It’s Time for Marketers to Think Deeply About Text Messaging and Leverage Its Full Capabilities

The following is a guest contributed post from Brandon Brodie, Mobile Engagement Expert and Program Manager at SmartStory.

According to Gartner, text messaging, also known as SMS, has open rates as high as 98% and response rates as high as 45%. This is in contrast to email – where there is much more noise to cut through – and open rates are closer to 20% and response rates are as low as 6%. So why is email still the preferred method of consumer engagement when there are better options out there?

With SMS capabilities maturing significantly in recent years, marketers now have a much larger toolbox to craft award winning campaigns from. For those in healthcare, there are solutions that are now HIPAA compliant. For retailers, SMS is now connected to mobile wallets like Android Pay and Apple Wallet. SMS is a capable channel for anyone wanting to do lead gen, lead nurturing, personalization and/or capture VOC without having the end user leave the native text experience (i.e. download an app or register on your website).

It’s time for marketers to start leveraging SMS to its full capabilities and think deeply about mobile engagement opportunities because consumer behavior has already shown significant adoption.

To help you better leverage these capabilities on your next SMS campaign; below is a framework you can use called LeadTerracing™.

I used it to help a regional group of big brand automotive dealers create a scalable text based CRM solution for cultivating local sports fans as customers over time.

The LeadTerrace Framework:

  1. Choose the target audience and outcome

Segment your audiences, develop personas for each and map against strategic outcomes tied to the bottom line. You do not want to target everyone, so prioritize based on total addressable market and lifetime value.

  1. Locate your target audience

Find out where your segmented audiences hang out in both digital and physical environments and identify all SMS promotional opportunities for on boarding. Don’t overlook text code on boarding via digital experiences. In one campaign, I saw 50% of Facebook fans choose to get out their phone and text in, rather than click a link to a landing page.

  1. Capture their attention and take their temperature

Once you know where your audience “hangs out,” identify unique and personalized hooks for on boarding and install mechanisms for data collection as a requirement for SMS opt-in. This informs follow-on messaging so you can treat “cold” traffic differently than “warm” traffic and “warm” differently than “hot”.

Example hooks can include sweepstakes, exclusive content or information offers (videos, webinars, white papers, etc.), or my favorite, challenge their topic knowledge in a creative and gamified way.

  1. Stack the value

Once you know whom you are talking to, stack on the value with a brand story and attract with a character that matches their persona. Let the character do the heavy lifting of selling. The goal here is to move your audience up the value ladder from “cold” to “warm” and “warm” to “hot.”

  1. Call to action

Strategically place personalized CTAs within the campaign that your audience can quickly identify with and take immediate action on. Make sure the action you want them to take fits the environment/setting they are in. Text codes on broadcast TV ads are great because the end user is sitting in the comfort of their home and are more likely to give you their attention compared with someone listening to the radio while driving.

How I Applied LeadTerracing to Automotive Dealers:

The group of dealers I was working with had been investing millions of dollars YOY in local professional sports sponsorships to drive brand awareness. According to Nielsen, NFL fans over-index in their propensity to buy a vehicle in the next 12 months by 20% above the general population.

With this as a backdrop, we decided to create a campaign focused on NFL fans in-stadium attending a game to identify which fans were in-market hand raisers and drive them to digital shopping experiences.

The “hook” was a mobile text-to-win campaign with the additional promise of exclusive video content featuring NFL players who share personal brand related stories. Embedded in the promised experience, we served up personalized vehicle specific shopper videos with strategic offers based on answers from their text-to-win entry (also how we identified cold, warm or hot traffic).

The campaign created a way for dealers to track the path-to-purchase by in-market fans – a digital trail that starts with text-to-win data entry, continues with views of player and shopper videos and concludes with “click-throughs” to a strategic offer page. In addition, the dealers were able to nurture prospective buyers via SMS over-time with additional contextually relevant messaging and retail offers.

For the first time, a sports activation transcended the boundaries of brand awareness to achieve identification, engagement and conversion of in-market shoppers/hand-raisers.

Automotive Dealer Results:

  • An incremental spend of 4% of the sponsorship budget on the SMS campaign generated 49% of total contest entries and 62% of all in-market leads.
  • Of in-market entrants, over 80% chose to provide vehicle preference data.
  • 35% of fans that accessed the landing pages clicked the primary CTA.
  • When including secondary CTAs like footer and navigation links, 72% of fans that accessed the landing pages clicked-through.