Text messaging provides you with a quick way to directly contact your customers. Although it's a simple tool, there are so many layers that you can add - turning it into something incredibly memorable. There's a creative side to SMS that not many people see. For the purposes of this article, I'll focus on the gamification element.
Nike - No Turning Back
I had the opportunity to attend an amazing event organised by Nike called No Turning Back (NTB). It was one of the most interesting uses of SMS that I have ever seen, and one of the most intricate marketing campaigns that I have ever participated in. I'm going to breakdown what Nike did from start to finish.
SMS Tools Involved: SMS Alerts, SMS Reminders, Location-based-SMS, 2 Way SMS chat bots, SMS keywords, and MMS
I'm a loyal Nike addict, and they have consistently fed my healthy shoe addiction. I've participated in many of their fitness events too, making me the perfect target for a VIP re-marketing campaign.
After clicking on one of their Instagram ads, it took me to a mysterious page. It was for some sort of mystery race with no explanation on what it actually was. It was a free event, and the only catch was that I needed to gather 3 more mates to form a team of 4. I was excited and signed-up, but the gathering part - I waited on. Then of course, I completely forget about it. Thankfully an SMS reminder came to save the day. I got my team together, and recieved this text.
As promised, a perfectly timed text message was sent 24hrs before my start time.
Once I arrived at the location with my team, I was blown away by the sheer detail of everything. Everything was on-point including their interior design, custom team uniforms, beauty bar, branded change rooms, and of course a treadmill runway. Why not right?
Here's a taste if what the venue looked like:
Photo Credit: Nike NRC (NTB)
After weeks of intrigue, they finally told us what we were doing. It was an SMS-based Amazing Race style competition. Each team was given one iPhone to share, which tracked our specific team location and pace. A prize would be awarded to the team who finished first.
Here's how it worked:
Once the clock striked 8pm, an SMS was delivered to everyone's team phone
In order to be able to leave the building, we needed to reply with the correct SMS keyword answer. Auto-responders were set for correct and in-correct responses.
If you got the answer right, it prompted us to show the "Gatekeeper" - who would then type in a special SMS keyword response into your phone to unlock the next clue.
After leaving the building, all our chat bot functions were activated. We would now need to interact with a chat bot to get clues and to tell them if we arrived at our location. Here were some things that could say to the bot:
"We are here" - If we believed that we were in the right location, we needed to respond with this phrase exactly. The bot would either say congratulations and give you the next clue, or say that you're still too far from the actual location. Nike staff made spotting the locations a bit easier, since if you saw one standing around - that was most likely it.
"How far" - The bot will either say you're within 100m or outside 100m from the location
"Clue" - The first time you do this, you'll receive an MMS clue (this would also dock 5mins off your time)
"Clue" - The second time you do this, you'll receive the exact address (this docks another 5mins off your time)
"Help" - If by chance, your team suffered an injury, you would text this and receive a call from a Nike representative to assist you
Photo Credit: Nike NRC (NTB)
The last stop of the race was up five flights of stairs. It turned out to be a giant Nike-themed roof-top party. After pressing a giant red button, the race was complete. A live leader board was shown, displaying all the teams who completed the race, ranked by time. Phones were collected, beats were dropped, and drinks were poured. The view was stunning.
More surprisingly to me, every single team had the same thing to say: "Why don't more companies use text messaging like this? or "I didn't know text messages could do that." The response was overwhelmingly positive, and although there would be some custom SMS API work needed for anything location-based, it's the interactive portion that people liked the most. Nike turned their race into a game with SMS, and now anyone who participated in it will spread the word and remember this for a long time. This is the ultimate win that any marketing campaign strives for, and Nike accomplished this with text messaging as it's backbone.
The amazing part about this campaign is that the finish line wasn't actually where we finished the race. Nike was heavily invested this event, and they didn't want this to be a one-off effort. They strategically had their staff members drop subtle hints and rumours that this was actually a 3 part event in a series of mysterious races. Lone behold, just a week later - I received a special invitation via text for the second part of this series.
Keep it up Nike, I'm impressed. Take my money, you've earned it.