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EDITOR’S BLOG 010916 Getting the text message across

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SkeldonIt’s been an interesting summer while we’ve been taking our annual break. Everyone – including many of you – have gone Pokemon Go crazy (though that’s already died a death by the time you read this) and it seems that there has been much pushing of text over the summer.

While there are many issues in the industry to address now we are all back at work – Project 30, Project SlimLine, how to capitalise on Pokemon Go – it seems that our old friend text is very much making a push to get back on the agenda: especially in retail.

Over the summer we saw an interesting study from OpenMarket that indicated that retailers and merchants that use SMS to engage with consumers sell more stuff. In fact, nearly three-quarters (69%) of online retailers who leverage SMS do so because it affords them an opportunity to differentiate; nearly 40% use SMS to meet customer demand.

However, the vast majority of them don’t. Lack of awareness, worries over getting it to work and costs being the main hurdles.

But that could be about to change. No, not because OpenMarket on the back of the report launched an all-singing, all-dancing SMS dashboard, but because our friends and Eagle Eye Solutions have tied up with Weve to roll out a trial for Asda and McCain (purveyors of Oven Chips, the fuel of the Pokemon Go generation!) to use text to deliver coupons.

The move is a canny one. The idea is that most people use coupons, but they tend to get them via email or off websites and – if they remember – they print them out and take them to the store. But what if you could text them to their phones? And they then click links in the SMS to get a barcode coupon or coupons that can be scanned at the checkout?

Hell Yeah! And this is just what is being trialled at Asda. But the real beauty of this is that it not only cuts out the paper aspect of the process – and hopefully makes it easier for the customer to remember the coupon – but it potentially allows the brand/retailer to deliver personal offers to their customers right at the point when they need them.

Obviously there is some work still to do to get to this, but this trial really kick-starts this process.

And text is such a beautiful way to do it. Everyone uses text and understands and trusts it. It is ubiquitous and instant.

Whatismore, however, is that operators really need this kind of thing. They are going to lose text revenues and they are going to also lose out when this sort of personalised marketing takes off and brands start to use WhatsApp or push messaging to make it work. Text will die.

And operators can’t afford that to happen. The fact the Weve are involved in this trial might not show how serious operators are, but it could yet prove the point to them that the future of their SMS business is in marketing and commerce.

Costs need to come down and the MNOs have to become more agile and easy to deal with to make it happen – most retailers don’t use SMS right now, as OpenMarket’s study showed, and that is because they are viewed as difficult, over regulated, expensive and, dare I say it, precious.

Opening up text to the personalised marketing revolution that is already underway has to be their goal.

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