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Making the case for SMS marketing over email

By Steven van Zanen

There are few channels left for marketers to permeate. The online revolution has brought us Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and a whole host of other marketing services.

At the same time, brand marketers are still using email, mobile, telemarketing, television, radio and billboards. We are inundated with brand messages every day, and many companies are struggling to cut through the noise.

A guaranteed way to reach directly into the palms of consumers is via the text message, with SMS marketing still very much alive.

Doesn?t click with all
In recent years we have seen an explosion in email marketing, to the point of saturation.

As a result, email marketing has become synonymous with spam. The ping of an email arriving in an inbox does not excite many anymore. In fact, often it has the opposite effect.

Today, the majority of marketing emails are filtered into junk mail folders or simply deleted ? usually before they have even been opened. Email marketing is dying, and savvy marketers are considering the alternatives.

One of the most effective ways to engage consumers is via SMS. Reaching 95 percent of British mobile users and up to 5 billion people worldwide, the humble text message is one of the most trusted mediums of communication.

Global brands are crying out for a way to target and contact customers with relevant offers, with the assurance that they will not only be delivered but also read.

Redeeming qualities
In many developing nations, where communication is limited to mobile and not the Web, the text message is an incredibly useful way to contact people with appropriate offers, updates or announcements.

With global marketing managers now setting their sights firmly on emerging regions such as Africa, India, China and Latin America to reach consumers, SMS is proving to be a seamless universal tool to contact people en masse in a way that feels personal and is targeted.

Consider how quickly you read a text message, compared to an email or indeed even a Facebook notification.

An SMS is instant and meaningful. If a consumer received a discount voucher for a coffee by text message, redemption would likely be much higher than by email due mainly to ease and trust.

Indeed, this year Juniper announced that mobile couponing is poised to reach redemption rates of 8 percent by 2016. That high redemption rate is another attractive reason that many brands are opting for SMS.

Measurement is increasingly important to marketers, and a key advantage of SMS is the level of transparency it offers into results tracking.

Enterprises now have the capability to see if a message has been delivered, read, redeemed or deleted.

Unlike other forms of direct marketing, SMS offers businesses the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of their communications campaigns, allowing for mid-execution modification.

Additionally for consumers, the fact that in most regions users can control whether they receive messages through opt-in processes makes the experience feel much more personal ? nobody likes the idea of unsolicited messages.

Wireless carriers demand that users both opt-in and out of SMS marketing, meaning that people only receive the messages that they wish to receive.

Coca-Cola is one example of a brand already harnessing the power of SMS marketing.

A global beverage brands marketer looking for unlimited reach, the company sees the value of text messaging complementing other mobile marketing channels.

In a recent interview, Tom Daly, the company?s group director for global connections, noted that the mobile marketing budget is 70 percent messaging, 20 percent mobile Web and 10 percent applications.

Turning a traditional model on its head, where far too much emphasis is put on mobile Web and apps, Coca-Cola consistently executes great SMS campaigns which achieve tangible results. In the words of Mr. Daly, ?There?s nothing boring about text.?

Key words in text
There are several points that brands need to take in consideration to execute a successful SMS marketing campaign:

1. SMS is an integral part of all mobile marketing: SMS marketing needs to work in tandem with Web and app content, and not be treated like an afterthought.

2. Think creatively about how to use SMS: Rather than just being used for discount vouchers or notifications, brands can harness SMS for commerce, promotions, appointment reminders and other value-added services.

There are endless possibilities if you ensure that your campaigns are targeted, personal and beneficial to the recipient, thereby making sure that your communication does not get black-labeled as spam.
3. Measurement is more important than ever: Marketers are asked every day to demonstrate the value of their campaigns, and in this unstable economic climate more emphasis is being put on ROI.

This leads to an ever increasing need to know what happens to a message once it is sent. Enterprises now have the capability to see whether the message was also read and redeemed or deleted.

FOR ALL THE technological advances we have witnessed over the past couple of decades, mobile messaging has withstood the test of time, and this year marks its 20th anniversary.

SMS is the only marketing channel left unexhausted. However, it is all about the execution.

Steven van Zanen is Reading, England-based senior vice president of marketing and strategy at Acision. Reach him at .