[Guest post by Preston Pilgrim]
Years after “mobile” became the new buzzword, Smartphone-based marketing strategies may seem commonplace. There’s no question about the importance of mobile- in fact, data researched by Coupofy has predicted that mobile commerce will be growing 300% faster than traditional eCommerce by the end of 2016. The trouble is in differentiating your brand to create an advantage over competitors while using roughly the same tools. How can you reinvent your mobile strategy to increase conversions and push along mobile eCommerce sales when the guys next door are using the same bag of tricks?
The answer may be easier than you think. Let’s start by asking a simple question: What’s the one thing you do the most on your Cell Phone?
Chances are, if you’re like the rest of us, it’s texting. Whether you’re sending a message to a colleague letting them know you’re running behind for a meeting, or catching up with a friend in lieu of a phone call, SMS has been proven to be the most common cell phone activity, with 97% of Americans using it at least once a day.
So why is it, then, that SMS is so widely underused when it comes to mobile marketing?
In part, it may be due to the education piece necessary to properly use SMS in your market strategy. Companies get caught up in jargon like “shortcodes” and “keywords” and scared off by the legal ramifications of texting someone who has not explicitly expressed their consent. Don’t allow these factors to scare you off as well, though. There’s an incredible opportunity here to give your company the upper hand, using a relatively “old” technology to provide superior customer service in a new and exciting way.
The 5 Biggest Reasons Your Company Should Harness the Power of SMS
Why should you care so much about SMS, you might ask? Here are 5 big reasons:
1) Crazy Awesome Open Rates
We’re not kidding. Text messages boast a 99% open rate, with 94% read within the first 5 minutes. If we compare this to email, which has an average of 17.35%, it’s clear to see that SMS emerges as the winner.
2) Big Response
Via SMS, customers are 6 to 8% more likely to follow through on a Call to Action than when presented with the opportunity through email. Even better: If you’re sending a link via SMS, you’ll benefit from a 19% click-through rate as compared to email’s 4.2% average.
3) Reach More Customers, Everywhere
SMS has the ability to connect with a customer no matter what kind of device they’re on- whether a Smartphone or a traditional cell phone, and does not require an internet connection to do so. Text messaging means that you can communicate with your customers across multiple forms of technology, regardless of their location.
4) Provide Superior Customer Service
More and more, the data is proving that customer experience is key. According to Defaqto Research, 55% of consumers will pay a slightly higher price in order to gain better customer service. SMS is perceived as a more personal method of communication than email, and more efficient than calling in to a Contact Centre.
5) Clear Blocks on the Road to Checkout
Many companies who have experienced success through SMS cite the technology’s ability to quickly clear checkout roadblocks. Since text is perceived as efficient, customers can quickly click to send a question about a product or service and instantly receive a response, keeping up the momentum towards the point of purchase.
Get a Leg Up by Being All Thumbs
The question remains: What’s the best way to introduce SMS to your marketing strategy? The possibilities are endless, but there are 4 big things that you need to know.
Ask for Permission
This one is KEY. With most countries implementing new anti-SPAM regulations in recent years, companies can face hefty fines for sending marketing communications via text or email to customers who have not explicitly expressed their consent. The best way to make sure that you’re complying with the law is to create an infrastructure that allows the customer to “opt-in” for SMS or initiate the conversation by checking a box stating their agreement. Also be sure to supply an easy “opt-out” for customers once they sign on.
Don’t Sound Scripted.
The charm of text messaging is in its perception as a more personal method of communication. Scripted messages won’t fly here! If you don’t have the capacity to have a human interaction with each SMS, then at least be sure to keep the message in casual, conversational language, and to insert personal names for each individual customer.
Use SMS to Keep Customers Informed
One of the best uses for SMS is to provide customers with more information about their shopping experience. This may mean answering product questions instantly during the checkout process, sending a text to let a customer know that their order has been shipped, or following up to ask about a customer’s service experience during their purchase process. Imagine sending a customer a text to inform them that their product has arrived in the store, and furthermore to remind them of the store hours for the day and address of the nearest location. Now that’s service!
Let customers know what’s “in it for them”. Sweeten the deal by offering exclusive contests and discounts to SMS enabled customers- and don’t forget to tailor the messaging to each customer’s unique product or service interests.
If you’re not yet convinced, you can find a number of examples online of companies that have been able to use the power of SMS to skyrocket their conversions. Take, for example, Bohemian Guitars: A niche company selling unique instruments made from recycled oil cans. When the owner, Shaun Lee, noticed that the majority of his sales were derived from mobile, he installed a ping widget to his website allowing customers to click on a banner and send a question via text. Within less than 6 months, sales increased by 98%- a statistic that Lee attributes entirely to his use of SMS.
The moral of the story? Good old, reliable SMS is more powerful than you think. And now is the time to adopt the technology- before your competitors catch on.