Everywhere, everyone seems to be fixated by their mobile phones! It’s not just the youngsters, either: 81% of mobile phone users use SMS or text messaging and 90% read text messages within three minutes of receipt. But it’s not just a convenient way to chat with friends, fix a rendez-vous or remind people to do things; it has also become a powerful marketing tool for businesses large and small, national or global.
Crucially, mobile phone users engage with SMS in a way they do not with any other mobile marketing system – even social media or emailing. With the mobile phone it’s personal! Not only that, most people have programmed their mobiles to alert them when a text message arrives. In 98% of cases an SMS is read within a few minutes of delivery, adding to the sense of urgency, importance and relevance.
Customers are a business’ lifeblood, so keeping them happy remains the highest priority – from SMEs to global corporations. There is no doubt about how simple and effective SMS can be in growing customer relationships. Today, though, SMS has gone beyond a simple conversation, evolving into a powerful platform for all types of businesses.
SMS has proved advantageous in building a trusting relationship with customers and sustaining brand loyalty. Its popularity with customers comes from its personal nature with business due to the guaranteed rapid read rate the technology provides. The potential of SMS marketing has evolved beyond engagement, offering companies a great deal more than many are aware of.
SMS platforms have expanded to being able to offer a cornucopia of additional features, ranging from a constructive channel for collecting customer data to an enhanced capability to facilitate transition into new markets. Easier to launch and manage than ever before, all businesses, great and small, should now be using SMS as a major part of their marketing mix. Amazingly, some people are not convinced, so here are some positive take-aways.
Because SMS is an opt-in system, the customer has given the company permission to inform them through marketing messages. The fact that you are trusted to send only good information and attractive offers encourages customers to look forward to your messages. This is very different from invasive marketing using paid-for marketing lists. Because users limit themselves to the brands they genuinely appreciate when opting into SMS promotional campaigns, companies are talking to a target audience that is both captive and loyal.
SMS marketing doesn’t have to be boring! Using two-way SMS, customers are able to respond directly to automated messages from a company, engaging them actively within the marketing process. Encouraging this type of interactivity and using the tools to develop a conversation, creates previously unimaginable levels of involvement. At FastSMS, we have a powerful API that enables users to integrate our service into their own systems (e.g. appointment software, e-commerce platforms, server alerts etc). Indeed, recent developments in SMS technology enable companies to run competitions, quizzes and even sweepstakes, adding elements of interactive fun as well as anticipation through prize incentives. The customer’s sense of complicity in marketing a particular product only deepens as a result.
One of the criticisms marketers raised concerning print, TV and even online advertising was the difficulty of measuring effectiveness, ROI and response in terms of action (sales). By tying in with SMS marketing techniques and encouraging users to text in to join (via in-store advertising, prints or TV) marketers can efficiently calculate the relative effectiveness of wider advertising campaigns.
Furthermore, gaining insight into the customer is invaluable to any business. With the technology now available it is possible to collate SMS delivery and engagement data. More advanced systems offer advanced analytics as well as automated sending and delivery reporting. It is also possible to access real-time data and, together, they allow companies to learn more specifically about consumer preferences. Such statistics, coupled with wider information gleaned through the ongoing “conversation” companies are having with their customers, mean future marketing campaigns can be targeted more efficiently and effectively.
Marketers are aware that being relevant matters and to stay relevant means to stay close to where the customers are. Today, most consumers are on the move and, consequently, their mobile is the premium medium of communication, mainly through texting.
Every student of marketing and advertising is familiar with the old acronym AIDA which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. Every image, every line of copy, every slogan and every aural or visual element of an advertisement, whether print, online, digital, video or radio has to be so structured as to conform to AIDA’s demands.
Email has a powerful part to play in encouraging “action” from the potential customer but, unlike email, which today tends to drive online sales, text messages engage customers and invite them into the store. Once there, they are more likely to be attracted by other products and, with the added personal touch from the sales team, are likely to make three times the purchases they would have online.
Finally, breaking new ground is always a challenge for any company; courting new markets is not without risk. Nonetheless, establishing yourself in a new market and quickly assembling a critical mass of customers is best done through exemplary customer service. With SMS as a channel, customers can quickly be reassured concerning delivery, account activity, incoming stock etc and reward you with satisfaction and brand loyalty.
SMS systems allow for an additional layer of security with safeguarded log-in procedures and a personal, protected PIN, communicated by SMS to the customer’s mobile. Guaranteeing that all transactions are private and confidential in an age of hacking and identity theft is paramount.
So: choose an SMS provider that offers you the best results for you and your customers, and delivers your messages promptly, without fail and precisely as you want them to. Today, SMS has become an essential technology, enabling you to reap maximum business success.