Far from being dead and buried, brought to its demise by alternative messaging channels and apps, SMS marketing is alive and well, with a potent role still to play in delivering marketing messages.
Even as some corporates still grapple with grasping the valuable impact SMS marketing can have, there is simply no other marketing channel that is almost guaranteed to be seen by a customer. And, since SMS works on all cellular phones, it means a SMS marketing message can be seen in every delivered SMS.
Additionally, it is still the easiest, most ubiquitous forms of communication available, and is undemanding to use as a channel, requiring minimal continued attention, while offering easy opt outs to those who don’t want to be bothered. Unlike email, which has to hold a customer’s attention while competing with an array of distractions, any SMS message that arrives can either be quickly responded to in seconds or dismissed.
Doing due (data) diligence for SMS marketing
However, merely sending off marketing messages via SMS is not enough, particularly as it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out with the sheer amount of marketing messages bombarding people via billboards, TV, newspapers, radio, email, social media and print publications. The key to using SMS marketing effectively is remembering that relevance raises response. It is imperative that organisations utilise a data-driven strategy and try and understand what makes their marketing message relevant for the market they are targeting.
Furthermore, data is important in both the market and the message. Without it, companies are merely throwing mud at an already dirty wall.
In order to remain ahead of the competition, organisations must understand their data, how it represents their market and then tailor their message to be relevant. It is also important to use the feedback from campaigns to hone and optimise what one is doing. This allows the system to self- regulate and to continue serving the right messages to the appropriate market, increasing response rate and improving conversion.
The latter need not be difficult to attain. In fact, offering a ‘reply yes now’ option within the message is easy to integrate. If the customer responds favourably to a message, they don’t need to undergo the time-wasting hassle of providing it again. This enables financial services companies, for example, who own their own data and already know a great deal about their customer to simply send an SMS message with a new product offering asking for a ‘yes’ reply and they can then engage with that customer via their call centre.
Right time, right person
Another critical key to really realising SMS marketing’s potential and potency, is getting the timing right, or as close as possible. Timing is never perfectly on target, and something that is relevant today may not be fully so tomorrow, but that does not mean the message should not be sent.
For example, sending a marketing message offering a loan before and after payday may be the right timing, while sending it on payday (typically at the end of the month) may not be the best time for the entirety of one’s audience. However, in this case, the marketing message should actually be sent three times so as to play the averages, so long as the response justifies the cost.
Admittedly, doing SMS marketing well is not simple and should not be done in a haphazard spray-and- pray fashion. However, the rewards of really utilising this effective ubiquitous marketing channel make it well worth the effort.