement with your audience, but convince consumers who are on the fence to join in due to the urgency of the event. Outside of properly promoting your campaign, it’s also important that you offer real value to participants. While giving away seats to the NBA Finals might be a little too expensive for smaller businesses, providing regular coupons, discounts, and other smaller gestures still sends a strong message to members of your contact list. If you can pull off these tips, you’ll soon be joining the ranks of Southwest, WEEI, and the other SMS all-stars that make up this case study series.

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