The SMS Marketing Blog

[ By Ez Texting ]

What Do the Israeli Elections Tell Us About the Future of Mobile Political Campaigning?

Depositphotos_9381154_xs
 

To note that mobile and social media carry great weight in today’s world is pretty obvious. Particular events, however, offer even greater insight into the impact of mobile, such as presidential elections. Let’s take a look into how mobile affected the recent Israeli elections, as well as the influence it will likely have on the 2016 U.S. presidential race. 

 

High-Quality Targeting

Mobile media offers the possibility of high-quality targeting, as it provides advertisers with the opportunity to target very specific audiences. Political parties’ media budgets are larger than ever before, and most candidates hire dedicated agencies to run their media campaigns. New advertising platforms continue to crop up, while Facebook’s mobile-only user base recently reached the half billion mark, making it easy to reach voters during every phase of a campaign. Location-based targeting also helps considerably, as parties can look at users from specific states and determine if they should increase their advertising efforts, and if so to which audiences. 

 

Political “Gamification”

Any on-point campaign manager knows it’s important to play to voters’ increasingly-short attention spans, and are subsequently utilizing gamification techniques to harness and hold this attention. Gamification techniques have been used with success in the Israeli elections, as ads focused less on direct message transmission and instead honed in on creating an experience that featured a more subtle approach.

Entertaining mobile games that sent strong political messages were also used. For example, one Israeli election game had users engage in a “temple run” game featuring their favorite candidates. Other games were used to align opposing parties, but again in a discreet way. Gamification has made politics a more fun and engaging experience for young voters, and allows candidates to reach an audience they would otherwise have a hard time engaging. 

 

Mobile User Power 

Video content was frequently used during the Israeli elections, as videos were widely shared across social media platforms by all parties, even orthodox religious parties. U.S. mobile video ad spending has doubled over the past year, so the idea that video content will likely play a large role in the 2016 elections is imminent. Often more entertaining and less formal than the political ads traditionally seen on television, videos are dissolving the boundaries between independent political activists and official messages. Content isn’t just user-focused--it’s also user-generated. 

 

Wrap-Up

Mobile has become the favorite device of all age groups, meaning campaign managers have to scramble to create a mobile-based approach to elections if they haven’t already. Rich media, text marketing, video content, and the plethora of other mobile focused campaigns must be implemented for any candidate developing massive public outreach.

SMS vs. MMS

Depositphotos_12682894_xs
 

Mobile marketing is nowhere near critical mass. For a variety of reasons, this marketing channel is not as widely used as experts predict for the future—many speculate the distinction between SMS and MMS messaging is not popularly understood, and as a result, has slowed growth. But it’s really not that complicated, and choosing the right tactic for a marketing campaign doesn’t have to be a painstaking process of trial and error. Before we jump into the unique traits and characteristics of each, let’s look at a few basic similarities.

 

Similarities

Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Message Service (MMS) are both mobile marketing tactics that are designed to complement a marketing strategy by providing content directly to consumers’ handsets or mobile devices. SMS and MMS work to instantaneously provide content directly to users, engaging consumers via their mobile device, the result of which is highly effective, reliable and progressive. 

 

Differences

The most obvious difference between the two is made clear by their names. SMS is a text-based service that does not provide users with rich media content. Conversely, MMS allows users to send a variety of media including images, animated .GIF, and short video or audio files. This is where the divergence really begins, as the latter may cost more money to produce but also delivers a substantially higher return on investment. 

 

MMS Advantages 

MMS messages can be sent peer-to-peer from mobile phones, a mobile messaging service provider, or a website. These multimedia messages enjoy higher customer engagement, and better click-through-rates. What’s more, MMS increases campaign opt-ins by 20% over SMS and subscribers are more likely to engage with the content on social media outlets. 

The quality of MMS content is perceived as much higher than SMS and has a well-maintained handset database. Real-time content transcoding makes sending media faster and with unlimited charters and device detection, the message is louder and goes further. Most phones already support MMS messages and don’t require further enablement. MMS does not require data from the end user. 

 

SMS Advantages 

 

While SMS doesn’t have the same branding opportunities as MMS, it does offer useful insight by providing user data that’s not so easily collected by MMS messages. 

Although the standard SMS message is limited to 160 characters, this may include a link that tracks back to a website where useful information can be collected, or further online engagement can occur. The drawback, of course, is that data is required by the end user and can sometimes have hidden costs for the user as well. This is one of the more debated issues surrounding SMS messaging today, as extraneous data usage can often cause more harm than good when trying to develop a loyal mobile audience. 

SMS can be sent peer-to-peer or through a mobile messaging service provider. SMS is incredibly fast, with 99.99% delivered in under 15 seconds. Currently, SMS delivers more than 3 billion messages a year, across most small US carriers. 

Hopefully by getting a better handle on what these two marketing tactics do, marketers will be ready to help further realize the advantages and disadvantages of using these highly effective marketing tools. 

 

 

Maestro PMS Add SMS to Customer Service Platform

Depositphotos_1293978_xs
 

Maestro PMS Enterprise Property Management recently announced the addition of SMS messaging to its customer service platform. The communication module is meant to make personal guest communication that much easier, and is fully integrated with Maestro PMS. It offers convenient messages for early check-in room availability, as well as spa appointment notifications, group message alerts, concierge services, and property promotions. The text message module is available thanks in part to Maestro PMS’s partnership Swift SMS Gateway® Inc., a global company supplying mobile text messaging services since 2007.

"With more guests relying on their mobile devices, Maestro launched proactive SMS communications to serve guests on property,” said Warren Dehan, President of Maestro PMS. “We partnered with Swift SMS Gateway to provide the platform to allow Maestro PMS to communicate directly with cell phone networks. Swift SMS Gateway supports international phone protocols which enables Maestro operators to reach their global visitors regardless of their phone carrier.”  

Celebrated as a highly-flexible guest engagement tool, the SMS text solution allows “independents” to update individual guests directly from Maestro PMS, such as when their rooms are ready for check-in. The tool also instantly reaches all guests in the event of an emergency, as well as specific guest populations, such as those on a business trip. 

An ideal option for independent operators looking to cultivate more personal relationships with their guests, the system also includes an app that allows housekeeping teams to efficiently coordinate their tasks. Considered perfect for any operation, no matter the size, the app provides protected access to staff and includes room attendant and supervisor modes that limit views to relevant assignments.  

“All room statuses are updated in real-time,” Dehan remarked.  “The system helps housekeeping teams coordinate their tasks with updated room assignment information to work more efficiently. Our mobile housekeeping platform puts clipboards and telephone room reporting in the rearview mirror.”  

Maestro PMS provides over 20 hotel and reservation software solutions for the industry’s “leading independent hotels, resorts, and multi-property groups.” 

Brian J. Johnson, President, Swift SMS Gateway Inc., said his company was delighted to partner with Maestro PMS.  

"Our system provides a simple seamless integration of text messaging into Maestro's front desk Guest Messaging and its back of house systems,” he said.  

Compatible with Android, iOS, Windows, and Blackberry handheld and tablet devices, hotel groups may supply their employees with handhelds, though room attendants may also use their own devices for greater ease of use.

Analytics App Raises $34 Million

Depositphotos_36190487_xs
 

In search of the best analytics tool for your marketing app? Localytics might be the answer to your app-tastic prayers. A service app that offers “analytics, insights, and marketing solutions in one place,” Localytics has raised $34 million in Series D funding so far.  

The company initially focused on app analytics, but CEO Raj Aggarwal noted that customers also called for tools that made it easy to move forward with their newly-acquired data. This prompted the Localytics team to add push notifications, integration with sales and business intelligence software, email marketing, and in-app messaging. Aggarwal explained that businesses are in need of “all the insights and tools to engage users and meet their expectations for an amazing app experience, in one place.”  

He pointed out that apps are an essential component of the digital experience, and as such, businesses need their marketing and product teams to use the same tools. Disparate data sets are quickly becoming a thing of the past.  

Localytics offers real-time, granular data analytics that answer questions such as, “How frequently do consumers visit my app?”, “How long does the average user spend on my app per visit?”, “What are people doing in my app?” and “Why aren’t my app users converting?” among other relevant queries. The insights portion of Localytics shows which demographic your app targets, what features pique consumer interest the longest, how many purchases were made over the last 15 days, and what makes some users “more valuable” than others. 

As far as marketing services, Localytics offers push messaging that helps re-engage customers, in-app messaging that lets users know about new features, and features answers to attribution questions, such as where to invest in terms of advertising. A/B testing is also part of the app’s marketing services, and helps determine what drives the most conversions, and which call to actions are best for specific campaigns.  

Localytics is currently used by some 32,000 apps, including those for eBay, ESPN, Fox, The New York Times, and the upcoming HBO Now app. 

The company will soon introduce a new predictive marketing feature, which is designed to aid businesses in discovering which customers are most likely to abandon the app. Once such customers are identified, they’ll receive targeted messages convincing them to keep using it. This marketing feature also determines which customers are willing to spend more on the app, and subsequently tempts them with targeted deals.

Current Localytics investors include Sapphire Ventures, Foundation Capital, and Polaris Partners.

 

Mobile Marketing is Going Hyper-Local

Depositphotos_10026589_xs
 

Mobile marketing has taken huge strides towards fulfilling the potential of geo-targeting technology, allowing local businesses to make the most of their sphere of influence. The only way for geo-location techniques to go is inward, reaching ever-more specific parts of the local economy.

Mobile marketing is doing just that, placing an increasing emphasis on attracting foot traffic to brick and mortar retail outlets. The industry is now able to service international brands with bespoke campaigns in multiple locations using region-specific methods capable of targeting users to a single square foot. 

This ultimate refinement of mobile marketing tactics is a real game changer. A heady cocktail of beacons, GPS, location information gathered from existing interactions and other geolocaters is ushering in a new era of hyper-local mobile marketing so precise it’s hard to imagine how it could improve further.

Having such devastatingly effective mobile marketing tactics available at the local level is helping small businesses maximize their efficiency on tight budgets. For a relatively low cost, small businesses can quickly, reliably reach the widest audience they can serve, via a combination of in-app messaging, web ads, text messages, MMS and push notifications. 

So what next? With such sophistication already on display, where targeted mobile marketing could go now is anybody’s guess. Some mobile marketers are considering adjusting their services to allow for weather, which would let marketers better judge the prime time to pitch discounts. It might not be relevant to every business, but purveyors of ice cream or rooftop cocktails could really use knowing if it’s about to rain the moment they’ve sent their 50% discount coupon to hundreds of people. Other local data like traffic conditions may also begin to play a part in geo-location technology. 

The tools at our disposal allows imaginative approaches to marketing to flourish, unencumbered by technological limits. Nobody can say for certain what the next few years hold for mobile marketing - that’s why it’s so exciting. But if the rapid rate of change we’ve seen take place over the past decade continues, we can be confident that the mobile landscape of 2025 will look very different to the one we see today.

Pace is Using SMS to Tell People When Their Bus is Arriving

Depositphotos_6309263_xs
 

The speedy reliability of the text message has proven useful to all sorts of businesses. As a long term mobile marketing strategy, SMS messaging is capable of nurturing the loyalty of existing customers and winning over new leads, but it also happens to be the most effective method for issuing time sensitive messages.

Bus arrivals and departures information falls firmly into this latter category, a fact not lost on Pace, who have followed the example of countless bus companies around the country by establishing a text message service for riders. The Chicago-based company had, until recently, been relying solely on its online bus tracker to disseminate information, but gave in to high demand from customers for an SMS program similar to that offered by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).  

To use the service, riders must send a text message containing the word “Pace” followed by the relevant bus stop number. The bus tracker is available as both a pure text format (for people with feature phones) and a rich graphic version for smartphones, tablets and desktop computers.

A spokesperson from Pace said the firm had held off launching a text message service when CTA unveiled theirs. The success of CTA’s venture - and the increase in bus rider expectations it prompted -  convinced Pace that the “availability of real time information is a key source of customer satisfaction.” 

Pace makes no bones about directly following CTA’s lead, even using the same company to provide the service, and for a while considering joining the same contract. 

With a bus system that covers more than 25,000 stops and six counties, their reticence to undertake such a huge task is understandable. Even post-launch, Pace admits to having no timeline for completing the replacement of old signs with new signs featuring the shortcode and bus stop numbers. In the meantime, riders can access this information from the Pace website.

The Benefits of Adding MMS to your Mobile Marketing Campaign

Depositphotos_28132823_xs
 

For companies that aren’t sure about how to integrate MMS into a mobile marketing campaign, the first step is to understand MMS capabilities then realize those through useful cases that haven proven effective in various enterprises. Taking a creative stance, positioning the right use of MMS in a marketing campaign is virtually limitless.  

First, let’s understand what Multimedia Message Service (MMS) allows an enterprise to do. An MMS message can send rich media content directly to mobile devices anytime, anywhere. It’s a powerful and effective tool that strengthens customer loyalty by keeping them informed with time sensitive information. An MMS message speaks consistently to branding throughout all marketing channels, with messages that are equipped to handle image, video, audio or mixed SMIL. It’s truly a 21st century marketing solution that engages customers via mobile device, which they are likely to have with them at all times.

 

MMS Use Cases 

MMS communication utilizes these capabilities to increase revenue by upselling customers with unique offers, special services and more. Recognizable applications of MMS are used by millions of people already in the form of useful services, like providing a boarding pass for a more efficient check-in at the airport. Financial institutions also provide useful applications by providing bank statements and security warnings. Further, important emergency alerts can be sent via MMS, warning users of dangerous weather or traffic. 

Now let’s consider the creative uses of MMS messaging to connect with customers. Shipment notifications would allow users to receive speedy information from a local shipment station. Customer service providers can communicate with customers by trouble shooting common problems and sending helpful video/audio messages. The result of providing this improved service would reduce the contact center costs. 

Wellness centers and pharmacies could continue a discussion with customers long after they leave the store by updating important medical information, providing healthy living tips or special offers on new products or services. What’s more, brick and mortar stores of every variety can more effectively engage customers by offering product information with QR codes placed on shelf locations. Once the code is scanned, a customer could watch a video featuring additional product information.  

MMS messaging works best when it provides useful information and services to the end user. The more a user increases their engagement with the message, the more likely the they are to build the kind of lasting brand relationships all enterprise should seek with their customer base and audience. 

Is MMS the Next Big Thing in Mobile Marketing?

Depositphotos_30755523_xs
 

Mobile marketing has proven more viable than its email predecessor, as consumers become more detached from their email and clients like Gmail implement new sorting features. Today, mobile devices are in almost every hand and most already have the ability to read SMS and MMS messages—yet, one question remains: which one is better?

Short Message Service (SMS) works similarly to a regular text message in that it can be sent peer-to-peer or from a mobile service provider, and appears to the user in simple text. There’s a limit, however, of 160 characters and all click links require the use of data by the end user. The upside is that these messages are fast, reliable and less expensive than their multimedia counterpart.

Multimedia Message Service (MMS) allows the use of images, animated .GIF, or short video and audio clips. Thousands of characters can be fit in a single MMS message, which provides better branding opportunities and higher high consumer engagement—boasting a 15% average click-through-rate and increased campaign opt-ins by 20% over SMS. 

Both of these mobile marketing tactics increase ROI by creating a direct line of communication to the consumer, building brand awareness and loyalty literally from the palm of the user’s hand. But as Zach Zimmerman of ePrize, the mobile marketing team behind Starbucks’ promo success, pointes out, “MMS is a tactic, not a strategy.” 

While the seeming advantage of MMS is presented in beautiful images, video and sound, the use of this service can be a financial money-pit if paired with the wrong message, brand, product or campaign—a number of things that have to be considered on a case-by-case basis.  

One huge drawback to the allure of MMS is its inability to collect important space and tracking data, which is easily available through mobile web landing pages, assessable through a click link in basic SMS messages. Moreover, MMS is not enabled on all mobile devices—yet. 

Upgrades and increased sophistication of these mobile marketing tactics are already underway. Developing platforms will allow brands to reach any phone, anywhere, anytime, from the iPhone5S to the Lumia. These media marketing companies are pushing the mobile frontier, and with clients like Ikea, Kellogg, Bloomingdales, Starbucks and major TV networks buying what these companies are throwing down, it’s only a matter of time before answering the SMS vs. MMS question will need to be answered once and for all. 

 

 

Did American Idol Help Kickstart the Text-to-Donate Fundraising Culture?

Depositphotos_12503441_xs
 

Aside from launching the music careers of several aspiring singers, American Idol can also be credited with inspiring a new way to raise money for disaster relief. 

The show’s primary voting system, which allows viewers to cast votes via their mobile devices, became a springboard for AT&T engineer Marin Croak who realized a similar use for the technology as hurricane Katrina tore through the Gulf Coast in 2005. 

Instead of transmitting fan votes via text message to an operator, Croak came up with a way to pass donations via text to participating charities. The donation would later show up as a charge on the person’s cell phone bill.

However, Croak recalls, during this time, that the use of text messaging was not nearly as popular as it is today. According to an informal poll taken in 2008 on AT&T’s website, approximately 22% of respondents reported having learned to text as a result of American Idol’s voting system—an interesting perspective attributed to the powerful reach of AI. The subsequent increase in text messaging may have also helped prepared voters to become donors.  

AT&T who originally set up American Idol’s voting system in the early 2000s, placed a patent on behalf of Croak in October 2005. And although AT&T currently maintains this patent, Croak says AT&T is not seeking to make the patent propriety—which is great news for nonprofits and disaster relief programs.

For example, in 2010 text-to-donate made its first major headline debut during the earthquake in Haiti. The relief organization collected an unprecedented $30 million via impulse disaster-relief donations— a term which describes the ease and accessibility of this technology. What’s more, these donations were collected $10 at a time. Other significant text-to-donate relief campaigns have included Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean.  

Aside from generating these donations through a streamline system, nonprofits are now able to acquire donors, not just cash donations. Opening up this intimate communication channel may be more valuable than a $10 donation. Organizations can engage donors over time, build a relationship and collect future contributions. 

Notable organizations like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, GlobalGiving, Mercy Corps, and Saving the Children have all established similar text-to-donate programs. 

Although Croak holds dozens of patents, she is particular proud of this one, which has made an enormous difference in the way people interact with their mobile devices as well as in the world of philanthropy.

 

Using Data to Improve Your Mobile Strategy

Depositphotos_63503987_xs
 

Looking to enhance your mobile marketing strategy? Who isn’t these days? Thinking well beyond app downloads is the first step to fine-tuning your strategy, as a data-led, “moneyball” approach to mobile is a viable (and arguably the best) route to success. Check out a few moneyball indicators to help you rethink current mobile marketing strategies: 

 

Brand Reputation 

These days, mobile is the main source of interaction between you and your customers, so failing to treat it as such is not going to help pique consumer interest. Think about the overall perception of your apps, trending topics and wants in customer reviews, app reliability, and whether or not customers are using the app features you’ve designed. Gather this information and use it to craft a mobile-first marketing strategy. 

 

Competitive Intelligence

Knowing exactly where your brand falls on the competitive landscape is essential, as it helps you understand what is and is not working for you, and to make adjustments accordingly. Compare your brand to competitors in terms of mobile, especially in regards to marketing efforts, visibility, sentiment, and promotion. 

 

Customer Engagement 

The “holy grail” of mobile app engagement is the ability to give customers exactly what they want, when and where they want it. Today’s mobile analytics combined with intelligent marketing makes this possible, and studying the right KPIs is the best way to ensure proper engagement. KPIs include how different users engage the app, such as how often and how much time they actually spent on it. Also keep a close eye on push notification opt-outs, how often your users adhere to predefined conversion goals, and how many times the app is uninstalled. 

 

Mobile Moments

A fantastic mobile strategy goes beyond customer engagement, as the main point is monetizing “mobile moments.” Finding the balance between engagement and encouraging consumers to take action means using certain indicators to test marketing efforts, including whether customers are purchasing your products, if they’re becoming advocates of your brand, and whether they are currently part of your ongoing sales cycle. 

 

Investing

According to the Mobile Marketing Association, brands need to invest 25-30% of their marketing budget in mobile marketing if they truly want their brands to become household names. A strategic investment in mobile marketing is therefore necessary in order to ensure the aforementioned indicators happen. Invest wisely, use the above metrics, and take advantage of mobile moments, aka “game changers.”