Rise of SMS for Connecting with Customers

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“SMS marketing can increase customer engagements and enhance brand recognition. Marketers must use this platform correctly in order to produce the most effective mobile marketing strategies,” – Ralph Loren

Text-based marketing techniques emerged with the advent of commercial wireless technologies in the mid-1990s. This low-cost but high-return marketing system enables brands and businesses to reach individual customers and focus targeted communications on a wide swathe of the populace in a given geography. The subsequent developments in marketing techniques and the evolution of electronic connectivity helped create multiple mobile marketing techniques, but the efficacy of SMS-based marketing remains unchallenged in modern times. We intend to examine some of the techniques that can help marketers to connect with customers via SMS.

Marketing strategists should realise that SMS represents an intimate marketing vehicle, one that connects with customers at a personal level since cell phones and smartphones are essentially personal belongings. A short text message can be created as the basis of an SMS-powered marketing campaign. The text of the message should be chosen carefully and then marketers should leverage choice to select automated programs that transmit such messages in bulk to large numbers of cell phones. These messages are enablers of business because cell phone users typically check their devices for messages multiple times on any given day.

Brands and businesses can spur consumer behaviour by embedding electronic coupons in the SMS-based messages. For instance, a brand or a business can encourage large numbers of consumers to shop on weekends by transmitting coupon codes through its SMS-based campaigns. The time limit on the coupons may specify a 48-hour shopping window wherein, customers can use the codes to access merchandise at reduced prices. We must note that the timing is critical because customers typically tend to spend time on shopping expeditions during the weekends. Therefore, a combination of using electronic coupon codes, weekend shopping practices, and text-based marketing can help said business to achieve sales targets and to clear inventory at its business premises. This instance clearly demonstrates the power of SMS-based marketing campaigns.

Most of the civilised world uses smartphones in the present day and SMS-based marketing tactics can leverage this fact. Brands and businesses can choose to expand the scope of commercial interactions with their target markets by including short web links that can connect consumers with brand websites, online portals, social media handles, or product micro-sites – a useful instance of innovation that can multiply the power of SMS-based marketing campaigns. For instance, a brand that has launched a new micro-site for a specific new product can enhance consumer awareness to the fact by including short links to said micro-site in its commercial text messages. This approach is guaranteed to help said micro-site to gain deeper traction in the marketplace. Similarly, current posts on a commercial social media handle can gain wide publicity when SMS-based campaigns direct consumer attention to said social media handles. In light of the above, we may note that text-based marketing campaigns help brands and businesses to drive traffic to a variety of online presences.

Businesses can leverage a wide range of commercial resources to personalise their text-based communications with their customers. We must note that most retail commercial operations systematically collect consumer information, such as names and mobile numbers. This activity helps to create enormous databases that can provide customer names and the corresponding mobile numbers. The subsequent personalisation of the SMS-based activity hinges on the fact that being addressed by name helps customers to feel privileged, and therefore, more likely to pursue certain avenues of commercial engagement. We note the fact that this initiative can be extended when businesses transmit special text-based messages that invite customers to peruse new product offerings and time-limited sale seasons. Interestingly, it has been observed that new age e-commerce business operators rely extensively on SMS-based campaigns to drive online traffic to their mobile apps and online flagships.

Professional courtesy remains a lynchpin of customer service paradigms. Therefore, brands and businesses can utilise text-based messages to thank customers that have shopped at brick-and-mortar retail establishments. A brief thank you note transmitted via mobile text messages can reinforce a positive brand perception and encourage customers to repeat their business with the commercial entity that issued said messages. In addition, marketers should appreciate the value of such messages because they help to expand the concept of brand recall in the minds of customers. Further, these messages signal commercial intent to extend a commercial association electronically, beyond the confines of the immediate transaction.

Brands and businesses can customise their SMS-based initiatives to seek customer feedback. The text messages issues by a business may request customers to send a text-based response that outlines their immediate brand experience and indicates their preferences in terms of future transactions. This stance helps businesses to create a two-way conversation that can inform businesses about customer mind-sets and their expectations. The information gleaned from such responses can help a brand or business to adjust its business strategy in line with customer preferences and customer choices. Commercial entities should be advised to collect and collate such feedback as part of on-going efforts to map customer reactions to commercial initiatives.

Business operators should be aware at all times that marketing campaigns need to comply with laws and best practices that govern the commercial use of text messages. This is important because law protects customers from receiving unsolicited marketing communications. This is essentially a manifestation of the evolving arena of customer choice and must be respected by all businesses. Violations can trigger customer complaints to the relevant regulatory authorities and may create scope for damage to brand reputations. Therefore, marketers should obtain prior consent from customers before they embark on bulk text-messaging campaigns.

Frequent and loyal customers can be targeted with special SMS-based campaigns that encourage these entities to frequent certain business establishments. Brands and businesses typically track customers that spend above average dollar amounts on their shopping expeditions. Text messages can be devised to target this customer segment with privileged offers built around special discounts. For instance, customers that spend more than a hundred dollars on a single shopping trip can be offered a special discount to encourage future shopping trips to a certain business establishment. The use of the text message assumes more relevance when we note that such messages guarantee a higher chance of repeat business. Therefore, businesses should work to device innovation into their text message-based marketing campaigns.

In the preceding paragraphs, we have examined some of the techniques that can be leveraged to boost the returns on investment of text message-driven campaigns. Commercial operators should work to refine their marketing strategies and to expand the possibilities of SMS-based marketing campaigns. Text messages help to open commercial possibilities and can be used in conjunction with email campaigns. The combination of text messages and email has proven critical to ensure the success of many marketing campaigns. Interesting combinations can be created to spur customer interest, pique consumer curiosity in commercial offerings, and to ensure the achievement of the desired business outcomes. That said, we must note that marketers must desist from random and indiscriminate use of these marketing tools because such actions can defeat the core purpose of a marketing campaign.

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