Creating a successful SMS marketing campaign
WRITTEN BY DR. PIET STREICHER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, BULKSMS.COM
SMS marketing is a very accessible way for small businesses to build relationships with new and existing customers. It is the marketing medium of choice for businesses seeking to maximise their exposure while minimising their cost as it places product or service messages directly in the hands of targeted customers.
A successful mobile marketing campaign needs to have advertising creative that appeals to your target market and is in line with industry rules. Adverts adhering to these fundamentals will give consumers the confidence to engage with your brand using their cell phone.
Get a shortcode
A shortcode is sourced from an SMS messaging provider or an agency that specialises in mobile marketing. Depending on your needs, going the agency route allows you to outsource your campaign. If you wish to control all aspects of the campaign, then securing a dedicated or shared shortcode from an SMS messaging provider is the best choice.
The difference between a dedicated and shared shortcode is that with a shared number you are limited to a specific keyword which may be campaign or brand specific while with a dedicated shortcode you have the option of running multiple campaigns, each with a different keyword on the same shortcode.
Know the advertising rules
Now you are ready to get the advertising creative polished to maximise your SMS call to action. Without taking away from your advertising copy, it is important to know what the Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA) advertising rules say for the media you will be advertising in. These industry regulations can be found on WASPA’s website.
There are three key things to check on for adverts in print and digital media. The first is that the one-off cost of the SMS must be shown immediately below, or above, or adjacent to the advertised shortcode. This is the case even if a standard rated shortcode is promoted.
The second is that in the different media the applicable font size and format for SMS pricing must be adhered to. Lastly, the terms and conditions of the campaign need to be clearly visible in the promotional material. For example, when displayed on packaging for FMCG products, the shortcode, the cost per SMS, and the terms and conditions for the promotion must be placed as close together.
Taken together, these two steps will ensure that you get your mobile marketing campaigns started on the right foot.
SMS marketing could be ‘push campaigns’ (outbound messaging about new products and service promotions to existing clients with a recent commercial relationship who have opted in for SMS communications) or ‘pull campaigns’ (incoming messaging, where customers respond by sending an SMS to a shortcode), or a combination of both.
Tips for running SMS marketing campaigns
· Call back campaigns are the most common type of SMS marketing. A business advertises a shortcode and a keyword to which an interested customer sends an SMS. The sender receives an auto-reply SMS informing them that a company representative will call them back, and includes important contact company information.
· Promotional competitions are used to grab new and existing customers’ attention as either pull or push campaigns. A company could send out an SMS to its customers informing them of a competition. This could also be used to initiate a viral marketing campaign where customers send on the SMS to their friends.
A pull campaign advertises a promotional competition using a shortcode and keyword in the media. Consumers enter the competition by sending an SMS and receive an auto-response SMS confirming the entry. It is now standard industry practice not to see these competitions as a way to make money and to run them on the R1.00 shortcode band. Importantly as mentioned previously, SMS promotional competitions need to adhere to industry regulations.
· Conversational marketing campaigns offer an interactive experience by providing free information (tips, tricks and insights) as a way of giving value to customers. These sound bytes of information can be made available using push or pull campaigns and a way of initiating a conversation with customers and gaining valuable feedback on their needs.
SMS marketing isn’t difficult
A small business does not need to seek out a specialist consultant or agency to set up an SMS marketing campaign nor find a developer to build a system. Mobile messaging providers have self-service messaging services that allow a company to quickly and easily put a campaign in place, set up an auto-response message, manage customer contact details, send and receive promotional messages, and provide reports on campaigns. With these tools available, SMS marketing is really made easy.
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SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”