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I am developing a product to help people book cabs easier / faster. Once the cab is booked I was hoping to provide a safety feature to it by allowing the customer to send a sms to a family member. The sms would read as

Hello. This message is from Taxeeta. Neha is traveling in vehicle number MH12 12 1234, from Pune, Airport at 12:20am with Suraj driver with driving license number DL 12 4579821. Terms and Conditions Apply. Thankyou Taxeeta

Now, I also need to do promotions and some kind of share feature to allow people to make the product more famous.

So I was thinking, why not do some kind of multi-level marketing, where if they share this app on facebook, sms and twitter I will provide them with more free time.

Hello. Neha is traveling in vehicle number MH12 12 1234, from Pune, Airport at 12:20am with Suraj driver with driving license number DL 12 4579821. Terms and Conditions Apply. Install and use Taxeeta, promotion code XYZ, to help Neha use the product without any charge 5 more times. Thankyou Taxeeta

The Question Mixing a value feature with promotion. Does it give good feel to the app ? From a developers stand point I just want to give value to the customer. From marketing point of view its important to also promote at every touch point. I am looking for some basic advice on pros and cons for mixing thought processes.

Summary of the answers

  1. Keep it shorter
  2. Separate promotion from value
  3. Make promotion personal

With the 160 character limit, and the above advice, how does this sound ? Does it sound personal ? Am I keeping promotion separate from value ?

Total 154 characters, also all variable text is removed. I am sure next-of-kin knows where Neha is, and what time approximately she is about to travel.

Neha travels with Suraj Lalwani(MH12AB1234,DL103214569870,9876543210).T&CApply.Promotion(code XYZ12345):Install Taxeeta and help Neha travel safely again.

Variable text in this message are the names. I can reserve 13 characters for customer and 10 characters for drivers name.

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Is it really a safety feature (as in, to make sure the customer doesn't get raped or robbed)? Why not give the customer the opportunity to send the information to her relatives on her own? Why should she trust you with NNK numbers if you don't trust your drivers? –  Deer Hunter Jun 24 '13 at 13:02
    
Good point, the drivers know that the information has been sent to the their relatives. So yes it is a safety feature. I construct the sms so that the customer does not have to type it out. And yes, the customer will register a number (relative or friend) to send this information to. –  Siddharth Jun 24 '13 at 13:06
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Provided you don't spam the customer's next-of-kin, I can see this as a useful feature. You could cut all the stuff about terms and conditions (it's not an ad, right? :P) , and only leave "Sent through Taxeeta". Let the happy customers spread the word... –  Deer Hunter Jun 24 '13 at 13:14
    
Well, the sms is going from the customers address book, only by their next-of-kin permission, only when they travel. –  Siddharth Jun 24 '13 at 13:39
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3. Make promotion personal –  Alexey Kolchenko Jun 24 '13 at 13:46
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3 Answers

We can advertise the app by multi-level-marketing, but the message format which you have posted doesn't looks proper.

The user is obviously interested in the main message. The promotion message or marketing message can be posted, no doubt, but in proper format. Also the message should be a short one, like : Share this app for exciting offers

Hope this will help you.

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I generally agree with the "short message", but @Siddharth's example is compelling: an immediate, tangible benefit can set you apart from the general "exiting offers" which is a promise everyone makes. –  peterchen Jun 24 '13 at 9:31
    
@peterchen, Check out the latest version to keep it under 160 characters. Does it beat your feel for a tangible benefit ? Does it still feel good / safe ? –  Siddharth Jun 24 '13 at 14:08
    
Yes, looks good to me. --- I'm not sure if the character limit is an issue for you (modern phones do split and re-combine longer messages). OTOH, you might replace the "MH12AB1234,DL103214569870,9876543210" with e.g. "taxee.ta/<uniqueid>" and have the details online. But then, this might have reliability, traceability and accessibility issues as I presume your "target demographic" doesn't have ubiquitous internet access. –  peterchen Jun 25 '13 at 9:44
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Con: Receivers may perceive the message as marketing, reducing their trust in its information.

Still, the method is common and not wrong in principle. The balance between content and marketing depends on your target audience and your (company's) values. For me, the combination would be ok, if:

  • there is a clear distinction between the content and the advertisement, content is more prominent
  • you do not artificially increase volume to publish more ads (e.g. your sample message would be ok, but sending messages when Neha is about to start, just started, and is about to arrive would be spam)

Now, SMS doesn't allow an easy distinction. I would suggest the following minor modifications to your example:

Hello. Neha is traveling in vehicle number MH12 12 1234, from Pune, Airport at 12:20am with Suraj driver with driving license number DL 12 4579821. Thank you, Taxeeta. Terms and Conditions Apply. Promotion: Install and use Taxeeta, promotion code XYZ, to help Neha use the product without any charge 5 more times.

Move the "Thank you" forward to clearly indicate the end of the "personal" message, and introduce the promotion with a clear indicator saying so. ("Promotion:")

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An SMS is limited to 160 symbols. Longer messages are divided on several separate SMSs and I hate them because the text seems to be broken and conserning possible time lags between SMSs and short-term memory constraints I sometimes loose sense of such messages. So be aware of possible bad experience.

I recommend send separate messages for informing and promotion. But last should be more personal to not be perceived as clear advert. For example, "Help Neha to travell more...".

This is just an example, you should carefully choose micro-content.

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Did not think about the limit.. Neat.. –  Siddharth Jun 24 '13 at 12:16
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