Flies on the walls of marketing war room planning sessions the world over may not know the terms because they are scarcely mentioned, but "SMS" and "text messaging"' might just be the booster that finally propels the mobile marketing rocket ship into a leading position for digital marketing.
This is not your teenager's texting. SMS use among consumers continues to increase globally. Recent data from the International Telecommunications Union shows that the total number of SMS messages sent globally tripled between 2007 and 2010, from an estimated 1.8 trillion to a staggering 6.1 trillion. Close to 200,000 text messages are now sent every second. For marketers, SMS campaigns have a wide reach because text messages - as opposed to mobile applications - are accessible on all devices and many consumers still prefer the immediacy, brevity, and ease of SMS communications. They are also a lot less expensive to produce, personalize, and test.
The "mobilization" of email draws marketers' attention to the device as an increasingly powerful part of the email channel experience. Fellow ClickZ email columnist David Daniels also wrote about this just last week. Once we start thinking about the device, two forces combine to create an opportunity for SMS to step fully into the channel mix.
Given that, it makes sense to launch your SMS program so that it can integrate, complement, and synergize with your email and other outbound messaging as part of a CRM campaign to nurture and engage. SMS, even more than email, is also experiential. Text messages can be received and interacted with in the moment - even while the customer is having a brand experience in another channel. As a result, we are seeing more and more marketers consider SMS as the glue to connect their retail/event + mobile apps + email strategies. That synergy, along with the reach, lures us into this channel; but it's the revenue that keeps them coming.
There are two primary types of SMS campaigns: inbound (prospect reads/hears/gets invited to an event that she can text C-O-U-P-O-N to a designated five or six number for a discount); and outbound (event reminders, shipping notifications, flight status) SMS campaigns. Both are fully trackable at the subscriber level.
The most successful examples of these are for B2B events and conferences (inbound), banking notices (outbound), airline flight status notices (outbound), and retail and restaurant coupons (inbound). Regardless of type, all SMS programs are permission based. An express permission grant is required by the carriers, but also by the spirit of the relationship. Similar to email marketing, no one gives their phone number to strangers or wants to be contacted by a brand unawares. Respect your customers and they will reward you with response and loyalty.
Relevancy plays an even bigger role in mobile and text marketing than in other channels. Perhaps because it's so personal, the bar for creating relevancy is high. Just as many people download apps and never use them, people will quickly stop an SMS subscription if the messages are not helpful or come too frequently. The promise cannot outweigh the actual value.
Automation technology makes SMS even more appealing. Consider the benefits from an integrated marketing management approach:
Where have you seen SMS added to a campaign that drew you in, or gave your brand (or competitor) the edge? Please share ideas in the comments section below.
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Stephanie Miller is a relentless customer advocate and a champion for marketers creating memorable online experiences. A digital marketing expert, she helps responsible data-driven marketers connect with the people, resources, and ideas they need to optimize response and revenue. She speaks and writes regularly and leads many industry initiatives as VP, Member Relations and Chief Listening Officer at the Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org). Feedback and column ideas most welcome, to smiller AT the-dma DOT org or @stephanieSAM.
March 19, 2014