#CONNECTsummit14: Marketers should opt in to text as key mobile messaging channel

From: retailcustomerexperience.com – August 28, 2014

When it comes to building relationships with hardcore fans, marketers shouldn’t overlook the original mobile messaging channel: text.

Text is valuable as a marketing channel for a number of reasons, according to a panel of speakers at the recent CONNECT Mobile Innovation Summit.

“More than 90 percent of people aren’t more than two feet away from their phone at any time,” said panelist Erin Levzow, director of digital e-commerce for Wingstop. “That includes when they are taking a shower. So being able to talk to them, communicate with them and push notify them while they are taking a shower is a very big deal, right?”

SMS is one of the most heavily regulated communication channels, said Tim Miller, president and CEO of Sumotext. Marketers must secure specific consent to text customers — customers must opt in — and failure to do so can result in serious consequences.

Because subscription lists are built entirely of people who have opted in, and because most smartphone users are rarely more than two feet from their device at any given time, SMS messages enjoy high read rates and high engagement rates.

“It’s really attractive in the marketing mix because it’s very efficient from the cost side. You can send out SMS and push notifications very cost effectively,” said Dan Swartz, senior vice president of digital marketing, media and analytics for Upshot. “But also it’s efficient because it’s very effective. We see really high read rates.”

Text messages have a tendency to stick around, too, pointed out Levzow. Even though most text messages are read within four hours, many people don’t delete them off their phones right away. That means the message is sitting there on the customer’s device, waiting to be rediscovered every time he or she opens the message app.

The panel offered several tips for deploying effective SMS and other mobile campaigns:

Promote across channels:  Marketers should invite customers subscribed to email marketing lists to also sign up for text messages, and vice versa, said Levzow.

Personalize: Take advantage of data to segment lists and deliver the right messages at the right time.

“I do warn you, if you’re going to do an SMS program, make sure its personalized,” said Levzow. “If I’m allowing you to come into my phone and talk to me, make sure it talks to me and it’s not just, ‘Hey, eat wings today.'”

Offer “members only” deals to subscribers: Reward them for the loyalty and permission to access, said Miller.

Remember that messages don’t have to be offers: Messages can also be exclusive, “you heard it here first” kind of news, and other types of messages. Levzow encouraged marketers to optimize messages to reach key performance-indicator goals for their brand’s overall marketing strategy.

Think like a friend: Don’t make every message a sales pitch. Your brand has been invited into the pocket of a valuable customer. Value that relationship with regular communication, advised Levzow.

Be consistent, and pay attention to frequency: Start at one message per week, and watch to see if opt-outs increase with higher frequency, said Levzow.

Make sure landing pages are spiffed up and ready for business: “We’ve all seen text messages or SMS messages that have gone to a page that is not mobile optimized,” said Swartz.

Landing pages that are hard to read, difficult to navigate or unclear frustrate users and reflect negatively on the brand. Pay attention to the message from end to end, said Swartz.

Always be on: Don’t just ask people to sign up once, said Miller, but regularly solicit new opt-ins throughout the year. Reward each customer who opts in.

See article here.