Mobile marketing is personal. SMS marketing in particular is even more so. In many ways, it’s like a real relationship. Say the wrong thing, or at the wrong time, and your customer will unsubscribe. And you may never get them back.
It also turns out that whether or not your customers trust you depends on more than what your SMS marketing messages say. Last week at the Mobile World Conference (MWC) a panel discussed mobile marketing, trust and engagement. During that conference they discussed the fact that people trust their mobile and content providers less than they did three years ago. That’s certainly not a trend in the right direction.
What's going on?
I think for much of the last decade, people used the Internet and then mobile devices, without giving too much thought about what they were doing. Or more accurately, what other people were doing with their information.
But then came Edward Snowden in 2013 who revealed governments were collecting and using our personal data in ways we hadn’t imagined. In fact, many of us probably didn’t imagine our information was that vulnerable, or that so many global agencies would be cooperating to gather and examine it.
Whether you support what he did or not, his actions and the resulting publicity made everyone much more aware of the fact our personal data is available online. That, combined with many companies pushing “Big Data” and how it can be used, probably made even more people nervous. Privacy became an even bigger issue on the main agenda for many governments, corporations and individuals than ever before.
How has it affected mobile marketing?
According to a study discussed in that MWC panel, 89% of people have “some concern when sharing data with brands and mobile operators”. People are suspicious of you from the start! Only 40% will share basic personal information if it will make their mobile experience better. Even fewer, less than 20%, will agree to providing more detailed data such as location and browsing data.
The main issues people have with sharing their information is security, transparency, and control. They want to know that the companies that have their information will protect it (security) and not provide it to third parties (control). About 21% of people “worry about how their data may be used in the future” (transparency).
Brands and mobile operators collect data as part of interacting with customers whether it’s browsing, using an app, or acting on SMS marketing. That’s just how it all works. But people expect that these organisations are supposed to take care of their data. The study showed 55% hold brands responsible, and 30% hold mobile operators responsible for their personal data on mobile.
What can you do?
SMS marketing has the potential to provide great value to both your customer and to your profits, but not if they don’t trust you. Since it seems people are a bit wary even before you begin, it would be best to start off being very upfront about what they are signing up for on your list.
If you market your list by offering discounts and coupons, make sure all your offers are discounts or coupons. Stick to those when sending offers to that list. You might think they’re interested in that special promotion or contest too, but you run the risk of losing their trust by sending them content they didn’t sign up for initially.
There’s usually “fine print” on promotions, even SMS marketing. It usually details how you’ll use the information you gather. If you don’t sell the information to third parties or “partners”, maybe you want to bring that out of the fine print and make sure everyone knows. Or if you use that information to ensure they get the best personal offers, you can let them know that too.
They know you’re using their data, if you make an effort to let them know it is being used to improve their experience or offers they’ll feel better about it. And better about you as a brand. But if you say that’s how you’ll use it, then you don’t, you’ll be violating their trust in you. That, is something very hard to get back.
SMS marketing customers are already one of your best assets. They’ve taken a step to trust you by signing up. Do everything you can to keep them trusting you and you’ll both live happily ever after. At least as far as your marketing goes.