5 Ways to Take Customer Loyalty to the Next Level

New customers are the lifeblood of companies. Or are they? Lately, marketers have been spending more time on current customers — revamping what customer service means, investing more in customer relationship management (CRM) systems and building teams to improve communication with customers.

In this age of social connectivity, customer loyalty has become more valuable than ever. Consumers share stories of their interactions with businesses on social media, meaning that word-of-mouth marketing is especially valuable.

Since customer loyalty can be critical to making a sale, ask yourself what you’re doing to cultivate it. When was the last time you spent money or resources on making your customers feel appreciated? Many might argue that a focus on customer appreciation isn’t just a best practice — it could mean the difference between failure and survival in today’s word-of-mouth driven economy.

Here are five ways you can take customer loyalty up a notch:

1. Improve your ‘Thank You.’
Most of us have a Web page or email that thanks our customers for converting, whether that means joining the community, purchasing a product or signing up for a newsletter. But chances are good that the “thank you” could use some work. Because the thank you page or email is seen by every single one of your customers, you should ask: Does it put your best foot forward?

Rather than merely using that page to confirm an action, why not add some useful resources, follow-up steps or company contact information? Other ideas for improvement include lacing in a promotion to instigate immediate action or simply making the message more visually enticing.

2. Optimize your feedback channels.
Feedback comes in many forms, but chances are you’re getting customer responses you aren’t even using. While many companies tap into what their customer service department is hearing, they are less likely to proactively survey their website visitors or to analyze their cancellation and return forms. That’s a shame because these are all opportunities to get more information on what customers need.

When you take the time to improve your feedback channels, you are telling your audience, “We care about what you think.” This reminder can help build loyalty and help you answer concerns in a timelier manner, reducing customer loss and building trust.

3. Go beyond cancellations as a performance indicator.
While you need to know how many of your customers are cancelling, it is a reactive performance indicator. In addition to monitoring your customers loss, you can gauge loyalty by watching your company’s “net promoter score,” frequency of customer interactions with your business and the length of time between customer visits. By tracking how engaged customers are and how likely they are to recommend your company, you can get a more complete measure of their loyalty.

4. Assign someone to manage it.
Tracking and improving customer loyalty can be a challenge if no one specific is managing it. Good candidates for this responsibility often come from customer service, marketing, operations or product teams. The key qualifications are the ability to work well with others and a belief in the value of both qualitative and quantitative data analysis.

Whoever you choose should understand that customer loyalty may touch a number of departments at your company, but it deserves its own champion for maximum success.

5. Evangelize the gains and losses.
While customer loyalty should have a dedicated advocate, it is a company-wide effort. Unfortunately, customer loyalty scores rarely get touted as much as revenue and profits. Why is that? Many companies see customer loyalty as something beyond their control, that it is the natural result of the websites they build and products and services they sell. But companies have a number of opportunities to build trust and loyalty by making their interactions with customers the best they can be.

To show the importance of these interactions to customer retention, you can share with the rest of the company the results of your loyalty measurements, whether good or bad. This makes it a company-wide priority, and only then are you really taking customer loyalty to the next level.

Article Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224117?cam=Dev&ctp=PopRightMod&cdt=4&cdn=224117

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The Power of Text Message Marketing [INFOGRAPHIC]

As brands focus efforts on keeping up with broadcasting trends across social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, many are neglecting a tried and true marketing tactic that could propel them even further: narrowcasting.

Narrowcasting marks an emerging trend by which consumers are sharing content with smaller, more selective audiences. In contrast to broadcasting, narrowcasting is about tailoring information to better compel the recipients. It’s a competitive alternative, as evidenced by this infographic from Mogreet. While broadcasting gets a brand’s message out to a massive group of people, when it comes to who is actually reading and engaging with the content, the numbers are staggeringly low.

For example, 84% of Facebook news feed stories aren’t viewed, 71% of tweets get ignored and 88% of emails go unopened. Meanwhile, 98% of text messages are opened, and therefore, companies that market through SMS/MMS have a far truer reach.

Do these statistics surprise you? If you’re a broadcaster, does this graphic make you want to give narrowcasting a try? Share with us in the comments.

6 Steps to Build Brand Loyalty

How do you build an enduring brand with loyal followers?  As marketers, how do we focus on mastering loyalty marketing initiatives, and stay relevant and consistent with an amplified global competitive landscape?

One of the biggest challenges facing marketers is gaining and retaining customers.  According to Mark Di Somma, what customers need at first is awareness, authenticity and excitement over the brand in order for a brand to gain top-of-mind.  But once customers are passionate about a brand, they need different things.  They don’t need to be sold to, according to Di Somma, nor do they need to be reminded that they’re making the right choice every time they buy.  They need to feel rewarded in order to make the decision to lock-in and stay loyal to a brand. Often at times, marketers offer no real sense of reward and ignore their loyal customers.  So how do you sustain the appeal for those who believe in your brand – establish brand loyalty.

Brand loyalty is built on the foundation of every interaction your customer has with your service.  The key to brand loyalty is to always meet or exceed expectations with every customer encounter.  When customers become loyal, they not only buy your product/service, they become emotionally attached to your brand.  They may recommend your brand to their friends and family, develop an emotional connection, and act as a brand evangelist.  These recommendations known as “word-of-mouth” marketing, continue to be most effective, as they can articulate the value proposition of your brand, and address an emotional connection that resonates well with others.

At Couch & Associates we build a loyal customer base which we hope results in brand advocacy, by continuing to engage and deliver consistent brand experiences to our customers. To deliver compelling value across the customer lifecycle, we developed FIREFLY, a loyalty marketing initiative that defines a clear strategy for how to engage with customers along different stages of the buying cycle.

To help ensure your customers will remember your brand, we’ve outlined six (6) steps to build brand loyalty:

1)    Establish brand storytelling – Create stories that communicate the personality, values and experiences of your brand.  Genone Murrary, Course Director in Internet Marketing at Sail University, argues that companies should base these stories by analyzing and understanding the personality, values and experiences of your customers.  Create a brand story that connects with your product/service and target demographics.  Don’t equate your brand story with a list of products, services or prices.  Build your brand story by determining what sets your company apart from your competitors and what establishes a unique identity for you (unique selling proposition – USP). Create brand storytelling and experiences both in-person and online.

2)    Connect with your customers – Be present at touch points which matter most to your customers and provide an emotional connection.  As brands are battling for higher affinity, connect and engage with your customers on a regular basis.  Increase awareness amongst your customers.  Provide your customers with value and motivation and create a community that builds buzz around your brand.

3)    Anticipate their needs – Don’t start selling to your customers, listen to their needs and focus on what your customers want. Your customers are looking for the next experience, so offer them additional value or incentives (i.e. loyalty cards or programs), as these customers are typically more profitable and will most likely reciprocate by staying loyal to your brand.

4)    Deliver on promise – Make it a habit to deliver happiness every step of the way.  Show your customers that you truly care by surpassing their expectations.  Offer something new or exciting and stay true to your brand mission and promise.

5)    Be consistent – Consistently delivering the same message and performance through all lines of business is reassuring and helps keep your brand top-of-mind.  Being consistent helps re-affirm your customers’ trust and credibility in your brand, and helps provide clarity of distinction from competitors.

6)    Deliver personalized experiences – Digital marketing enables us to connect with customers in different ways.  Drive a strategy of conversational marketing that orchestrates one-to-one seamless messaging across all channels.  Profile, segment and analyze your customer base and past buying patterns and create personalized, two-way interactions with your customers that are relevant and customized. Don’t group your customers as stats. Keep your focus on building customer relationships.

To establish brand loyalty you must live by your company’s core principles and go above and beyond customer expectations.  Go the extra mile to set your brand apart from anyone else.  Determine your company’s inside advantage.  Find something uncommon about your offering, and find a way to become well-known to your core customer base by offering a differentiation. Kevin Roberts from Saatchi & Saatchi describes the goal of marketing as the creation of “loyalty beyond reason.”  Marketers should focus on creating more brand loyalists and “brands that create an intimate emotional connection that you simply can’t do without.  Ever” Your existing customers are the most valuable to your business, so start to create an emotional connection and reward them.

As a marketer, how much effort should you invest in growing brand loyalty?  Do you believe that if you attain brand loyalty, everything else will naturally follow?

Click here to find out more on how Couch & Associates brand loyalty marketing initiatives can help keep your brand top-of-mind with your existing customers.

Article Source: http://www.technicallymarketing.com/index.php/2013/03/21/6-steps-to-build-brand-loyalty-stay-top-of-mind-with-your-customers/

B2B Mobile Marketing for 2013 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Source: http://visual.ly/b2b-mobile-marketing-2013

5 Keys to a Successful Loyalty Marketing Campaign

alex-headshot-revised3With so many ways to promote your business using mobile marketing, knowing some tried and true keys to success in the industry can help your campaign be successful the first time around.

Know the goal of the campaign.

Creating a successful loyalty marketing campaign starts with knowing the goal of the campaign. Do you want more unique customers? Do you want to reward repeat visitors? This is the most important thing – without knowing what you want out of a campaign before you begin, it’s virtually impossible for that campaign to be successful.

Sometimes, even the most successful merchant will have great customers or regulars who suddenly stop coming in. This is particularly relevant in salons and the automotive industry, although it’s a concept that can (and should) be applied to most loyalty brand marketing campaigns.

Utilize automated engagement messages.

Automated engagement messages are sent to consumers who have stopped checking in at the merchant’s kiosk for a certain period of time. These customers are then specifically targeted by the system for a special offer the merchant sets up.

For example, think of a hair salon. Clients are recommended to come back every five to six weeks for a trim, and by the seventh or eighth week, if the client fails to come in, the system will automatically send them a specific, targeted offer – think “$5 off your next haircut” or “we miss u! come in and receive free shampoo w/ trim”.

Use unique tiered rewards.

The key word here is unique. This reward system is based on the idea that at specific intervals of check-ins, a customer will get a different reward, leading up to better and better rewards each time. For instance, at the first check-in, a customer will receive a 10% off coupon, at 5 check-ins, they’ll receive 25% off, and at 10 check-ins, receive a free item or service.
Know the success targets.

The redemption rate for these offers is what we look at to decide if the campaign was successful. Around 40 percent of automated engagement offers redeemed is considered very successful; that means of the number of inactive customers that received this message and would have otherwise stopped coming back to the salon for whatever reason, 40 percent came back and redeemed the offer. Those are customers that could potentially have been lost had the message not been sent.

Knowing what your particular success targets are can help you to update your plan as you go through your campaign and evaluate success during or at the end of the campaign.

Know what to avoid.

One of the most frequent issues merchants see in getting higher redemption rates is unrealistic expiration dates. Expiration dates on rewards are necessary; you don’t particularly want someone to stack up offers indefinitely. However, if someone spends a year getting their reward, you don’t want to give them a three-day window to redeem it.

Using these proven keys to success, you should be able to formulate a plan for loyalty marketing that is successful and will work for your business.

Asking Successful Power Questions

What questions do you ask prospects during your sales presentations?

In Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Red Book of Sales, one of the sections I like the most is the one on power questions. He goes in depth on how to engage your potential client with questions in a way that no one else is. These power questions will make you stand out among others.

When you are trying to close a deal, you need to be able to make the potential client stop, think and engage with you. That’s what power questions do.

What Gitomer says is true: “You become known by the questions you ask”.

Here are Gitomer’s 7.5 power question strategies known to result in success:

1. Ask the prospect questions that make them evaluate new information

When you think about it, the goal is to get the prospect to think outside the box and break away from the normalcy of their day. You want to ask them questions that no one else is asking. They probably have sales people coming through their door every day, so how are you going to break away from the monotony of sales questions and really impress this prospect?

2. Ask questions that qualify the needs of the buyer

Getting a good understanding of what the prospect goes through on a daily basis is so important. It’s about getting them to actually acknowledge their own needs and really break down to the core the specific things they want to accomplish. That’s what qualification is all about. Anytime you can get the prospect to be very clear about their needs and goals, you can hold them accountable for those goals later on down the road.

3. Ask questions about improved productivity or profits

This is where you are getting the prospect to really think about their day-to-day. The idea is to get a feel for the operations of their business. It establishes the relationship and the environment that we want to create with this prospect. Sometimes they will share information that really shows you what kind of business owner they are or what type of boss they are, and that will really help you with the sale.

4. Ask questions about company goals or even personal goals.

Imagine you’re a business owner and someone sits down with you and asks you, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years? How many locations do you hope to have 5 years from now?”  Those are questions that will make you stop and think. You don’t have an immediate response to those questions because no one else has asked them. Even though those questions may not have anything to do with you or your business directly, they are the kinds of questions that build that relationship with the prospect. It demonstrates that you really care.

5. Ask questions that separate you from your competition, not compare you to them

You don’t want anyone to think that you are the same as, or even just a little bit better, than your competitors. You want prospects to think of you as entirely different than the competition. We can accomplish this by asking the right questions. You can’t force a buying environment–it needs to be created with the participation of the prospect. Make sure your questions are a whole lot different than what other sales people are asking.

6. Ask power questions that make you customer or prospect think before giving a response.

Questions that make your prospect stop and think  prove that you’re getting through to them. Going back to the question “Where do you want to be in 10 years?”, this is the type of question that  they don’t have the answer on the tip of their tongue. No one has asked it before, so they can’t just spit out some automatic response. They really have to stop and think about it.

7. Ask power questions that create a buying atmosphere, not a selling one.

Power questions expose the prospect’s needs and get them to shop YOU. You are asking them questions like, “What do you like about our service?” After you ask a question, be silent! Get them to say what they’re thinking. The silence exposes their feelings and their shopper mentality. You get them using the creative side of their brain, exploring your product, and you just sit back and let them talk.

7.5 A critical success strategy is to enhance your listening skills.

As the customer is giving their answers to your BRILLIANT questions, write them down.  Writing your customers answers proves that you care, preserves your data for follow-up, keeps the record straight, and it makes the customer feel important.

When the customer sees that you are actually taking note of the things they are saying, you build the relationship and create the buying environment.

Keep in mind, none of this is stuff that will come naturally to you. It takes practice and it takes preparation, but these are very important elements that you absolutely MUST be hitting in your sales presentations.

Mobile Marketing Budgets to Balloon in 2013

Budgets for mobile marketing will get bigger next year, according to a new study run by Strongmail and presented by eMarketer.

The study in question suggests that 70% of marketers will ramp up their mobile budgets in 2013.

“A lot of brands have spent far too much money on mobile applications,” Scott Forshay, a mobile and emerging technology strategist for emarketing company Acquity Group, tells Mashable.

The time for greater emphasis and financial backing on mobile marketing has finally come.

This year, mobile ad spending in the U.S. is expected to reach $2.6 billion. That includes spending on display, search and messaging-based formats. And another estimate shows mobile advertising on smartphones will be a $5.04 billion industry by 2015.

“Of that $2.6 billion spent, $2.5 [billion] of that was probably wasted,” Forshay admits. “Probably the biggest error brands have made as they venture into mobile is that they think mobile is the same thing they’re doing for the website, just down to a 4-inch form.”

“Mobile users are not tethered to a desktop. They need timely information to drive them into stores with positive purchase intent,” he says, adding that marketing on mobile devices “will need to be timely, personal and contextually relevant (people expect their phone to be customized to who they are), in order to work.”

Article Source: http://www.mobilemarketingwatch.com/mobile-marketing-budgets-to-balloon-in-2013-24180/

Groupon Challenged By Startups In Doling Loyalty Cards

New York City baker Eileen Avezzano says she has a better way than Groupon Inc. (GRPN)’s online deals to entice customers to buy her cheesecakes again: She doles out loyalty cards that reward buyers for return visits.

The cards, designed by Cartera Commerce Inc., are digital instead of physical, and are linked to credit cards consumers already use. They let merchants provide a discount, or a reward such as airline miles, every time consumers buy. A shopper may swipe a card, and a retailer will automatically deduct some money off the bill.

Groupon is seeking to raise as much as $540 million selling 30 million shares for $16 to $18 apiece, according to regulatory filings. Photographer: Tim Boyle/Bloomberg

Businesses like Avezzano’s can use the programs to collect data on when customers shop, how often they return and how much they spend — way beyond the scope of old-fashioned paper punch cards. That can make them even more valuable than coupons from Groupon and LivingSocial. About 900 million transactions will be conducted with cards connected to merchant loyalty programs in 2015, generating $1.7 billion in revenue for the providers, Aite Group LLC estimates. That’s up from $300 million in 2011.

“I see them going head-to-head,” said Peter Krasilovsky, a vice president at researcher BIA/Kelsey. “It’s an evolution of the deals space. The goal is to go beyond new customer acquisitions and become part of the integrated business of merchants.”

The digital loyalty program market began exploding around 2010, when startups and venture capitalists starting thinking about how to bring loyalty punch cards into the digital age, Krasilovsky said in an interview. Makers of loyalty-card software have attracted more than $155 million in venture capital, he said.

Gaining Attention

Cartera raised $12.2 million this month in a round of funding led by Venture Capital Fund of New England. Along with Cartera, startups such as Plink LLC, CardSpring and Mirth Inc. are gaining attention in the world of merchant deals.

“We think it’s a massive opportunity,” said Jeffrey Bussgang, a general partner at Cartera investor Flybridge Capital Partners. “Card-linked marketing benefits card issuers and consumers equally.”

These loyalty programs, which reward buyers on top of any airline miles or points their credit cards already offer, are often cheaper than coupon providers, too. LivingSocial and Groupon, the biggest provider of daily discounts, typically take a 30 percent cut of a transaction, versus 5 percent to 15 percent when a loyalty-linked card is used. The competition adds to concerns facing Groupon, whose shares have tumbled 51 percent since its initial public offering in November.

Virtual Cash

Some loyalty programs let consumers get rewards of their choice such as cash back, discounts or virtual currency for games like Zynga Inc. (ZNGA)’s FarmVille. American Express Co. (AXP)’s Zynga Serve Rewards card allows fans to amass the currency when they shop and use it for the online game.

Virtual currencies are seen as a way to attract people in their 20s, said Ron Shevlin, a senior analyst at Aite.

“Zynga has a large portion of players who are highly engaged in their games,” said David Messenger, executive vice president of online and mobile for American Express. “We can connect that online engagement with offline behavior.”

Plink, a Denver, Colorado-based startup, has designed a loyalty program that lets users earnFacebook Inc. (FB)’s virtual currency by dining at more than 25,000 restaurants such as Burger King Corp. and Outback Steakhouse. CardSpring allows clients to build their own Web-based and mobile applications for cards that can deliver coupons, digital receipts and loyalty programs.

Frustrated Merchants

Mirth, whose program is currently in trials in New York, rewards frequent customers with a 3 percent discount on purchases whenever they swipe their cards at participating restaurants.

“A lot of merchants have voiced their frustration with deep discounts and deals,” Jeremy Galen, Mirth’s chief executive officer, said in an interview. “With us, you don’t have to lower your price.”

On June 19, online-payments startup Square Inc. also introduced a loyalty program, letting small businesses offer rewards to customers who swipe credit cards through its handheld readers.

Increased competition may further damp analysts’ expectations for Groupon. The Chicago-based company in March reported a “material weakness” in its financial controls and said fourth-quarter results were worse than previously stated because of higher refunds to merchants.

Repeat Business

A survey earlier this year by Susquehanna Financial Group and daily-deal aggregator Yipit showed that about half of businesses that had offered an online deal-of-the-day weren’t planning to do so again in the following six months. Merchants were concerned about a low rate of repeat business from new customers gained through such offers, the survey found.

“We continue to question whether Groupon can sustain its high growth and begin to generate sizable profits while scaling back marketing costs,” Edward Woo, an analyst at Ascendiant Capital Markets LLC, wrote in a May 15 note.

As a result, Groupon’s IPO has been among the worst market debuts for a Web company since the dot-com crash. Closely held LivingSocial, whose backers include Amazon.com Inc., Lightspeed Venture Partners and AOL Inc. founder Steve Case, doesn’t disclose sales or earnings figures.

Both LivingSocial and Groupon have started their own loyalty programs. LivingSocial introducedits first co-branded credit card with JPMorgan Chase & Co. in May. Cardholders can earn points that can be converted into DealBucks and used toward LivingSocial deals.

Rewards Program

Groupon’s Rewards program, which gives consumers points for shopping at participating companies with a registered credit card, was rolled out nationwide at the end of the first quarter.

“We are signing up hundreds of merchants every week, and have hundreds of thousands of customers on this platform,” said Jay Hoffman, vice president and general manager of the Rewards program. “The adoption has been incredible.”

Still, some business owners view rival loyalty programs as a better investment than daily deals.

“With Groupon, it’s a one-time offer — it doesn’t last,” New York baker Avezzano said. Customer numbers at Eileen’s Special Cheesecake have jumped 18 percent since the shop started using Cartera’s loyalty technology a year ago, she said.

Article Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-26/groupon-challenged-by-startups-in-doling-loyalty-cards.html

Leveraging Customer Feedback

No matter what type of business you’re in, you will always receive feedback from customers. Many businesses take the time to listen to customers and collect feedback, but not all know how to respond to that feedback and leverage it to better their business. It’s important to determine the proper protocol for responding to that feedback from customers.

With SMS marketing, the systems in place often allow businesses to receive text messages from customers with feedback. Customers will say exactly what is on their mind (not always good), and we must be monitoring these incoming comments for positive feedback!  Customers may leave feedback on other channels as well, for example by calling, emailing, posting on social media, etc.  Businesses should have a general understanding on how to manage their own PR and respond to and utilize those comments in the proper way.

I’ve outlined some strategies on how and when to respond to customer comments, as well as how we can leverage them:

What Messages to Respond to:

Positive Feedback

  • Obviously businesses can’t respond to EVERYONE who leaves positive feedback, so there’s really no need to respond.
  • Businesses can, however, show their appreciation for certain pieces of feedback (for example on social media) with a quick “Thanks for your feedback!”
  • Save positive comments to share with prospects.

Negative Feedback

  • Only respond if you can do it promptly–a delayed response may cause confusion. Responding to customer feedback 3 months later is pointless–the time has passed, the opportunity was missed.
  • Always offer to point the customer to your business’ customer service phone number.
  • In SMS marketing, if you receive an opt-out request:
    • No need to respond–simply delete that customer from the list.

When Responding to Feedback

  • Identify who you are.
  • Try to avoid ongoing dialog back and forth.
  • Address the need/question in one message, if possible.

Leveraging Positive Comments

  • Demonstrate customer demand for rewards.
  • Have a process in place to understand where customers could be finding problems in their dealings with your business.
  • Use screen shots from time to time to provide an element of value in your emails to your prospects.

Obtaining feedback is one thing, but knowing what to do with it AFTER you receive it, is what will really affect your business’ long term success. By embracing your customer feedback, you can achieve transparency into customer buying behavior and gain insight into future buying behavior.

Why is SMS Not Playing a Bigger Role in Brands’ Marketing Efforts?

Macy's SMS

When it comes to mobile marketing, SMS is a trusted old friend – it has been around longer than other mobile marketing techniques, has a broad reach and, for a well-executed campaign, the results can be impressive. So why do many marketers still overlook SMS?

Part of the problem is image – SMS is often closely associated with feature phones and, therefore, bypassed when brands start thinking about smartphones. There are other issues such as difficulties getting short codes and the need to work with carriers, but with open rates of nearly 100 percent, some big marketers such as Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s are beginning to take notice.

“SMS is an overlooked channel,” said Julie Roth Novack, senior vice president of mobile solutions at Vibes. “It went out of favor a year or two ago with the growth in smartphones.

“In people’s minds, SMS is connected with feature phones but the fact of the matter is SMS is the No. 1 app on smartphones,” she said. “There is this idea that because you are going after smartphone users, you don’t need SMS.

“We have really seen a shift in the past six months, with our retail partners saying that SMS is a critical part of their strategy.”

Short codes a challenge
SMS service providers agree that it has not reached its potential as a marketing technique, often because marketers get so excited about the richer experiences they can deliver via apps and the mobile Web.

There are other challenges, too, such as that marketers need to have a better understanding of how SMS can fit into a broad mobile strategy. Additionally, a certain level of expertise is required to set up an SMS program to insure that the permissions are structured properly and to understand how to work with the wireless carriers.

Perhaps of the biggest challenges are the short codes used in SMS campaigns. Typically, a mobile phone user is asked to text a keyword to a short code initiate a dialogue of some kind with a marketer.

“One of the largest hurdles for brands wanting to leverage SMS marketing is understanding and dealing with the short code process,” said Jared Reitzin, CEO of mobileStorm, Los Angeles. “Since SMS relies on the use of shared or dedicated short codes, brands have to wade through the confusion, ambiguity and complication of short code setup, provisioning, regulation and best practices.

“Until these processes are simplified and made much more affordable, brands will continue to skip SMS as a viable marketing channel,” he said. “Broader use of SMS marketing will come when the barrier of entry is lowered substantially in terms of acquiring and using short codes, in addition to regulatory scrutiny for not only large organizations, but small businesses as well.”

SMS success
In addition to these challenges, marketers often do not know how to market via SMS because of the limited character count and lack of rich media. However, increasingly marketers are understanding that SMS, with its immediacy, broad reach and high open rates, can be an important way to drive users to richer app and mobile Web experiences.

“Through its inherent limitations with character-count and lack of rich media, SMS is better used as a contact point to drive engagement to other relevant channels, rather than being used exclusively to drive a specific action,” Mr. Reitzin said. “The primary benefits of SMS are the immediacy, the nearly ubiquitous reach, and the nearly 100 percent open rate.

“Using these attributes to drive traffic to more engaging channels like the mobile Web or mobile apps is where it’s true power lies,” he said. “Until marketers understand this formula, its full potential will never be fully realized.

The examples of SMS’ success are numerous and growing.

For example, Dunkin Donuts recently sent 7,500 mobile coupons via SMS that offered a latte for $.99, per Mr. Reiztin. The brand supported the SMS call-to-action through local radio mentions and WAP targeting on local-interest sites.

The promotion increased in-store traffic 21 percent and a full 17 percent of participants forwarded or showed the message to a friend for the all-important viral effect.

“The potential for SMS growth has still not reached its apex,” said Jeff Hasen, chief marketing officer of Hipcricket, Kirkland, WA.

“Companies need to have an understanding of their customers’ desires and needs from a marketing perspective,” he said. “SMS isn’t for every brand and that baseline user knowledge is the first step to a successful mobile campaign.

“SMS campaigns are an excellent way to engage with consumers, offering a call-to-action that they can’t pass up. Marketers that can go the next step by making their SMS campaigns relevant and local will see a greater response and return on investment.”

Article Source: http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/messaging/13218.html

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