You Know Your Mobile Customers Better Than You Think

Consumers are generally very attached to their smartphones and only connect with those they trust. This very reason is why mobile marketing is perceived as a “friendlier” way to engage with consumers. Research shows 95 percent of mobile users read their text messages within three minutes. Now, imagine the impact your mobile marketing will have if you deliver relevant offers, mobile coupons and discounts to your customers-they are almost guaranteed to be read and are more than likely to be acted upon if the message is targeted based on the what you already know about the customer.

Consumers are generally very attached to their smartphones and only connect with those they trust. This very reason is why mobile marketing is perceived as a “friendlier” way to engage with consumers. Research shows 95 percent of mobile users read their text messages within three minutes. Now, imagine the impact your mobile marketing will have if you deliver relevant offers, mobile coupons and discounts to your customers—they are almost guaranteed to be read and are more than likely to be acted upon if the message is targeted based on the what you already know about the customer.

Over the last couple years, mobile marketing has proven itself as an effective way to acquire and maintain customer data. This is true because people generally keep their phone numbers forever compared to their email addresses. Therefore having strong persistent personal IDs, such as a phone number, enables brands to track, evaluate, and optimize their mobile marketing campaigns to determine overall effectiveness.

Leverage What You Already Know
There are major benefits from using mobile messaging as part of a brands overall marketing campaign. Now brands and organizations are tracking and segmenting the users who are in their marketing databases. Information that has been collected through loyalty programs, incentive based marketing and opt-in’s which enables brands to better understand their customers interests and what they will respond to.

Turn Loyalty Programs Into Customize Incentives
Connecting a consumer’s phone number to their loyalty program ID can turn generic SMS offers into customized incentives. If you know what your customers are buying, and more importantly, what incentives bring them into your stores, you can use this information to make offers more dynamic and personal. Which in turn will drive a higher return rate and increase on-going customer loyalty.

CRM and Triggered Messaging
Most CRM systems track events throughout the customer lifecycle. Many of these events represent an opportunity to sell more product and service. These events can be used to trigger personalized messages to your customers that facilitate the sales process. Include a click to call, or drive them to your e-commerce enabled website to move them to purchase faster. Make sure your website is mobile ready!

Extend Your Knowledge of Your Customers
Using Mobile Messaging in your retention marketing doesn’t have to be a one-way conversation. In addition to tying in what you already know about your customers within your CRM or loyalty databases, you can gain insight from the SMS interactions as well. An integration between your back-office systems and your SMS provider can push new data points into your database that round out your customer profiles and lead to additional re-marketing opportunities.

There is a lot that can be done with the information that is collected about customers within a CRM system. While this data can be a great resource for things like consumer segmentation and establishing marketing strategy, it can also be leveraged real-time on a very personal level. Leveraging this data via SMS or other mobile engagements can lead to greater results through right-time, right device, and the right-message that walk the customer down the path to purchase.

As brands continue to evolve their mobile marketing strategies through more personalized interactions, they will be able to build stronger relationships, increase engagement and drive loyalty.

5 Tips to Create SMS Messages That Convert

When it comes to mobile marketing, there are many ways to drive your customers to take action. Whether that means visiting your website, visiting your store, contacting you, making an appointment or redeeming an offer, there is almost no better way than using SMS marketing … when done right.

When it comes to mobile marketing, there are many ways to drive your customers to take action. Whether that means visiting your website, visiting your store, contacting you, making an appointment or redeeming an offer, there is almost no better way than using SMS marketing … when done right.

You see, when you look at the top marketers who are using mobile, almost every single one uses SMS/Text messaging.

Do you think there is a reason for that?

Of course there is.

SMS gives marketers the widest reach among their customer base and offers the most effective communication channel when trying to drive immediate action.

Look at Starbucks, Macy’s, jcpenney, Lane Bryant, Crate and Barrel … They all leverage SMS as a key part of their mobile strategy.

Even Coca-Cola, the largest brand in the world, has been quoted saying it spends 70 percent of its mobile budget on SMS.

No matter how you slice it, SMS is the workhorse for many businesses when it comes to a comprehensive mobile strategy that leads to results.

The great thing about SMS is that businesses large and small can use it very effectively to drive action. Most of us want that action to be sales, and that’s when SMS can shine. At the end of the day, it’s super affordable when looking at the ROI it can generate, fairly easy to get started and very trackable.

In order to have SMS perform like a workhorse and drive the results you want, you should follow these five tips:

1. Utilize time-sensitivity in your messaging. Listen, more than 97 percent of SMS messages are read within 15 minutes. We both know your email isn’t competing with that. Because SMS is immediate, you need to make sure your messaging accounts for that and offers real value based on that immediacy. SMS is meant to be used like email or even push notifications. If you’re promoting an event that’s on Saturday, the SMS message better not go out the Monday before. It will be forgotten. You can always include a link or a promo code that can be redeemed for enhanced tracking and conversion reporting.

2. A clear call to action is mandatory. As a consumer, if you just broke through all the clutter to tell me something, you better not be delivering more noise. Make sure your messaging is clear and your recipients know exactly what action you want them to take. I’ve seen too many text messages trying to share too much info. Keep it brief. Keep it simple. Keep it clear.

3. Focus on driving customer lifetime value, not one-off engagements. SMS should be a part of your overall contact strategy. Like I said earlier, it shouldn’t be used the way you use email or push notifications. BUT, it should complement those forms of messaging. If you just try to send one-off messages vs. creating a contact strategy with SMS, you’ll be limiting just how successful you can be with SMS.

4. Know your crowd. Speak their language. When using SMS, you have limited characters to work with. Understand how consumers text, the language they use and use that to your advantage when composing your messages. If you’re too proper, it won’t come as natural for your consumer to engage. You language should fit within the text messaging environment.

5. Not everyone sleeps till 10 a.m. Oh wait, is that just me on the weekends? Not only is your call to action important, but the time at which you send your messages can be critical. Understand your customers’ time of day when delivering messages and always respect their time and time zone. I’d say never send before 8 a.m. (questionably, 9 a.m.) and never later than 6 or 7 p.m. Now, depending on your situation, it may warrant an earlier time or a later time. If I’m getting a flight reminder for a 6 a.m. flight, I better get that reminder with enough time in advance.

Start subscribing to how other businesses use SMS, especially the brands I mentioned earlier. Start recognizing what types of messages are sent when and what the call to action is. Ask yourself how you think they’d be measuring success of each message.

It will start to paint a picture for you in your own business so that when you start capitalizing on the power of SMS, these five tips are already natural for you.

What are some of the messages that you’ve found to be powerful?

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.

4 Methods of Maximizing and Monetizing Mobile Marketing Efforts

A recent study by Google showed nearly 75 percent of consumers surveyed said they want to see mobile-friendly sites. And if you’re site isn’t one of them, you may be losing leads and sales. The fact that we’re a nation that is on-the-go and pretty much living on our smartphones or tablets means that your website should be adapted to these mediums to help monetize your business. It also means that thinking about mobile marketing and how to incorporate various forms of that into your marketing strategy should be high on your list for 2013.

A recent study by Google showed nearly 75 percent of consumers surveyed said they want to see mobile-friendly sites. And if you’re site isn’t one of them, you may be losing leads and sales.

The fact that we’re a nation that is on-the-go and pretty much living on our smartphones or tablets means that your website should be adapted to these mediums to help monetize your business.

It also means that thinking about mobile marketing and how to incorporate various forms of that into your marketing strategy should be high on your list for 2013.

Mobile-Friendly Must-Haves

There are certain “must-haves” that consumers noted they are looking for in a mobile-friendly website. Such features include:

1. Being fast. This means having a site that loads in around five seconds or less.

2. Being user-friendly. Having large buttons, easy search capabilities, limited scrolling or pinching are key, based on consumer feedback. Something to consider is having responsive templates that adjust accordingly based on the user’s device, albeit template, desktop or mobile phone. It’s also important to have quick access to company information, such as easy-to-find business directions, contact numbers, product and purchasing information. Even better, consider adding a “click to call” access button to contact a customer service rep to take an order via the phone, as well as an option for users to visit a non-mobile site.

3. Being social. To continue bonding and viral marketing, don’t forget links to your business’ social media profile page.

If you’re a smaller business that may not have the staff or resources to include these features into your website, there are some free and trial mobile conversion websites worth checking out. These include: http://www.ginwiz.com, http://www.dudamobile.com/ and http://www.mobilizetoday.com.

The App Attack

If you’re pondering if your business “app worthy” or how you can leverage apps for additional sales or leads, here’s some food for thought …

Paid apps could be a great way to add ancillary revenues to your business and free apps could be used for collecting important data (leads), which can be used for cross-selling. Some businesses even obtain revenues through ads that are built in the app from sponsorship partners.

Whichever business model you choose, you still have to decide what your app will feature. Typically, content is king. For instance if you’re a financial publisher, you may consider having an app that has stocks alerts and ideas, technical analysis, commentary and actionable data that your end-user (investors) would find beneficial. Know your audience and decide what kind of content is “app worthy.”

Then, of course, you need to market and distribute your app for increased visibility. You can promote your app though affiliate and joint venture emails, press releases, content marketing, online classifieds, and guerilla marketing in related forums and message boards. You can also include your app in various marketplaces including: Play/Apps Store (Droid and iPhone), BlackBerry Appworld, Apple Apps Store/iTunes, and Amazon Appstore for Android.

Of course, fees and commissions vary, but some are more cost-effective than you think. Here’s a great article with more information: “App Store Fees, Percentages and Payouts: What Developers Need to Know.” I also found a free service worth checking out called Freeappalert.com as an alternate distribution channel for your app.

QR Codes

You’ve seen ’em, those little square bar codes on just about everything these days. But not everyone is using them properly and not every business needs them. QR Codes, used the right way, can be a great way to take offline marketing leads online. For instance, consider putting these little guys on your business cards, collateral material, fulfillment kits, promotional fliers, press kits, brochures and other printed materials. Why? It’s a way for a consumer to “scan” the barcode and be redirected to your sign up/”squeeze page” or promotional webpage to provide further information and, more importantly, collect valuable data on them so you can follow up accordingly.

SMS Texting

Recent studies show that 97 percent of text messages are read within minutes of receiving them. SMS text message marketing allows you to communicate directly to your target market by sending a simple, quick text message. This permission-based program is perfect because your recipients have opted in to receive your messages. If you choose SMS texting for either bonding (editorial) or marketing (promotions), in addition to your standard anti-spam and privacy policy verbiage, make sure on your sign up form it’s clearly stated that subscribers who elect to be contacted this way will receive important messages and special offers from the publisher and select third-party partners, as well as may be subject to text messaging fees from the phone carrier. This article shows a good example of a text message disclaimer: “What Details to Include in a Mobile Marketing Call to Action.”

In my experience, this medium has been most effective with premium-type services where members rely on critical real-time alerts from the publisher that are pure editorial. The marketing aspect is ancillary.

So if you’re looking to be a leader in your industry and not a laggard, it pays to conduct some “due diligence” on your website and think about which mobile marketing strategies may be right for your biz and audience. With our social and communications landscape always changing, staying abreast of the latest tools, trends and is imperative for businesses to survive and thrive.

The Connected Consumer is Changing The Face of Marketing: Understanding the Importance of Trust

In January, I wrote about marketing’s “meeting of waters” and how mobile is acting as the connective tissue that’s tying together digital and traditional marketing practices. The meeting of waters analogy holds true because we live in an age where people are increasingly becoming connected and these connections are forever changing marketing and how we engage our customers. Today people are connected to each other, to organizations, to machines. Moreover, machines are connected to other machines and working on behalf of the consumer.

In January, I wrote about marketing’s “meeting of waters” and how mobile is acting as the connective tissue that’s tying together digital and traditional marketing practices. The meeting of waters analogy holds true because we live in an age where people are increasingly becoming connected and these connections are forever changing marketing and how marketers engage consumers. People are connected to each other, to organizations, to machines and more. Moreover, machines are connected to other machines and working on behalf of consumers. Consider the following:

  • Over 28 percent of the global population uses the internet, and in most developed countries this number exceeds 75 percent.
  • There are 5.3 billion mobile connections — over 54 percent of the global population — and 3.7 billion people carry and use a mobile device of some kind. Within the next few years more people will access the internet via a mobile device than any other means.
  • There were 6.1 trillion text messages exchanged around the globe in 2010. Nearly 6 billion text messages are exchanged every day in the U.S.
  • Over 500 million people are active Facebook users, each having an average of 130 friends, spending an average of 700 billion minutes on the site and sharing over 30 billion pieces of information each and every month.
  • There are 175 million Twitter users, creating 95 million tweets per day.
  • Programs offered by retailers that reward shoppers for purchasing are on the rise due to locally relevant marketing and merchandising.
  • The number of smartmeter installations are increasing (a smartmeter monitors utility consumption, such as electricity and water). This data is accessible online.
  • Sensors are being placed in plants so that they can tweet us when they need to be watered; in carpets so that they can tell us when they need to be cleaned; and in pills so that they can transmit through a Band-Aid and to phone biometric readings as the pill travels through our bodies. Moreover, in some parts of the world, you’ll even find sensors on produce and a wide range of consumer goods. For example, a shopper can immediately discern what farm a head of lettuce came from, the route it took to get to the store and how long it’s been sitting on the shelf by simply waving their phone.

The above online and offline activities are just small subsets of what’s happening as people go through their daily lives. Consumers always have their mobile device with them, and they’re using them to fulfill their needs.

An important undercurrent to the meeting of waters analogy and the trend toward the ever-increasing connectedness is that people are also creating and sharing more information than ever before. Eric Schmidt, Google’s former CEO, notes more information is created every two days than from the dawn of civilization up to 2003 combined. This information can be used to create new services like personalized search and consumer engagement.

In the age of the connected consumer, Schmidt proposes that the next generation of mobile devices may be capable of tracking an individual’s actions, movements and purchases, and over time learn their interests and preferences. Later, using location and similar tracking tools, companies like Google can alert an individual not just based on their stated or shared preferences but on system inferred and predicted preferences.

This is a very powerful value proposition, one that has the opportunity to enrich the lives of consumers. Marketers have the ability to deliver value at the time of consumer expressed and inherent need. However, you must remember that key success factors to engaging consumers in this ever-connected world include your ability to be transparent in your actions and provide consumers with control over the relationships they have with marketers.

As an industry, we have the opportunity to embrace our future and maintain the course of responsible behavior. The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) along with its partners is doing just that. The company recently announced its Consumer Best Practices for Messaging v6.0. The MMA has also announced an applications committee and a Privacy Initiative Task Force in coordination with its members and other organizations like the Digital Advertising Alliance to work on expanding the industry’s best practices and guidelines around how marketers and consumers are to engage each other. The outcome of this work will allow all of us in the industry to focus on sustainable growth while ensuring that we achieve this growth responsibly.