Commentary

2014: The Year Of SMS Marketing

This year, marketers can expect to see increasingly connected customers become even more particular about the kinds of information they receive, when they receive it and through which channel. Mobile marketing will continue to become increasing popular, as more than half of all American adults (56%) are now smartphone owners. 

Short Messaging Service (SMS) marketing is the most popular form of mobile marketing, and involves promoting a brand by text messaging to an individual's phone/smart device. But SMS can be tricky, because unlike any other marketing tactic you are marketing to an individual's cell phone. Individuals are selective about the types of information they are willing to receive on their cell phone, and it is important to understand their preference to ensure a successful and long-term relationship. The most common mistake is to over-saturate an individual with SMS messages that do not cater to their behavior or map to their preferences on which types of information they would like to receive (e.g., promotional alerts, event reminders, etc.).

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The potential impact SMS can have on your marketing efforts is exponential. The following points demonstrate how influential SMS marketing can be to the success of an overall marketing campaign:

  • SMS messages are read within 4 minutes, whereas email is read inside a period of 48 hours. 
  • The response rate for SMS has been reported to be as high as 8 times that of email.
  • Sales driven by mobile marketing are expected to climb to more than $400 billion by the year 2015, which is up from $139 billion in 2012.

Before embarking on your mobile strategy, remember these four keys to successfully integrating SMS as a channel into your marketing campaigns including:

1.  Select the right partner: As a marketer, you may opt to partner with an Aggregator, a Mobile Application Service Provider (MASP) and/or a Carrier. Another approach would be to partner directly with a Marketing Services Provider (MSP). So before continuing, it is important to understand the parties involved in the SMS ecosystem.

2.  Understand the rules and regulations:  As a marketer, you are not required to know all of the rules and regulations associated with SMS. That is one of the areas your partner will be able to provide guidance on. However, the three fundamental areas to understand are Preference Management, Subscription List Management, and SMS Message Guidelines.

3.  Document the campaign requirements necessary for acquiring a short code: Understanding the fundamental rules and regulations will allow you to accurately define your campaign objective and touch strategy. A clearly documented campaign specification should result in a more timely acquisition of a short code and approval from the wireless carriers. At this point you may be asking yourself, what exactly is a short code? For those who are new to SMS marketing, a short code is a 4- to-6-digit phone number opposed to the more common 10 digit number. This is the code that you will deploy your campaign messaging from and the same code that subscribers will use when responding back. 

4.  Ensure that the technology is in place to support your marketing efforts: The final step in preparing to launch your first SMS marketing campaign is to ensure the necessary technical components are in place. The first component is a marketing database and the second is the necessary infrastructure support.

Mobile marketing is relevant today, and will continue to be so in the future. But before jumping in full force, marketers need to continuously think forward in their marketing objectives and strategies. Wayne Gretzky, former professional hockey player, said it best when he answered a reporter's question as to why he was a great player. Gretzky responded “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” To be a successful marketer in 2014 and beyond, you need to follow a similar approach.

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