ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Marketing Dive acquired Mobile Marketer in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out the new Marketing Dive site for the latest marketing news.

Harley-Davidson, Bud Light drive motorcycle sweepstakes engagement via SMS

A Harley-Davidson dealer and National Basketball Association team Oklahoma City Thunder leveraged SMS to drive basketball fan engagement in a March motorcycle giveaway that showed the strategy?s value in increasing reach and engagement without additional expenses.

Thousands of entrants were sent SMS alerts directing them to locations where the unique bike, festooned with Thunder graphics and colors, could be seen, resulting in less than half of one percent of each outgoing message choosing to opt out of the promotion. The results reaffirm how SMS can be a powerful channel for reaching a wide swath of mobile users, notwithstanding criticism that the tool?s limitations impair its potential effectiveness.

?With brands as large as these three, some may think there has to be the latest greatest technology or app or something,? said Ron Cariker, president of 7 Media Group, Oklahoma City, OK. ?But the fact was SMS was the agreed strategy that it would provide the least amount of barriers to entry for many prospective customers and fans.?

Data requests
The program also succeeded in coaxing consumers to part with additional data. Ninety-six percent of entrants provided their ZIP code, vital to the follow-up strategy of the dealer, Harley-Davidson World, also of Oklahoma City. Customers could obtain additional sweepstakes entries by sharing their first name (58 percent replied), email (52 percent) and gender (45 percent).

Answering SMS critics.

The campaign started as a Harley Davidson World promotion to develop sales leads. Then the dealer sought partners to elevate the giveaway?s status and reach. 

As the program developed, the marketers decided SMS would be the most effective means of entry. 
?There was never any question we wanted to execute this promotion using SMS as the means for entry,? said Jason Barnes, marketing director for Anheuser-Busch of Oklahoma. ?We?ve implemented a variety of mobile campaigns in recent years and the results have always been very positive.?

The mobile strategy for the cross-platform promotion was managed by 7 Media Group, a mobile marketing consultant and technology provider.

Using SMS for entries gave the brands opportunities to collect additional customer data for future promotions and follow-up strategy.

Customers were only required to provide their date of birth for eligibility but had opportunities to receive additional entries through providing their ZIP code, name and email address. 

?Asking for additional information allowed us to get engaged with the customer on a more personal level during and after the promotion,? said Mark Silva, director of marketing for Harley-Davidson World. Customers could also participate via an online form promoted on the Thunder Web site.

Harley-Davidson World kicked off the month-long promotion with a live morning TV appearance on the local Fox TV affiliate in Oklahoma City. That gave viewers a first look at the custom bike along with details of the promotion and entry opportunities. 

Customers were instructed to text ?THUNDERBIKE to 55678? to participate in the sweepstakes. The TV appearance was followed up with a strategically planned month of cross-media and location based marketing. 

?These three brands clearly had synergy, and the promotion resonated with potential customers,? Mr. Cariker said. ?Had these three held this promotion independently it would have posed many more challenges as well as being quite expensive. 

?Each brand also brought unique marketing strengths to the table to leverage their respective audience.?

A regional motorcycle-enthusiasts publication, Thunder Roads Magazine, featured the custom bike and Thunder cheerleaders on its March cover. 

Signs were displayed at the dealership and 15 Anheuser-Busch bar and restaurant partners. The bike was also seen at two Thunder home basketball games at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.

The brands were able to see where entrants were viewing or hearing calls to action by using unique keywords assigned to each media channel.

The campaign?s effectiveness in a small market such as Oklahoma City counters critics? claims that while SMS offers a powerful way to reach a wide swath of mobile users, its limitations are a problem.

SMS critics
Newer options such as push notifications and beacons are exciting but have limited reach while over-the-top messaging, although very popular with consumers, has so far presented limitations for working with third-party platforms.

Showing the merits of cross-media promotion.

?The fact that this promotion took place in a small media market like Oklahoma City, metro population around 1 million people, is a great example that mobile can, and is, being effectively implemented in all areas of the U.S.,? Mr. Cariker said. ?There was no consideration for how many smart phones there may be in the area or how to reach the audience outside of the traditional, familiar media channels. 

?The technical barriers were minimized and the promotion was made available to the largest possible audience available by using SMS.?

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York