Email is the supreme nurturing tool in the marketer's toolbox, second perhaps only to face-to-face interactions. But making a user give you her email address when she's on the move is difficult - usually involving two or three steps with a mobile browser, in-store terminal, or (heaven forbid) paper.
By adopting a cross-channel mindset, however, you can leverage SMS (an intuitive, simple, and mature technology) to capture email addresses from on-the-go prospects with just one action: a text message.
This strategy is in line with the new cross-channel mantras being chanted through the digital marketing world currently, and yet is a relatively old and proven technique. Your consumers know and use it several times a day.
(Note: I know there is severe resistance on the part of many consumers to marketing by SMS. That's not what I'm proposing here.)
Scotts Miracle-Gro ran an SMS to email campaign back in 2010 that was extremely successful. Scotts advertised lawn care products and informational guides at baseball games in partnership with MLB. The campaign advertised a lawn care guide that would be sent once you texted the short code with the keyword "baseball." Once you sent the text message, a follow-up message prompted for an email address to get a digital copy of the guide and more lawn care tips.
Scotts found that "about 40% of those people who text in to get the [lawn care] guide also requested to be part of the email service." Not a bad capture rate for the notoriously transactional medium of SMS.
Other companies have caught onto this successful strategy. Several airlines are offering the traveler a quick and easy way to receive special promotions and updates through email by sending an email address via SMS to a short code. Unlike the Scotts example, where a user had to text in once, and then text in their email address to be subscribed, these campaigns simply ask a user to text their email address to be instantly subscribed.
This may seem like a disjointed technological challenge (although new tools make the transition from SMS to email automatic), but, to the user, the experience is integrated and intuitive. Text to get an email. Receive an email with the promised benefit of confirming the subscription. Continue to receive emails. Easy.
In fact, given some of the statistics about how many people don't like to get marketing promotions through SMS, I believe the use of SMS as a capture tool, rather than a push marketing tool, is much more attractive to consumers.
Rather than sending consumers information they don't need or want through a very personal channel, you're allowing them to use SMS as the transactional communication medium that it is to let you know in a quick way that they are interested in learning more. Then you can let your more efficient nurturing channel (email) take over and talk to that consumer how she wants to be talked to.
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As one of StrongView's in-house marketing strategists, Justin Williams helps email marketers develop and implement strategic lifecycle marketing campaigns that are continually optimized to increase engagement and revenue. For the past five years, Justin has applied his expertise in email marketing, social media, web design, and other interactive marketing disciplines across a variety of industries, including retail, finance, media, and technology. In addition to founding his own consulting company, Justin has built go-to-market strategies for early-stage startups and worked with brands like Cisco, Qualcomm, and Geeknet. Justin holds a BA in cognitive science from the University of California at San Diego.
March 19, 2014