Text, SMS, call it what you will, has long been a cornerstone of the telemedia industry. To everyone working in the business, SMS has been the backbone in initial carrier billing efforts, media interaction, voting and all sorts. Similarly, its potential in marketing has been acknowledged for almost a decade.
And finally SMS in marketing is set to become a mainstream tool – much to the delight of telemedia companies.
According to a white paper titled ‘The State of SMS’ released by Textlocal, one of the UK’s leading SMS marketing platforms, 37.2 million consumers have opted to use SMS and mobile communications as their preferred choice for receiving notifications from businesses. This number is predicted to rise to 48.7 million in 2020, making SMS the fastest growing marketing channel in the UK.
The growing influence of the medium is also highlighted by the fact that 98% of branded or business-related texts are opened by mobile users, with 90% being read within 3 minutes of receiving them. The report goes on to highlight that 23.5m people will respond to a business text message in 2017 and that 7bn texts will be sent this year alone.
However, the white paper also points out that only 50% – at best – of UK businesses are using SMS as part of their marketing.
And herein lies the opportunity – the 50% who haven’t looked to SMS to do marketing and the 50% who have, since you can bet your bottom dollar that they haven’t done it properly.
Sending out SMS marketing messages to consumers is great and as the white paper shows these message get opened. However, the real opportunity lies in making that SMS really count: making it turn up with a message that the consumer wants to act on there and then; a message that kills several birds with one stone; and messages that enhance the overall brand experience that the consumer, well, experiences.
Understanding the timing of when to send a message is the marketing nirvana, but is really hard to do. Algorithms, data and habits all play into how you do it, but telemedia companies that have long work with SMS are ideally placed to make this happen.
More pressingly, using SMS to market things off the back of something else is really, I believe, where SMS marketing really lies. Growth in mobile-only ecommerce, the rise of invisible payments, and the slow disappearance of cash all make things like SMS receipts an obvious first port of call. And using these to push more subtle marketing messages is key to making SMS marketing relevant and timely.
Coupons and money off can easily be appended to SMS receipts – and moreover, with that mobile number logged by the retailer, it can be followed up. As Rich Communications Services – the next generation of SMS – comes online this will all start to look ever more attractive.
But it needs to get its skates on. Apple’s Wallet – which has slowly and quietly been garnering users and, in the US at least, being seen as a tool by retailers – is starting to become a place where coupons and offers are already being shared and is forming a key competitive arena in mobile marketing.
According to and survey by Urban Airship, for every mobile wallet pass a customer installs, it is shared and added to 3.3 other mobile devices on average—a 4.3 times share rate. More than three-quarters of retailers’ installed passes were the result of sharing versus being created and distributed through their marketing channels.
Of course, SMS can also play a role in initiating coupon distribution and in the sharing from wallets, but with Apple clearly seeing this a growth area, SMS providers really need to get on top of this.