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Shedd Aquarium: SMS campaign out-performs print, outdoor, online

Shedd Aquarium in Chicago ran a multichannel campaign to promote its newest program, Fantasea, and its televised SMS call-to-action generated more than 300 percent more responses than online, print or outdoor advertising.

Mobile Commons, a mobile messaging company, powered the SMS portion of the campaign. The text call-to-action appeared in television commercials on Chicago?s Fox affiliate.

?The key finding here is clearly that mobile SMS outperformed anything else Shedd Aquarium ran,? said Anthony Risicato, CEO of Mobile Commons, New York. ?This wasn?t just somebody responding to a call-to-action, people were entering their email address and ZIP code to enter a contest.?

Shedd Aquarium is one of the largest tourist attractions in Chicago and home to 22,000 aquatic animals representing 1,500-plus species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, birds and mammals from around the world.

Mobile Commons is company that bases mobile programs around text messaging, voice calls and Web-based interactive components.

A TV commercial was created that aired on NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox. Each commercial issued a different call-to-action urging viewers to enter the contest. NBC, ABC and Comcast asked viewers to go to a Web site to enter the contest.

In the commercial airing on Fox, viewers were asked to text the keyword FOX to short code 69866 for a chance to win two tickets to a VIP premier of Fantasea. Viewers were then asked to respond with their email address and ZIP code as a double opt-in and those who did so were later added to a database for remarketing for Shedd.

The Fox ad with the SMS call-to-action generated 325 percent more contest entries than any other call-to-action.

SMS entries made up 52 percent of the total contest entries, although the mobile call-to-action appeared in only 25 percent of the TV spots.

When Shedd factored in print and outdoor advertisements, SMS entries still made up more than half of the total respondents.

Mr. Risicato said that he believed the SMS call-to-action would have a much larger response than the URL, but the response rate was much larger than he anticipated.

Local businesses can learn from Shedd?s marketing experiment.

Mr. Risicato said small businesses should invest in SMS campaigns because of its immediate nature, Then the businesses can geo-target messages to individuals in an effort to cut through other marketing clutter and target very specifically.

Marketers should look at the success of Shedd?s SMS campaign and take note of the various strategies employed.

?Marketers tend to think in the silos of what they operate in, whether it?s search, online display ads or mobile,? Mr. Risicato said. ?I think the real key takeaway here is mobile should be integrated into a brand?s holistic programming with TV, outdoor at events and email.

?Don?t think in a silo - think of marketing as a journey, not an event,? he said.