Any marketer that’s been paying attention knows that things change rapidly. And that what was considered niche, unattractive or downright impossible today can become the multi-million $ business of tomorrow.
Now, we are on the cusp of another major medium shift and smartphones are the culprits. They truly are game-changers. Of course, internet users now prefer mobile phones, tablets and other mobile devices to access the web. Why wouldn’t they? It’s simple and convenient. But since mobile phones have become such an important part of our day-to-day lives, it’s only logical that business owners learn to harness the potential of mobile marketing.
Just What is Mobile Marketing?
Well, if you want an academic definition, the most referenced one is that of Andreas Kaplan, a marketing expert (especially on viral marketing and social media) and a Professor of Marketing at ESCP Europe.
He describes mobile marketing as being “any marketing activity conducted through a ubiquitous network to which consumers are constantly connected using a personal mobile device”.
In other words, whenever you market something by means of a mobile phone, smartphone, tablet, smartwatch or any other mobile device, you are mobile marketing.
The only question is how to choose among the multiple mobile marketing methods at your disposal? SMS, MMS, push notifications, app-based marketing, in-game mobile marketing, mobile tailored websites ads and images, QR codes, and location-based marketing- these are all viable options, but your success depends on your ability to figure out which one works best with your target audience.
Why Mobile Marketing?
I mentioned at the beginning of the article that mobile marketing will be a game-changer akin to other major shifts in marketing in the past decades.
But you might wonder why. Let’s look at some statistics.
In 2013, according to reports by comScore and Nielsen, users were spending 40% of their internet time on mobile devices. And at the end of 2009, Morgan Stanley made a prediction that in five years, internet users would prefer mobile devices to desktops to access the web. Unsurprisingly, these predictions turned out to be correct. And it seems that things are looking ever-brighter for those hoping to use mobile marketing. Comprehensive reports show that the trend is ever increasing, so much so that in 2015 alone, mobile phone internet traffic increased by 39%. And in January 2015, web-pages served to mobile phones comprised a third of all served pages. This means that mobile advertising must have grown also. And it has.
To put things into perspective, in 2009, internet advertising grew by 9%, while more traditional forms like newspapers, radio and TV went down 18.7%, 11.7% and 10.1% respectively. Billions of dollars go into mobile advertising every year and by 2017, experts foresee that mobile ad spending will reach just shy of $60 billion worldwide.
The Lingering Importance of SMS Mobile Marketing
Despite the fact that there are many unique mobile phone users out there, and in countries like India mobile is actually the main way people connect, not all of them are Smartphone users. It’s as simple as that. Yes, mobile is what you should focus on and hence the need to develop a coherent in-depth mobile marketing strategy.
But that strategy wouldn’t be complete or have maximum efficiency if you didn’t take into account the potential customers that you can reach only by SMS. And there’s loads of them.
Among multiple mobile marketing ideas, SMS marketing is a win-win. Of course you can choose a combined mobile marketing strategy: like SMS, in-game ads and QR codes, or whatever you think would work for you, based on the customers you’re aiming for. It’s important, however, that small business owners learn to track and monitor their effectiveness, Brit Tammeorg from TextMagic says.
But SMS should be an integral part of that strategy. Because apart from the data mentioned so far, there is other data consolidating this potential diversification of your mobile marketing strategy to include SMS, into a solid decision.
This has to do with the open rates of SMS messages, these rates being the frequency with which users open this type of messages. A report published by Singlepoint in 2010, called Conversational Advertising found that 99% of all text messages are read by the recipient and, what’s more, 90% of them are read within 3 minutes of being received. This article from 2014 on business2community highlighted some important points, most importantly the fact that, as opposed to email open rates (which are close to 22%), text messages have a whopping 98% open rate.
Click through rates are also higher in the case of text messages, as an article from January 2015 shows. It was based on a survey performed by FunMobility and concluded that 36% of SMS recipients click on links they find in the message as opposed to just 3.2% of those that receive them in emails.
An American study performed by Shift Communications between the 26th and 29th of September 2015 got impressive results too. When they asked users if they read every SMS message they received, 82% of them replied “yes”! Unsurprisingly, women tend to read fewer text messages from unknown numbers as opposed to men.
SMS Mobile Marketing Tips
Luckily enough, planning an SMS marketing campaign is pretty straightforward. The key is to always remain a welcome presence as opposed to a nuisance for your customer.
In other words, would you like having a ton of messages dropped on you in a short span, making this your first interaction with a company? No. Then don’t do it as a company. Would you like it if said messages came all of a sudden, without even asking you for permission? Of course not. Opt-ins are essential step.
And you definitely wouldn’t like it if the messages you got were completely un-personalized. Say offering you a bra if you’re a man, to give an extreme example. But keep in mind that even things that aren’t as blatantly faux pas as this can definitely irritate if they do not cater to the interests and needs of the individual. Being useful to your customers is what you need to strive for.
Here are a few ideas that are bound to ignite your marketing campaign:
Deals, coupons, freebies: these are excellent incentives for your customers, so offer them to SMS campaign subscribers.
Be useful: try to incorporate a sales pitch into a text that offers your customer relevant information (such as completion times for his/her requested service, updates on their delivery, information regarding items that were no longer on stock when they attempted to place an order).
Engage in interactive contests: use website/social media links to help your customers better connect with your business.
Urgency helps: creating a sense of urgency (for instance, having expiration dates for certain sales or offers) will encourage customers to respond faster.
Offer exclusive services: customers who choose to take part in SMS campaigns should be treated as members of a VIP club so offer discounts that no other customers receive.
Ask for referrals and promise freebies for top referrers via SMS.
One-questioned-surveys are great: they make customers feel involved and help you better cater to their needs. Win-win.
Use texts as follow-ups to other forms of communication.
Never forget to personalize the text.
SMS marketing campaigns are an oasis of opportunity. It all depends on your creativity. Just remember to keep it short, sweet and useful.
Either way, it’s clear that a marketer who wants to turn his or her small business into a resounding success must think of alternative marketing strategies that can help gain traction and brand awareness. Mobile marketing does just that. It’s reliable and as long as the SMS is personalized, takes the user seriously and shows proper respect, you’re bound to have positive results.