In what could have been a brilliant marketing campaign, Heartland Jiffy Lube found out the hard way that mobile marketing must be integrated with other marketing methods in order to be successful.
As noted by Derek Johnson of Tatango, “TextMarks and their co-defendant, Heartland Automotive Services, the largest Jiffy Lube franchisee in America, have reached a proposed settlement with consumers for the text message spam they sent to mobile phones during April of 2011. The proposed settlement of $47M is to my knowledge the largest in the history of text message spam lawsuits.”
You can see what happened by reading this excerpt of the settlement document, which you can read in full here.
So, Heartland Jiffy Lube had a great idea to get former customers back into their shops for service. They offered these former customers a substantial discount for doing so and for joining their Eclub. This is actually a brilliant idea. Where it all went wrong is that they used mobile marketing as the marketing tool for the campaign.
By sending out an unwanted text message as the initial offer for the discount and the invitation to join the Eclub, they violated actual laws (see the full settlement) and the first of the 10 Commandments of Mobile Marketing: Thou shall not send mobile spam.
Had they sent out a direct mail postcard to these former customers with the substantial discount and the Eclub opt-in information, this could have been a brilliant marketing campaign. The campaign was a great idea. The way they went about getting opt-ins is what failed.
Heartland Jiffy Lube marketers should have been able to see this was a flawed idea by simply asking themselves if they would like to receive an unwanted text message on their phone.
Their text message company, TextMarks, should never have allowed a list of mobile phone numbers to be uploaded into their system. This is a dangerous practice and should not be allowed by any text message company as there is too much room for error…and lawsuits.
Not that I am comparing myself to Moses, but I am taking on the responsibility of writing out the 10 Commandments of Mobile Marketing.
And while they are not being presented to you on a stone tablet, it would be wise to consider these as set in stone if you want to succeed in mobile marketing.
If you know me at all you know how firm my stance is against mobile spam. I have been known to tell students in my courses and attendees at my speaking events, “Do not send mobile spam. If you do and I find out I will come kick you in the shins.” Yes, I have said those exact words and I mean them.
I have had heated, but friendly, dialogues with colleagues about how adamant I am that even being able to upload a list of cell phones which have (supposedly) been properly opted-in at another company is wrong. It is that “supposedly” part that gets me. What if they aren’t and consumers are being placed on a text message list without permission? That would be so wrong and it would be mobile spam in its purest form.
It is flat out safe to say that I am a huge opponent to any form of mobile spam.
Today’s article in Mobile Marketer reporting about a class action lawsuit against Twitter for violating SMS regulations has me fuming for an entirely different reason.
Two gentlemen, who I am assuming are the type of people who would sue a coffee place for serving too hot coffee or a knife company for selling sharp knives upon which they cut themselves due to their own negligence, have filed a class action lawsuit against Twitter.
The point of their complaint is the single message that Twitter sends when someone has successfully opted out of receiving SMS. The message simply confirms that the person has opted out and will receive no further messages from the Twitter account they had been following. Furthermore it gives information on how to opt out of all remaining SMS messages sent through Twitter.
In reality this confirmation message is helpful to the person who has opted out because now they know they will stop receiving messages from the individual account and if they want to take it a step further and unsubscribe from Twitter SMS all together they now know how. And can do it easily at that exact moment.
In this scenario Twitter did not send any message without permission. Twitter automatically and immediately opted people out of SMS messages upon request and even goes a step further to tell people how to opt-out all together.
THIS IS NOT MOBILE SPAM!
Here’s why this bothers me so much. We have bigger issues to fight. Real mobile spam. The kind that is truly, horrible and wrong. Like the $9.99 my husband was charged for My Mobile Love Alerts. He did nothing but reply STOP to a message that came into him out of the blue. (And yes, I know it came in out of the blue because I happened to be sitting right next to him when it did.)
By the time we noticed the $9.99 was billed to his account Sprint had already paid the slimy excuse of a company (My Mobile Love, Short Code 34095, Phone 877-382-4750, Powered by Open Market) that did this and refused to take it off his bill.
Now, THAT is mobile spam. It is wrong and it must be stopped.
If we, thanks to the plaintiffs in this frivolous lawsuit, spend our energy fighting off opt-out confirmation messages sent to consumers who granted permission in the first place we are missing out on fighting the true spammers – like My Mobile Love, which should have been shut down by the carriers and Open Market long ago.
Hello, Open Market…reading this? Or maybe the opportunistic plaintiffs rallying against Twitter will take up this real case of mobile spam.
While I don’t usually like to post negative things on my site, I find myself in a situation where I feel compelled to warn others who may be sucked into an “opportunity” in mobile marketing that is most likely a huge scam. Let me give you a bit of background.
In June of this year I was approached by two colleagues about a mobile marketing business called Wicoup – an MLM business opportunity centered around text messaging. Although I was apprehensive about it at first, over time through numerous phone calls and online meetings I became convinced that it might have potential as a good mobile marketing business. I was especially excited when in August I was asked to fly out to San Diego to meet with the then Executive Vice President of the company, John Rustin.
The meeting was about me developing a training program for them and I was told up front that my airfare and travel expenses would be paid by the company. By the way, Wicoup (now known as Digital Direct Network) is owned by Madison Avenue Media (a publicly traded company under stock symbol OTCBB:KHZM).
Without going into way more detail than is really necessary, what happened is that I flew out to San Diego and met with John Rustin. The following week on 8/11/10 John Rustin and I had a phone call with Stephen Molinari, the CEO of Madison Avenue Media, to discuss a proposal from me about the training.
In that phone call Mr. Molinari said a few things that made me very concerned that his company might be planning to do mobile spam. (I had had misgivings like this at several other points in our dealings but had been reassured along the way by my well meaning colleague who first introduced me to this company that everything was above board.)
Here is an email that I sent Stephan Molinari and John Rustin to clarify the situation:
Steve and John:
Despite my excitement after our phone call today about the huge opportunity in Wicoup, there was something said in our call that I keep thinking about. Frankly, it is weighing on my mind heavily. I want to make sure that I didn’t misunderstand you. You said something about having access to every cell phone number in North America on a list and that once it was scrubbed against the Do Not Call list that you would be able to use that to build your opt-in database and gather more demographic information on the owners of the numbers.
Do you intend to send unsolicited text messages to this list of cell phones? Or were you saying something else? I am hoping you meant that this list could be compared to your opt-in database and somehow compile a more robust marketing database. I need to know if unsolicited mobile contact is part of your business model.
Additionally, I would like to know what your specific plans are for the 60 million opt-in numbers in relation to the business owners who would be signing up for Wicoup services. Would they be able to send messages to this database? If so, under what conditions?
Lastly, when a consumer texts in to receive a mobile coupon from Wicoup how is it that they will be notified that they are being added to a database for future communications? Will each business be able to build a database of their customers that only they can send messages to?
I know this is a lot of questions, but these are VERY important to me to be answered clearly, succinctly and directly. I have to say up front that I want absolutely no part of mobile spam and I’m hoping you don’t either since you mentioned a law firm specializing in mobile and having a compliance officer. Here’s the bottom line – I am hearing mixed messages about your company’s stance on this and it is troubling me.
What I see is that Wicoup has the potential to be the biggest and best mobile marketing business opportunity around the world. I would love to be a part of it and help train people to sell smart, ethical mobile marketing tools to businesses. Please tell me that is what you want to do too.
I have never received a response.
Likewise, I have not been reimbursed for my airfare. Despite numerous attempts on my part to collect it. It seems very odd that a publicly traded company would refuse to pay a $482 airfare reimbursement request. Or respond at all to a professional in the industry who had grave concerns about the way business would be handled. Especially when the company had just asked me to fly out to meet with them. This was not unsolicited on my part. There is something not quite right about this whole situation.
My recommendation about Direct Digital Network and Madison Avenue Media is to listen to your gut. I wish I had. Would have saved myself a lot of time, energy and at least $482.
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