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OCTA Leveraged Mobile Marketing To Increase Savings By $3.5 Lakh

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OCTA_LogoAbout The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), Orange, CA

The Orange County Transportation Authority is in existence since 1991 and is the main transportation agency in Orange County. It is the consolidated product of 7 independent transportation agencies in Orange County. The main mission of the agency is to come up with practical transportation solutions that are delivered with an aim of ensuring smooth transportation in Orange County.

Business Objective Of OCTA

The campaign designed by OCTA was named as Text4Next and was launched on November 16, 2009. Under this campaign the users received messages regarding the bus route number, bus stop and the departure time on their mobile phones. The usage of short codes and keywords was included in the campaign. The main target of the campaign were those commuters who used to regularly call CIC in addition to those who made the use of printed bus schedule, however, this category was made the secondary target.

OCTA realized the pressure of increasing burden on its limited financial resources due to the high number of telephonic queries and the printed material to dispense the information regarding the bus route, time and the stoppage. The calls received at the Customer Information Center(s) alone accounted for $1.44 lakh every month. Hence, it had to come up with a practical solution that can free it from the ever increasing cost burden.

The agency conducted a survey which revealed that about 75% of the bus commuters have a mobile phone and more than 60% of them can receive a SMS. This seemed as a cost-effective option to the OCTA. The main objectives of the Text4Next campaign were:

  1. To lower down the number of enquiry calls to CIC
  2. To decrease the dependency on the printed bus schedules for dispensing the information
  3. To provide timely information to the bus commuters in a cost effective manner
  4. To generate awareness about the Text4Next campaign and prompt the users to use it more
Approaches/Strategy Adopted By OCTA

The OCTA in the year 2009 launched an email campaign to provide the desired information. The marketing agency advices OCTA to make use of SMS service which will prove to be cost effective and more convenient both for the users as well as the agency. Under the campaign ‘Text4Next’, automated messages were sent to the users who enquired about the bus schedule. In conjunction with the marketing agency, OCTA managed to send the messages to the people who enquired about the same and used a specific short code. The message that reached them contained the information about the next 3 arrival time at the bus stop. The commuters could now receive customised information at a lesser cost and time which proved to be more helpful and delivered an overall good experience. The new call charge for the OCTA dropped down to $0.10 instead of earlier $2, thus resulting in huge savings.

The strategy included the following steps:

  1. The message that prompted the users to use the SMS service was short and as simple as say ‘Let OCTAGO help you know your next bus time.’
  2. OCTA’s marketing agency used traditional as well as guerrilla marketing strategy to enable the users receive the information quickly.
  3. The awareness campaign about the main SMS campaign was also undertaken with great vigour by the team who used videos (promotional) for the school students to make them aware about the program.
  4. Even the bus stop signage was used as a platform to promote the campaign.
  5. The OCTA website was updated about the program with its name and provided all the information, promotional video(s) as well the instructions for the users to follow. The response was worth applause as it received >60,000 clicks on the website since November, 2009.
  6. About 2,000 emails were sent to the subscribers communicating them about the program.
  7. The callers (at CIC) were informed about the program and its efficacy in saving both time and money
  8. Advertising techniques such as onboard advertising, brochure circulation, bus stop hoardings, printed posts in newspapers and website were employed to generate the good response.

The results are summarised below:

  1. The textual messages (monthly) increased more than 28 times from 7,000 to 1,98,000 in less than 1 year
  2. The average number of calls received at CIC reduced to 14,500 per week from an earlier 18,000 (in November)
  3. The cost reduction was huge from $2 to just $0.10 which contributed in the success of the campaign
  4. Text4Next campaign resulted in huge saving of $3,50,000 despite a growth in the number of users
  5. There were 19,000 monthly users in September 2010 as against 1,400 unique users in November, 2009

With this campaign, OCTA had better control over its communication with the users as it now had a single point of communication for emails, text messages as well as the messages meant for social media marketing. The financial burden was reduced greatly with better service to the users. The email campaign paved the way for the economical digital as well mobile marketing solutions. The campaign turned so successful that OCTA expanded it to include even the train schedules.


An organisation as committed as OCTA used digital marketing to its advantage quite well. It utilised the potential of text messaging well in this world of technology and provided the information to the bus commuters quickly and in a cost effective manner. The calls made OCTA to incur a high cost but when it opted for the text messages, it was able to reduce its cost burden greatly.

Any organisation that has recently stepped in the arena of mobile marketing must understand that the mobile can be used not just for quick message delivery, but also to deliver it in a cost effective manner. The mobile users can be targeted specifically and they can be prompted to seek out the information easily. The only thing required is to make the users well aware about any such campaign.

  • mobile-marketing

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