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SMS Text Messaging… Can U Afford 2 B Left Behind!
Are you aware of the communication revolution occurring right now that is SMS Text Messaging?
What is SMS Text Messaging?
SMS, short for Short Messaging Service, is a text message service that enables short messages of generally no more than 160 characters in length, to be sent to, and transmitted from a mobile phone.
Mobile phones and the use of SMS, are having an un-deniable impact on our daily lives and the methods we use to conduct business. The fact that SMS also provides an enormous opportunity for companies to interact with their customers, is not really well known.
Consider these figures. The ‘Mobile Data Association’ reported that in the UK alone, in a three year period from 2003, over 75 billion SMS messages were transmitted.
In the US, according to the ‘Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association’, the number of SMS messages has grown from 930 million per month in 2002, to 1.2 billion per month in 2003.
Recently, in the Phillipines, SMS Messaging played a major role in bringing down an unpopular political regime. Now that’s a lot of SMS messages.
The ‘Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association’, reported that during 2005, Australians sent more than 5 billion text messages. Considering, Australia’s population is only around 20 million, this is extraordinary.
Popular reality TV shows like Australian Idol, Big Brother, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, and others, use SMS technology to generate millions of dollars of revenue directly from the SMS votes that will be used to determine the winners.
A study of various SMS campaigns revealed the following outstanding results:
1. 61% response, 27% reply to a message, 19% visit a web site, 15% visit a store.
2. 94% of messages are read, which explains the high levels of response and brand impact.
During the last few years, SMS Messaging has developed into the most used service in the mobile data area. Also, when response rates, interactivity and cost to implement, are considered, SMS marketing is without doubt the most popular marketing method.
SMS is a high-response-rate method of communication, which can help to acquire and retain consumers, sell and promote products, drive loyalty, and reinforce branding efforts.
Based on current growth figures, SMS Messaging will become an ever increasingly important component in future marketing communications.
Here are 6 reasons why:
1. SMS messages nearly always reach the recipient
Since there is a charge for sending SMS messages, they nearly always reach the intended recipient. SMS messages are forwarded to SMS Gateways, where they are stored until sent. This means, even if the recipient is not immediately available to receive them, or if the phone is powered off or out of range, messages are able to be delivered at the next opportunity. This high rate of deliverability makes SMS Messaging the most effective method of communication available.
2. SMS messages nearly always get read by the recipient
There’s nothing more irresistible, than the tone of an in-coming SMS message to the user anticipating, perhaps, a personal message from a friend. This reason alone nearly always guarantees that the SMS message that you send, will be read.
3. SMS messages nearly always get read within seconds of being received
Mobile phones are carried by their users wherever they go, even in the restroom. Thus when they receive a SMS message promoting a marketing offer from your business, they can’t resist checking it out and they will usually do this, within seconds of receiving your message.
4. SMS messages will usually get you an immediate response
Mobile users are usually addicted to their phones, whether they would like to admit it or not. A well crafted marketing offer, with an incentive to respond quickly via return SMS, will usually result in a response more quickly than via an e-mail or other type of marketing offer.
5. SMS messages are extremely cost effective
Compared to other methods, and considering it’s high deliverability, there is no contest. SMS Messaging is the most cost effective method of communicating and promoting of products and services currently available.
6. SMS messages can be either a 1 or 2 way communication
Using SMS Messaging to communicate or promote products offers a level of interactivity hard to replicate using other methods.
Case 1 – Around 2,500 mobile phone-users in the town of Lulea, Sweden, volunteered to receive SMS messages of special offers from 150 local organizations. The volunteers were sent an SMS for a well known fast food outlet’s burger offer, 25 per cent of the targeted users took up the offer.
Case 2 - A small club wanting to increase their patrons during slow nights during the week, decided to run theme nights. Having invested in maintaining a database of the clubs members, the club owner prepared and sent an SMS message to his member database, offering a 45% off discount for turning up with the text message. This was done the night prior to the event. The promotion was very successful with 29% of those sent the SMS message, taking up the offer and turning up.
Case 3 - A security business needed to automate and centralize their time sheet process for all of their remotely located security personnel. At each site a supervisor was supplied with a mobile phone with allocated SMS text credits. As security personnel arrived on site, the supervisor would text a keyword and an ID number. These SMS messages were sent to a central administration database, where they updated each officer’s individual timesheet. This process was repeated at the end of the day as officers left. The entire timesheet collection process, that used to take up to 2 days, was almost entirely eliminated. Further, because this process automatically updated the administration database, accuracy and prevention of loss of data was ensured.
Case 4 - A software service provider for media and advertising agents working in film, television and photography, wanted to provide casting agents a quicker and more efficient way to find out if their artists were available for castings. This provider leads the industry in casting solutions by combining, Web and SMS technology. All casting job details are entered into a database, and then queried for artist matches based on set criteria. Artists who match the criteria are then sent an SMS message instantly. Messages are only entered once, personalized, and sent to all of the relevant artists. When received, the artist simply replies with a yes or no. As the message is received at the administration database, records are updated immediately. Casting agents benefited by saving time, reducing costs and accurate recording of events.
SMS as an Effective Marketing Tool
Communication is vital in Marketing. SMS marketing makes it possible to directly interact with customers and provides a cost-effective method of data collection. Many leading companies have included this medium in their marketing strategies, and consequently, the number of companies using SMS continues to grow rapidly.
An important component of using SMS as a marketing tool is a client database. This database should be maintained with other relevant customer and contact information and of course should contain a valid mobile phone number. If applicable to your area, ensure that you are able to personalize your SMS messages by keeping first names in your database.
Ensure your database is opt-in
Perhaps the most vital factor when settings up an SMS campaign. Make sure your member database of mobile phone numbers is opted in. This pre approval for SMS communication ensures prevention of prosecution. Provision of a member opt out process will also help to avoid legal issues.
Keep it benefit focused and relevant
Ensure your marketing is relevant to your target. The relevance of the message is vital for success. Can the recipient see a real and tangible benefit to the message? If not, brand damage could result. Limit SMS messages to no more than 160 characters. Focus your message on benefits and don’t ramble. If messages are more than 160 characters, a second SMS will need to be sent. Avoid this. In addition to doubling the cost, the recipient may be irritated and discard the entire message.
Ensure interactivity by Inviting participation
SMS Messaging is an interactive medium. Invite participation through polls, logos, games, ring tones or vouchers. Use interactivity to obtain information for precisely targeted future promotions.
Stick to the tried and proven techniques of database marketing
Standard database marketing techniques and principles, as used by other marketing mediums, are what SMS Messaging requires. The marketing database should be dissected by various factors as required by particular businesses, including, gender, age, interests, location, purchasing patterns and frequency.
Create confidence with a Sender ID
The presence of a sender ID is useful as it invokes confidence with the recipient, as the receiver knows the source of the received message. A company name, brand or trade-mark name should always be included in the body of the text message.
SMS is a personal tool - Respect it
SMS marketing places your brand and message directly to a tool, that consumers consider highly personal. Marketers need to respect this method of communication and avoid over using the medium. Exercise restraint, and avoid jeopardizing your legal position to use SMS Messaging as a future marketing tool.
SMS as an Effective Communication Tool
SMS Messaging is widely accepted as the most popular and effective communication tool with a movable audience.
SMS can be easily integrated with a companies existing database and also enables the company to automate the dispatch of messages. It can also be sent immediately to large or small groups, manually or automatically. SMS messages can also be scheduled to be sent at preset times daily, weekly or whenever.
Right at this moment, literally millions of SMS messages are being sent around the world.
Can you see the opportunities for your business?
About the Author: Trent Appleton has devoted much time to the research of SMS Messaging in conjunction with the developers of the “one2many” Bulk SMS Gateway. Trent has also been the instigator of the FREE SMS Targeter application, that showcase’s the effectiveness of SMS Messaging. Download a FREE copy from one2many Bulk SMS Gateway