SMS Marketing Ideas

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August 28, 2015

How to Reach Students with Your Mobile Marketing Campaign

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There’s a good reason marketers scramble to get the attention of college students. Sure, they’re increasingly hard to reach, but according to a new eMarketer report, college students are “poised to out-earn and outspend non-college millennials for decades to come.” 

There are 19 million college students in the US, and nearly all of them are mobile users engaged in multiple social networks. These networks have become the primary playground for creative marketers, as they bypass traditional media buys with shareable content. 

 

The Social Student 

College students aren’t just looking to be entertained. According to the report, students are influenced to buy by several factors including peer recommendations and money-saving discounts. While this may or may not be surprising, it does speak to the tech-savvy side of millennials—marketers can’t just throw money at targeted mobile displays or video. A student-targeted mobile marketing campaign needs to be cleverer than that.  

According to Michael Hanley, an advertising professor at Ball State University, “About 65 percent of students report receiving mobile ads, and 70 percent of them don’t like it.”

Social campaigns are the remedy to this marketing problem. Matt Britton, CEO of MRY, a creative and technology agency headquarter in New York, said, “The most effective form of social media marketing is always creating content that’s highly shareable.” 

 

Short and Sweet 

To keep marketers on their toes, the sharable content should also be compact—small enough to consume within the restrictive space of mobile screens and short attention span of the college user. 

“When you think about people on their phones,” Britton continued, “they’re scrolling so quickly that if you try to come up with long-form content, they’re not going to take time to read it.”

Some apps are built for this kind of content; SnapChat and Vine, for example, proliferate this kind of content with an emphasis on creativity and viralability. Marketers simply have to find ways to appeal to students from within these and other social networks to succeed in communicating new products and services. Explore what these apps can do for your next mobile marketing campaign.

 

Say Less, Show More 

Britton also advises the use of imagery as a means to communicate more effectively within the time and size constraints. Instagram is one app that has defined the practical use of creative imagery to build brand recognition and communicate sales and discounts. Moreover, GIFs have recently increased in popularity across nearly every social media channel, which really drives home Britton’s point.  

Does this mean the written word is doomed on the Internet? As far as marketers are concerned, it would seem so, with long-form content being replaced by hashtags and images that are presumably worth 1,000 words. As for the students, most of their reading must get done in textbooks. 

 

 

August 18, 2015

Here’s What Your Digital Marketing Campaign Should Look Like

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SMBs are constantly looking out for convenient, affordable and effective marketing methods. But in order to make digital marketing work, you need to understand how each  marketing strategy operates. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the main strands of an effective digital marketing campaign:

 

SEO

The digital marketplace is crowded, so visibility is one of the first - and toughest - challenges a business faces. Creating a strong SEO strategy requires detailed research of your industry and target market, and a thorough knowledge not just of your products, but how the majority of people will search for them. Establishing which keywords you will target is the first step. Next, your onsite strategy (that is, for your own website) should incorporate enough keywords that the search-engine bots know what you’re all about, but not so many that it affects the fluency and style of your content. Your offsite strategy pertains to how external web spaces refer to your site. That means accruing inbound links and promoting your brand via guest posts on other industry websites. A diverse SEO strategy is the most effective in terms of boosting your rankings in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS).

 

Mobile

Mobile marketing is the process of reaching an audience through smartphones and tablets. It could be in the form of native technologies like SMS messaging and voicemail, or amending existing web content to make it more ‘mobile friendly’, or, if you have the budget, via apps and other types of software. There are many ways to reach people using mobile marketing. A solid mobile marketing campaign encourages users to visit your site and social media pages.

 

Social Media

Social Media has been a huge boon for SMBs. Even on a very tight or non-existing marketing budget, entrepreneurs can use social media to good effect. Most of the big social media players - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn - are free and easy to use. 

 

Blogging

Regular blogging is a good way to establish authority in your industry. It constantly increases the size of your website by adding fresh, relevant content, adding value even if you don’t command a huge readership. But a truly compelling, well-written blog containing original expert opinion will give your brand credibility with competitors and customers.

 

Email

It’s not the first port of call for marketers any longer, but email should still form part of a multi-channel marketing strategy. For getting rich content out to large numbers of people, it’s hard to beat. Be sure to use it to full effect, offering something of value with every email. As with SMS marketing, email marketing demands a lightness of touch, so avoid sending emails much more than once a month.

 

August 13, 2015

SMS Concierge GoButler Wins $8m in Funding

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Wouldn’t it be great to have a personal assistant? Apple’s digital concierge called Siri was supposed to set your appointments, make it easy to access information, and recommend places to eat nearby. But that’s not exactly how most of use Siri. Instead, we ask her for bedtime stories and other ridiculous queries—our dreams of virtual assistance took a few giant leaps back. 

GoButler is looking to make up some lost ground. Using basic SMS messaging, GoButler connects users with “heroes,” or trained employees of GoButler that assist with fulfilling just about any request. The service is free and claims to be able to handle even the tallest order, so long as it’s legal.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because this isn’t a novel idea. Similar products already exist like Magic, an app used primarily on the West Coast with the same general SMS-based premise. So what makes GoButler different?

 

How GoBulter Stands Out from the Pack

To start, the originally Berlin-based startup has just locked down $8 million in series A funding; this corresponds with the app’s recent release from beta and introduction to several new markets including the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. 

GoButler also just moved its headquarters to New York City, where the company plans to develop technology to improve the automation aspects of the service. Moreover, the move was not coincidental. The GoButler team is prospectively looking to take over the East Coast, a current gap in the virtual assistant market, with the hopes of beating out its competitors as it improves the software and grows the user base.  

The startup’s founder and CEO Navid Hadzaad acknowledged that virtual assistants are already available in the app store but rejects any notions that GoButler is a specific clone; Magic and GoButler were launched just 3 weeks apart from each other.  

All three founders of GoButler—Navid Hadzaad, Jens Urbaniak and Maximilian Deilmann—were previously employed by the successful German tech company Rocket Internet; however, upon completing the app, each quickly left his job. 

Ironically, Rocket Internet’s Global Founders Capital was one of the key contributors in the series A funding that took place just a few weeks ago.  

Since launching earlier this year, GoButler reports 100,000 users with nearly 1 million requests made so far. There are currently more than 120 operators working around the clock, assisting with a variety of requests from pizza delivery to purchasing plane tickets. 

Navid maintains the company will remain free to users as it grows in the US and abroad, with some discussion of affiliate programs circulating in the near future.

The emphasis on SMS messaging in several recently developed apps is not surprising. Multiple reports indicate that texting is the number one feature used on all smartphone devices across nearly every age demographic. Texting, for many people, is more comfortable and convenient than using multiple apps. If this remains true and apps like GoButler and Magic proliferate, texting may finally become the personal assistants we wanted but never thought we would have.  

August 10, 2015

How to Create a 'Joined Up' Marketing Campaign

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According to a report released by Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) online retail purchases accounted for 24% of all retail sales in 2014. This number is up 14% from 2013, as well as the average basket value, which increased by 4%. 

Consumers are making more purchases online than ever before, and retailers are looking for ways to capitalize on this growing trend—in particular, how to link digital marketing with a customer’s physical experience in retail locations around the world.

Also noted in the report, customer experience ranks highest among retailers looking for positive growth in 2015. By focusing on improving a customer’s experience both online and off, retailers expect to see continued growth in online purchases—uniting digital efforts with the real retail world.  

One way retailers are able to this is with beacon technology, a Bluetooth device that connects with a customer’s smartphone based on proximity. Retailers can place these beacons in store entryways, on shelves or near checkout to offer instant rewards, promote special campaigns, or favorable discounts to loyal customers.  

Another example, and perhaps one of the easiest to implement, is the use of marketing hashtags to push consumers into a digital conversation. This is particularly effective with physical advertisements (billboards, TV commercial or radio ads). A hashtag used in the right place at the right time can be tremendously effective at provoking curious consumers to venture online, particularly on mobile where most social interaction takes place.  

SMS messaging or texting is another positive rout many retailers are taking to engage more intimately with their consumers. The upside to texting is that it’s immediate, highly effective at gaining responses and allows consumers to feel more directly connected with a retail company. 

Most importantly, proponents seeking a unification of the digital gap believe respect for the end user (thoughtful and relevant communications) will be significant in the process of developing a lucrative online sales funnel. Some marketing companies strictly focus on the mobile devices; its capacities and limits, which doesn’t align with improving a customer’s experience. 

Finally, 61% of retails agree that cross-channel marketing will be a focus in 2015. This means managing an integrated and thoughtful campaign that carries across several marketing mediums. By developing a cohesive message that points in a singular direction (towards more sales) the link between digital and reality will likely grow smaller.

August 09, 2015

10 Mobile Marketing Case Studies to Pay Attention To

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Whether you’re looking for hard facts on mobile marketing or creative inspiration to help launch your next campaign, these ten businesses showcase the very best mobile marketing has to offer. 

 

TAO Nightclub

This Las Vegas dance club seized the night with a VIP text message that went out to 2,000 subscribers on a slow evening. That same night, the club had 220 more attendees who, in addition to the cover charge, each spent $20 on drinks. The club made a cool $6,170 extra dollars that night, proving that impromptu campaigns can be incredibly effective.

 

RedBox

Using multiple forms of marketing including kiosk advertising, email, and social media, RedBox was able to increase its pool of mobile subscribers in just ten days. The campaign was called “10 Days of Deal” and encouraged customers to opt in via text for a chance to win a discount on their next rental. The customers saved some money and RedBox generated more than 1.5 million text messages to users in ten days. 

 

PETA2

PETA2 is a youth-based subgroup of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). During Warped Tour, PETA2 solicited concertgoers to text “BUTT” to a short code that subscribed users to PETA2’s “Animals Don’t Smoke” initiative, which is aimed to stop cigarette testing on animals. Participants were rewarded with shirts and hats for opting in. Once subscribed, new users were texted information urging them to send their support for a ban on cigarette testing to the FDA. More than 25,000 people joined this mobile initiative. 

 

Texas Roadhouse 

This popular western restaurant began a six-month mobile marketing pilot at 20 locations in an effort to boost their mobile subscriptions. The “TextUs Loyalty Club” offered patrons a free appetizer in exchange for the opt-in. Forty-four percent of customers were willing to provide personal information in exchange for the reward. Roadhouse’s campaign was largely successful, generating an average 17% redemption rate during the test period. 

 

Dunkin’ Donuts 

Dunkin’ Donuts is popular throughout the U.S., but a regional campaign in Boston proved successful for this quick-service restaurant. Using radio and Internet advertising, the company was able to capture 7,500 new mobile subscribers—17% of those new subscribers forwarded the messages and promotions to a friend, increasing the Boston area’s store traffic by 21%.  

 

Papa John’s Pizza 

A U.K. branch of the widely popular pizza chain Papa John’s pushed a campaign to its current mobile subscribers offering discounts on pizza. In the three weeks the franchise ran the campaign, overall sales increased by 33%.

 

Red Cross

Even nonprofits are getting in on the mobile marketing action these days. The Red Cross, collected donations after Hurricane Sandy, which was reported to have caused an upwards of $50 billion dollars in damage. By linking the donations directly to a user’s phone bill, the donation process was streamlined and easier for the average person to complete. Twenty percent of all the donations raised by the Red Cross’ effort were from text messages. 

 

Pizza Hut 

Geofenceing is a digital perimeter that sends text messages to subscribers based on a user’s proximity to the geofence. Pizza Hut in the U.K. set up geofences within a half-mile of each of its 340 store locations. On average, these stores were 142% more efficient at increasing incremental sales, 4.4 times more effective than TV ads, and 2.6 times more effective than online ads. 

 

Blumish Irish Cider

Blumish Irish Cider also elected to use a geofence to target males between the ages of 18 and 34. The campaign shot out a text message when a target was within a half mile of a pub that served the company’s cider. More than 1,000 pubs were used in this geofence project. When activated, the text message would text a map with the location of the pub and point the user in the right direction. During a month-long period, 77,00 text messages were sent out, and the user engaged these messages nearly 50% of the time. What’s more, 25% of those who received the text message actually went out and bought a cider from one of the locations. 

 

Six Flags

In Maryland, Six Flags used text-to-win contests and mobile alerts among its target demographic of teens to boost attendance. They advertised the contests with social media, in park advertisements and radio promotions and received 5,000 new mobile subscribers. These subscribers were sent VIP ticket sales info, park information, and weather updates. The park saw a direct increase in attendance from teens as a result of this campaign. 

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.