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Consumers are adopting new ways to communicate with brands via mobile phones, but most brands are missing the opportunities that text messaging affords.

More than 70% of marketers state that mobile marketing is core to their business, according to Salesforce, and the majority (86%) of senior marketers cite it as a very important part of a cohesive customer journey. However, many marketers still are not sure how to tap the value of mobile messaging and effectively integrate it into their mobile marketing mix.

Marketers not using mobile messaging are missing out on a major opportunity.

Some 88% of consumers are interested in mobile commerce. The majority of consumers are willing to share personal information for better rewards, but only 26% currently receive SMS or MMS coupons, according to Yankee Group.

Mobile messaging campaigns give brands a primarily untapped way to engage consumers with polls, coupons, contests, and more. Moreover, brands receive the instant feedback and metrics essential in today's data-driven marketing environment.

Mobile messaging is a cost-effective, low-risk way to engage consumers via mobile marketing. So, why are brands so stuck on mobile-optimized websites and native applications as their "mobile strategy"?

Brands face four core challenges today when launching mobile programs:

1. Compliance, regulatory, and patent trolls

Marketers are often scared to tackle the initial provisioning process required to kick off mobile messaging campaigns. However, complexities that used to slow down the process, like premium SMS, are now gone. Processes and timelines are straightforward and clear, and as long as you partner with seasoned providers, you can follow the simple procedures.

Shared industry committees form to combat patent trolls, and coalitions push Congress to adapt the TCPA, which was built around telemarketing, to the mobile evolution. Marketers now are more easily overcoming regulatory and compliance barriers.

2. Lack of cool and sexy factor

SMS for brands is often viewed as only 160 characters of plain text for outbound communications. What marketer wants to use that for communication?

Mobile messaging should be viewed as a way to capture and enhance the entire customer journey with a brand in a conversational and interactive nature. Harnessing the incredible growth of this channel for person-to-person communications, brands needs to humanize communication and build relationships with their consumers.

Brands need to move beyond coupons and deals, and get the mobile messaging sexy back. Bring in new elements to make the post-click experience more fun and engaging. Scavenger hunts, virtual postcards, scratch-and-wins, timed coupons, wallets, spinners, and flip games are all new and evolving tactics.

3. Benchmarking and ROI

This channel is still emerging, so brands are less likely to share data and best practices until the channel is more mature. Seasoned providers will be your best resources for expert advice and the Mobile Marketing Association has an active initiative to address this challenge head on for the messaging space.

The key to a solid business case is to better understand your audience through a mobile lens. Mobile messaging can create a viral spiral for marketing messages across the entire customer journey, from awareness to loyalty.

Better yet, continued advances in multichannel data integration and mobile campaigns empower brands to full track activity and results. The best business case will be marketers that integrate multichannel marketing data with CRM systems to see what tactics work best to continue the conversation with individual consumers across channels.

Develop actionable KPIs that map back to business goals, and work collectively to use the data to deliver a better-performing customer experience and constantly evolve campaigns over time.

4. Fear of putting its neck on the line

No one wants to be the vocal advocate for a marketing investment that fails, and many marketing organizations still have not clearly defined who owns mobile.

Luckily, mobile messaging drives powerful and measurable success when executed properly. The best part is that these campaigns do not take months to build and deploy. Tap into the educational resources of industry sources like the Mobile Marketing Association, and use the available benchmarks to drive and deliver rapid results by making mobile messaging personal, relevant, and measurable.

Unlike other investments, building your mobile messaging program is not going to cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. A quality program can be launched for a few thousand per month and scaled after your test-and-learn time frame.

Opportunities Abound

We need to stop messaging from becoming the forgotten foundation of mobile marketing. A potentially critical component of a successful cross-channel marketing strategy, text messaging can have a major impact along the entire customer journey. As the consumer dynamic changes, text-messaging marketing must be at the center of any cross-channel marketing strategies.

The first step is to ensure critical data is integrated across channels and to build a universal customer profile. Mobile messaging must be integrated into overall marketing programs and existing CRM programs to create a seamless customer experience.

To get a comprehensive view of consumers' cross-channel activity, consumer conversation streams and data systems need to be connected, so data can flow freely between them. Integrating all those touchpoints in real time will drive a successful cross-channel initiative.

Taking a data-driven mobile messaging approach can also help marketers deliver the more personal communications that consumers demand on mobile devices. Gone are the days when just knowing a consumer's name, date of birth, and ZIP code was enough.

Marketers need to move beyond the basic metrics and capture more than just standard demographics to get to information relevant for the brand (like shoe size and color preferences) as well as interaction patterns (like preferred time of day). Armed with this information, brands can create ongoing engagement across the complete spectrum of marketing channels.

Breaking down customer data silos and using text messaging as the foundation of a mobile marketing initiative, marketers will be able to connect the dots across the consumer journey.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Matt Silk

Matt Silk is senior vice-president of Waterfall Mobile, a company that provides enterprise marketers with a mobile and social marketing platform to increase customer acquisition and strengthen loyalty.

LinkedIn: Matt Silk