SMS Marketing or Bombarding?

Yesterday I attended a session on “Mobile Marketing and its immense concealed potential in India”. While I agree to some of the points and as a marketer I am absolutely aware of the potential and different channels of mobile marketing in India but when it comes to execution I can’t help myself from heaving a frustrated sigh on this term known as “Mobile Marketing”. I will not go into deeper details of why and what, I will just cite few examples of my recent experiences with one of the most basic tools of Mobile Marketing which is SMS based promotions:

  • Date: 23rd Nov’08. Sender: Orange Holidays. Text of the SMS:
    • FREE LCD on booking today to Bangkok / S’Pore / Malaysia / Dubai @ 2500 including Airfare, Stay, B’fst, S’seeing. Taxes Extra. FREQUENCY of this SMS: Got the same message 4 times in 45 minutes! Well, it’s from Orange and it had to be this loud I guess.


  • Date: 24th Nov’08. Sender: 12900. Text of the SMS:
    • Searching for a Friend?? Call 12900 & say MUJHSE DOSTI KAROGE to make New Friends. FREQUENCY of this SMS: 2 every day for almost 1 week now! Wish there could have been a short code to reply and I would have replied: NO NO NO! Mujhe kisi se dosti nahi karna hai!!! Huh, what a wrong targeting, age as well as profile wise!


  • Date: 24th Nov’08. Sender: Some unknown number. Text of the SMS:
    • Kerala Holiday packages, House Boats, Tree House, MUNNAR, Backwater / Beach resorts/ FREQUENCY of this SMS: 7, yes 7 in 1.5 hours!!!


  • Date: X, Y, Z…1,2,3 (list is so huge that I’ve lost the count). Sender: Airtel. Text of the SMS:
    • Are you aware of your Mobile rates on Roaming? On your rateplan, roaming & local calls cost the same! Receive / make calls while roaming across India at Re 1/min. FREQUENCY of the SMS: Phew!!! Infinite I guess… including 2 reaching me at 2 and 2:30 am in the morning! Now how am I supposed to react??? I just wanna tell Airtel guys that not only I am aware rather by now I have remembered this SMS by heart, thanks to the non-stop bombardment from your side!


  • Date: 24th Nov’08. Sender: WIN. Text of the SMS:
    • WIN WIN WIN! Answer this simple question & take home 1 kg of gold and a brand new FORD IKON car! SMS A or B to this blah blah blah number. FREQUENCY of this SMS: Infinite, trust me infinite times on my Tata Indicom number. Oh, how I wish winning 1 kg of gold would have been so simple as these crap SMSes show. Gawdddd I see a WIN as first word and immediately press DELETE! I DO NOT want to get the same moron question everyday and neither I wanna win a ford ikon or 1 kg of gold at all!!!

Well, these are just few of the SMSes which I received in last two days, not to mention that while I was attending this session on mobile marketing, I received not 1 or 2 rather 11 promo SMSes. I as a customer am so distressed with such SMS barrage that most of the time my only reflex reaction with these SMSes is DELETE! I had earlier also written about Fate of SMS Marketing and with increasing instances of such forced SMS nuisances I can’t stop myself from expressing my distress yet again. I really doubt on the so called potential of this mobile marketing in India. Isn’t this marketing channel getting over-abused the same way as email marketing in India?  Don’t you think that not only content of such promotion lacks innovation but execution needs some serious attention as well? We are anyways listed as one of the top email spammers in the world, I’m wondering when we are going to top the list of SMS spams as well!


11 thoughts on “SMS Marketing or Bombarding?

  1. Totally agree with you! This mode of communication has become one of the most abused forms!

    What could have potentially been a great avenue is no longer that!

    And its come to a stage where people don’t even check to see whats it about – they read the first line and go delete! Whats the use of spending so much on this mode of marketing then?

  2. Dear Kanupriya,

    My name is Sarfraz Vanoo and i handle customer complaints at Tata Indicom Corporate Office. Pls accept my sincere apologies on behalf of my company for the inconvenience caused to you due to the numerous sms received by you.

    Would equest you to kindly provide your Tata Indicom mobile no. so as to check from our end and take corrective actions.

    Sarfraz Vanoo
    Manager – Tata Teleservices.

  3. Hi Kanupriya,

    I bumped into this site and your post, while ‘googling’ for some data regarding the spends in the new media industry namely, in the mobile marketing arena. Not to mention, that I too am a part of the growing so called ‘mobile marketing industry’. I have thus wise read two of your posts regarding the prediction and predicament that you go through being a consumer to what I prefer to call a disorganised and disarrayed marketing tool, so often being now used by brands and enterprises alike. I agree with Sindhoo’s statement that, this media ‘is'( I would prefer and also strongly believe that it is not pushed as a ‘been there’ form of media) a strong ‘avenue’ for marketers but unfortunately the ‘mushroom’ and the ‘follow the ant’ effect in the industry led to very less differentiation being offered and hence the predicament of an ‘overdose’ of non-contextual spam in your message box. If you ask me, whether this will cease in the future, I would prefer to remain quiet about it, because filters can be erected but the sieves will always have pores. (I bet you get what I am getting at)
    However, having said this, I also would like to paint the rainbow, that mobile marketing in a refined and analytic note, which is exactly what the industry is slowly moving towards. In such a condition the smaller and the inconsequential lot will begin to wither. It will be worthwhile to mention that this ubiquitous medium will be stronger tool for the marketer who would want to pull ROI and measurable reports of how effectively is her/his communication reaching out to the consumer. When the time is right, I’ll spill the beans of our new Joint Venture which aims exactly at doing that. Do stay in touch on mail, if it suits you – I can be reached at

  4. @ Sindhu: Yeah agree…even I delete most of the messages after reading first few words only.

    @ Sarfaraz: Thanks. I have just mailed you my Tata Indicom number. I have two numbers infact – Airtel and Tata but situation is same on both these numbers 😦

    @ Binodan: Thanks for dropping by and your comment. Sure, lets be in touch and would be waiting for you new joint venture updates

  5. tell me about this! i have totally forgotten the sms facility on my phone as i know tht none of the msgs need a read!all my fnds prefer to call n noone has the time to type n type..gone are the days of sms chattin n here come the days of sms marketing! i guess this application shud be removed from handsets!

  6. Pingback: SMS Marketing or Bombarding? « Marketing Chit-Chat

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