For many business owners, marketing has to provide one result above anything else – a return on investment. It’s unlikely that savvy CEOs will be keen to deal in fluffy intangibles such as awareness and sentiment, because they aren’t enough to single-handedly keep the business afloat. Instead, many will turn their attention to cold, hard figures, as these can make all the difference between success and failure.
So even though brand awareness or customer sentiment may prove to be positives in the longer term, they’re largely shunned in favour of bottom-line figures. As such, here are five attributes of SMS marketing that avoid the lighter touch of brand awareness – instead providing financial, numerical benefits that can be measured in real terms.
Speed of communication
The first point of note is speed, or just how quickly messages reach their intended target. Reports have put the time between a user hitting send and the message being delivered at a mere seven seconds. Think of it another way: if you swallowed a mouthful of food at precisely the same time you pressed send, the morsel would hit your stomach at the same point your message arrived at its destination. Or another way, a message sent from Land’s End to a user in John O’Groats would make the distance at around 2,900 times the speed of sound.
Of course, these eyebrow-raising stats still prove a point. Text messages are fast, which can be used very effectively by businesses. For example, when someone logs onto a retailer’s in-store Wi-Fi, a message could automatically be sent to their mobile that offers a 10 per cent discount for offline purchases.
Other uses could be to ‘newsjack’, in which businesses turn recent or breaking news stories into marketing campaigns. Examples include Oreo’s much-vaunted Super Bowl blackout message which boasted “you can still dunk in the dark”. These only work when speed is on your side, so a medium which offers breakneck speeds of delivery is an absolute must.
Open rates for SMS
All the talk of email being viewed as the premier tool for remote digital marketing heads out the window when comparing its open rate results with that of SMS marketing. Thanks to spam filters and a simple delete function, many emails are consigned to the digital scrapheap without having ever been opened.
Text messages, on the other hand, are nearly always opened. In fact, research has put the email open rate at just over a quarter, whilst SMS messages enjoy a whopping 95 per cent success rate. Mobile owners are renowned for rushing to their phones whenever they receive a text. On top of this, with many of today’s mobiles ringing intermittently until an unopened message is finally read, those users who ignore it once are unlikely to continue doing so indefinitely.
All of this combines to make SMS a force to be reckoned with when it comes to open rates.
Engagement using mobile phones for business
Despite the above, open rates aren’t the only arrow in SMS marketing’s quiver, as engagement levels also hold their own against other industry players. The Mobile Marketing Association has conducted just one of the many reports into marketing engagement levels, finding SMS to be five times more likely to elicit a response than direct mail. Business SMS for financial services, for example, provides important customer service. Integrating SMS messaging into your communications makes banking, appointment setting and updates far easier for your customers to use.
There’s also the response rate. Consumers are innately comfortable with replying to messages, so there is no obstacle to them replying when the need arises. This is also true of accepting text messages, with the days of people viewing their SMS inboxes as being resolutely industry-free now almost entirely in the past. Today, mobile owners are increasingly willing to proffer their numbers to those businesses they like and with which they’d be happy to engage.
Supporting other marketing channels with text messages
For businesses using SMS campaigns as just one aspect of their wider marketing efforts, there is definite potential on offer. For example, aligning email and SMS campaigns could see an open rate boost of around 20 to 30 per cent when contacts are sent simple “have you read our email?” reminder texts.
In financial terms, rolling out an SMS campaign alongside email and direct mail will certainly drive up initial outlay, but (at least when executed effectively) should also drive up return. In working together to become more than the sum of their individual parts, joint campaigns can eke out every last drop of ROI that may have otherwise been lost when used in isolation.
Analytical value of SMS in the marketing mix
All of the above are fine and reasonable ways of generating ROI, but there needs to be a real, tangible way of measuring all this, otherwise it can become just as fluffy as anything else. Thankfully, analytical tools for measuring SMS impact are easy to access, meaning that a campaign’s success or failure can be detailed in real, numerical values.
Analytical measurement of SMS campaigns can stretch from delivery volumes to open and reply rates. Users are able to see which wording had the best impact, which generated the greatest number of unsubscribes and just how many people acted upon the information sent to them.
This vast array of data can then go into future campaigns in order to help shape them into the best they can possibly be. Then afterwards, the same approaches can be repeated in order to drill down even further and iron out some of the more minor issues that may not have been present initially.
Given all of the above, it’s easy to see why SMS is a good fit for anyone who concerns themselves more with facts and figures than the grey area of intangibles. Thankfully, even for those who are also concerned with such factors as brand awareness and sentiment, it also reaches there as well.