Is SMS the best way to drive people to mobile websites?

One of the great challenges for marketers is to get the right people’s attention. Once you have someone’s attention then it is all about having a great product, and everything moves onwards to a sale.

The question of what makes a great product is a topic for another day and another guide; what’s covered in this article is how to get eyes on your mobile-optimised website and – more specifically – whether SMS marketing is indeed the way forward. There are many different ways you can get someone to visit a website, so why put your faith in SMS messaging?

Before answering this question it is important to understand the state of the modern smartphone market, as well as the availability of the web on the move and indeed mobile reception…

Setting the scene for SMS mobile marketing

There is a significant feeling among governments and many other organisations that internet connectivity can solve a great deal of problems, due to the way it allows remote access to a range of services. As a result, huge sums of money are pushed into the infrastructure necessary to make the internet more readily available and faster; relying on both private and public Wi-Fi hotspots as well as the mobile internet (3G/4G).

In addition, smartphone ownership is rising all over the world. In a Nielsen report from 2013 entitled ‘The Mobile Consumer’, it was revealed that mobile phone penetration has reached 97 per cent of adults (those over 16 years old) in the UK. Looking at smartphone penetration, the researchers found that 61 per cent of British adults had such devices.

Combining these two factors – ever improving internet availability and high numbers of mobile devices capable of accessing the web – creates the perfect storm for companies to push consumers in the direction of their website on mobile phones. Whether people are at home, at work, in the shops or on public transport, there is a good chance that they will have internet access. So the next question is: how do you persuade them to get online?

Immediacy of mobile marketing and SMS

There are so many platforms for communications these days; traditional media such as printed magazines, television and radio are being increasingly challenged by digital alternatives (in the shape of text, social media and email). The latter set have the advantage of being generally much cheaper to use for marketing purposes; but how does SMS messaging shape up compared with its arguably more modern rivals?

Much hullabaloo has been made about social media and its impact on society; it is undoubtedly a great way for friends to share and communicate, but it is questionable whether many companies have worked out how to market on such networks. Also, unless the mobile user has ‘push notifications’ enabled, then the recipient of an advertising tweet, update or comment will not see the content until they next sign in – or they could even miss it altogether.

The same goes for emails – some people have notifications switched on for their email account but many others will not have even linked up their phone with their email account, let alone played around with notification settings.

It is in the immediacy and personal nature of an SMS message that a text rises above email and social. When you send someone a text then they will generally get it immediately if they have mobile coverage. Also, people do not turn off push notifications for text messages – it simply doesn’t happen. So the recipient will always see a message when it comes in. Finally, unlike social and email, a text message will not be sitting among tens or even hundreds of unread messages – there is a good chance it will be the only unread message in their inbox.

Getting people to land on your mobile site

In this way, getting people to read your message should not be too difficult with SMS, however, do make sure that they have given permission to be contacted in this way. Once they are reading the message, it is all about getting them to heed the call to action; in this case to visit your company’s website.

Be concise in your messaging, make it clear what type of deal you are offering and make it as easy as possible to get them to click through – this means including a clickable link, rather than expecting them to copy and paste a URL into their web browser. Think about who you are speaking to and how to make your proposition more attractive to this type of person – you can do this both in the language you use and the tone of it all.

Think about including an SMS short code when you send a text, as this will make it simple for them to contact you by phone if they wish to. If you have an SMS text autoresponder installed, then getting them the information or deal they are after becomes that much easier.

If your aim is primarily to drive traffic to a mobile-friendly website, mobile marketing in the form of a text should be a high priority. The world is developing in a manner that makes the connection between mobile phones and the internet clearer than ever – it is all about reacting to this trend in the appropriate way.