Exactly how universal is SMS?

SMS a marketers most powerful tool

Exactly how universal is SMS?

From an article By Colleen Petitt, Published March 5, 2012, for Business2Community.com

SMS messaging is now one of the most universal forms of communication on the planet. So, exactly how universal is SMS? Researchers estimate that in 2011, some eight trillion SMS messages were sent. In fact, close to 200,000 texts are now transmitted every second. What’s more, the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) reports that virtually all (97 percent) of SMS messages are opened –and a whopping 83 percent of those are opened within the first hour.

But even so, many marketers completely overlook this powerful tool for customer engagement. Why? For me, the answer to that question is two-fold.

First, marketers tend to gravitate towards the newest, “sexiest” thing (aka, shiny object syndrome). SMS messaging has been around for years. Despite its documented effectiveness, it’s not necessarily the hot new thing. And, unfortunately, that means SMS marketing often doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

Secondly, many marketers simply aren’t familiar with all that SMS marketing has to offer. Most don’t know how to develop targeted, trigger-based SMS campaigns, and even among those who do, many aren’t leveraging marketing automation to maximise the effectiveness of their SMS initiatives. Without the right tools, it’s impossible to have insight into what’s working, what isn’t and why.

If you are wondering how SMS marketing can work for your organisation, let me walk you through the most successful ways I see customers taking advantage of the power of text messages. Savvy marketers now use SMS for:

1. Local Marketing. Once you’re equipped with accurate data regarding segmentation, sentiment analysis, etc., you can send customers targeted SMS messaging relevant to local happenings. For example, you can drive traffic to brick and mortar stores during down times, weather events . . . (A discount on shovels and rock salt would be welcome news when a blizzard is forecast, wouldn’t it?) Or, you can pair local campaigns with sporting events in a specific region. Customers increasingly expect companies to know what they “like” and what makes them unique. Once you start combining data across channels, you can develop a detailed picture of consumer behaviour, so you can specifically tailor your messages with a local, more personalised flair.

2. Event Marketing. A conference, trade show, or other event is an opportunity to implement strategies akin to “hyper-local” marketing. SMS messaging allows you to quickly and conveniently update attendees with agenda alerts, schedule changes, speaker announcements, logistics information, etc.

3. Customer Engagement. The concise, brief format of SMS is ideal for connecting with your audience in unique, compelling –and fun –ways. Try engaging with customers via a quick poll, voting or a scavenger hunt.

4. Cross-Channel. SMS messaging can be the perfect complement to other channels. Use email, social media networks and offline channels to build awareness about the benefits of participating in your mobile database, and encourage consumers to opt-in with incentives such as special offers, promotions and/or content. Then, use SMS to reinforce this cross-channel engagement. For example, send a text promoting a Facebook-only promotion. (“Check out our Facebook page for a secret special this week. While you’re there, like us if you haven’t already.”)

5. Transactional. Because texts are delivered directly to your customers’ phones (which have become their personal digital ecosystems), SMS marketing is ideal for communicating information that’s more private and customer-specific. You can use texts to alert your customers about shipping details, payment confirmations, appointment reminders, service outage notifications, etc.

There’s no doubt about it: SMS is now entrenched in everyday communication, and the technology is showing no signs of going away anytime soon. Smart marketers recognise the potential power of a “simple” text message, and they’re using SMS campaigns to engage with customers and drive sales in new and compelling ways.