So what is mobile marketing and what is it good for? What’s the difference between mobile marketing and SMS marketing? Does it work for all businesses and organisations? What is required to get started?
There are probably as many definitions of mobile marketing as there are mobile marketers but try this as a starting point:
- Marketing campaigns aimed at mobile devices – phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops, even wearable technology
- Delivered by whatever means are available for communicating with said mobile devices
- SMS, email, instant messaging, blue tooth, apps plus whatever I have forgotten
- Treated as “Electronic Communication” so bound by the E-Privacy Directive – read more here on Wikipedia
- Fastsms offer some good advice on mobile marketing
By far the most popular and effective tool for mobile marketing is SMS messaging. Every one of the billions of mobile phones owned across the world can send and receive text messages without adding any additional functionality.
Many phones can’t receive email at all, most apps require a download and different apps work differently. Bluetooth only operates over a short distance. The universality of SMS puts it way above other tools for mobile marketing.
Also, because SMS marketing has been in use for several years now, there are many use cases and examples of how to structure effective campaigns using SMS.
Who Can I Market To?
If you wish to send marketing messages using SMS messaging you need the permission of the person receiving the message to start with.
If someone has previously been in touch with you – made an enquiry, placed an order, etc. – it is deemed acceptable to send them an electronic message (SMS, email, etc.) provided the content is relevant to their enquiry or purchase. So if someone has enquired about booking a holiday it is OK to send holiday-related messages. However you couldn’t send them a message relating to property investment or buying a car. Additionally every message must include the means of opting out of future messages.
For people who haven’t got a relationship with you things are different. You need them to “opt in” to receiving messages. There are many ways of achieving this:
- Competitions, quizzes, voting
- Provide opt in details on flyers, invoices, website, point of sale materials
- Special offers or prize draws for those opting in
Remember: even when sending messages to opted in recipients you must always offer a means of opting out.
The priority for your marketing list is always quality over quantity. Since it costs so little to send and receive SMS text messages it is very tempting to send large numbers of messages to as many people as possible. Beware! This will seldom if ever be effective.
Someone’s mobile phone is very important to them which explains why mobile marketing is so powerful if done well. But the very opposite applies if you abuse the privilege. If you send spammy or irrelevant messages, more often that you should you will be dropped like a hot brick. You could even invite a user to sign up for a daily, weekly or monthly communication so they get to choose the frequency of messaging themselves.
What Else Do I Need?
Once you have your opt in list you need the means of sending SMS messages to them. We recommend Fastsms who have been in this game since 2002 and who enjoy amazing customer ratings through their Feefo account. They offer a number of solutions for sending and receiving messages and you can sign up for a free account to see all the tools. They even give you some free message credits to try it out.
You will also need a means of receiving replies to your SMS messages and here you have two options.
A Virtual Mobile Number, or VMN, is an 11 digit number starting 07 and looks like a regular UK mobile phone number. However it can only receive texts, not voice calls, and is linked to your Fastsms account. So you send messages out from Fastsms and the replies come back to the same place. What is neat is that you can add keywords to your VMN that can trigger actions in the system. For example you could set it up such that anyone can text STOP to your VMN to indicate they don’t want any more messages.
You could also run a quiz or a vote and the keyword could trigger a “Win” or “Lose” message. You can even produce SMS surveys where a keyword “Yes” or “No” determines the next message sent and so on. VMNs cost just £99 per year, there is no additional charge for receiving messages and the sender will pay their normal rate for sending texts, usually free these days.
The alternative to a VMN is a shortcode. Shortcodes are usually 5 digit numbers (occasionally 4 or 6 but rare) that receive messages in much the same way as a VMN. You can have one of these for your own use but that is costly, up to £1000 to set up and £800 or so per month ongoing. So unless you are the BBC or HSBC you will probably make do with keywords on a shared shortcode.
In this instance someone like Fastsms would “rent” you a keyword on one of their shortcodes, subject to the keyword you want not being used by someone else. This costs £25 per month or £250 per annum per keyword. Obviously due to the nature of mobile marketing campaigns some keywords (STOP, VOTE, BUY, etc.) will be more popular than others but with a little thought you’ll get what you want.
You can read about receiving options here.
Mobile Marketing Campaigns
I’m not going to try to list all the different kinds of mobile marketing campaigns that can be created. But I will suggest looking at the Mobile Marketing Category of the Fastsms blog as it contains loads of use cases, advice and tips and ideas for successful campaigns.
In my experience the keys are preparation and patience. Build up a great quality mailing list, even if it takes a while. Figure out if a single message will be relevant to the whole list or if you need to break it down with separate campaigns for different segments. Spend time devising a compelling offer or message and don’t hit the list too often.
If you manage your mobile marketing like this you will get results you will hardly believe!