In this opinion piece, Audrey Dowd from txt messaging business MessageMedia tells us why a mixed bag of tricks is best for marketing and why you shouldn’t discount SMS marketing.
Social media is one of the most disruptive and exciting channels to have emerged for marketers over the past few years. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, there’s an almost irresistible draw in the feedback loop of likes, check-ins and follows.
For a modern marketing strategy, it seems like evidence of consumer engagement. But this may not always be the case.
While a viral hit video or popular Tweet may generate a swell of attention for a particular brand, it can be very transient. There are so many “coolest video ever!” being swapped and shared via social – and “old fashioned” emails – that consumers may quickly be distracted by the next trending item.
“Viral” coverage also eludes many brands: it’s hard to achieve, and impossible to guarantee.
Do they really Like you?
Facebook “likes” can be a very encouraging sign that people are interested in your brand or responded to your campaign. However, while they may hit marketing KPIs, those likes don’t necessarily translate into meaningful engagement. It’s only a piece of the puzzle.
In a time where customers are best positioned to advocate for your brand, a successful marketing strategy relies on forming a close bond with the largest group of people possible. The larger the passionate community that forms around your brand, the more that community will advocate for you through their own social networks.
In other words, the most effective marketing strategies are those that are viral by stealth and convince customers to represent your brand for you.
And the best way to develop that particular community is through a strategic mix of channels, from social media to mobile phones.
The magic of messaging
In just eight years since the release of the first iPhone, we’ve become physically and emotionally attached to our phones. Studies have found that up to 70 per cent of people would rather lose their wallets than their phones.
No wonder, since these days your phone is increasingly becoming your wallet. Mobile pay technology, from Apple Pay to Google Wallet, is growing exponentially. We’re fast approaching the time when we will leave our cash, coins and cards at home, taking only our smartphones with us.
Smartphones also our primary alert systems, the 21st century “pager”. We might ignore new emails on them for a while, or not open the Facebook app every day, but everyone instantly checks when a text message arrives. How often have you deliberately let a call go unanswered, then immediately opened the SMS that sends the caller’s voicemail converted to text?
We like SMS alerts. They’re quick and simple, and we associate them with important, urgent and useful information.
As a marketing channel, mobile messaging/SMS is often neglected, but it can be a very direct and effective way of approach. It’s very intimate, built on the trust you’ve started earning from your social engagement with consumers.
For any marketer, convincing a customer to allow you to be part of their phone experience is a truly powerful opportunity for building deep engagement. If a group of customers allows you to send them SMS texts, for example, the data shows that at least 97 per cent of people who receive a text will read it: a far higher percentage than will read a Tweet or Facebook message.
Great power: handle with care
Of course, such a powerful tool needs to be handled carefully. If you start abusing the intimate relationship the customer is willing to have with your brand, you could quickly turn your biggest fans into your worst detractors.
No one likes to feel spammed, especially on a device as precious to them as their phone, and marketers need to respect that with text – the customer is having information handed to them, rather than going out and trying to obtain it. Bear in mind this is the old model of “passive” advertising, where TV audiences were forced to sit through TVCs. It’s no longer considered acceptable. These days viewers skip ads or block them altogether in online videos.
The quickest way to develop a negative association with a brand is to ignore the respect that customers expect you’ll have in sending them text messages.
You need to be discerning. It’s important to maintain a mix of messaging, and use SMS sparingly for urgent, high value information and offers. One a month, strategically timed to not clash with other marketing activity will maximise the impact. For the rest of the time, continue to engage and interact through your social media channels.
Importantly, too, text should be seen as a useful way to encourage a proper two-way conversation with the customer. It’s natural for people to both send and receive text, so those businesses that use a text campaign as a way to invite a response and feedback are the businesses that will see the greatest success.
The most successful text campaigns are those that add genuine value to your customers. We’ve seen local football leagues effectively use text to provide fans with ticketing and scheduling news direct to their phones, and saving them the need to research it themselves. Information on promotions is also valued by customers, especially if they’re a text message exclusive promotion to give the recipient the sense they belong to a select club.
So when you consider your social media marketing these days, don’t forget text. It’s a very important part of the mix and will deliver the biggest cut-through… if used carefully and sparingly.