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Overcoming hurdles in SMS

Neiman Marcus nmbuzz SMS program

Neiman Marcus nmbuzz SMS program

SMS is often dismissed by marketers because it lacks the glitz and glamour that augmented reality or QR codes exude. However, it is still arguably the best medium companies can use to move their business forward.

Marketers who implement SMS into their marketing strategies can build an ongoing relationship with consumers. Companies such as Macy’s and Gap have used SMS correctly to not only increase consumer engagement, but revenue as well.

“The biggest hurdle is often mental,” said Jeff Hasen, chief marketing officer at Hipcricket. 

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“Recently, Ford which used a text call-to-action to produce a 15.4 percent lead convergence,” he said. “I told this story to a digital influencer who called it a great example of a 'meat and potatoes' program.

“I'm a vegetarian but I'll serve my clients meat and potatoes all day long if we can realize such a lofty lead number.”

Taking initiative
According to Mr. Hasen, marketers should get past the 'shiny object' mentality and concentrate on what has the best chance of success.

Consumers are now active participants in marketing and are responding to calls to action in unprecedented numbers.

"Of course, another advantage to SMS marketing is that an interaction often leads to a remarketing opportunity through an opt-in,” Mr. Hasen said. “This drives loyalty and sales.

“Who cares if it was done with the simplest of mobile products?" he said.

Nowadays, marketers are overcoming many obstacles with SMS.

Firstly, it is important to have a clear and concise call-to-action.

Secondly, marketers should offer consumers some form incentive for opting in.

Macy’s keeps consumers up-to-date on the latest sales and Gap offers consumers a discount via SMS.

By offering an incentive, consumers are more included to opt-in.

“The two biggest hurdles in SMS marketing is actually the inherent limitations of the SMS platform, and the assumption that text marketing equals spam,” said James Citron, CEO of Mogreet.

“For many brands, SMS is a perfect fit for their target audience, but not a fit for the brand itself,” he said.

Driving engagement
With a limited character set and no ability to add in engaging multimedia content, it is difficult to drive a significant portion of one's database into action and certainly harder to build ongoing loyalty.

“When retailer Charlotte Russe switched from SMS marketing to MMS marketing, they found MMS had 3x the conversion rate than SMS,” Mr. Citron said. 

“The ability to include images and high resolution video assets within the message not only drove higher action but lower opt-outs, deepening database loyalty,” he said. “The second biggest hurdle in SMS is overcoming the stigma of spam marketing initiated by long code spammers.” 

It is important for marketers to provide a clear guidance of what the consumer can expect from joining their database,

Moreover, marketers should being respectful of the time messages are sent, and messaging frequency – it is all about location, personalization and relevance.

Marketers should also use their mobile database data to further tailor the message marketing program

“As more and more of today's marketers see the benefits and ROI of text marketing, they are looking for new ways to engage with customers,” Mr. Citron said.

“Given the inherent limitations of SMS, most marketers are turning to MMS marketing – leveraging the ability to add rich media such as high quality video, photography, images, lookbooks and more to deepen customer loyalty and interest in the brand and their products,” he said.

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York


Associate Editor Rimma Kats covers media, television, research and social networks. Reach her at rimma@mobilemarketer.com.

Related content: Messaging, SMS, Jeff Hasen, James Citron, mobile marketing, mobile

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Comments on "Overcoming hurdles in SMS"

  1. Nur Sharina says:

    January 12, 2013 at 2:30am

    Thank you - great article.

    SMS is perfect for local businesses to market their products and services and used properly a business owner can reach out to all customers with an SMS enabled phone.

    Once customers opted in and the engagement starts businesses can with reply keywords segment their contact lists into smartphone and none smartphone users with respective campaigns and content.

    QR Codes, linked mobile content and MMS are great means to deliver a marketing message. However a SMS campaign that targets at first all customers with a mobile phone generates a larger contact list to start with.

    Once the contact list builds up segmentation by keywords does the trick to target customer groups down to the point.
  2. Devon Artis says:

    November 7, 2012 at 9:26am

    I really liked reading this article, but I must agree with the first commenter about longcode spamming.

    It seems like there was an agenda to promote short code ...
  3. Jonathan Madnick says:

    September 28, 2012 at 10:15am

    This was a good lead off article until I read the quote of “The second biggest hurdle in SMS is overcoming the stigma of spam marketing initiated by long code spammers.”
    Wait a minute. While I don't deny that there is SMS spam, it can come from long codes and short codes. The most recent spam lawsuit (not decided yet) I read about was Coke using a four digit short code: http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/08/31/CocaCola.pdf
  4. Steve Matheson says:

    September 27, 2012 at 9:50am

    SMS is way way more popular then MMS. Its the most used data application - look at the stats on QR? (avoid the hype here).

    Importantly SMS traps and records the users phone number at the point of opt in?

    This is vital should your brand wish to contact the customer. Remember mobile is a regulated medium. So SMS is a vital tool to keep your mail lists clean.
  5. Freda McEnroe says:

    September 27, 2012 at 6:03am

    I agree that SMS marketing is really effective - but it does not have to be limiting - it is possible now to add multi-media mobile pages as a short url in your text messages, with calls to action and engaging content. MYiFLi works with SMS platforms to offer them an API to our instant flyer platform - allowing clients to link their SMS message to a custom mobile page with video or images - that they can build in minutes. You do need a smart phone and a data package to open the link - but thats where the growth is
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