With more than a million apps for Android and Apple products, it can be easy to forget one of mobile’s earliest features: short service messaging (SMS).
In a world of Instagrams, Tweets, and Snapchats, marketers often ignore SMS in exchange for common forms of outreach like email, display ads, and social. While these campaigns are certainly important, connecting with consumers has become difficult as brands over-communicate across popular channels.
When campaign results are less than ideal, it’s important to remember your roots. For digital marketers, this means SMS. Many marketers believe that SMS is outdated--dubbing it the archaic predecessor to the smartphone revolution--but this is not true. In fact, according to The Next Web, 90% of these messages are opened and read within the first three minutes of delivery. With more than 1 billion mobile phones globally, SMS offers marketers a universal communication standard that other channels cannot guarantee.
Moving forward, successful marketers will leverage not only smart technology, but also so-called "dumb phones." When combined with push, email, and social communications, SMS can strengthen the everyday buying experience. Here are three reasons why.
SMS Is Widespread
Beyond the sheer volume of customers that SMS reaches, the strategy can also deploy without an Internet connection. Unlike other digital channels, SMS is at liberty to reach customers at a wider, even remote range. A dependency on Internet can limit the success of campaigns, such as email. However, when emails are supplemented by SMS, marketers are more likely to access a larger pool of consumers. Similarly, as users are already conditioned to receiving and opening texts, marketers can leverage SMS campaigns as a familiar interaction with customers.
While privacy is often a concern when interacting digitally, SMS is regulated by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA). The legislation makes opting in and out of SMS campaigns easy, ensuring customer privacy and avoiding unsolicited SMS marketing.
SMS Is Personalized
Once customers have opted into SMS communications, it’s important to give them control over their own experience. One great way to do so is to create a centralized preference center. As customers opt in, a preference center gives each the ability to manage the type, frequency, and channels for messaging. This shift of power from brand to user increases loyalty and makes digital communications more transparent.
Throughout the entire customer life cycle, transactional communications are the single best way to drive a personalized SMS campaign. Transactional SMS campaigns range from purchase confirmation to appointment reminders, and they can be deployed from post-purchase or before another purchase is made. For example, after a customer’s package ships, a brand can send her a text with tracking information. Or before purchase, a retailer can use geolocation technology to offer shoppers deals when they are close by brick-and-mortar storefronts.
Transactional messages guarantee engagement, foster a real sense of urgency around communication, and extend customer relations well beyond purchase. Similarly, as transactional messages are easily opted into during e-commerce checkpoints, they reinforce SMS familiarity when moving toward more promotional campaigns. Whether by SMS, email, or another channel, personalization pays off and increases engagement with customers.
SMS Is Flexible
More than anything else, SMS campaigns serve as a critical touch point through the customer life cycle. SMS can do things like facilitate product activation, endorse mobile app downloads, or even engage consumers with real-time inquiries about products.
SMS offers marketers the freedom to deploy a variety of campaigns--welcome, transactional, loyalty, triggered, promotional, etc. SMS devices also have existing features that marketers can incorporate to increase the effectiveness of their campaigns. For example, when a customer purchases a retailer’s product, the store can then send that customer a text with thanks or follow-up questions. This message can bring along with it an application download or the option to "text2win" a prize. Marketers can experiment with these calls to action to sustain customer interactions and drive conversion. The flexibility of SMS allows marketers to find the solutions that work best for them.
Marketers could also consider multimedia messaging via text. However, multimedia messaging can be over budget for many brands, and SMS can achieve similar communications with links to videos, forms, or images.
Email campaigns and display ads are certainly effective marketing strategies, but they aren’t the only options available to today’s marketers. By integrating SMS communications into larger campaigns, brands can engage customers at many touch points throughout their purchasing journey. Coordinating all efforts is a best practice when working across multiple channels.
SMS is often overlooked, but it has clear value as a practical addition to any marketing campaign. When it comes to SMS, old doesn’t mean boring, and "dumb" hardly feels useless. Have you embraced SMS marketing?