The following is a guest post from Kane Russell, Director of Marketing at Waterfall Mobile – the company behind the mobile marketing CRM platform Msgme.
I recently saw a LinkedIn discussion board asking people to submit one word answers to the question “What is the single biggest challenge today’s marketers face?” My immediate reaction, courtesy of a demanding undergraduate Engineering professor, was that a better version of this question would be “What is the single most challenging aspect of marketing that presents the largest opportunity for those marketers savvy enough to figure it out?”
Thought of in this way, the result creates an actionable next step. And for me “data” is the clear answer to the question – especially for SMS marketers.
So let’s break it down. Why challenging? SMS delivery receipts only give us two data points: 1) date/time responded and 2) phone number. Sure you can infer location from area code, but we all have friends who keep their home area code in new places. Wouldn’t it be better if we could grab zip code instead?
And the opportunity? SMS is one of the most – if not THE most – interactive and immediate communication channels available to marketers today. And SMS messages are most effective when targeted and personalized using data.
Fortunately, there’s a decent road map for creating an SMS marketing strategy based on data: CRM. Said a different way, rather than viewing SMS marketing only in terms of campaigns, they need to be viewed in terms of subscriber interactions, with each presenting another opportunity to add more information to a subscriber’s profile. Think of it as an ongoing conversation where two parties gain from the back and forth.
Obviously turning mobile marketing into mobile marketing CRM is easier said than done. But here are three steps you can take toward this goal:
1) Integrate metadata fields as part of your acquisition process
We’ve all seen examples of mobile subscriber sign ups on web pages (two prevalent examples are ABC Text Appeal and Bravo Get Mobile). While these do a great job of converting web visitors into mobile subscribers, they could be improved by integrating metadata-collecting radio buttons (Alpine Meadows Get Textified shows an example). The extra time it takes users to add additional information about themselves is negligible and now you have useful data to use for targeting purposes moving forward.
For those not integrating mobile sign ups into a web page, you can accomplish a similar objective in a pure SMS message flow using a method that many alcoholic beverage companies use on their websites. Before accessing online content from Budweiser, for example, users have to respond with their date of birth. Using this same tactic in an SMS message flow, essentially gating your content with the collection of age verification metadata, ensures that users who do interact with your content are doing so meaningfully, and allows you to steadily improve your ongoing outbound communication strategy.
2) Integrate responses into a subscriber’s overall profile
This can be achieved at the individual or macro level – the main thing to keep in mind is that you want to create distinct buckets for how people respond to your campaigns. To ease the transition, start off thinking broad and then segment from there.
For example, consider a two-month campaign at a local restaurant. Some high level buckets to create would be first month texters vs. second month texters or breakfast texters vs. dinner texters. You could then drill down to first hour of breakfast texters, first week of the campaign texters, multiple texters, etc.
At the macro level you have a sense of whether your campaigns are more effective during a certain time of day. At the individual level you get a glimpse of who your early adopters are, and perhaps their eating preferences. Now track these data points over time and you have information that will allow you to segment and target for better results. Maybe you decide to only run campaigns during breakfast, or adjust the incentive to get more people to text in during the first month to add a perception of exclusivity. Regardless, you are well on your way to delivering a data-based SMS marketing strategy.
3) Integrate with your email system to create a more comprehensive data profile
In order to integrate SMS with your email CRM you need a common field to map data between the two. Some examples might be: a) use a Feedback SMS campaign to capture email address, b) ask customers for their mobile phone and email when they sign up for alerts and c) include a mobile call to action with a unique code on your outbound emails.
With the two now linked, you unlock significant value from your subscribers. Any data you have collected over the years doing email marketing can be used for mobile targeting. Any new data you collect via mobile can be passed to your email CRM for segmentation purposes. Using this as a first step you can then think about integrating this data with your social media marketing efforts, or better yet, use social media data for targeted communication to your opted-in communication lists.
These three points should give you a strong start. And for those of us that do better with mnemonics, the key to SMS marketing comes down to four “I’s”. Implement a mobile subscriber approach, Interact instead of delivering messages, Integrate across multiple communication channels, and Iterate to make sure you achieve optimum results.