Are You A Texter?

Don't know much about the mobile space? Below, you'll find facts, statistics and answers to common questions to get you up to speed.


  • There are more than 270 million mobile devices in the U.S. alone. That means more people own wireless phones than computers!
  • Nearly 4 in 5 mobile phone subscribers who send and receive text messages have a volume or unlimited messaging plan. As a result, consumers in general are less concerned about the charges for individual text messages.
  • In 2008, text messaging continued to rise with 8 out of 10 mobile phone users now sending texts. Moreover, the median number of texts sent per week doubled.
  • According to the Mobile Marketing Association of America, as text messaging has increased across all demographics, so too has the inclination of both teens and adults to subcribe to mobile alerts.
  • Women 40 and older were one of the fastest growing demographics in 2007. This can be attributed to evolving workplace communications and the fact that texting can be an effective way to keep up with kids.

Answers to common questions:

What is SMS?
SMS stands for Short Message Service and is the standard by which all phones send and receive text messages.

How is text messaging different from email?
Text messaging is an immediate, personal channel in which communication is conducted in a maximum of 160 characters, including spaces and punctuation, per message. Many phones have the ability to send and receive both email and text messages.

The most salient difference between SMS and email is that the mobile channel is “permission based.” In order to market to people over the SMS channel, you must have them opt-in or join your text list. Customers and members are compelled to join because they perceive value in your offer of special deals, exclusive treatment, information or a chance to win. We call these interested people “hand-raisers” because, in effect, they have asked you to contact them.

Who can receive text messages?
Nearly every mobile phone in service today—nearly 270 million at last count—can send and receive text messages.

Do my customers get charged to receive text messages?

That depends on their mobile phone contracts. According to the latest statistics from the Mobile Marketing Association, 78 percent of mobile phone subscribers in 2008 had a volume or unlimited texting package included in their mobile contracts. Accordingly, sensitivity to the cost of texting has diminished significantly over the past few years.

What are keywords and short codes?
Keywords and short codes work together in the same way your screen name and email provider URL (e.g. name@hotmail) work together in an email address. A short code is a five- or six-digit phone number used specifically for sending and receiving SMS messages. It can be unique and proprietary or shared in the same way that many people and businesses may use aol or gmail for their email addresses.

The keyword is the word or characters that are typed into a message to send to the specified short code. An example of a call to action would read: “To join our list from your mobile phone, text the word mobile to 72466.”

What does it mean to opt-in?
When people opt-in to your campaign, they are joining your mobile marketing list. To do this, they send the keyword to the short code and an automated message comes back telling them either that they have joined (single opt-in) or asking them to verify that they want to subscribe to the list by replying with an affirmative, e.g. “Reply ‘y’ to join our list and be entered in this contest to win” (double opt-in).

The single opt-in is used when the call to action is so specific and clear that people know exactly what they are joining and what they will receive. The double opt-in is used when the call to action is less detailed. When in doubt, use a double opt-in to ensure that people know exactly what they’re joining and what messages they will receive.

Do I have to opt in with a keyword?
Catchwind allows you to obtain members using a website opt-in. This can be done through a micro-site that Catchwind provides or can be customized using an API.

Can I buy a list of wireless numbers?
SMS is permission-based. You cannot import numbers from people who have not opted in for your list. The opt-in process is essential to maintaining compliance with the wireless carriers.

Is text-message marketing regulated?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates mobile commerce. The agency requires a mandatory opt-out option be included in all messages. In addition, the carriers regularly monitor SMS activity.

What does it mean to opt-out?
It means the member has quit the list. Users can reply to any message with stop or quit and be removed from future messages.

Can I send graphics in an SMS message?
The SMS channel is text only. However, the multi-media message service (MMS) does allow for graphics. Not all phones can receive MMS, and at this point, MMS usually isn’t included in a wireless subscriber’s texting package.

What is premium SMS?
Premium-SMS campaigns charge the end-user (customer) for receiving a message or a group of messages. Examples include "joke of the day" and ring tone campaigns. In most cases the user is charged a monthly fee (e.g. $5.99). The fee is charged and collected by the carriers and the revenue is split between the carrier and the company orchestrating the campaign.