Why SMS Will Be Your Mobile Workhorse and 5 Ideas to Get You Started

We’ve talked about the importance of a mobile-friendly Web presence and mobile-optimized email for your small business. But there is one mobile tool that your small business should be leveraging that will be a key puzzle piece to the success of your mobile strategy. Some might argue that SMS is the most effective mobile channel that exists, when it comes to ROI.

We’ve talked about the importance of a mobile-friendly Web presence and mobile-optimized email for your small business. But there is one mobile tool that your small business should be leveraging that will be a key puzzle piece to the success of your mobile strategy.

Some might argue that SMS is the most effective mobile channel that exists, when it comes to ROI.

There is a reason it continues to be the workhorse within the mobile strategies of brands like Coca-Cola, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, Target, jcpenney and many more.

5 reasons SMS will be the workhorse in your mobile strategy.

Instant Deliverability: SMS messages offer one of the most immediate marketing channels for businesses. More than 97 percent of messages are read within four minutes of receipt. So if you have a message that is time sensitive, there is no better way to connect with your customer.

Everyone’s Reachable: Nearly 100 percent of the handsets on the market can send and receive text messages. I don’t care that we’ve surpassed 50 percent smartphone penetration in the USA. I don’t care that that will continue to grow. You’re missing out on 40 percent to 50 percent of your audience right now by catering to smartphone-only customers.

Just because my 65-year-old dad has an iPhone now doesn’t mean he will use it the way I do. But you know what … he sure sends a whole lot more text messages to me.

Highest-Possible Visibility: Remember how I said that 97 percent of SMS messages are read within four minutes? Well, that means that 97 percent of your SMS messages are being read—period. When was the last time your email open rate was over 90 percent? I’ll let you figure that one out on your own.

Now I’m not saying “Stop using email.” Email is super powerful and has its place. But SMS offers you a new, quick, high-converting way to connect with your customers that no channel can match.

Highly Targeted: Because buying lists is a no-no when it comes to SMS, you have to build your database of loyal customers. Being a permission-based marketing vehicle, your customers have to opt in to receiving these messages from you.

Yes, that means they essentially raised their hands and said, “I’d like you to connect with me on my most personal device.” The next best thing in my mind is if your customer invites you over for dinner. Mmmmm …

Cost Effective, Considering the Return: For all you marketing folk, this means Return on Investment (ROI).

SMS is way more affordable than you think. Many of you still spend a good part of your budget on direct mail. Again, it has its place in your marketing mix. But look at some of the costs associated with direct mail: You have postage, shipping, mailing lists, printing, packaging/fulfillment etc.

Direct mail depends on your volume. But, at the end of the day, you could be spending 20 cents to more than a dollar per piece. SMS could cost you pennies per message.

As a small business, a Yellow Pages ad could cost you up to $4,000 per year. Yes, people (especially older demographics) do still reach for their Yellow Pages when they need a business in a hurry, but it offers little to no engagement or tracking.

Depending on the size of your small businesses, incorporating SMS into your monthly budget could run you $25 to a few hundred bucks a month. The level of return will far outweigh your older, traditional media vehicles.

OK, so you’re sold on adding mobile to your marketing mix. Congratulations, it was a wise decision, trust me.

Here are 5 ideas for you to get started with SMS this year.

Mobilize Your Loyalty Program: Begin building your list of mobile numbers and send timely, relevant messaging to your customers. This can include special mobile-only offers, promotion opportunities, sales, new product or service offerings.

The more you can personalize these messages, the better. Many of you may already have some sort of loyalty program in place. I’m not asking you to do something totally new. Just add SMS as a component of the loyalty program to bring loyal customers back with relevant, high-value messaging.

Mobilize Your Coupons: Target, jcpenney and Bed Bath & Beyond are great examples of this. Each and every week, these businesses send mobile coupons to their mobile databases. It’s fast, cost effective and convenient for the customers who prefer to receive these offers to their phones. They just bring their phones to the store and redeem their mobile coupons at the point of purchase.

Eliminate No-Shows: Does your businesses depend on filling appointment slots? Doctors, Lawyers, Salons, etc. rely on filling appointments, but what happens when your customer misses an appointment?

Let me guess, you don’t charge for no-shows? Some estimates state that missed appointments for a single physician can be as much as $150,000 in lost revenue and additional labor costs. Multi-physician offices are even more drastic, estimating no-shows in a single year resulting in losses of over $1 million.

So how can SMS eliminate no-shows?

Why not send an appointment reminder via SMS within an hour or two prior to the appointment? Include a number for those who have to cancel. Better yet, let them reply to the message so that it updates your appointment software.

Oh no, someone canceled! Send out a message to your database to fill that last-minute appointment.

If you’re a salon, restaurant or massage therapist, you can send a message to your customer SMS list offering a savings opportunity to the one that fills that appointment slot.

Add SMS and stop losing money due to no-shows.

Engage Customers With Giveaways: Sweepstakes and giveaways have been great ways to build your SMS list in the early stages.

Offer up one big prize and let your customers text in to enter. Give away a monthly prize and give customers a reason to stay on your list.

Not only do sweepstakes entice customers to opt-in, but everyone loves winning prizes. Is giving away one or two free services a month worth generating hundreds of new opt-ins to communicate with moving forward?

Learn About Your Customers With Polls and Surveys: Did one of your loyal customers just purchase from you? A quick SMS message could let them provide valuable feedback on their experience.

SMS is a two-way interactive tool that lets customers provide feedback just by replying to your messages.

Are you thinking about releasing a new product or service? Are you a restaurant and looking to add a new menu item? Poll your audience to get their feedback to help make smarter decisions.

Bonus point: Tie a sweepstakes to your survey and award a lucky customer with a prize of some sort to encourage participation.

Now it’s on you.

These are just a few ways you could quickly begin to incorporate SMS marketing into your business. It’s important to remember that SMS without a strategy or goal will lead to poor results.

Make sure you understand why you’re adding SMS and determine measurements for success to continually optimize your efforts.

The trick is to not re-invent the wheel. You should look to mobilize initiatives you already have in place.

You don’t need to create a separate marketing initiative. You’re already doing what you need to do. Now mobilize it.

The Mobile Nexus—If You’re a Marketer, Be Prepared to Live or Die By It

It’s no secret that the mobile channel is exploding in our lives. Unless you’ve recently been living under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly come across some jaw-dropping stats on mobile usage. Here’s a couple more to chew on. According to a recent article in Mobile Commerce Daily, mobile retail dollars doubled between April and December 2011 alone. That’s just eight months! And, Mobithinking.com reports that approximately 25 percent of Americans access the Web only on their mobile devices. Kowabunga!

It’s no secret that the mobile channel is exploding in our lives. Unless you’ve recently been living under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly come across some jaw-dropping stats on mobile usage. Here’s a couple more to chew on. According to a recent article in Mobile Commerce Daily, mobile retail dollars doubled between April and December 2011 alone. That’s just eight months! And, Mobithinking.com reports that approximately 25 percent of Americans access the Web only on their mobile devices. Kowabunga!

Many marketers refer to the mobile device as the Third Screen, after the television and personal computer. In this post, I’m going to propose a bold new idea here about the Third Screen, and why recent technological advances mean this exciting new channel is going to change our lives in ways we cannot possibly fathom today. This idea is predicated on the fact that in its new form, mobile essentially presents us with an entirely new paradigm in not only the way individuals interact with technology, but also how companies engage with and market to individuals. Let me explain.

Remember in the movie Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise, in which stores changed their signage when you entered, using your profile data to create a custom experience? Well, to a certain extent, that’s what’s possible now with mobile. Using location services, you see, mobile knows exactly where you are. Not where you live. Not where you’ve been. Where you are right now. It’s effectively marrying your personal profile to your geographic location. But that’s not all. Mobile also connects you seamlessly to your social networks—friends, followers, networks, reviews, blogs posts, etc. This provides a truly three-dimensional user experience. I call it the Mobile Nexus.

The Mobile Nexus is the intersection of three major elements in our lives—Personal Attributes (your demographic and psychographic profile), Geographic Location and Social Media. In theory, this confluence should enable marketers to craft marketing messages and personalized promotions based not only on who you are, but where you are, while at the same time giving users the ability to interact with your various social media networks to get more information, invite friends, share opinions, post reviews, and so on. The possibilities are simply staggering.

Sure, one could argue that mobile phones have been around for a while. But it was the recent emergence of the smartphone connected to the Internet and enabled with location services that, in my opinion, at least, changed the rules of the game for marketers. And although smartphones only came on the scene a few years ago, they’re gaining traction fast. In fact, according to MediaPost, smartphone penetration in the US is currently at 44 percent. What’s more, Mobile Marketing Watch reports that, as we speak, an astounding 75 percent of all new mobile phone contract subscribers are for smartphones. So count on the number of devices in the marketplace to skyrocket in coming months as old contracts expire. Can you say, “game changer”?

Of course, anyone familiar with the interactive marketing world could easily argue that geographic profiling is nothing new. Yes, it’s true that many websites and pretty much all ad serving networks drive personalized Web content based on IP address location. But, location services takes geo-targeting to an entirely new place, by providing real-time dynamic location data while you go about your day—not where your computer happens to be plugged into the Internet.

Turning to the social media component, if you look at current usage stats, you begin to appreciate its pervasiveness in our lives and why it’s playing such a big role in the mobile channel. Facebook has 600 million users. Twitter has 175 million. Meanwhile, 10 million foursquare members “check in” at more than three million locations a day, and consumers have posted more than 20 million business reviews on Yelp, and counting. So the numbers are eye-popping. Now with smartphones becoming the norm, accessing social media on the go is becoming mainstream, too.

Hype aside, let’s not forget that the mobile channel is still in its infancy and it will need much more time to reach maturity. At this early stage, enterprising firms are only now releasing the first generation of tools, while innovative agencies and consultants concoct new techniques to harness its power for business. In fact, we can see the preliminary results of the Mobile Nexus already.

Want to go out to eat? How about searching for a local restaurant nearby using your mobile device? Then use an app like Yelp and it’s not hard generate a list of nearby places, based on your preferences, along with user-generated reviews, hours of business, contact details, etc. Are you a traveling salesman in need of some fresh leads to visit? Well, install the Hoover’s “Near Here” App and, voila, you can search for look-alike businesses in the surrounding area based on proximity and business type. And if technology like this already exists, imagine what the future will hold?

“Those who call themselves ‘Mobile Experts’ only have two to three years of experience in the field,” explained a friend of mine who works as a consultant at a major management consulting firm. He and his team develop multi-channel sales and marketing strategies for their clients. With the recent proliferation of mobile technology, it should come as no surprise that many, if not all, of their new projects have a mobile component.

At this point, even the most experienced consultants have overseen no more than a handful of mobile implementations, and successful mobile marketers probably have no more than a dozen successful campaigns under their belts. “But things are changing so fast. Those who jump in now will be able to call themselves experts within a year’s time,” he explained. In other words, the best is yet to come.

Are you getting involved in the exciting new Mobile channel? If so, what success have you enjoyed? I’d love to hear your comments.

The Strategic Imperative of Understanding Mobile in 2011 and Beyond

There aren’t many industries with a compound annual growth rate of nearly 57 percent, especially in the midst of the worst recession in generations. But that’s one measure of the success of mobile advertising, which has moved out of brands’ and agencies’ research and development budgets and into their mainstream spending.

There aren’t many industries with a compound annual growth rate of nearly 57 percent, especially in the midst of the worst recession in generations. But that’s one measure of the success of mobile advertising, which has moved out of brands’ and agencies’ research and development budgets and into their mainstream spending.

Take local mobile advertising, which consists of ads that are related to a user’s location. In 2009, the U.S. market for local mobile advertising was worth $213 million, according to BIA/Kelsey, a consultancy firm. Various outlets are predicting that revenues will top $2 billion by 2014.

Advertisers are spending more on the mobile channel because they understand the impact not just on their advertising, but on their businesses in general. That understanding comes from both the growing number of success stories and independent research that quantifies the mobile channel’s reach and effectiveness.

An April 2010 Mobile Marketing Association (MMA)/Luth Research survey found that nearly one in four U.S. adult consumers use mobile location services. Nearly half of those who noticed any ads while using those services took at least some action, indicating that consumers respond well to ads via location-based services. 


What are next year’s opportunities?
This research is noteworthy because it highlights some of the bigger mobile opportunities for brands and marketers in 2011 and beyond. The mobile channel’s inherent location capabilities, for example, coupled with high user awareness of those capabilities, provide new opportunities to deliver mobile coupons when consumers are literally in position to make a purchase.

Because cell phones are something that most consumers carry with them at all times, these devices also can be used to “mobile-enable” traditional media such as print, broadcast and billboards. For example, by adding a common short code (or QR code) to an ad, marketers can capitalize on consumer interest in their products or services by immediately delivering information, e-coupons or enabling a purchase on the spot.

This isn’t pie-in-the-sky forecasting, either. A May 2010 MMA/Luth Research survey found that approximately one in five U.S. adult mobile phone owners have used their cell phone for mobile commerce in the past month.

All of these factors highlight another, overarching opportunity: The mobile channel has evolved beyond serving as only a marketing tool. It’s now a highly effective way to facilitate sales transactions, provide customer care, foster brand loyalty and solicit customer feedback. No wonder that U.S. advertisers and agencies plan to increase their mobile spending 124 percent, to more than $5.4 billion, by the end of 2011.

5 Pillars of the Mobile Marketing Industry

All emerging industries reach a point where their ecosystem’s members find common and fundamental concepts that help them organize their thoughts and actions in order to ensure the long-term growth and success of their businesses. For mobile marketing, those fundamentals have emerged and can be boiled down to five verbs: promote, measure, educate, guide and protect.

All emerging industries reach a point where their ecosystem’s members find common and fundamental concepts that help them organize their thoughts and actions in order to ensure the long-term growth and success of their businesses. For mobile marketing, those fundamentals have emerged and can be boiled down to five verbs: promote, measure, educate, guide and protect.

In September, the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) refined its messaging along these five pillars to improve its ability to efficiently communicate with the market and to forge forward with its mission to help foster a growing and sustainable mobile marketing industry. The following list highlights the measurable objectives of each of these pillars:

  • Promote. Promote mobile marketing best practices, standards, thought-leadership and industry leaders (e.g., brands, agencies, media companies, application providers, etc.) to foster innovation and industry development.
  • Educate. Provide structured, evidence-based curriculum to educate brands, agencies and consumers about the full scale and scope of mobile marketing practices to highlight their advantages and benefits and to ensure that all players can develop a common understanding of each other’s goals and motivations so that they may efficiently and effectively co-create value between them for their mutual benefit.
  • Measure. As we enter into the “digital age,” where all engagements, moods, preferences, interests and intentions can be digitally imprinted, the key to successful mutual value creation between marketers and consumers will be achieved through the teasing out of insights and knowledge from the vast amounts of data that’s being managed by consumers and marketers alike. In today’s digital world, consumers have as much information as marketers; both need to measure their activities (e.g., total spend in industry, effectiveness of one medium versus another to accomplish one’s goals) to ensure they’re optimizing their time, energy and money.
  • Guide. We all need guidance. By continuing to amass thought-leadership, best practices and self-regulatory codes of conduct, mobile marketers can continue to foster and grow the industry.
  • Protect. Protect consumers and your businesses. All mobile marketers need to pay special attention to the needs of each constituent in the marketplace, and ensure an even playing field for all to help maximize public and industry confidence in mobile marketing, lower barriers to entry and minimize noneconomic costs of doing business.

More than words
These five pillars aren’t just shibboleths. They’re designed to provide the mobile marketing industry with actionable concepts that are key for maintaining growth.

Here’s a real-world example: A recent MMA survey of U.S. advertisers and ad agencies shows strong confidence in mobile marketing’s reach and effectiveness — so much so that they plan to increase their spending 124 percent to more than $5.4 billion by the end of 2011. This projected increase reflects advertiser and agency plans to shift their budgets out of media such as print and outdoor and into the mobile channel.

The “measure” pillar plays a key role by providing the confidence that in turn enables this kind of growth. It’s easier for brands and agencies to justify those dramatic increases and strategy shifts when they have access to independent, primary analytics showing consumer interest in and adoption of mobile services.

But measurement is possible only when everyone is using the same baselines and definitions. The MMA recently worked with the Interactive Advertising Bureau to define what constitutes a mobile ad impression.

Another example of measurement is via independent research. An April 2010 survey conducted by the MMA and one of its official research partners, Luth Research, found that nearly one in four U.S. adult consumers uses mobile location services. Nearly half of those who noticed any ads while using location-based services took at least some action, indicating that consumers respond well to ads through location-based services. That’s the kind of actionable intelligence that brands and agencies need to make the most of the mobile opportunity.

The “promote” pillar plays an equally important role in helping drive industry growth. Case studies, for example, explain how and why certain campaigns are highly successful. This information gives brands and agencies the actionable insights necessary to develop and execute their own strategies, and it complements “measure” by providing additional confidence that the mobile channel will put their marketing budget to highly effective use.

Effectiveness depends partly on the actions of the industry as a whole. That’s where the “educate” pillar comes in. The MMA’s certification program is designed to educate marketing professionals about how to use the mobile channel effectively and appropriately.

That process starts with protecting the consumer experience and the efficiency of the market’s systems so that all players can grow their businesses in a sustainable fashion. Industry-standard guidelines such as the MMA’s “U.S. Consumer Best Practices” and “Code of Conduct for Mobile Marketing” are part of the “guide” pillar, which enables the self-regulation that helps grow the mobile opportunity.

The MMA’s role as guide includes providing a framework so that the mobile industry can create these kinds of documents, which ensure that brands, agencies, developers, carriers and other ecosystem members are all on the same page — and moving forward.

Promote, measure, educate, guide and protect. Five verbs that provide focus and momentum to the ongoing development of a burgeoning industry. Everyone can contribute, you just have to find the area that excites you the most, jump in and get engaged.

Researching the Mobile Marketing Opportunity

Mobile marketing is a case in point: A forthcoming Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) survey of U.S. advertisers and agencies shows strong confidence in mobile marketing’s reach and effectiveness — so much so that they plan to increase their spending 124 percent, to more than $5.4 billion by the end of 2011. This projected increase reflects advertiser and agency plans to shift their budgets out of media such as print and outdoor advertising and into the mobile channel.

There are two sure signs when an industry has evolved from a new niche to a mainstream power. First, companies shift big portions of their budget into the market and, second, there’s a growing body of independent research that sizes the impact of that spending and provides insights into emerging opportunities.

Mobile marketing is a case in point: A forthcoming Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) survey of U.S. advertisers and agencies shows strong confidence in mobile marketing’s reach and effectiveness — so much so that they plan to increase their spending 124 percent to more than $5.4 billion by the end of 2011. This projected increase reflects advertiser and agency plans to shift their budgets out of media such as print and outdoor advertising and into the mobile channel.

It’s easier for brands and agencies to justify those dramatic increases and strategy shifts when they have access to independent, primary analytics showing consumer interest in and adoption of mobile services. Take location-based advertising, for example. An April 2010 survey conducted by the MMA and one of its official research partners, Luth Research, found that nearly one in four U.S. adult consumers uses mobile location services, with usage highest among Apple iPhone owners.

One of that survey’s key takeaways: nearly half of those who noticed any ads while using location-based services took at least some action, indicating that consumers respond well to ads via location-based services. That’s the kind of actionable intelligence that brands and agencies need to make the most of the mobile channel.

Partnerships are key
To meet the industry’s need for qualitative and quantitative analytics, the MMA has established a Research Partner Program involving
several leading research firms around the world:

  • Luth Research and its online panel, SurveySavvy, supports MMA’s Mobile Consumer Briefing series in the U.S., a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adult mobile consumers that reveals current trends. For example, the July 2010 MMA Mobile Consumer Briefing found that a third of mobile consumers would be more likely to respond to an ad in any media if it offered them the option of a mobile response.

  • Lightspeed Research is the official partner of MMA’s Mobile Consumer Briefing series in three critical European markets: France, Germany and the U.K. The MMA’s April 2010 report showed that text messaging is now among the most popular means for making charitable donations in these major Western European countries.

  • Kinesis Survey Technologies, which is a key contributor to the MMA Global Research Panel, the industry’s first research capability that provides brands and agencies with deep, actionable insights into marketers’ integrated mobile campaigns, objectives and outcomes.

  • Synovate, whose surveys are the basis for the MMA’s annual “Mobile Attitude & Usage Study” series, will be releasing its 2010 study of the U.S. mobile market in November of this year.

  • Advertising Database, a key contributor to the MMA’s “View from Madison Avenue 2010: How American brands and agencies are using and spending on mobile,” a survey that will be released this August.

  • The Association of National Advertisers (ANA), whose membership includes 400 companies with 9,000 brands that collectively spend over $250 billion in marketing communications and advertising. The MMA and ANA currently are conducting a joint study into how brands are using the mobile channel for advertising and marketing, and the effectiveness of those strategies.

“Research firms around the world increasingly approach the MMA to offer their services to our members,” says Peter A. Johnson, the MMA’s vice president of market intelligence and strategy. “That’s a testimony both to the excitement and energy around the mobile channel and the perception of the MMA as the global source for actionable insights into this market.”

MMA research highlights are publicly available in MMA press releases and at our events, such as the Mobile Marketing Forum series. However, each study’s full, deep-dive results are available only to MMA members and at no additional cost, regardless of membership level.

Interested? Visit http://mmaglobal.com/research for more details.

Mobile Marketing’s Must-Attend Events for Fall 2010

Mobile phone sales continue to defy the global economic slump. Smartphone sales grew nearly 49 percent between Q1 2009 and Q2 2010, according to analyst firm Gartner. More than 314 million smartphones and feature phones shipped in Q1 2010 alone, 17 percent more than one year earlier.

Mobile phone sales continue to defy the global economic slump. Smartphone sales grew nearly 49 percent between Q1 2009 and Q2 2010, according to analyst firm Gartner. More than 314 million smartphones and feature phones shipped in Q1 2010 alone, 17 percent more than one year earlier.

All of those figures add up to an enormous opportunity for brands and marketers, including those looking to add interactivity to advertising campaigns that center around traditional media such as print, broadcast and billboards. That’s because whether consumers are buying their first Java ME feature phone or upgrading from an older smartphone to the latest Apple iPhone, that handset is now one of the most effective ways to build a brand, promote products and distribute coupons, to name just a few ways that mobile marketing is used today.

But there are no slam dunks in mobile marketing. Success depends on understanding factors such as the types of mobile phones used in a particular market and how that affects campaign strategies.

For example, at the most recent Mobile Marketing Forum (MMA Forum), held June 7-9 during Internet Week New York, one speaker noted that in India, 33 percent of SMS traffic is media content and/or advertising. Why do so many mobile marketing campaigns there use SMS? Because virtually every handset and network in India supports text messaging, and because SMS is affordable for more of the population than other types of data services.

If you missed the New York MMA Forum, there are plenty of other opportunities to get up to speed on mobile marketing. The first is by checking out some of the success stories presented at the New York MMA Forum, such as Lipton Tea’s mobile campaign that grew sales 47 percent, or the several brands — from florist chains to detergents — that reported 20 percent response rates for their mobile campaigns. Those and other highlights are recapped on the blog of one of the event’s many renowned speakers, author Tomi Ahonen.

The second opportunity is to attend one or more of the upcoming MMA Forum events. Each one provides an overview of mobile marketing, along with actionable insights into the world region where the event is held. The next three MMA Forum events are:

Latin America: Coming Sept. 2 in São Paulo, Brazil, this event will feature case studies of successful campaigns in Brazil and other regional countries.

Europe, Middle East and Africa: On Oct. 5-6, MMA’s Forum series will bring together leading marketers from across the world to share their experiences, challenges and successes with the mobile channel.

North America:
The final 2010 Forum on Nov. 17 in Los Angeles will feature speakers from across the mobile ecosystem, including many leading global brands and agencies.

The diversity of locations reflects the fact that although the mobile channel’s reach and effectiveness spans the globe, each region has unique market conditions, opportunities and needs. The New York event highlighted those by featuring insights from all four MMA regional directors, who represent Asia Pacific (APAC); Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA); Latin America; and North America.

All of the MMA regional directors provided plenty of real-world examples of mobile marketing’s bottom-line benefits. For instance, in the U.K., the Ariel detergent brand sent text messages to 400,000 housewives, achieving a 20 percent response rate and boosting in-store sales. In Japan, the AXE Wake-Up Girls mobile campaign increased deodorant sales 300 percent, a success that’s been duplicated in countries such as Turkey, too.

But don’t just take my word for it; see for yourself this fall.