Why SMS Is The Next Evolution of 1:1 Marketing

Why SMS Is The Next Evolution of 1 1 MarketingThe following is an exclusive guest contributed post from Barbara Palmer, Chief Revenue Officer of CallFire, a cloud-based text and voice platform.

A recent article about CMOs and their role becoming more ROI driven had my wheels spinning about the evolution of marketing and its circular nature. The foundation of marketing – in its purest state – began as a conversation, door-to-door, 1:1. Early marketing conjures images of traveling salesmen knocking on doors, being welcomed into the home, and selling from a catalogue or a suitcase of samples.

As picturesque as that seems now, such direct sales were not sustainable. Sure, today’s Avon, Mary Kay Cosmetics and Amway are all derivatives of early 1:1 marketing, but that method of sales was rendered ineffective with the rise of less labor intensive communication channels that had the ability to reach a higher volume of consumers in less time. Over time, that intimate sales experience was replaced by what is commonly known as mass marketing – sending a message out to the masses and letting them initiate the sale. Television, radio and print ads all share a marketing message with the largest possible audience with the hope that a specific call to action or increased brand awareness initiates a sale.

The Internet, however, was built on the promise of direct response, allowing marketing to circle back around to that 1:1 promise. Consumers raise their hands– by clicking on a banner, typing in a keyword, opening an email – and can be instantly transported well into the sales funnel to consummate a purchase.

Market Fragmentation

As a result, this confluence of multiple marketing channels has left today’s marketplace fragmented. Brand messaging and campaigns have never had a more difficult time reaching their target audiences. Instead, they are bypassed by DVR viewing, relegated to SPAM folders by inbox filters, deleted or even worse – ignored. Friction between the message and the consumer is growing, without any relief in sight.  As a result, marketing dollars show far less return. Unfortunately, blasting messages to the masses is more brand awareness and less direct marketing without a tangible metric of success.

The New 1:1 Marketing

Enter SMS text messaging, serving an increasingly on-the-go population. As of last year, adult cell phone ownership surpassed 90% for the first time ever, and it will only increase from there as the cell phone is the most quickly adopted consumer technology history.

While this growing mobile society is adding greater fragmentation to the marketplace, it also provides one of the most effective and direct means of connecting with consumers. The best way for your brand’s message to cut through the noise is to show up where they are: on their mobile device, not unlike showing up at a customer’s doorstep.

Upwards of 90% of SMS text messages are opened within 5 minutes and every phone – smartphone or not – is SMS enabled. Mobile devices revisit the promise of 1:1 marketing, and deliver, by putting messages in the hands of the consumer with the ability to act on the spot. Consumers can take advantage of a promotional offer, confirm an appointment, and connect to a live agent to pay a bill, or raise their hand to receive ongoing messages. And, they can do so wherever they are: at lunch, waiting in line at the post office, and even from the comfort of their own sofa. Direct marketing has returned back to the home but, instead of being at the door, it’s through mobile devices.

Integrating SMS with Traditional Marketing

What does this mean for traditional marketing? While television didn’t replace print, and email didn’t silence radio, each new marketing tool contributes to, and impacts the others. SMS texting is a legitimate, effective and useful tool to be considered when allocating marketing dollars. It should be considered along with traditional media outlets as a formidable way to reach consumers, and as a direct marketing player in any communications strategy.

SMS messaging can be used in isolated campaigns where it makes sense, but it’s always best to employ a ‘strength in numbers’ approach when it comes to marketing tools. SMS can serve as a highly engaging and effective support tactic, bringing that 1:1 experience not otherwise capable from larger mass marketing campaigns.

Take a well-known fast food company, for example. They are launching a brand new menu item and trying to get customers in store to try the new product. They decide to use television advertisements, as usual. However, this time, they integrate a SMS text component. At the end of the television commercial showcasing the newest creation, viewers are given a direct call to action with instructions to text a short code to a number on the screen to receive an offer to try the new product for free.  The code is unique to the television spot, so the ROI can be measured and attributed directly to the primary media (TV) with an assist to SMS texting.

SMS has now easily, and effectively activated customers on the device they use most – their phones – and driven foot traffic in store. With one text message, a campaign went from a brand awareness effort to a measurable direct marketing tactic that delivers tangible ROI. When integrated properly, SMS can be a budget-friendly, strong bridge between advertisement and active conversion because it allows a brand to speak very directly, and quantifiably to a customer.