Renewal by Text and Other Mobile Ideas

On Niche Publishers and Mobile Audiences

It started last year when younger acquaintances started texting me instead of emailing. And now this “trend” includes some similar-aged friends. I write this because I was re-reading an article from the summer on The Specialist Media Site in the U.K. titled How Niche Publishers Can Reach a Mobile Audience by Chris Newell, CEO of ImpulsePay, a mobile payments company, and I came across this line: “…one key advantage [about using your phone] is that feedback can be received much quicker and more easily – it’s easier for your audience to send a text message than an email.”

I might have mentioned this article back then but it just seems to resonate so much more now. Everybody is on their phones these days, 24/7. It’s not unusual to see a couple walking down the street together or in a restaurant and each on his or her phone. So if specialized information publishers are going to continue to reach people how they want to be reached, they have to be preparing to deliver information to a mobile audience.

“The great thing about mobile is that once your readers have used their mobile phone to interact with you, you have their mobile number,” Newell wrote. “This means that you now have access to the perfect communication channel – SMS. So use that. Mobile as a channel doesn’t have to be about apps, it can be equally as profitable if used as a new way to talk to your customers. One example could be to ask your existing subscribers to renew by text message. It would provide a much easier alternative to filling in and posting forms – more convenient for the reader, cheaper and with greater return for you.”

I’ve seen this concept used by libraries. Here’s one example I found from the Garden City (N.Y.) Public Library: “If you are signed up for SMS Alerts, you will receive simple-text messages to your cell phone to remind you that you have items that are due soon, overdue, or on hold. If you reply with the word renew, the system will respond…’(x) of (y) items were renewed’ (if some or all items are eligible for renewal).”

If it works for libraries, why not publishers? Here’s how they urge people to sign on. “To sign up for SMS Alerts, log into your library account, click on ‘Modify Personal Info,’ enter a mobile-phone number, and click on the ‘opt in’ link. Charges from your cell-phone service provider, if any, will apply.”

Newell also wrote about something I always stress in this column: using the strengths of your medium. “To make the mobile channel a success, you must understand that it is different and treat it accordingly. You can use the mobile channel to engage with your audience in a different and deeper way. The messages must obviously be shorter, but maybe that can help you have greater clarity….News alerts, competitions, updates, even weather reports can all be sent by text message, while quick feedback from readers can be received.”

It’s interesting that at the bottom of his post, Newell wrote, “While it is expected that (almost all) web content is free, it is also understood by consumers that mobile access needs to be paid for. Don’t be afraid to introduce a payment gateway for your mobile content.” He’s in the mobile payment business, so that’s where his money comes from and he may be a bit naïve about content. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with another payment gateway.

SIPA had a very informative webinar in October titled, Going Mobile for Publishers: Developing a Content Delivery System for an Increasingly Portable World, delivered by Andy Swindler of Astek and Joanne Valentino of The Medical Letter. Swindler said that in going mobile, it is pivotal for you as a publisher to know what you want to accomplish. Take a look at that transcript for more guidance in this snowballing topic.

Another webinar takes place today at 1 p.m. EST on Social Media from best-selling author Wendy Montes de Oca.

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Speaking of formats, the tagline for SIPA Munich is:
“Helping you give your customers the content they need
… in a format they demand … at a price they will pay.”

SIPA Munich 2012
March 28-30, 2012

Hosted by SIPA, VNR Verlag für die Deutsche Wirtschaft
AG (Bonn) andAkademie des Deutschen Buchhandels (Munich)

If you are based in Europe or you would like to take
a trip to see what is taking place on the other side of
the pond, this is the conference for you!
Take a look at some details for the event.

Download a FREE copy of 7 Ways to Monetize your Portal Audience, and discover how today's top publishers are generating revenue through memberships, events, clubs, sponsorships, and more.

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