SMS Marketing Ideas

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July 28, 2015

SMS Messaging: Conversation Before Apps

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Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art? For a GUI (Graphic User Interface) designer, that question is becoming more relevant as the nature of the mobile user influences app development—perhaps towards a post app world? 

That’s a scary thought for a GUI designer, or a developer who unintentionally overlooked the simple truth that text messaging is far and away the most commonly used feature on a smartphone. Almost 97% of all smartphones users engage in text messaging; this familiarity creates incredible potential for a new generation of text-based application that can solve any problem an app can solve, through a more convenient interface: the text screen. 

 

Text-Based Apps Are Nothing New

The above, however, is not a new revelation. In fact, some apps controlled exclusively via text or SMS messaging already exist. Magic, for example, can help you reserve a table, check a bank account, or buy a car, all via text between a user and a concierge (an actual human being) who assists with these requests. WeChat is another app that uses text to bypass traditional apps altogether—effectively creating a universal portal to all things mobile.

According to a recent study by Pew Research Center, across all age groups in the US, text messaging is the most popular feature used on a smartphone. In this way, life is beginning to challenge the artist; while app designers may have intended to make our lives easier by developing apps to meet out every need, at the end of the day, people are universally more comfortable texting—having a virtual conversation to get at what they want. 

There are some people, like Matt Galligan, co-founder of the news aggregation app Circa, that believe we’re headed towards an overhaul of basic software and design. Galligan feels that something called “MessageKit” will be Apple’s catchall for apps located in iMessage. Instead of opening different apps with different design characteristics and UI controls, all the apps would perform their same functions but via text command or queries inside a fluid conversation.  

Apple’s new iOS 9 has already made some considerable shifts in its latest version, one of which is prioritizing app content for Internet search queries made via mobile. While there’s nothing like “MessageKit” available quite yet, it’s an interesting theory that attempts to recognize the user’s reality in a predominantly designer-shaped mobile world. 

One foreseeable drawback is that our familiarity with texting may causes people to use these services at inappropriate times. For example, texting while driving is already a major concern in densely populated areas. Additional text-based services may further encourage our desire for instant access, even behind the wheel.  

It’s ironic that an entire generation gets labeled as ‘less socially communicative’ because it’s always on smartphones, and yet, somehow, that same generation may bring society back full circle, where the digital dialect of texting is used to reinsert what was missing from our mobile lives: conversation. 

 

 

July 27, 2015

Truecaller is Making Android SMS Messaging Smarter

 

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It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to draw a parallel between email and SMS messaging on a mobile device. Both collect messages from familiar and unfamiliar sources, gather spam, and offer instantaneous communication with countless people from around the world. 

At least, that’s what Truecaller noticed when it decided to launch Truemessenger, an alternative SMS messenger app for Android. The Swedish-based company recently raised $80 million in funding to further perfect this new line of communication powered by Google Inc.

 

New But Familiar Design

By connecting the proverbial dots, Truecaller is introducing a familiar system to the SMS world of communication. We’re all accustomed to filtering our emails, assigning spam when necessary and prioritizing mail in personal categories; now, Android users can operate their SMS inboxes the exact same way, making it easier to avoid unwanted spam, by verifying the identity of those who send messages. Customizable spam filters are another unique feature, as they allow inboxes to remain free of clutter and help streamline the experience for users.  

But that’s not all; what makes the app ‘smarter’ is the integration of familiar social aspects with the user’s interface. The app draws photos and nicknames from popular social media sites and adds them to contacts when they message you. The app also allows users to customize color themes. What’s more, the Swedish EDM artist Avicii created a custom ringtone for the app, as a ‘friendly favor’ to the company. 

Alan Mamedi, co-founder of True Software doesn’t believe we’ve seen the end of SMS messaging though. In fact, he believes some markets like the US and India have a long future of SMS usage ahead.

“The volumes are still huge, and no-one is tackling the problems,” he explained.

Currently, 15% of all SMS messages are reported as spam—this amounts to almost 1.3 billion unwanted messages every year.

By focusing on the user’s experience, Mamedi hopes that solving some of the basic communication problems with SMS will keep it viable in the future. 

 

SMS Competition 

But what about the competition? Unlike most app founders, Mamedi believes the company is headed in the right direction because a number of larger corporations have taken notice of the work it’s already accomplished with Truecaller and now Truemessenger. Companies like Facebook were so inspired by the company’s work that they created their own caller ID app earlier this year. Since Facebook’s Hello and similar apps have launched, Truemessenger has actually received more users by proxy. 

Currently, the app is only available in India and for Android users in the Google Play Store. Google’s operating system allows for third party SMS/messaging apps, whereas Apple’s iOS platform doesn’t—yet. 

The good news is that SMS messaging is wising up to problems faced by its users, as advertising becomes more sophisticated and deliverable on mobile devices. How long will ‘smarter’ be ‘smart enough’? We’ll all just have to wait and see. 

 

July 22, 2015

How to Drive High Quality Traffic through Mobile Advertising

 

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Advertising is the shape-shifter of the business world. It has gone through more changes and taken on more forms than anyone could count. 50 years ago, advertising consisted of radio, print, and concrete materials. Pens and nail files with business information were the name of the game to gain exposure. Since then, as we all know, the business world has become more interconnected than ever, with your potential consumer only a click away. Customers hold the buying power in their hands and can take that power with them, wherever they go, at any time of day. I’m talking about the power of mobile.

So how do you achieve the high quality traffic, boosting your business, and creating long-term clients through mobile marketing? Well, the truth is, the answer is different for everyone. However there are some key points, a mobile mapping blue-print to follow, that can lay the ground work for gaining the visibility, quality, and conversion rate you desire.

 

Knowing Where Your Consumers Spend Their Time

Mobile marketing should be thought of as an opportunity to target potential customers with quality advertising content that can be personalized and optimized to each consumer base, instead of settling for quantity. However, engaging in quality advertising through mobile starts with knowing where to find that potential consumer base.  

Mass media marketing platforms like public radio, TV commercials, newspaper, or even print magazine ads might sound good, but they are only a nostalgic means to a non-profitable end. Smartphones, tablets, laptops—these platforms are the new launching pads for quality targeting and customer access. In an article by Venturebeat.com, it was revealed that consumer’s time spent on digital is now 46% compared to 36% on TV. The digital age has empowered the individual. It’s time to listen and understand how younger generations are consuming information and making buying decisions in order to even begin crafting quality mobile advertising efforts to successfully market your product or service in today’s world.

 

Get Responsive

First, is your business equipped for mobile platforms? It can be an immediate turn-off for potential consumers to find an outdated, unresponsive website. From design, screen size, and having an interactive, engaging mobile site—there is nothing more important to quality mobile advertising than being able to grab the consumer’s attention within the first few seconds.

 

Use Every Medium 

Part of grabbing and retaining a consumer’s attention means expanding the scope of your mediums in use. Videos, pictures, gifs, memes, blogs, social media campaigns, testimonials, surveys, questions, contests, best of lists—your business’s mobile presence can’t just be about a website and paid advertising (although that’s part of it); it should cover all the current hotspots where people are spending their time.

 

Remain Flexible

In the end, your philosophy on the business’ mobile advertising efforts should always remain open and flexible. Gain as much knowledge as you can on how to maximize your mobile budget, where to utilize paid advertising, why and if developing an app is important to your business (spoiler alert it is), and what programs (Facebook and Google Admob, etc.) are the best when it comes to utilizing paid mobile media advertising. 

The options in mobile advertising are limitless, as are the potential gains. Even though the digital age has empowered consumers, it has allowed businesses of all sizes and shapes to reach and engage consumers like never before. Mobile advertising is no longer the future—it’s the present, and it’s time to take notice.

July 01, 2015

Mobile Marketing Tactics for July 4th

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Independence Day is around the corner, and that means a marked increase in consumer spending across a variety of industries. As per the overall trend away from desktop, the majority of online shoppers will search on their smartphones, so it’s important to target mobile device users if you want to make the most of the holiday. 

Whatever line of business you’re in, give your July 4th a boost with some of these mobile marketing tactics:

 

Social Media Photo Competition

Use the power of social media to drive user engagement. A photo competition relevant to your industry, with a Independence Day-themed hashtag, can start the all-important online conversation. Do it right and you may even go viral!

Give Free Stuff Away

People. Love. Free. Stuff. That’s unlikely to ever change, which makes freebies the evergreen classic of the marketing world. Start an text message marketing campaign to let the world know about your free offer. The bigger and better it is, the more people will share it, and the more sign ups you’ll generate. It’s going to be a loss leader anyway - so you may as well go all out. If you generate long-term mobile contacts from a free giveaway, it’ll be well worth it. 

Tweet

Tweeting about special offers can work magic. Twitter is capable of disseminating information at incredible speeds, if an idea catches the imagination of enough people. You can even use apps like Viral to hide discounts until they’ve been retweeted a certain number of time, allowing you to control that 50% discount so that it works for you, or not at all. 

Themed Games

July 4th is a time for fun and games. Why not run a trivia quiz relating to the holiday. Offer a big prize to the winner, and multiple smaller prizes for runners up.  

Partner Up

Creating partnerships is an essential part of any business. It could be with other local businesses, but with the proliferation of social media accounts and other online networks, there’s a striking new type of partnership on the marketing scene: your employees. Most employees will be willing to spread your July 4th mobile marketing campaign to their friends and family, especially if it’s a fun video or themed song. If you have 25 employees, each with a hundred friends on Facebook…well, you can do the math!

June 24, 2015

5 MMS Marketing Tactics

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MMS marketing has been around for a few years, but when it comes to launching a new product or promotion, most business still limit themselves to SMS messaging. Mobile coupons and other offers are usually plain text affairs, and the popularity of shortcodes and keywords has caused many businesses to lose sight of the bigger picture.

This is somewhat surprising given the wide availability of MMS, which allows brands to entice customers with images as well as words. If you’re interested in harnessing the power of rich media to give your mobile marketing campaign a shot in the arm, consider the following applications of MMS:

 

Show & Tell

The visual element that’s so important to advertising has taken a backseat in text message marketing. Sure, you can (and should) include a link to your website, but in the hyper-competitive world of modern marketing, the fewer steps the consumer needs to take, the better. The food industry is probably the most obvious beneficiary of image-based advertising; MMS allows you to send the 2-for-1 pizza promo deal and a tasty picture of the pie. Visual stimulus will get mouths watering far more than mere words.

 

Text to Win

Use your existing subscriber base to introduce loyal customers to new products with MMS. To generate interaction, run a competition with the product shown as the prize.

 

Text to Reserve

Again, mobile marketing tactics that use SMS messaging can be modified for MMS. If you run a restaurant, send picture messages of the latest meal specials and offer a time-limited promo deal to respondents.  

 

Text to Vote

Running a poll or survey can be more effective with MMS than with standard text messaging. Encourage subscribers to vote on which appetizer they would prefer, along with a picture of each dish. Set up keywords to represent each appetizer (WINGS/SOUP-DU-JOUR/etc) and allow respondents to vote on the nicest looking dish, or the dish they’d prefer to see on your menu. Not only will you encourage engagement by the vote, you’ll have created targeted lists of customers based on food preference.  

 

Text to Connect

Stay in touch with subscribers with the right MMS campaign and you’ll see interaction increase. As long as you offer something of value, the underlying impetus behind your campaign can simply be to remain connected with your customer base. Keep such messages to a minimum. A ‘text to connect’ picture message should only be used if you don’t have any current promos, you haven’t reached out to your contacts for a while and you can create a special offer to be included in the message.

June 16, 2015

How SMS can Save Summer

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As the weather starts to heat up, annual summer vacations enjoy a revival. Airplane travel has become a popular and affordable way to travel these days, yet it has taken forever for the air travel industry to catch up with the mobile revolution. In fact, while travel and hospitality seem to lead innovation regarding user experience depicted through mobile, air transportation has done little in the way of making flights more mobile friendly.

And it doesn’t stop there. There are several ways to improve a summer traveler’s experiences with the help of mobile. Here’s a list of improvements every vacation could benefit from.

 

Mobile Ticket Purchase

According to Text Marketer, one in five international vacations were booked via mobile device. Travelers love great deals, so when there’s an extra passenger seat available at a discount, communicating those savings to loyal customers can be a great benefit. Frost and Sullivan report that consumers are 98% more likely to respond to a SMS message compared to regular emails. Using mobile to showcase great deals is a win-win situation.

 

Mobile Check-in 

One of the most common complaints about air travel is a long check-in line. Instead of numerous lines for check-in, offering a mobile responsive check-in service provide allow passengers ease of mind while they make their way through security and to their final boarding gate. It’s one less step that could make a huge impact on a customer’s flying experience.

 

Retail Opportunities

When travelers are stuck with a long layover or change in flight schedule, nothing beats duty-free shopping. Retail locations in airports have become incredibly lucrative for a variety of vendors. SMS marketing coupons are 10 times more likely to be redeemed than mail or newspaper ads. Using beacon technology to offer special discounts or special offers is a great way to use mobile effectively.

 

In Flight Upgrades

Some aircrafts currently offer WiFi access for a small fee, but many planes have yet to be fully upgraded. While placing phone calls or texting may be unsafe, even in the future, it would seem that offering Wi-Fi access during all flights could make a customer’s flight much more productive and enjoyable.

 

Mobile Accommodations

In addition to improving mobile for air travel, hotel accommodations are jumping on the wagon. Hilton hotels recently announced a smartphone check-in service to debut sometime in 2016. The app will allow guests to search and purchase a room via mobile. The mobile device also acts as a room key and can quickly connect with hotel staff or services via text message.

There are several ways to save summer with unique mobile initiatives that will ultimately benefit both the traveler and companies alike. 

 

June 14, 2015

6 of the Best Summer Marketing Campaigns

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Some summer marketing campaigns are truly awesome, and remain in consumer minds for many seasons. If agonizing about your summer marketing campaign or how you can possibly craft one consumers will love, throw something on the grill and check out six of the very best summer marketing campaigns (possibly) ever: 

 

Share a Coke Campaign

The Share a Coke campaign by Coca-Cola was hugely successful, and based on the idea that people looovve their names on things. The company put names on their cans and bottles, such as those that read “Share a Coke With Alyx.” As seen by the spelling of “Alyx,” Coca-Cola went a step further and make it possible for those with unusually-spelled or unique names to personalize their own bottles. They named their campaign after their call to action, which is quite brilliant, and even came up with ways to ensure sharing. For example, the soda brand had vending machines at the Minnesota State Fair where you could personalize a can for free.

 

Pacifico’s “Well-Traveled Beer” Campaign

In June of 2011 brewing company Pacifico did a road trip from Mexico to the U.S. and stopped in five cities along the way. They brought kegs to surfer get-togethers, bonfire parties, etc. and documented their journey via photos, videos, and status updates. Brand engagement and excitement resulted.

 

Pixar and Disney’s Monsters University Campaign 

In preparation for the 2012 summer release of Monsters University, Disney and Pixar created a Monsters University website featuring information on monster sports teams, School of Scaring tours, famous alumni, news and events, etc. It looked like a real university website and created plenty of movie buzz.

 

Atlantic City Alliance ‘Do AC’ Campaign

In April of last year, the Atlantic City Alliance dealt with a casino closings and a drop in tourism by launching the $20 million ‘Do AC’ campaign. Entitled ‘Do Anything. Do Everything. Do AC.,’ the campaign was created to expand on the beach city’s image and take it from gaming destination to family-friendly vacation destination. Ads were crafted for television, print, billboard, and digital advertising. 

A bold rebranding move, it nevertheless worked, and capitalized on the idea that people want to be “seen” in AC enjoying all of its many attractions, not just casinos. 

 

IKEA’s Books on the Beach Campaign 

IKEA celebrated Billy Bookshelf’s 30th birthday in 2013 by erecting several of their Billy bookshelves (filled with books) on Bondi Beach in Australia. Beach-goers could take a book in exchange for donating to the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation. The campaign therefore promoted IKEA as a compassionate brand while simultaneously advertising the Billy.

 

Starbucks Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long Campaign

In 2014 Starbucks launched their Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long campaign, an SMS and MMS campaign. The coffee bigwig posted a message to its Facebook page encouraging consumers to text the keyword STRAW to 22122 with an image of a Frappuccino. Consumers had to draw eyes on their frappucino, and the copy read “What has a green straw and wishes it had thumbs? This guy.”

 

 

 

June 13, 2015

6 Mobile Marketing Myths

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Has your business still not taken a ride on the mobile marketing train? Considering Americans spend about two hours per day on their mobile devices, and one in seven people worldwide own such devices as of 2013, you may want to buy your proverbial train ticket. One out of every four mobile searches is conducted using a mobile device, and some 57 percent of users refuse to recommend companies without mobile-friendly site.  

If still not convinced, check out six mobile marketing myths to sway your vote: 

 

Myth #1: Mobile Marketing is Currently Enjoying Its 15 Minutes of Fame

Think the mobile marketing craze will be over soon? Think again. To quote Internet marketing expert Matt Bacak, “You’re simply an idiot if you think mobile marketing is not here to stay.” A bit harsh, but very true. 

 

Myth #2: Mobile Marketing is Crazy Expensive 

Many, many tools are now available to start a mobile marketing campaign without breaking the piggy bank. 

 

Myth #3: Optimizing Websites For Mobile Marketing Isn’t Necessary

Another popular myth surrounding mobile marketing is any normal business site is easy to read on a mobile device. This is rarely the case, and most users who find your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices are unlikely to visit the site again. 

 

Myth #4: Mobile Users Are the Same

A good number of businesses believe mobile users are limited to Millennials and Generation Y. Again, not true. According to media company Digiday, many mobile users--more than half--are 35 or older. Older generations are increasingly just as likely to use their mobile devices and bring them everywhere, so don’t dismiss them as old fogies who can barely operate a flip phone, let alone a smartphone. 

 

Myth #5: All That’s Required For Mobile Marketing is an App

While having a mobile app for your business is definitely a good thing, it’s merely one component of a larger mobile marketing strategy. A mobile-optimized website, QR codes, and texting messaging play sizable roles as well, and put together offer many opportunities for customer interaction and loyalty building. 

 

Myth #6: Mobile Marketing Doesn’t Apply to Small Businesses

Hardly. Mobile marketing offers a more personalized, more one-on-one experience, something the small business specializes in. It therefore makes perfect sense to capitalize on mobile marketing as a new way of talking to customers and ensuring their loyalty. 

Mobile marketing isn’t going anywhere, and businesses who take advantages of its many benefits are the ones sure to thrive. 

 

June 10, 2015

SMS is Preferable to Messaging Apps, Says Survey

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Sure, numerous messaging apps have cropped up in recent years, with the Facebook Messaging app being the most popular. Yet despite the rise in messaging apps, many prefer the classic text message option. According to a new survey conducted by RingCentral, most prefer SMS to messaging apps, and 80 percent of the 509 people surveyed said they used texting for business. RingCentral is a cloud-based communications system for SMBs with “desktop and mobile apps, SMS capabilities and a variety of additional features.” 

Most survey participants were between the ages of 25 and 34. Some 48 percent of respondents have one or two messaging apps on their phones, with 30 percent having three or four. This isn’t exactly shocking, as most don’t want their phones cluttered with a bunch of messaging apps they don’t use. Several (41 percent) used two messaging apps regularly, though 36 percent of people surveyed said they didn’t feel overwhelmed by using more than one method for checking their messages every day.  

As far as the actual messaging apps go, Facebook is the favorite, followed by WhatsApp and Snapchat.  

The survey also looked at how many texts participants sent and received per day, how long they go without responding to a text, and why they preferred text messages to IM. Most said they send and receive between one and 20 messages every day, respond to messages two to 11 minutes after receiving them, and prefer traditional texting because it’s the simpler, easier, faster option. About 72 percent of participants clearly favored texting. 

Arguably more direct, traditional texting is much less difficult to ignore or miss than messaging apps. And while 80 percent of survey participants said they used texting for business, email is still widely considered the more professional option. Conducting business over IM is perceived as too casual and personal.  

“This employee feedback in our survey suggests the dire needs for companies to adopt the right business communication tools, policies and procedures to empower texting, calling, messaging, and online meetings—through more efficient communication platforms—at work,” RingCentral’s Carolyn Shmunis wrote on the company blog. “As new communication preferences emerge, employees and employers must devise a system that prevents communication overload, while enabling efficient communication both internally and externally. Preparing employees with the right tools to call, text or message one another should remain a top priority to help workplace productivity and efficiency.” 

Shmunis also noted that the survey takeaway is very clear: Texting may be the preferred option to IM, however it’s still important for businesses to “be better well-equipped to communicate with all modes of communication effectively.” 

 

June 01, 2015

Should I Use an SMS Aggregator for Mobile Marketing?

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The whole idea behind sending SMS (short message service) messages is in the name--you’re sending a short message that you expect sent in a short amount of time. The right bulk SMS provider is therefore essential to ensure messages are sent in a timely fashion. However not all providers, or aggregators, are of the same quality. 

Understanding the difference between good and bad aggregators means understanding the history of SMS, grey routes included. Check it out: 

 

A Brief History Lesson

SMS technology came about in the 1980s as a method of sending messages to offline or otherwise unavailable mobile phones. Messages were (and still are) up to 160 characters in length, and use a ‘store and forward’ approach, meaning messages are stored and sent once a mobile link is established. SMS also uses a signaling channel in that it does not interfere with phone calls--sending and receiving messages is possible while on a call. 

Few realized how popular SMS would become when the first text message was sent in 1992. Mainly viewed as a way for professionals to page each other, it quickly became a easy way to communicate anywhere, anytime. SMS use “exploded” in 1999 when it became possible to text regardless of whether the receiver was in your network or not. Especially popular among teens and adults, texting also served as a less expensive communication option. 

Telecommunication companies set up international roaming networks as well so those traveling internationally could still send texts to loved ones at home. The subsequent adoption of SS7 (Signaling System #7) was a way to facilitate global P2P SMS.

Telco companies have never charged each other interconnect fees for sending P2P SMS across networks. When a person sends a message, the receiver usually replies, thus cancelling fees out. 

 

Aggregator Origins

Eventually assorted entrepreneurs found a way to send SMS messages to vast numbers of mobile phones through a computer. All that was required was a Global Title, which provided a network identity and allowed them to send traffic on SS7 roaming networks. 

This resulted in aggregators, or non-telco companies that allowed businesses to send bulk SMS. Such companies did not have individual customers, and created issues for telcos by sending huge numbers of SPAM messages. Other aggregators went for illegal grey routes. 

Grey routes were used to send messages to recipients in other countries without paying networks for message delivery. And while some aggregators don’t use grey routes, they do utilize least cost routing (LCR), which usually involves passing messages through several aggregators. It is not considered a reliable means of communication. 

 

Wrap-Up 

Grey routes not only interfere with legitimate SMS traffic, they also cost telecommunication companies millions of dollars in lost revenue every year. A grey route crackdown by telecos has resulted, with companies working with trusted aggregators only. 

So when debating whether an aggregator is right for your mobile marketing campaign, remember that old piece of advice: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Go for aggregators who have direct relationships with telcos--you may pay more, but the investment is very much worth it.