Expanding Text Messaging Market Runs Hot For Wellington Firm

If you had any doubt about the rise of the mobile phone as an all-in-one business and personal communications tool, then a quick chat with Wellington firm Run The Red would set you right.

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The mobile marketing firm expects to deliver more than 100 million text messages through its services this year, up from 20 million last year.

Chief Executive Ben Northrop says mobile marketing used to be all about text campaigns, but companies and government departments are increasingly using mobiles to communicate on core business matters with customers.

The Mobile services give ‘clients’ customers choice as to how they communicate- for example through text, a smartphone application or a mobi-site- and cut the costs associated with customer contact Businesses can measure engagement and effectiveness of their of their campaigns, Northrop says.

Run the Red’s customer list includes Kiwibank, PSIS, BP, Microsoft and Internal Affairs, which uses Run the Red technology to allow people to report spam via text message.

The 15-person, $3 million-revenue company now manages Facebook, Bebo and Twitter messaging on the Vodafone network.

United States email marketing firm Emma Inc purchased a minority stake in the company for $1m in 2009, and subsequently invested a further $500,000.

Northrop says it used that capital to move its technology platform to “the cloud”, so customers could access it over the web and run their own marketing campaigns.

The company set up joint venture in Brazil but pulled out, unable to meet the demands of the “big, tough market”, he says.

“We weren’t prepared technology-wise. Now we’ve got a scalable platform-as-a-service model we can go to market with.

“The margins are better, we’re able to knock out work faster and make more off it and compete on price.

“We’re working closely with Emma, which has over 30,000 clients to integrate our mobile services with their email offering

“They can now off mobile to their clients and we can offer email (marketing services) to our clients.”

A former Run The Red product manager had set up their own business in the US and was also reselling its services there.

Emma is based in Nashville, Tennessee, which is the centre for the US healthcare industry, and Run the Red could provide text services for health customers including text surveys for health insurance firms there, Northrop says. “ You become a jack of all trades in the New Zealand market by necessity, but the US is such a big market you need to really drill down.”

Run the Red won an international award with KHF Media for its work on the interactive TVNZ online drama Reservoir Hill, which let people text in to help steer the storyline.

The company provides discounted services for registered charities such as Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter so they can collect text donations, and collected in more than $1m in mobile donations last year.

Claire Rodgers – The Dominion Post

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