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From Zero to Hero: How Mobile Revolutionized Planet Marketing

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Mobile marketing has gone stratospheric since the advent of the smartphone, but it’s been around in some form or another for more than 20 years. SMS messaging gave marketers a whole new channel to pursue during the 90s, when cell phone ownership first became widespread. Now, with text messages the most commonly read form of communication, advertisers are cautiously rediscovering the possibilities of SMS marketing.

But mobile marketing is about much more than SMS. The smartphone age has seen to that by putting the power and connectivity of a desktop computer into the palms, pockets and handbags of almost everyone in the western world. Some inroads were made into serious, non-SMS mobile marketing tactics during BlackBerry’s first flush of success in the early noughties, but when the first iPhone hit stores in 2007, marketing execs really sat up and began to take notice. 

As developers clamored to create apps to go along with Apple’s devices, the first wave of modern mobile marketing tactics began to take shape. The focus was very much on volume, and publishers relied largely on getting high app store chart rankings in order to gain visibility. Marketing efforts were all about short-term gains, with the main objective to generate as many downloads as early as possible in order to climb the charts. Quantity reigned supreme over quality.

These early years of app/mobile marketing were dominated by incentivized downloads – something Apple continued to allow until April 2011, despite the obvious credibility problems. Tracking performance was problematic. Platform regulations were loose, and developers took full advantage; it was essentially a land grab, the Old West of app and mobile marketing. 

By 2012, developers began thinking about the possibilities of quality and performance tracking. CPI-based campaigns gathered steam and, and better quality tracking was sought. For their part, Apple tightened its rules, clamping down on people accused of gaming the chart system by using bot farms to generate inauthentic downloads.

Around the same time, publishers became more data-focused, integrating in-app analytics software to collect metrics like usage, engagement, retention and monetization potential. There was a growing focus on high-quality user experience – but mostly with the objective of retaining customers for the medium-term.

That all began to change over the last 18 months, as a new climate took hold in the tech world. The shift is now overwhelmingly moving in the direction of stellar quality, as mobile marketing campaign managers realize that acquiring new users, even for a pittance, is not sensible unless they are retained, engaged, and monetized. Against that backdrop, some unlikely transactions have taken place – such as the $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook – but there is no doubt that the app world has raised it’s game. With GPS technology and other location-based tools fast improving, the future of mobile marketing is unpredictable, but undeniably exciting.

 

 

Mobile to Surpass Print Advertising in the UK

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According to a forecast by eMarketer, mobile advertising spending will soon overtake traditional print ads. The report predicts mobile spending to grow by a staggering 96% this year, hitting £2.02bn. That’s still a shade behind the forecast print spend of £2.06bn, but the report anticipates mobile ad spend will be worth £4.5bn in 2016. The UK’s total digital advertising market is forecast to be worth £7.25bn by the end of this year, growing to £8.64bn by 2016.

This rapid growth reflects the widespread adoption of secondary mobile devices used in conjunction with smartphones. By 2018, 50% of Brits are expected to own an iPad, Kindle or other tablet.

The eMarketer report states: 

“Continued robust growth in the mobile channel is driving the bulk of [overall] digital ad growth in the UK. The dramatic growth of mobile and video ad expenditures will boost digital ad spending throughout the forecast period.”

This “mobile mushroom” is showing no signs of letting up. The numbers are truly dramatic: compare the £7.25bn valuation put on the market today with the £83m from four years ago and you get an idea of just how seismic this shift is. Mobile advertising will account for nearly 30% of all digital ad spending in 2014, according to the report.

So what’s prompted such an explosion in mobile marketing campaign spending? Most analysts agree that, in the UK at least, a strong economy, with the pound ringfenced from the worst effects of the Eurozone crisis, has instilled confidence in consumers. Plus, the efficacy of mobile marketing tactics are easy to track compared with traditional channels, causing advertisers to turn away from print (the report also predicts that the newspaper and magazine market will lose £276m in ad spend between 2014 and 2018).

A similar story is playing out on this side of the pond, with mobile spending accounting for 22.5% of all digital ad investments in 2013. A study conducted last year – also by eMarketer – indicated worldwide growth of mobile web ad spending had exceeded 100% by the year’s end, with mobile accounting for 15.2% of digital ad dollars spent globally.

The implications for your mobile marketing strategy are clear. Firstly, track the results of your print and mobile marketing campaign. Secondly, compare and contrast the success rates of your digital campaign and your traditional print campaign. If recent analysis is correct, you’ll find more and more consumers are turning to mobile to browse commercial prospects. Once that happens, you can adjust your budget accordingly, and start reaping the benefits of mobile.

Could the Yo App Become a Serious Mobile Marketing Tool?

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In case you haven’t heard, the app marketplace is abuzz. The conversation revolves around a new app, called Yo. While the capabilities of the app are quite limited, the possibilities have yet to be determined.

The app works like this: once you’ve downloaded Yo, you can send a message to any other user of the app – as long as that message is “Yo.” At first glance, this app appears to be a joke on the user. It was launched on April Fools Day, and several of the reviews of the app lean toward the absurd. One user even claims: “Since downloading Yo, all of my relationships have improved and I’ve regrown most of my hair.”

Perhaps the most uncanny story about Yo is that the inventor, Or Arbel, has been able to raise one million dollars in support of the app.

Mobile marketing is serious business. In the past year, the techniques of mobile marketing have become innovative, and extraordinarily useful for consumers. Apps can track users’ locations and their buying habits, all while creating the simplest purchasing experience possible. Frankly, Yo doesn’t seem serious enough to constitute all the buzz.

Suppose you own a clothing company, and wish to send a yo to each of your customers to let them know that you are having a sale. You can’t let them know about what clothes are on sale or how much, nor can you personalize any pertinent information about your upcoming sale. The only the message you are able to send is that one word, Yo. Certainly the app will generate some traffic back to your website – for the consumers willing to take that step, that is. Most consumers won’t respond, however, because there are several other apps garnering their attention, ones with much more information and more appealing ads.

That said, there is a sort of intrigue surrounding the use of Yo. Often times, advertisers do not need to send much information, and the message can be implicit. Advertisers will undoubtedly find a space for this technique in mobile marketing, but it will require some very creative groundwork. The key will be to find the right time and place to send the “yo” to users so that their interest is piqued, coupled with a consumer base that “enjoys the hunt.” For those mobile marketers willing to take the plunge into the realm of minimal marketing, only time will tell if Yo is the way to go.

Six of the Worst: Mobile Marketing Rookie Errors

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When marketing to mobile users, just be smart. Check out this quick list of the worst mobile marketing errors and prove you’re not a rookie.

1)Overlooking Mobile Limitations

Your smartphone is not a PC or a Mac. You’ve got no mouse, and no printer. There’s a small screen and an even smaller keyboard. Data can be slow and it costs money, so don’t inundate the mobile user with GIFs and content streams. The key is to be creative with what you got: mobile users will appreciate it.

2)Not Focusing on Mobile Capabilities

Your smart phone is better than a PC or a Mac in some ways. It’s a phone with text messaging and email. It’s a video camera and player; it takes pictures and plays music. It can tell where you are and when your next appointment is. And best of all, you can purchase anything you want with it. So utilize these capabilities in your marketing campaigns... or be left in the dust.

3)Confusing Mobile Users with PC Users

Mobile users don’t have time for downloads or site navigation. They need a good .mobi site catering to the device they are using. Give them quick access, relevant data, fast-paced service, and localized info. Eliminate too many words, images, downloads and clicks. And remember: less can much, much more.

4)Making Direct Connection Difficult

Communication over the data stream is great, but nothing beats a direct connection. Make it easy for consumers to contact you via telephone, and supplement your operation to allow for inbound calls. If you can’t afford to hire phone operators, try an interactive voice response system to receive your calls. Be sure to utilize chat and IM technology as well: a whole new generation of mobile users is consuming this form of communication like wildfire.

5)Underestimating Privacy

Mobile consumers are more concerned than ever with personal privacy. Your mobile marketing strategy must follow all regulations when collecting info about mobile users. Always ask permission. Give links to privacy policies on your site and within all of your ads. Don’t abuse the info you collect on your customers: if you make some privacy errors with several of your customers, you’re likely to lose a great deal of your customer base. No joke.

6)Overtargeting Users

This is a biggie. Consumers are getting pretty savvy about the info that businesses collect about them. Since marketers track shopping trends and navigation trends, the marketing messages can become super personalized. Group your customers into categories based on their similarities, and market to these groups accordingly – that way you aren’t spending too much on highly generic ads. Try marketing based on the device a given consumer uses, or perhaps location-based advertising. In any case, if you’re drunk on highly general mobile marketing, perhaps it’s time to start getting more personal.

 

The Pitfalls of Using Long Codes in your Mobile Marketing Campaign

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Before we tear into long codes, let’s be clear: they have some useful capabilities outside of the United States. Long numbers create interactivity and an ongoing conversation between users and businesses, and the very best examples provide a truly premium experience for participants.

All well and good, but if your mobile marketing campaign is aimed squarely at users in the United States, the benefits of long codes are irrelevant. According to the Wireless Association, long codes may only be used for person-to-person messaging, and is not allowed for SMS blasts, time-based alerts or automated search.

For many businesses, these restrictions will simply prove too much to even attempt getting round them. The ethical demands of conducting a long code campaign that not only abides by the regulations but also gives an ROI means most marketers will stick with the tried and tested short code method. So why the big fuss about long codes?

In the United States, one of the trademark concerns of the mobile marketing industry – and the regulators that govern it – is consumer protection. Network carriers are held responsible by subscribers for unauthorized communication; they also have a legal obligation to minimize spam. Long codes are known as a ‘grey route’ to market, and attract unscrupulous businesses. Legit companies should stay well away. Until such time as long codes are officially allowed by U.S. carriers, the best advice is to leave them out of your mobile marketing strategy altogether.

Meanwhile, short codes are gaining traction in both domestic and foreign markets, despite being subject to financial constraints that other marketing channels are unencumbered by. Their popularity is down to the high success rate of SMS messaging as a method of engagement. In fact, the open and read rate of text messages is reckoned to be somewhere between 90% and 98%, depending on who you ask.

Mobile Marketing: Image Isn’t Everything

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Using images – especially the off-the-shelf variety available from stock photo resources – is the default setting of most content creators. Write an article, publish it with a generic shot that vaguely relates to the piece and costs a couple of dollars to acquire, and never think about it again.

This is all well and good for blog posts and other desktop-based content, but what about mobile marketing? Is there a good home for the right image in a text message?

Yes and no. It’s true that the widespread adoption of smartphones has enabled consumers to receive rich content like images and audio. There’s a lot you can do with the right picture, especially if you’ve created something unique and eye-grabbing. Brand memory and recognition are principally visual phenomena, so a truly arresting image is far likelier to stay with a consumer than a slogan, mission statement or even company name.

But there are pitfalls. When brand marketers rely on images, they often forget that there’s little point in adding a picture if it doesn’t add value to the message. Remember, multi-media messages are charged at a higher rate than plan SMS, and they are frequently excluded from price plans. In some cases, marketers can pre-pay data fees – but make sure you’re aware of what your options are before tacking on pictures to your SMS messaging campaign.

You must also ensure you custom-create any image-led campaign for SMS and MMS. If you simply transfer a link from your mobile website – where customers can click on the link to see the image – it will not be clickable in a text message. Always review any images, videos or other rich multimedia content you send in text messages.

Finally, just because you can send an image with your message doesn’t mean you have to. The same is true for all mobile marketing tactics – they are options, not requirements. You have a rich palette from which to work, but if you throw all the paint at the canvas, it’s not going to be a pretty picture.

 

How to Make the Perfect SMS Pitch

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Using SMS messaging in the most effective way requires an understanding of the singular properties of the medium. If you approach your text marketing campaign in the same way you would an email campaign, you’ll miss out on the many advantages of an SMS-focused strategy.

Perhaps the most important differentiator between email and SMS is the character limitations of the latter. If you’ve already engaged with social media via Twitter, you’ll understand the unique challenge of crafting a message in less than 140 characters. You may have an extra 20 characters at your disposal with SMS, but the same rules of clarity, brevity and levity apply to the creation of a good message.

But there is a key difference between a social media campaign and an SMS messaging campaign. Tweets don’t require opt-in subscribers, or incur even a minimal additional cost to the viewer. To engage with your texts, consumers have to give up their cell phone number and agree to receive messages. This is no mean commitment, and it demands a new standard of ethics and responsibility on the part of mobile marketers.

With an open-and-read rate of more than 90%, it’s worth getting your SMS strategy right from the start. If you fail to impress with your first message, subscribers will simply opt out. Hooking recipients with those first 160 characters they see is essential for the long-term survival of your mobile marketing campaign. Here, we offer a few pointers on making the perfect SMS pitch…

Be Relevant

You might have a large portfolio of services to offer a wide range of different consumers. The beauty of SMS lists is the ease with which you can ‘divide and conquer’ according to personal preference. Don’t waste that opportunity by viewing your contact list as a monolithic, static entity. Instead, view each phone number as an individual organism, with highly specific needs. If you run a hotel with a public restaurant, for instance, don’t send updates on room rates to someone who only signed up for meal deals.

Be Appropriate

Striking the right tone for your audience is one of the tricks of the SMS marketing trade. This will vary hugely depending on industry, but there are a few rules of thumb that apply across the board:

  • Don’t use text speak in an effort to appeal to a youth demographic, or simply to save precious space. Unless you are aiming purely for a tween crowd, it will come across as unprofessional at best, and incomprehensible at worst. Remember, many people dislike text speak, but nobody objects to proper English.
  • Having said that, your messages should be more informal than a letter or even an email. Strike a friendly but professional tone.
  • Avoid jargon. When working in a specific industry, it’s easy to get caught up with insider jargon, so remember who your audience is before rattling off a message containing a foreign acronym.

Be Link Friendly

In all likelihood, you have a lot more to say than you can possibly fit in a text message, so don’t forget to include a hyperlink to your website. View text as a gateway to your brand, and encourage recipients to click with a clear call to action.

Be Plugged In

Segmented mobile subscriber lists are an invaluable source of user information. You should be constantly tracking the analytics of your mobile marketing campaign to see what each subscriber likes or dislikes, and adjusting your messages accordingly. The more you seem to be speaking to each customer as an individual, the better your SMS pitch will be.

Six of the Best: World Cup Apps

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Another World Cup, another rush from mobile marketing strategists and app developers to come up with ways of capitalizing on an event that has the attention of millions around the globe.

With multiple matches each day (at least during the group stages) and live screenings beholden to every different time zone, it’s not always convenient – even for the most ardent fan – to keep track of all the action. On the Pacific Coast, for instance, games kick off between 9am and 3pm, when most people are at work.

Thankfully, there are loads of clever apps on the market to help you stay abreast of all the action. And unlike 2010, this year’s tournament has arrived at a time when smartphones are most definitely the default mobile device for Americans, so almost everyone can benefit. Let’s take a look at the very best World Cup apps out there…

1) ESPN FC Soccer & World Cup

This free app takes an exhaustive, comprehensive approach to football stats from around the world, but what we’re really interested in is the World Cup tab where users can find out all the latest match news and scores. It includes video content so you can key moments and catch up on goals. Customizable, well designed, and easy to use, the ESPN offering is a stellar one.

2) World Cup 2014 Brazil

Available for free with Google Play, this app is as utilitarian as its title. Stats-focused, with full competition details and data customization, this neat green and yellow app is a beautiful, Brazilian-themed tool that will ensure you won’t miss a thing.

3) 2014 Table

Another Android offering with a straightforward name, this takes a pared down approach, giving subscribers only the essential information they need. Great for bloggers and journalists who want to cut to the chase and find the latest scores and tables, 2014 table auto updates as each new development occurs.

4) LiveSoccer World Football Cup

Track live matches from soccer leagues around the world, or just use it for the duration of the biggest sporting event on earth. Customizable push notifications will keep you informed of all the latest goings on, and a rich user interface doesn’t interfere with a high degree of user friendly slickness. 

5) Squawka

Mobile marketing campaign managers have aimed this little number squarely at the stats-obsessed football fan who wants easy access to the cold hard facts. Player information is cross-compared, allowing subscribers to play the ultimate living room manager by supplying detailed information on everything from goals and substitutions, to fouls and assists. Every tackle and pass is logged. This one’s for the completist.

6) BBC Sport

Available free for both Android and iPhone, the BBC app is an essential download for any World Cup devotees. It combines live text commentary for each game with push alerts every time a goal is scored. There’s also a way to stream regular Radio 5 World Cup bulletins. Along with the iPlayer, British football fans get everything they could need to see them through to the final.

Six of the Best: Mobile Marketing Trends in 2014

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Since 2010, the best practice for mobile marketers has been to interact with clients primarily through social media. Things have changed. Here are six of the best trends in mobile marketing for 2014:

1.Location Targeting

Location targeting has been around for quite some time now, but only recently has it been elevated to new capabilities. Location targeting has become much safer, commonplace, and convenient in the last year. And it’s getting better. As consumers continue to depend upon mobile devices that can find local products and services – when and where they need it – custom ads have been developed for these exact moments. Their activities are then recorded by marketers, so that the relevant information can be examined and tracked to appeal to consumers’ buying habits and movement patterns.

2.Programmatic Buying

Programmatic buying is basically the buying and selling of the consumer’s potential ad space. When a consumer sees an ad in the course of app use, in most cases that space has been won by the highest bidder. This service is getting new traction in the mobile marketing world: advertisers are able to summon historical intent side-by-side with profile data and behavioral data in real time. Forecasters expect programmatic buying to become the most common way to advertise to mobile users in 2015.

3.Wearable Tech

With the inauguration of Google Glass and Samsung Gear, mobile designers are blurring the lines where fashion meets technology. This giant leap forward has begun to provide businesses with new frontiers to claim in the territory of wearable tech. As many tech consumers have begun to embrace this new technology, marketers in turn have embraced their technological capabilities. Ideally, the seamless interactions inherent in these devices will allow advertisers to provide unique experiences for consumers.

4.Mobile Messaging

The ever-popular messaging apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp continue to garner a larger user base. Clearly, an increasing number of people prefer to use these apps to communicate rather than text messaging or calling each other. Apps of this nature allow for a multimedia user experience in real time, which appeals to a new generation of mobile users. Mobile marketers are preparing for the influx of new users upon these platforms, designing revolutionary messaging strategies for the future of text-based communication.

5.Mobile Currency

It’s not just about PayPal anymore. Since everyone has to have a smartphone today, we are beginning to see an increase in the usage of mobile wallets. The mobile phone has become the new way to pay instead of using cash or a credit card. The demand for advertising in this space is bound to increase based on user demand alone.

6.Video Demand

Mobile video viewing has become very common due to faster wireless networks, improved technology, and an increase in data plans. Ads for this medium are likely to follow suit in the next year. Evidenced by both Vine and Instagram’s incorporation of video, as well as the aforementioned commonality of mobile video, it’s pretty safe to assume that this space will be a veritable gold mine for mobile marketers.

Within the past six months, the business of mobile marketing has undergone a revolution. The increase in mobile usage, cutting-edge tech, and the expanding consumer knowledge of mobile utility has broadened the ways in which marketers reach mobile users. It’s time to prepare for the wave of the future in mobile marketing.

Five Key Benchmarks for Mobile Marketers

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June was one of the biggest months of the year for the mobile marketing industry. Silicon Beach Fest brought the brightest minds of the SoCal tech industry together, and the Cannes Lions Festival was another roaringly successful celebration of creativity in the field of mobile communications.

One of the biggest results from the latter event was a study conducted by The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) on the best ways to build and execute effective mobile marketing campaigns. Their analysis looked at more than 450 award-winning and leading brands – including Mercedes, Nike, Ray Ban and Coca Cola - and uncovered five key insights for industry creatives.

The MMA’s CEO described the findings as “benchmarks [to give] marketers and their agencies… a concise framework on how to think more strategically about mobile”. 

Let’s summarize the five key benchmarks identified by the MMA:

Brand Activation Remote

According to the MMA, mobile should be viewed as a kind of remote control for brand engagement, consolidating each strand of a marketing campaign into a single portal, thereby keeping consumers constantly connected along the path to purchase. Once you view your mobile marketing strategy as a unifier in this way, you can more easily drive conversion and sustain loyalty.

No Time Like the Present

There is no marketing channel more capable of having an instant impact than mobile. Mobile marketing campaign managers are able to wield the timing of SMS messages with finesse, engaging with consumers in the present moment, and on their own terms. Think about the maxim ‘timing is everything’ and in how many ways it applies to mobile: users carry their smartphones everywhere, it’s always in close proximity, and it’s a device that’s unique to them (ie not shared with others).

Content Rules

Another maxim that has held true in marketing circles for years, “content is king” remains a fact of advertising. Create compelling content that people want to share, and the job of promoting your brand will be done for you. And mobile is perfectly suited to delivering a wide range of media, with modern smartphones capable of streaming rich content like video and audio, as well as the usual slew of articles, images and, yes, text messages. 

Bespoke Experiences

Customizing the user experience to individual preferences is the holy grail of targeted marketing. The closer you get to appealing to a person’s sense of unique identity, the more loyalty they will feel towards your brand. The message here is this: bring users into your circle, make them feel heard by getting them to engage, and they will return the favor by sticking with your product.

Smartphone-as-Toolkit

Many marketers make the mistake of focusing on the bells and whistles of a campaign, ignoring the fact that businesses need to offer something of real value lest they perish in the long term. Mobile is perfect for integrating familiar handheld tools into their software. Calculators, barometers, cameras – even the phone itself might be thought of as a secondary function next to the multitude of apps available to users in 2014. The point is, those utilitarian features are demanded by smartphone owners. Come up with your own mobile version of an existing real-world tool, and you are on to a surefire winner.