Overcoming hurdles in SMS

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. 

?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