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Why SMS is the perfect direct marketing channel

Jason Palgrave-Jones is the Managing Director of Textlocal, the UK’s premier business text messaging service. Here he discusses the effectiveness of the SMS as a direct marketing channel. Original post.

In a previous article I discussed the various benefits and techniques associated with using direct marketing tactics as part of your wider marketing mix. This post builds on that, working in theory from renowned marketer Drayton Bird to demonstrate the utility of text messaging as part of an effective marketing program.

Bird describes the ‘Three Graces’ of direct marketing as isolating the individual, building a continuing relationship and testing to see what works. The first grace, isolating the individual, comes from the early stages of planning your campaign – namely segmenting and targeting. Gaining a thorough understanding of your target customer base through comprehensive market research allows you to create more specific, well-targeted and ultimately more effective campaign messages.

At a tactical level, gaining an understanding of your target consumer base means that the 160 characters you’re using to craft your mobile messaging campaigns can be employed more effectively than ever. Key variables such as preferred timings, content, offers and greetings can be tailored and custom fields in SMS software can be used to create personalised messages with higher conversion rates.

The second grace, building a continuing relationship, has become a key talking point in marketing literature and the focus of many marketers over the last few years, as the benefits of relationship marketing have become better understood. Effective two-way communication is crucial for successful relationship development, a function for which SMS is uniquely suitable. Available to everyone, regardless of phone operating system, internet access or social media use, SMS makes every customer instantly accessible and offers a personal touch.

One of the stumbling blocks faced by salespeople at this stage is not knowing how frequently to contact a customer or prospect. Bird recommends treating this like any other relationship – you wouldn’t get in touch with a close friend only once every six months, but you wouldn’t be getting in touch with a stranger every day. In order to find the frequencies that work for your customers, try different strategies and find a balance that works. This testing approach leads into Bird’s third grace – test to see what works.

One of the attributes unique to direct marketing mediums is the ability to test and measure the effectiveness of campaigns. You know how many people your marketing messages have been sent to, how many responded as a direct result, the exact cost per sale or response. Thanks to advances in technology, you can see how many text messages were delivered, how many people opened any included links, the phones they used to do it – key metrics for assessing the success of your efforts and providing new factors for further segmentation and targeting of your database.

You’ve got a huge level of control over your marketing when you’re using a direct medium like SMS. You can control the content your targets see, the time when they receive it and how much it costs you. By providing your core message in the short, sharp format of a text the information is much easier for your customers to digest than long sales spiels or dry, boring emails – propelling them along the sales funnel that bit quicker.

Far from obsolete, SMS still provides marketers with a robust, direct and highly effective platform with which to target consumers. For advice on setting up a campaign, visit www.textlocal.com.

Jason Palgrave-Jones is the Managing Director of Textlocal, the UK’s premier mobile messaging services, helping over 165,000 businesses reach their customers. For more information on Textlocal and business SMS, visit the website.

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