The SMS Marketing Blog

[ By Ez Texting ]

Texting: A Life Beyond Marketing

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Many businesses send mass text messages as part of their marketing plan. And why not? It’s a low-cost, highly effective way to offer special deals directly to customers. But direct marketing is just one way to leverage the power of SMS messaging.

Increasingly, companies are finding more innovative uses for text messages. For some, it’s about customer relationship management. For others, it’s merely the most easily accessed form of communication for remote employees. A growing number of businesses are no longer just using text messages to offer something of value – they’re using it to take payments from clients.

Let’s take a look at some common, non-marketing uses of text messaging:

News Updates

SMS is ideal for issuing operational information such as store opening and closing times, locations etc. It’s a brilliant way to engage customers and keep them aware of your brand without trying to sell anything.

Urgent Notices

Circumstances sometimes conspire to prevent entrepreneurs getting on with their plans. Let’s say you’re running an event and your keynote speaker drops out. What if that speaker was the only reason some of your attendees were planning to go? Letting them know of the schedule change by SMS may disappoint them – but not nearly as much as showing up and finding out on the day. For instant contact with an extremely high chance of being viewed, SMS is unrivalled. 

Competitions & Surveys

It’s true that your business will go nowhere if it doesn’t offer something people will pay money for. But that doesn’t mean your relationship with customers has to start and end with a financial transaction. Give them something fun to pass the time on the bus and they are already that bit closer to purchasing something. Offer a prize and they’re even more likely to play along. Create a quiz that’s relevant – even tangentially – to your company. Send it to opted in customers via text message and get the responses back in the same way. You can learn a lot about customer preferences this way!

Appointment Reminders

With hectic schedules and multiple distractions, missed appointments are a fact of business. SMS is a fantastic tool for issuing reminders to customers. Do it within 24 hours of the appointment to allow them to re-organize without risking them forgetting for a second time. Although not a marketing tip, this approach will ultimately help you grow your bottom line by minimizing lossess incurred by no-shows.

How SMS is Helping Small Businesses in Latin America

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The second annual Latin American Bitcoin Conference took place in Rio earlier this month. More than 200 attendees saw seminars and panels featuring 37 guest speakers from around the world. 

Among the keynote speakers were a number of bitcoin representatives. The crypto currency is making a big impact across the region. A new partnership between Coinapult and 37 Coins seeks to expand bitcoin access to segments of the population without smartphones or traditional banking methods at their disposal. Their weapon? SMS messaging.

The service allows bitcoin users the world over to send and receive payments using only a feature phone with SMS capability. For entrepreneurs in South America, it holds the promise of allowing them to operate from remote areas, lessening the burden on over-populated urban centers.

This is a crucial development, not just for SMB owners, but for the public purse as well. Millions of small businesses across Latin America are currently restricted to cash-only transactions. This raises the question: how sure can local governments be that rural entrepreneurs are doing due diligence when it comes to paying taxes? It hardly takes a cynic to assume millions of pesos, bolivianos, reals and dollars are slipping through the net.

Of course, there will always be a black market. For some, operating outside the system is a point of principal. But for most small businesses, removing the temptation is all that’s needed to reduce corruption. Give them the tools to accept trackable, taxable payments and they’ll play ball, safe in the knowledge that the added security will help their business in the long run. Legitimacy is so much more attractive when it’s easily achieved.

A similar scheme – albeit with no SMS element – has been implemented in East African countries including Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. M-Pesain allows its 16 million users to send and receive money, pay bills and withdraw cash from local ATMs. 

SMS-based money transfer systems are providing the way forward in Latin America. Paraguay has Giros Tigo, which incurs a 5% commission fee. Brazil and Argentina have similar systems in place.

Bitcoin and text messaging seem to be a winning doubles team. The key beneficiaries are often people who face discrimination from financial institutions, which view them as risky prospect for credit. Entrepreneurs trying to make headway in these conditions find it difficult to send money, pay with credit cards or open a bank account – no matter how promising their ideas are. Nothing can match text message in terms of potential: four billion people worldwide are living without smartphones (perish the thought!) and the remittances market has found it’s most promising tool yet in SMS-enabled bitcoin transfers.

Here’s the Big Brand Proof that Mobile Marketing Tactics Really Work

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In recent years, mobile marketing has grown in its influence upon corporate marketing spend. It is currently only about 1% of the total amount spent on advertising, but times are changing. Studies performed by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch have predicted that mobile advertising spend in the United States will increase from $3.6 billion in 2011 to $18.3 billion in 2015. The reason: several Big Brands have jumped into the mobile marketing game, and these businesses are seeing some terrific ROI.

 

  • BMW. In early 2014, BMW began an MMS campaign to send pictures and video, as well as text messages to their customers, inviting them to purchase customized snow tires. Their conversion rate increased over 30%.

 

  • American Express. AMEX developed an interactive user experience for customers using smartphones. American Express members can create a customized “panorama,” relating their lifestyle interests from dining and travel to shopping and sports. The company then utilized the data they gathered not only find special offers for their customers, but they deepened their relationship with customers in the process.

 

  • Dunkin Donuts. This well-known pastry provider started to use SMS texts to drive sales, offering coupons to the customers through their mobile phones. Store traffic increased 20%.

 

  • Harley Davidson. Late last year, Harley Davidson used a mobile marketing campaign to promote their version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” through Route 66’s mobile club and a mobile social media campaign. Holiday dealer traffic swelled, and sale of helmets increased two and a half times.

 

  • Nissan. With the mobile ads they created for their Nissan Leaf model, Nissan showed customers “how far you can drive on a dollar.” This effective strategy caused mobile users to share the mobile ads, and drove up customer awareness about their products.

 

  • McDonald’s. Invented the “Restaurant Finder” app to help their customers find late-night locations. Mobile users responded by downloading the app more than 1.3 million times, with an estimated ROI of two to one.

 

  • Samsung. By sending targeted messages to people who have purchased the latest iPhone, Samsung Mobile has found an excellent way to reach savvy mobile users. They offered these individuals $300 to trade in their iPhone for a new Samsung device.

 

  • Verizon. Using QR codes and Facebook, Verizon enacted a competition to win a smartphone. If the customer who shared the Facebook post had a friend who bought their own Verizon phone, the original customer would get a free phone. The promotion generated $35,000 in sales for an ad campaign that only cost about a thousand dollars.

With a well-planned, well-timed strategy, any business can improve their bottom line with a good mobile marketing campaign. And while mobile marketing has a great deal of room to grow, this will not always be the case. The time is now to get a foothold in the mobile advertising market: take a page from the playbook of these Big Brands. Develop a simple mobile marketing campaign and track how effective the ROI in this realm can be. 

The Ten Best Mobile Marketing Campaigns of 2014

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2014 has seen some terrific mobile marketing campaigns. By utilizing both social media sites and all of the functionality of mobile phones, we’ve seen some innovative ways that advertisers have increased their reach with mobile users. Here are the ten best campaigns of 2014:

1. NASA’s #GlobalSelfie engages users to create a worldwide mosaic of photos.

Nominated for its use of multiplatform social media for engagement, NASA invited users to take selfies that they would organize and compile into a global mosaic on Earth Day 2014. Using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Flickr and Google+, NASA urged users to include the hashtag #GlobalSelfie. Users could also access the event directly on Facebook, Flickr and Google+.

2. White House’s #getcovered spreads the word about Obamacare.

The social media campaign from the White House received a huge response from users, even in 2014. #Getcovered allowed users to tweet their personal stories regarding securing health insurance, and utilized a Storify slideshow to enhance their website.

3. NPR’s company page on LinkedIn provides rich content for workers.

By offering LinkedIn users exactly what they’re there to receive, NPR increased its brand awareness. Users can access NPR’s company page right from their mobile phones to get information about how to improve their career and to increase their knowledge of their industry. Many of their posts are educational and inspiring, and have tremendous reach.

4. Nissan launches a multiplatform B2B campaign with comedy and celebrity.

Nissan’s digital and social marketing campaign promoted its rugged commercial vans, and achieved a wonderful response from the companies it reached. The ads, entitled “Tough Love,” featured rock-and-roller Bret Michaels getting in touch with his softer side. The juxtaposition proved a hit, and garnered terrific ROI for the car company.

5. Nivea’s Bluetooth-enabled print ad helps to track your children at the beach.

Nivea launched an innovative print campaign that featured a removable protector strip that can be placed on a child’s wrist. An app called Protégé then allows parents to track where their kids are by locating the protector strip using Bluetooth 4.0 technology. Very handy for beach trips, indeed.

6. Hershey’s unveils a sponsored mobile data opportunity with a video campaign.

In an astoundingly simple way to get mobile users engaged, Hershey offers to pay for part of your mobile data when you watch their Scharffen Berger brand commercial. The sponsored content, offered by AT&T and partners through advertisements on apps like Pandora, has been well-received by mobile users.

7. Movie theatres incorporate mobile-enabled interactive ads into their lobbies and on screen.

Thousands of movie theatres have enabled moviegoers to interact using the camera on their mobile phones. The visual search platform Slyce teamed up with Screenvision to enhance the audience experience when going to the movies. Consumers have eaten up the ads, downloading games and purchasing film-inspired merchandise due to these effective interactive advertisements.

8. Pepsi – London #LiveForNow turns a bus stop into a wild and weird space.

PepsiMax created a bus shelter ad that made it appear as though crazy events were taking place. The entire experience was recorded and converted into an advertisement (that consequently went viral). Watch the advertisement here: http://youtu.be/Go9rf9GmYpM.

9. Red Cross collects donations after Hurricane Sandy with an SMS short code.

In an unprecedented example of human kindness, people around the world donated money to help victims of Hurricane Sandy through the Red Cross’ donation efforts. Donors texted “REDCROSS” to 90999 to donate $10, which billed mobile users directly through their cell providers. 20% of all of the donations received by the Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy relief came through text message donations.

10. Samsung’s #Oscars Celebri-tweet dominates Twitter.

Everyone who is anyone heard about Ellen’s celebri-tweet during the Oscars. Very few knew that it was a ploy, created by Samsung, to increase brand awareness among the viewers of the awards program. Probably the most brilliant mobile marketing stroke to date, the famous photo was shared and shared – causing viewers to create their own selfies and engage with the brand as well. 

The key to good mobile marketing is to consider all of the ways that you can roll out your campaign: the capabilities of devices, the variability, and how to incorporate every platform available. Then, keep it as simple as possible. All of the above examples do just that, by simplifying the strategy while increasing customers’ awareness of the brand.

Why Are Mobile Marketing Budgets Increasing?

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We see a lot in these pages about the growth of mobile marketing. But just how fast is that growth happening? And are the same trends expected in future? 

The more the industry swells its ranks and revenues, the more data we have to go on. A recent Tatango survey looked at mobile budget trends and forecasts and compared the results with previous mobile marketing metrics. So, are budgets going up in accordance with the mobile explosion? 

The answer is yes. Very much so. Some 44% of marketers said they were increasing their mobile budgets during 2014 – up from a little over 42% in 2013. Mobile is proving particularly popular with startups, who can devise creative mobile marketing campaigns on relatively few dollars.

Other surveys report similar upward trends. According to Gartner, digital marketing budgets are expected to increase by 8% in 2015. Exactly half of all respondents stated an intention to increase digital spending next year.

The message from businesses remains remarkably consistent. Gartner’s research was conducted with the participation of 315 companies located in the United States, Canada and the UK. They represent organizations with more than $500 million in annual revenue, working in six disparate industries: hospitality, tech, manufacturing, financial services, retail and media. The bigger the firm, the greater the marketing budget as a percentage of revenue; companies with revenues in excess of $5 billion report spending, on average, 11% of revenue on marketing. For companies generating between $500 million and $1 billion, marketing spend was 9.2%. 

And really, those dollars are what it all comes down to. Understanding how to exploit capital to it’s fullest potential is the primary challenge for cash-strapped startups. That’s why having an effective CFO is so important, and it goes a long way towards explaining the huge popularity of mobile marketing tactics like coupons and time-limited discounts, which are easily and affordably disseminated via text message.

The modern marketer is performing a delicate balancing act. Each strand of their campaign must be woven together into a satisfying whole. Integration is everything. The resultant consumer experience is nudging users towards a more self-service buying model, which means businesses can reduce traditional sales-led budgets without sacrificing quality. Marketing budgets in general – and mobile marketing budgets in particular – are the primary beneficiaries of this new model. If you’re yet to move ad spend into a coherent mobile marketing strategy, it might be time to start…

Ethiopian Airlines Goes Mobile

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Ethiopian Airlines happens to be the largest and most profitable airline company on the African continent, and recently announced plans to become a mobile-only operation. The company’s Mobile Short Message Service (SMS) information system launched at the end of November 2014, and provides customers with easy access to flight information and cargo tracking.

Customers simply send a mobile short code SMS text to the 8611 messaging number to receive cargo information and check flight status. Part of Ethiopian Airlines’ ‘Mobility’ project, customers can access vital information instantly while on the road. The Mobility project is designed so customers can perform transactions directly from their mobile devices, whether booking flights, checking in, choosing seats and more.

The Mobility campaign also makes it possible for those welcoming passengers on Ethiopian flights to to check exact arrival times of flights by texting  8611 with “f” followed by the flight number or “r” followed by the expected route. Cargo customers may track shipments by texting  “c” followed by their Air Way Bill number of shipment. Such customers no longer have to visit the Ethiopian Airlines Cargo terminal before the shipment arrives, and texting “i” or “help” accesses system guidelines. 

The airline is also working to further streamline their customer service experience by adding more features to their mobile SMS service. 

“Ethiopian is first and foremost a customer service organization,” says Tewolde Gebremariam, Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines. “We are continuously looking at ways and means of availing to our customers the best possible travel experience both on the ground and on- board. In today’s digital era, customers want to have access to real-time and personalized information at the tip of their fingers using mobile devices. The launching of this SMS service is only the beginning of a grandiose plan to use a new system called “Mobility” which is mobile digital channels for enhancing customer experience.” 

Ethiopian Airlines received the Passenger Choice award for the Best Airline in Africa in August 2014 following a highly-extensive survey of passengers in the industry. A global Pan-African carrier, Ethiopian currently serves 84 international destinations on five continents. Current aircraft technology, including B777s and B787s, is used on the airline’s some 200 daily flights.

Will Ethiopian succeed in becoming a mobile-only operation? And if so, will other airlines follow suit? In today’s increasingly mobile-driven market, it’s entirely possible, and could up the customer service convenience factor considerably. 

6 Ways Retailers Can Reach Cyber Shoppers

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With cyber deals nearly as prevalent on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday as they are on Cyber Monday, more and more retailers are implementing holiday mobile marketing tactics. Let’s check out a few options for engaging cyber shoppers this year:

 

1) Dynamic Ads

Some clothing retailers are creating campaigns where consumers can click through ads and gain access to their latest collections. This includes browsing the entire catalog, viewing prices and embedded videos, and more. Such dynamic catalogs also automatically update with new offers. An ideal way for consumers to learn more about and engage with a brand, it also provides an easy online shopping option.

 

2) Integrated Content-Driven Commerce

"The online environment is the perfect medium for brands to engage consumers and provide that highly-valued content, however it is often disjoined from the shopping experience,” says Amanda McCreary, senior product marketing manager of online content platform company, Acquia. “Many brands have fallen into what Forrester Research calls the 'Two-Site Syndrome', with one site containing the product catalog, and another containing the rich, engaging marketing content. When this happens, the exploration and shopping experiences become disjointed, and leaves revenue on the table.” 

Brands should therefore focus on creating “integrated content-driven commerce experiences online.” Options for such a mobile marketing strategy includes engaging Facebook or blog posts that link to specific deal or sale pages, or an entire product catalog.

 

3) Location-Based Technology

A retail location may opt to blend their online world with their physical location via location-based technology. This can include presenting shoppers with deals and suggestions through their mobile devices when they enter retail stores, or catering to customers who live within a certain area/geographic region.

 

4) Mobile Apps

Mobile apps are another excellent mobile marketing tactic, with retailers such as Kohl’s, Victoria’s Secret and H&M all doing a superb job of including features and offers in their apps that “keep customers coming back for more.” Kohl’s in particular highlights deals of the day, coupons and other special offers that give consumers great reasons to use and refer to their app.

 

5) Social Media Sweepstakes

Social media sweepstakes across channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are mobile tactics that keep consumers engaged, since people check these channels about as regularly as they do their text messages. People usually jump at the chance to win free stuff or deep discounts, so sweepstakes keeps a retail brand firmly in the minds of shoppers.

 

6) Online Holiday Gift Guides

Online holiday gift guides can work as supplements to online catalogs, as many use their mobile devices to browse products before they shop. A dazzling online gift guide is certainly a way to engage customers, and one way to do so is through QR codes. Think of adding a QR code to each print ad that sends customers directly to a gift guide. 

 

 

 

5 SMS Marketing Ideas for Musicians

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The music industry is notoriously tough. Countless passionate performers compete for a slice of an ever-shrinking pie, as recorded music continues to be hit by filesharing, and fans feel increasingly ripped off by ticket prices, especially for big marquee names. At the other end of the hierarchy, upstart musicians often willingly play for free, further degrading the market value of all except those at the very top.

Like the society from which they emerged, the gap between rich and poor is growing in the music world. The more that can be done to level the playing field, the better for everyone. Enter: SMS marketing.

Cheap, effective and personal, text message marketing offers the ideal solution to struggling artists. Now, bands and performers can foster intimate relationships with their fans by using mobile marketing tactics that are proven to work. A friendly, relevant text message parlaying information about an upcoming show can not only help artists reach an audience, it can facilitate new revenue streams and ultimately help keep musicians playing music.

Check out these five SMS marketing ideas for musicians – they might just rock your world!

1) Gig Reminders/Cancellations

In the topsy-turvy world of rock and roll, things are apt to change at the last minute. The support act’s drummer flakes out and the line-up changes three hours before the show. The tour bus is stuck in the snow and the gig has to be cancelled. Whatever the reason, the only form of communication capable of reaching people at short notice is SMS. 

2) Merchandise

Update fans on the latest merch and offer them a discount via mobile coupons. Advertise the special offer on social media as an incentive for people to opt in to your SMS contact list. To incentivize opt-ins, offer a discount on t-shirts for anyone who signs up to receive mobile alerts.

3) Drinks Promotions

Forming relationships with promoters and venues on the road is tough. A band may not speak to their hosts until they roll into town, at which point it’s a little late to email people about drinks promos. Sending a text is a surefire way to reach gig-goers who are weighing up their options for the night. If you offer the right deal, you could easily attract some last-minute bargain hunters looking for a cheap night out.

4) Link to Song Downloads

Text messages themselves are simple, but they provide a portal to rich content. Include a link to an exclusive download, only available to opted-in SMS subscribers. It’ll make loyal fans feel valued, and more likely to give your music the attention it deserves.

5) VIP Passes

Another surefire way to grow your subscriber list, backstage access is the ultimate fan experience. Run a competition for followers, with VIP access as the prize. Let the winner come backstage before and after the show; include four or five friends as part of the offer. The more guests you allow, the more chances you have to turn a casual fan into an ardent one.