By Steven van Zanen, SVP Marketing & strategy, Acision
There are few channels left for marketers to permeate. The online revolution has brought us Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and a whole host of other marketing services. At the same time, brand marketers are still using email, mobile, telemarketing, television, radio and billboards. We are inundated with brand messages every day, and many companies are struggling to cut through the noise. A guaranteed way to reach directly into the palms of consumers is via the text message, with SMS marketing still very much alive.
In recent years we have seen an explosion in email marketing, to the point of saturation. As a result email marketing has become synonymous with spam; the ping of an email arriving in an inbox doesn’t excite many anymore, in-fact often it has the opposite effect. Today the majority of marketing emails are filtered into junk mail folders or simply deleted – usually before they have even been opened. Email marketing is dying, and savvy marketers are considering the alternatives.
One of the most effective ways to engage consumers is via SMS. Reaching 95% of UK mobile users and up to 5 billion people worldwide, the humble text message is one of the most trusted mediums of communication. Global brands are crying out for a way to target and contact customers with relevant offers, with the assurance that they will not only be delivered but also read. In many developing nations, where communication is limited to mobile and not the web, the text message is an incredibly useful way to contact people with appropriate offers, updates or announcements. With global marketing managers now setting their sights firmly on emerging regions such as Africa, India, China and Latin America, to reach consumers, SMS is proving to be a seamless universal tool to contact people en-masse, in a way that feels personal and is targeted.
Consider how quickly you read a text message, compared to an email or indeed even a Facebook notification; an SMS is instant and meaningful. If a consumer received a discount voucher for a coffee by text message, redemption would likely be much higher than by email due mainly to ease and trust. Indeed this year Juniper announced that mobile couponing is poised to reach redemption rates of 8% by 2016. That high redemption rate is another attractive reason that many brands are opting for SMS.
Measurement is increasingly important to marketers, and a key advantage of SMS is the level of transparency it offers into results tracking. Enterprises now have the capability to see if a message has been delivered, read, redeemed, or deleted. Unlike other forms of direct marketing, SMS offers businesses the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of their communications campaigns, allowing for mid-execution modification.
Additionally for consumers, the fact that in most regions users can control whether they receive messages through opt-in processes, makes the experience feel much more personal – nobody likes the idea of unsolicited messages. Operators demand that users both opt-in and out of SMS marketing, meaning that people only receive the messages that they wish to receive.
Coca Cola is one example of a brand already harnessing the power of SMS marketing. A global brand looking for unlimited reach, the company sees the value of text messaging complementing other mobile marketing channels. In a recent interview, Tom Daly, the company’s group director for global connections, noted that the mobile marketing budget is 70% messaging 20% mobile web and 10% apps. Turning a traditional model on its head, where far too much emphasis is put on mobile web and apps, Coca Cola consistently executes great SMS campaigns which achieve tangible results. In the words of Daly, “there’s nothing boring about text.”
Until now, the SMS chain has been complex for brands. Businesses have had to purchase messages in bulk from messaging aggregators, which is often expensive and provides no insight into whether the SMS is delivered, and its path after it has been sent. This is precisely why we launched the Acision Enterprise Network (AEN), which directly connects brands to consumers, allowing them to target a relevant audience in a trusted, streamlined and measurable way.
There are several points that brands need to take in consideration in order to execute a successful SMS marketing campaign:
- SMS is an integral part of all mobile marketing - SMS marketing needs to work in tandem with web and app content, and not be treated like an afterthought.
- Think creatively about how to use SMS – Rather than just being used for discount vouchers or notifications, brands can harness SMS for commerce, promotions, appointment reminders and other value-added services. There are endless possibilities if you ensure your campaigns are targeted, personal and beneficial to the recipient, ensuring your communication does not get black-labeled as spam.
- Measurement is more important than ever! – Marketers are asked every day to demonstrate the value of their campaigns and in this unstable economic climate more and more emphasis is being put on ROI. This leads to an ever increasing need to know what happens to a message once it is sent – enterprises now have the capability to see whether the message was also read and redeemed or deleted.
For all the technological advances we have witnessed over the past couple of decades, mobile messaging has withstood the test of time, and this year marks its 20th anniversary. SMS is the only marketing channel left unexhausted, however, it is all about the execution.
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