The SMS Marketing Blog

[ By Ez Texting ]

Infographic: Where Do People Use Smartphones?

 

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Is Email Marketing Back?

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After years of fighting associations with spam, the proverbial tide is changing regarding email marketing. Facebook, Google and similar major digital media companies are turning to email-based targeting as opposed to traditional cookie-based targeting, as cookies do not work well in mobile browsers. According to Fluent’s new ‘Devices and Demographics’ research, 60 percent of all ads are displayed on mobile devices rather than desktop computers, making “email-based display advertising the future.” 

Advertisers interested in utilizing Google’s latest offering can precisely target the some 500 million people who have Gmail accounts, as well as users who rely on Google for other reasons, such as YouTube accounts. And while these numbers are definitely impressive, Facebook is ahead of the search engine juggernaut: the platform has the email addresses of all 1.4 billion of its users, including Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook addresses among others. 

Google is therefore looking to catch up with the social media giant, which works the “custom audience” angle. The term refers to “reaching customers you already know with ads on Facebook.” 

“You can upload a list of email addresses or phone numbers of at least 100 people and we'll deliver your ad to those people if they're on Facebook,” the platform explains on its website. “You can also build audiences from the people that visit your website or from people who use your mobile app.” 

This gives advertisers the opportunity to send encrypted files of their email marketing lists to Facebook and subsequently re-target the users via Facebook ads. The platform also targets ads to “lookalikes,” or those whose interests match existing users on the marketer’s email list.  

The “Google vs. Facebook war” notwithstanding, one thing is abundantly clear: email marketing is more important than ever. Its equity continues to increase, as such marketing is no longer confined to consumer inboxes. The marketing option is instead becoming the driving force behind social, mobile, and display marketing.  

Marketers with long lists of email addresses are set to take full advantage of email marketing, while those without are scrambling to create extensive databases they can draw from. Email address acquisition isn’t something to put off--it needs to function as the top priority for any company looking to drastically revamp their advertising strategy.

To not take advantage of these new email marketing perks is a way to get left in the figurative dust, as brand awareness, ROI, and overall revenue are all sure to benefit from this new tactic. 

 

How to Destroy Your Credibility with a Text Marketing Campaign

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Text messaging continues to gain popularity and credibility as one of the most effective mobile marketing strategies in existence. If you’ve implemented a texting campaign but aren’t seeing the results you want, you could be guilty of utilizing the wrong tactics. Such errors often spell doom in regards to credibility, so rather than continuing to chip away at your reputation without knowing it, check out the following detrimental tactics: 

 

Expired Offers

Sending expired offers, or those that otherwise aren’t redeemable for one reason or another will 1) annoy the heck out of customers and 2) make you look terribly unprofessional. If you own multiple brick and mortar locations but the offer is only good at one of them, make this abundantly clear. You don’t want enthusiastic customers to enter your store and find they can’t redeem their coupon--it’s highly unlikely they’ll patronize your business again. 

 

Going Back on ‘Frequency’ Promises

Do not, repeat do not, go back on how often you promised to send messages. Even one text too many is more than unprofessional--it’s illegal. You’ll destroy your credibility, break customer trust, and find yourself dealing with expensive legal issues. 

 

Misspelled Word Promotion 

Just one misspelling makes you look, well, not great. Review and re-review texts before sending them to everyone on your opt-in list and avoid kissing credibility buh-bye. Pick words that are neither too complicated nor too generic and you’ll be just fine. 

 

Lack of Education 

Before starting a text marketing campaign, it’s a darn good idea to educate yourself about everything related to such campaigns. The more you know, the less likely it is you’ll make an error, illegal or not. Review educational resources, talk to knowledgeable business associates, and otherwise make certain you know exactly what you’re doing before launching a campaign. 

 

Generic Announcements 

Are you only using text message marketing for generic announcements? This is a big clue as to why your text marketing campaign isn’t working. Consumers sign up for your list expecting special offers, discounts, coupons, etc. Generic or “good morning” texts are not what they want, and are a quick way to ensure opt-outs. 

 

Best Practice Refusal 

A standard set of text message marketing guidelines exist, and refusing to adhere to them not only puts your business at risk, it puts every customer in your database at risk. 

Keep these errors in mind before creating any text marketing campaign. 

 

Mobile Marketing Tactics for Cinco de Mayo

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Cinco de Mayo, or May 5th, commemorates the Mexican defeat of French troops at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Celebrated among Mexican communities in Mexico and the United States, it has become a drinking holiday. Cinco de Mayo also offers businesses the chance to attract new customers while having a fabulous time with current ones. If devising a mobile marketing scheme in time for this holiday, check out a few tips to help you out: 

 

Fun With Hashtags

Why not create a hashtag campaign? Make one about a week or a few days before Cinco de Mayo encouraging consumers to take selfies with your merchandise, such as a Cinco de Mayo cup bearing your brand name. Feel free to create a competition out of it--think creative selfies featuring the cup and the appropropriate hashtag. Give out “awards” on Cinco de Mayo, such as sending coupons or discount information for free food, drinks, products, or services. Don’t feel limited to selfies--the hashtag campaign can include anything you want so long as it’s appropriate. 

 

Party, Party, Party 

Make loyal customers feel special by throwing an exclusive Cinco de Mayo shindig. Text a special VIP code to customers who have been with your brand for years, regularly purchase certain products or services, etc. The code could function as an invite to a private party of sorts--one that includes free food and beverages, deep discounts on certain items, free trials of services, and whatver else you want to feature. A fantastic way of thanking customers for their loyalty, it’s also a way to spread the word about your brand. After all, don’t happy customers enjoy talking about favorite products and special related benefits?

 

Sales Alerts

Throwing a huge Cinco de Mayo sale? Let customers know via text. You can also send customers exclusive sales codes that guarantee discounts on the holiday. Consumers never tire of exclusive coupons and promotions, and are that much more likely to patronize your business if they know they can get something for cheap if not free. 

 

Powerful Call to Action 

Don’t let your call-to-action ruin your Cinco de Mayo mobile marketing campaign. Opt for engaging, if somewhat personal, options such as “Start Your Adventure Here” and “Celebrate Cinco de Mayo With Us By [Doing X and Y].” Whatever you decide, keep it concise and creative, and never, ever use “Click Here” and similar statements. 

These are just some of the many ways to work Cinco de Mayo into your upcoming mobile marketing campaign...

Consumers Actually Love Pro-Active Marketing, if it’s Done Right

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Consumer expectation has never been higher. Cross-channel interactions have enabled the public to engage directly with businesses, and if they don’t like what they see, they will look elsewhere very quickly. 

Such a wide array of choices has changed consumer attitudes to the way information is received. With targeted digital marketing and mobile marketing tactics, companies can take a pro-active approach to advertising - and people are actually happy about it. 

According to a 2013 survey from Harris Interactive, 87% of American adults want to be contacted about the products or services offered by an organization. The same percentage of respondents to a Frost & Sullivan report said they had a positive image of companies who made follow-up calls after initial contact. 

What does this mean for companies who, traditionally, have avoided pro-active marketing strategies? It would be jarring and counterproductive if they suddenly began calling all their customers in an attempt to be ‘pro-active.’ Businesses must transition gradually, adopting a blended approach, and training staff who are used to providing reactive service. 

Once that element of pro-active marketing has been introduced, the benefits to the customer follow closely behind. Technologies like cloud call center are allowing businesses accustomed to reactive marketing to adapt to pro-active marketing methods. Outbound dialers, automated voice messages and SMS messaging allow businesses to reach out to consumers in a no-pressure, respond-at-leisure manner.

As powerful as these tools are, they need to be wielded in the right way to ensure pro-active marketing does it’s thing. A major issue uncovered by the Harris Interactive research is the delays and pauses inherent to most outbound dialing solutions. Half the respondents said their reaction when answering an unfamiliar number to a delay is to just hang up. If the pause could be eliminated, 55% said they would be more receptive to the information they’re given. 

Voice broadcasting technology is now being used across a wide spectrum of industries. An unfamiliar caller is no longer necessarily taken to be an irritant. Banks, for example, use automated messages to alert customers to potentially fraudulent activity on their account. The ‘opt-in’ culture of modern mobile marketing has done away with indiscriminate auto dialers working through lists of numbers obtained without the recipient’s consent. This has naturally made consumers more receptive to the idea of being contacted by businesses.

As long as your message is offering something of value to the customer, and they have at some stage consented to be contacted, pro-active marketing is an effective way to grow your businesses. With 62% of people taking action after a positive incoming call, pro-active outreach as part of your overall strategy is well worth the investment.

 

How to Protect Your Business in an Earthquake

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The thought of an earthquake sends chills down many a spine, and for good reason. Since earthquakes are capable of wrecking horrendous havoc that includes building demolition and loss of life, it’s important to know how to protect your business in the event of this natural disaster. Whether you live in California or another earthquake-centric area, it’s important to have a game plan ready should you and your employees endure a huge ‘quake.  

Let’s check out a few ideas on how to protect your business in an earthquake: 

 

Research

First things first: research earthquakes in your specific community. Look up local government policies, designated earthquake shelters, emergency routes out of the city, emergency phone numbers, etc. Create a list of all emergency contact information and send it via email to everyone you employ. Include a plan of action should an earthquake hit during work hours. 

 

Get Involved

Once you and your team have your emergency plan down, register with ShakeOut.org and join the millions of people in the U.S. and worldwide already prepared to hold a Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill. Simple and easily affordable, this event also functions as a team-building exercise. 

 

Purchase Non-Perishable Food and Bottled Water

Dedicate a closet in your office/warehouse/water” just for earthquake supplies. This should include enough perishable food and bottled water to last you and your employees for five days. Also use the closet for items such as hand-crank radios, candles and matches, medications, copies of important documents, flashlights, blankets, and other emergency preparedness items. 

 

Set Up an Emergency SMS Notification System

Set up an SMS notification system that alerts all employees about earthquake warnings. An especially helpful idea if you operate multiple business locations or frequently send employees on errands, appearances, and business trips, a notification system is an excellent option for staying in touch. It’s also an instant way to know everyone who works for you is aware of the earthquake warning, as most people look at text messages right away--far more than they do emails. The notification system can also let them know the varying degrees of emergency, where to take shelter, and so on. 

 

Learn More

Learn more about earthquake preparedness and encourage employees to do the same by suggesting a list of related apps. Think the American Red Cross app, the Ready.Gov app, and government branch apps for your specific county.

Remember, April is Earthquake Preparedness Month. Don’t wait until the big one hits--know what you and your team should do during natural disasters. 

 

Disaster Relief & the Tech Community

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Technology provides an incredible asset to those dealing with a natural disaster if utilized properly. Cyclone Pam recently hit the Pacific nation of Vanuatu, and while the tornado resulted in relatively few casualties, it was a stronger storm than New Orleans’ infamous Hurricane Katrina. Vanuatu is considered the world’s poorest nation, and as the rest of the world looks for ways to assist after the disaster, what can the technology industry do to help? Communication failures have made it difficult to determine the actual extent of the damage. 

 

Improved Communication Efforts 

While communication is imperative following any natural disaster, network overloads and satellite failures cramp the abilities of relief workers, hospital staff, and families searching for loved ones to keep in contact. Google launched crisis maps in response to such failures, a service aiding emergency preparedness and relief. The service utilizes Twitter and Facebook to help with communication during disasters should alternative methods remain unavailable.  

The 2010 earthquake in Haiti saw open-source software crowdsourcing information provided by locals, resulting in an interactive map of the crisis. A mostly urban environment, cell phones were the main forms of communication during the disaster, with those from affected communities offering eyewitness reports via SMS and social media. 

Reports were created and mapped with GPS coordinates before being sent to rescue teams thanks to information submitted from around the globe through text message, email and the web.

“I’m buried under the rubble, but I’m still alive” is an example of reports sent to the Ushahidi platform, making it possible for U.S. Marine Corps and hundreds of aid organizations to coordinate relief responses to the quake.

 

Contain Epidemics

Viral outbreaks are common following a natural disaster, however technology is helping to contain epidemics. Real-time analytics make it easier to provide huge amounts of data concerning previously-unknown virus trends, thus limiting death toll and dramatically reducing the spread of disease. For example, Harvard’s HealthMap called the recent worldwide Ebola virus outbreak an astounding nine days before the World Health Organization made the announcement. HealthMap used information from social media posts, including those of healthcare workers in Guinea, to create a visual outbreak report. 

 

More Than One

As with most things, it’s important to use more than one technique to ensure a full rather than partial picture of the issue. Accessing health clinic reports, social media posts, information from public workers, media updates, helpline data, and transactional data from pharmacies and retailers is clearly the way to go in regards to the “big picture.” One of the easiest ways to obtain such data quickly and easily? SMS.

SMS tools and campaigns are among the best options for ensuring all involved have the data they require at the right time. 

 

This App Lets You Send a Text 25 Years into the Future... Sort Of

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In an age of instant communication and 24-hour rolling news, the notion of posterity may seem rather quaint. The emphasis is on the now, with scant consideration for what might happen a few weeks - let alone a few years - from now.  

One new app aims to put long-term thinking back in the spotlight, by providing users with a platform to delay the release of their text messages for up to 25 years. Launched last month, Incubate Messenger is the innovation of Atlanta-based entrepreneur Michael McCluney.  

Incubate’s uses aren’t immediately obvious but, according to McCluney, it doesn’t take long for people to ‘think of reasons they need to strategically time [a] message’ when you give them the functionality. Those reasons range from forgetful spouses priming an anniversary text message months ahead of the date, to soldiers on tour sending a time-delayed SMS to their kids when they know they’ll be unable to reach a phone on duty. In addition to SMS messaging, movies, photos and audio messages are also catered for by the app.

McCluney’s lightbulb moment came when an exhausted friend - and father of triplets - told him of the nightly struggles tending to three 3-month-old babies. The developer suggested his friend make audio recordings to capture the chaos of a trio of screaming infants in the middle of the night. Wouldn’t it be great if Dad could somehow share these moments with his kids when they were old enough to laugh at their tiny selves?  

That exchange inspired one of Incubate’s unique features: Nursery. The feature allows parents to send time-delayed messages to their kids from the moment they are born. Parents simply create an account, which their child can access when they get their first mobile device. Anyone with an account can exchange messages and see how many messages await them in the future but - and here’s the clever bit - they can’t access the message or see the identity of the sender until the date set by the sender. Having a mystery text message that you can’t read for 25 years is the ultimate in delayed gratification, and a masterstroke of an emotional hook.

Asynchronous communication is not entirely new. Boomerang and Gmail both have options for time-delayed messages, as do Vine and Snapchat. But Incubate aims to promote the sharing of information with a little more gravitas than photographs of desserts. It’s about creating a time capsule capable of creating a bond through space and time. Until now, a dewy-eyed father packing his kid off to college can do his best to reminisce about his youth - and probably get rolled eyes and groans in return. With Incubate, it’s possible to capture and store precious memories as they happen, and share them in the future when they’ve taken on new significance.

 

Could Google's Mobile Update Backfire?

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Today sees the roll out of Google’s most significant algorithm update in years. In response to mass migration from desktop to mobile, the search engine will now use a website’s ‘mobile friendliness’ as a ranking metric. 

It’s great news for businesses who put themselves ahead of the mobile marketing curve in time to reap the benefits. It’s not so great for those lagging behind - many of them big businesses with expensive, unwieldy marketing departments. According to research firm SumAll, a staggering 67% of Fortune 100 companies do not have mobile friendly sites. They can expect their traffic to nosedive now the change has taken effect

The changes - dubbed ‘mobilegeddon’ by some - are perfectly consistent with Google’s track record of responding to shifts in search culture. Mobile traffic has increased, and desktop search has declined correspondingly. For the average user, more likely to access the internet from a mobile device than a desktop computer, the update will doubtlessly improve their experience.  

Assuming Google isn’t doing this for purely altruistic reasons, what are their motivations for implementing changes that will not only harm powerful corporate influences but reduce Google’s own ad revenue?  

One answer may lie in the question. Google knows it must close the gap between desktop and mobile ad rates in anticipation of a full-blown small-screen revolution. Another possibility is that Google isn’t so much reacting to external trends, but rather influencing consumer behavior. If sites render well on mobile devices, they will become more popular, thus increasing the number of mobile clicks.

The businesses who aren’t ready for this will definitely suffer. They may even claim that the content available on mobile friendly sites just isn’t as good, nullifying Google’s objective to (ostensibly) provide a meritocratic search tool. The worst case scenario for Google is that big companies switch their search focus to Yahoo or Bing, and move their ad spending to Facebook. Such gloomy predictions have always failed to materialize in the past, and Google remains synonymous with search for the majority of internet users. 

Nonetheless, it’s a risky strategy. Without ad revenue Google is nothing, but they have proven themselves time and again to be deft at bending with the wind. Whether today’s major algorithmic update will turn into ‘mobilegeddon’ remains to be seen, but as risky as the move may seem, betting against Google is riskier still.

 

90% of Mobile Marketing Revenue Comes from SMS

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It is increasingly apparent that the SMS segment of the global mobile advertising market is very dominant due to the rapid surge in smartphone and tablet use around the world. Some 90 percent of adults in the U.S. use mobile phones, 60 percent of which are smartphones.  The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) believes that soon smartphone use in the U.S. will rise to 80 percent. 

“With consumers carrying mobile devices wherever they go, it has become crucial for marketers to target this large consumer base with mobile advertisements and promotions,” according to Transparency Market Research (TMR). “A mobile advertising platform firm provides services to marketers that allow them to send these advertisements to consumers using mobile devices. Each distinct mobile advertising platform contains opportunities for marketers to deliver their message to a broad range of consumers.” 

SMS is subsequently a “big deal,” as mobile advertising services are easily sent out via text message. Mobile advertising is also being used to place banner ads on smartphone apps, which appear either at the top of the app (mobile web banner) or at the bottom of the app (mobile web poster). One of the many advantages of SMS is it allows users to view and send short messages without worrying about privacy issues or seriously interrupting the receiver’s day. It’s therefore not shocking to note that SMS accounts for 90 percent of total mobile marketing revenue. Simply put, it's the most cost-effective of all mobile marketing tactics.

In addition to SMS, multimedia messaging services, aka MMS, are experiencing an increase in popularity. Other services gaining momentum include full-screen interstitials, mobile videos, and mobile games. 

Transparency Market Research believes the next few years will see advertisers in the global mobile ad marketing space focus increasingly on performance. An increase in ROI spending will likely occur, as will the quantifiable results that follow. Preference for location-based advertising is also growing, and will only get bigger and better in the future. Such advertising makes it possible for advertisers to target specific portions of their target demographic, therefore dramatically enhancing mobile ad effectiveness.  

Unlike traditional phone calls, “spammy” emails, and the days of going door to door, SMS is a safe and effective means of catering to target audiences. Most read text messages as soon as they come through compared to the hours that pass before reading an email or the disgruntled consumers on the other end of a marketing phone call. In addition to its effectiveness, SMS messaging is a low-cost marketing option. No wonder it makes up 90 percent of mobile marketing revenue….