"Yahoo! India does not believe in unsolicited, spamming on behalf of advertisers. All communication is pull-based-initiated by the subscriber.
Y! India Mobile currently has tie-ups with all leading Indian cellular operators in India including Airtel, Hutch, RPG, Escotel, Oasis and Spice Telecom.
Yahoo! India uses its short code 8243, to power advertiser's SMS responses. Pull-based marketing invites the customer to participate, and it is non-intrusive.
Yahoo! aids a variety of marketers (ESPN, Pepsi, and Motorola to name a few) to establish an SMS-based communication link with subscribers. And these clients have reported 50 to 60 per cent conversions on sales leads using the SMS medium.
Jayant Khosla, CEO, Bharti Cellular Ltd. Mumbai Circle
"Airtel uses SMS marketing to promote its own services and products-informing the customers of new offers and value added services. SMS targets audiences who are difficult to reach through traditional media channels. The conversion rates are as high as 80 to 90 per cent.
Over 1 million text messages are sent every month, and SMS messages are always read, making SMS a highly personal communication tool. They can also be timed, to achieve maximum impact.
Proper profiling is a must. For example, if we want to communicate to young women about attractive schemes, we use our database to customise our message to suit her needs.
Mobile marketing is at a nascent stage in India. Though there are no official figures regarding SMS, according to industry estimates, approximately 2 billion SMSs were exchanged among Indian consumers in 2003. This is much below the international average.
At Airtel, we don't intend to exploit our services as a medium to generate additional revenue, but we are open to the idea of providing our customers with value-added services.
We are conscious of the difference between spamming and providing information. Messages that we pass on have information that our subscribers can make use of.
Alok Kejriwal, CEO, Contests2Win.com
"I would not say that we do SMS marketing, but yes we are involved in mobile marketing. We mainly do pull marketing. Here we advertise using the conventional methods of print, TV, etc, and give a number for interested customers to respond to.
This method of marketing is very effective. In fact, one of our success stories is the Manhattan cards project which we did for Standard Chartered bank. The entire campaign ran on 8558, and was very successful.
As far as conversions are concerned, I cite the example of Aviva Life Insurance. Because of mobile marketing, they have been able to get 200 leads a day, which would be quite impossible otherwise.
More recent examples are the figures available for Indian Idol-American Idol got 30,000 fewer responses than Indian Idol! This proves that Indians are more than willing to participate.
The mobile phone enables one to one communication with the customer-certainly an advantage to businessmen. This form of marketing is certainly more cost-effective than the conventional advertising mediums. Responding to an SMS short code is much less of a hassle than writing a letter, for example.
Viren Popli, Senior Vice President, Wireless, STAR India
"Using the mobile phone as a medium of marketing means providing some benefits to the end consumer. This could mean the ability to respond (votes, polls), interact, participate (Contests), download (ringtones, games), etc, based on our shows. STAR also provides its many clients with interactivity. We do this by enabling their advertising through 7827.
Many of our customers only use SMS as a return path for generating leads. Organisations that are so driven in this direction would confirm that well-designed and integrated interactivity works, and works well.
As this is a personal medium, we try and individualise the responses, keeping in view the activity, the potential customer profile and similar factors. The advantages are that it is personal, direct, confidential, immediate and digital!
This service is cost-effective and efficient, as it allows you to target the potential customer without the attendant wastage. Also, it makes your other media work harder to allow you to deliver specific results.
Most marketers use it for spam, which is wrong. They miss out on the interactivity of the medium and all the attendant benefits. Since we do not spam on the mobile platform, we do not have mailing lists. Our whole service runs based on delivery of solicited information only. We do not give mailing lists nor support such ideas even from our clients.
Harit Nagpal, Chief Marketing Officer, Hutch
"We believe that unsolicited communication, including SMSes, invade the privacy of our users and is tantamount to spamming. We do not have tie-ups with any corporate or political bodies to sending bulk messages to our subscribers, and do not intend to do so for any consideration.