When chatting socially with someone between the ages of 16 and 25, I often steer the conversation toward their online habits. What sites do they visit? How much time do they spend online? And, my favorite, what do they do with their cell phone?
While this doesn’t represent real market research, the answers are interesting, especially on the mobile phones. In a nutshell, everybody texts all the time, but it’s largely for interpersonal communications. Not many people in this demographic are signing up for recurring SMS communications or responding to short, code-driven promotions.
Well, a recent blog post by Marguerite Reardon provides yet another reason mobile marketing via SMS isn’t going to take off overnight—price. According to her post on CNET's Crave, the average price of a text message has doubled in the last year to $.20 per message. Yes, 20 cents per message. Now, obviously, for high-volume marketers and alerting companies, the prices will be much lower in volume. But it is still very expensive and apparently getting more expensive quickly.
Even at $.05 per SMS (very, very cheap), each text message is five- to 10 times more expensive than even a premium email solution at moderate volumes. And, SMS messages are limited to 160 text characters, as compared to full HTML and graphics in email messages.
Oh, and did I mention that mobile email delivery and Web surfing are usually unlimited and included with the price of a phone’s data service?
With the iPhone and all the wannabes out there providing desktop-quality email and Web surfing on a mobile device, I don’t think SMS and WAP are likely to become the prevalent marketing media for mobile marketers any time soon. Especially not at $.20 per text message . . .