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The U.S. Postal Service posted a $8.5 billion dollar loss for the fiscal year 2010 which ended last September. There’s talk about eliminating mail delivery on Saturday (a move I support even if the economy was stronger). Post offices are closing all the time. This post isn’t about the quality of the workers we interact with when we buy stamps, mail packages or deal with our mail carriers or station agents. This post is about how, with very little effort, the U.S. Postal Service can create a new revenue stream which could be significant if executed properly.
I’ve had a Post Office Box since I was a teenager. I’ve had boxes in the largest post offices in the world and also at some of the smallest while I was an undergrad. The biggest issue with a post office box is knowing when you have mail to be collected. If you have a post office box, how many times have you walked, drove, traveled to the post office only to find an empty box. What if there was a way to know you had mail to be collected each day before you made the trip to the post office. How much fuel (and time) could we collectively save if we never traveled to the post office when we knew there was nothing waiting for us in our post office boxes?
I’d like to see the U.S. Postal Service offer a paid option for post office box holders to allow us to receive an email or text/sms message when we new mail has been delivered for that day. I’ve recently learned that the UPS Store offers this service for their box holders for $10/month. Whenever you receive a package or letter, the UPS Store sends an email to let you know something has been received. Their emails include tracking numbers and some other details where applicable. I am not even suggesting that the U.S. Postal Service offer something as detailed as the UPS Store.
Starbucks has announced the 2010 version of their 12 Days of Sharing program today. The program provides one offer each day from December 1 – December 12, 2010. To sign up, send a ext message containing the text, “12Days” to 29943. You should immediately receive a confirmation text from them stating, “Thanks for signing up to get 12 Days of Sharing Texts.”
I find it interesting that Starbucks is using “old school” mobile text messaging to send the deals instead of one of the newer check-in mobile services like Foursquare or Gowalla. Perhaps you will need to complete some other online task before you can redeem the deals. The website pushes you hard to share Starbucks on Facebook and/or Twitter.
Last year’s program was called “12 days of Wishing” and FatWallet has a list of the items that were offered. A variety of items were offered including: mugs, VIA coffee and a bunch of tumblers. I guess they can’t offer Free WiFi as part of a deal this year since they already offer free WiFi at their stores.
We’ve been “homo sapiens” for quite a long time. I don’t know about you but I often wonder what’s next after this current stage of human evolution. Guhmshoo takes a look at what might be next — Homo Textus. This evolutionary change comes from his research watching people use text messaging devices and the way they arch and position their body to create a piece of content on the device.
The Mobile Data Association, based in the UK, has released stats around mobile text messaging in the UK. The top stat is the sending of 11 million text messages per hour. This equates to 265 million text messages a day or 97 billion text messages for 2009.
The report notes that picture messaging appears to be a big hit on certain days of the year. Christmas day saw 4.5 million picture messages sent.
Some additional stats from the report:
Total number of text messages (SMS) sent in:
2009 total – 96.8 billion
2008 total – 78.9 billion
2007 total – 56.9 billion
Year on year growth (2009 vs 2008): 23% growth
The decrease in sms/text messaging pricing along with more sophisticated devices are the top reasons for the increase. I would add that there are more users and many users are becoming more comfortable using messaging versus just voice.
Many of today’s reality shows use SMS/text messaging to get viewers involved with the show. American Idol uses text messaging to decide which contestant goes home. The CBS reality shows use text messaging for activities throughout each season. Most of the shows also offer the ability to vote online. American Idol doesn’t charge a fee for their text message; the only cost for the message comes from any carrier-based charges.
Last night on Big Brother, host Julie Chen announced that “America” would be the seventh juror in the jury that decides who wins the reality show. To participate in the voting, Julie noted that you could text message a code based on the selected choice (Jordan, Natalie or Kevin). After the voting instructions, a faster-speed terms statement was read that included a note that each text message is considered a premium message and will cost $1 on top of any carrier charges. CBS notes, “…and a premium text messaging charge of One Dollar ($1.00) for each successful vote.” They also state that a maximum of 10 text message votes per number are allowed for a potential total of $10.
While you can vote online for the winner, it sure seems like CBS pushes the paid text message option. Throughout the Big Brother season, there have been several contests which also allowed for premium $1/text message voting. With CBS claiming the Big Brother series continues to grow in viewership, is this a strong money train for the network?
I guess the people at group SMS service Tatango are loving the “Five…Five Dollar Footlong” commercial these days. Tatango has been testing a program with a 16-store Subway franchise in upstate New York over the past few months. The company says the program went so well that 300 more Subway stores in Seattle will be testing the SMS marketing option over the coming months.
Tatango provides a group SMS product – basically the idea is that companies can send out SMS messages to mass groups of people who have requested (opt-in) to be part of the group. You can think of group SMS similar to opt-in email marketing except with much shorter messages that are usually very targeted. Check out our video interview with Tatango CEO Derek Johnson to learn more about the company.
While financial terms were not disclosed, Tatango notes, “Over 5,000 customers have signed up, 13,000 messages have been sent, and most importantly – they have experienced a 9% redemption rate of all messages, as opposed to a 1% rate for direct mail.”
Earlier this year Subway partnered with NY-based GoMobo to allow customers to order food before they arrive to save time.
It’s interesting to see Subway testing a variety of new online options for reaching their customers. I can only imagine that Grimace and the King won’t be too far behind.
CBS’ outdoor division has announced a new option for their billboard advertisers today. The program is called txt2go and allows advertisers to place a sms code on their advertisements that viewers can enter into their mobile device to gain access to something from the advertiser.
Jodi Senese, Executive Vice President, Marketing, CBS Outdoor said, “…if someone is interested in a product or service advertised they can receive a coupon, free merchandise or another offer simply by texting in a short code, giving the company ongoing communication with an interested consumer.”
Mobile technology provider Rip Road will serve the text messaging portion of the advertisement. Campaigns start at $225 for 500 SMS interactions. I’ve always pushed for every offline ad to have some way to get users and/or viewers online. It’s a mistake to run a campaign in a magazine, newspaper or on a billboard without some online call to action.
It will be interesting to see if the CBS billboards in Times Square and around NYC start to feature SMS codes as part of this program.