Marketers talk about mobile as the future of marketing all the time. We fully acknowledge that customers carry their smartphones with them everywhere; that mobile devices drive more traffic to websites than desktops; and that mobile owns a greater portion of email open rates.
Yet many mobile marketing channels — for instance, SMS or text-message marketing — are highly underutilized despite the popularity of mobile.
With almost every consumer wielding a supercomputer during their waking hours, what can marketers do to get the most out of mobile technology, especially when it comes to the emerging area of text-message marketing?
We interviewed Greg Murphy, Salesforce Mobile Product Manager, for the complete low-down.
1. SMS has an open rate of 98% and a conversion rate of 45%.
The numbers don’t lie. “Brands that are actively running programs on the SMS channel are highly aware of that open rate, and that’s driven by the ROI coming back from this channel,” says Greg.
No email marketing campaign will ever see an open rate near 98%. Similarly, with all the algorithms and factors that affect which social media messages are seen, you can bet that none of your social messages will ever be read by 98% of all your social fans and followers. That makes SMS special.
2. 90% of text messages are opened within 3 minutes of being received.
Want to send an SMS? Know that 90% of texts are opened within 3 minutes of being received — meaning SMS marketing is “a highly disruptive channel, but a hugely positive disruption for the end user and the brand,” explains Greg.
Retailers especially are seeing impressive ROI from text messages, which result in quick opens and direct responses from consumers in short order.
3. Millennials are keen to engage with companies through mobile messaging.
Greg says that millennial consumers are highly aware of marketing and being marketed to. He points out, “They know what information they want, and they’d like to gain access to that in an organic way.” This means giving younger customers the opportunity to converse back and forth with your brand on the channel that’s easiest for them: mobile. “That’s what’s best for them because that’s what they’re used to,” Greg shares.
These mobile interactions could take the form of SMS and MMS (text messages including multimedia like pictures) or push notifications and in-app messages. When it comes to mobile, you have a lot of options. Greg says mobile messaging is an “extremely strong channel for bringing users back into your app.” Increasingly, companies are also communicating with customers through Facebook chat, WhatsApp, and other short-form mobile methods, which “is really a testament to how users expect to interact with a brand,” says Greg.
4. For an awesome SMS program, think useful, not just promotional.
“There’s … strong capabilities and proven use cases through the texting channel. Marketers have found success with this channel, but there’s also a huge breadth in capabilities and use cases,” says Greg. To have a truly successful SMS program, think about more than just marketing.
Instead of simply sending promotional texts, Greg encourages users to think out of the box. “Do you want an SMS message when your table is ready at a restaurant? Do you want an SMS when your Uber has arrived? Do you want an SMS when your package has shipped? These one-time messages are very valuable for the brand and the user,” he shares.
5. The disruption of SMS makes it both valuable and a little dangerous.
The simple fact that text messages are so disruptive is what makes them uniquely useful. “They’re going to pull the customer away from what they’re doing and demand attention to your brand. This is what really positions the channel for your brand’s specific mobile moment,” advises Greg.
The trick to getting the mobile moment right? Being selective and communicating minimally. Greg encourages marketers to ask, “Does this marketing message warrant interrupting someone’s dinner?” If the answer is no, it’s probably better to send it through another channel. After all, unsubscribing is simple on SMS, and despite the best personalization tactics, you never truly know the time zone, circumstance, or mood of the person on the other end of a text.