DIAL *121*5678# . Seen it before? USSD allows you to dial into text based menu services through your network with a GSM phone. In Marketing the best use of this is to send and receive information for competition entry and airtime allocation and this can be done on practically any cell phone.
USSD means Unstructured Supplementary Service Data
USSD can also be used for WAP browsing, prepaid callback service, mobile-money services, location-based content services, menu-based information services, and as part of configuring the phone on the network.
USSD messages are up to 182 alphanumeric characters in length. Unlike Short Message Service (SMS) messages, USSD messages create a real-time connection during a USSD session. The connection remains open, allowing a two-way exchange of a sequence of data. This makes USSD more responsive than services that use SMS.
- All cellular phones have a USSD capability. Even the older non-browser phones.
- Two-way session based communication
- Cheaper than SMS
- Tedious menu navigation required of user. User is required to enter a number from a set menu of options shown on screen, this means the heirachy of data in these menus cannot be too deep or else the user may not complete the transaction intended.
- Cannot use for extended periods as costs are generally 10c per 20sec
- More difficult to use than SMS and a Mobile website.
Marketing and Business Uses
- Airtime allocation for Rewards Programs
- Prepaid callback service
- Competition entry
- Banking & Payment services
- System status updates
- Location-based content services
- any menu-based Information Services e.g. sports scores etc