As 93% of the UK’s population own a mobile phone and are able to receive text messages, it’s no wonder SMS messaging is one of the most important mobile marketing channels available today. A widespread and far-reaching technology, SMS has always been popular with consumers, but in recent years businesses of all shapes and sizes have started to recognise the value held in SMS and the potential it holds for creating a better dialogue with their customers.
The reason behind the growing use of text messaging for mobile marketing is simple. SMS read rates are three times higher than other direct marketing channels including email, which remains one of the most popular marketing tools despite its comparatively low engagement figure.
SMS messaging has become an integral part of everyday life, and the fact that we check our mobile phones more frequently than our email accounts means a text message is almost guaranteed to be read. For businesses looking to increase customer engagement this makes SMS a familiar, unobtrusive and incredibly effective way of reaching their customer base.
While one-way SMS has long been used as a tool for sending news, discount coupons or loyalty messages to a consumer’s phone, deeper engagement requires 2-way SMS, a new approach to mobile marketing that has opened up a world of possibilities. 2-way SMS encourages interaction by giving brands the tools they need to start a conversation with their customers, creating previously unseen levels of engagement from a mobile marketing campaign.
Despite the universal nature of SMS, however, it’s easy to conduct a 2-way SMS campaign incorrectly. To avoid running into problems, there are two things that must be considered before jumping into 2-way SMS marketing.
Firstly, you must let the consumer know you want them to get in touch. It’s important that they take the first step towards starting the dialogue, as unsolicited SMS messages will not be well received. This can be as simple as including a mobile number in other marketing channels, inviting consumers to sign up by sending an SMS message to your brand. The message should contain a keyword – it could be an opt-in code, like ‘YES’, or simply the name of your brand.
Secondly, you must consider the golden rule of marketing – transparency is essential. Your brand’s reply message to a keyword SMS needs to inform the consumer they have opted in and ensure they are happy to receive on-going messages. Always provide an opt-out option. Without it, you run the risk of being labelled a spammer by regulators who are increasingly cracking down on unsolicited messaging or, even worse, blacklisted by your customers themselves.
Implemented correctly, 2-way SMS promises to unlock a wealth of customer information businesses would not otherwise have access to. There is no better way of understanding your customers than to ask, and 2-way SMS can be used as an efficient and cost-effective way to gather real-life, actionable data on consumers, while also making them feel that their voice is being heard. For example, by inviting customers to submit comments or suggestions any time via 2-way SMS a brand can quickly, easily and affordably improve its customer relations.
There is, however, more to 2-way SMS than mere question and answer. The scope of 2-way SMS is huge. This technology can be used to run quizzes and sweepstakes, engaging consumers in fun interactivity with prize incentives that will improve brand reputation and build customer loyalty.
2-way SMS is achievable for any company, from cash strapped start-ups to large multi-nationals. All that’s required is a simple API which gives marketers a toolkit to send and receive messages, manage responses, track KPIs and ROI, and optimise campaigns tailored to their budget. More advanced 2-way SMS providers even offer an out-of-the-box managed platform accessible through a web interface. This approach does not need an API or any prior developer knowledge, making 2-way SMS incredibly flexible.
2-way SMS can also become part of a multi-channel marketing effort by advertising SMS campaigns through other platforms, such as billboards or web ads. Given the sharp rise in smartphone usage, including a link to a web page or e-commerce site in a text message can result in an almost instant sale. If you’re looking to exploit your consumers’ urge for impulse buying, 2-way SMS can achieve far better results than other marketing approaches.
As a better approach to mobile marketing, 2-way SMS gives marketers a valuable string to their bow without negatively impacting the bottom line.
Silvio Kutic, founder and CEO of Infobip, earned a M.Sc. at the University of Zagreb Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing. Silvio took over as CEO in 2006. Since then, he has been the driving force behind Infobip’s rapid growth and the strategic shift towards enterprise and MNO solutions.