Working for a mobile solutions provider means that I consult with businesses on a daily basis on how to develop and implement an SMS strategy which best suits their needs. I am also asked advice on what steps businesses should take to develop a successful mobile strategy and because of this I have penned a quick guide to absolve the mystery and explain how straightforward it can be.
If you are involved in the implementation of a mobile strategy for your business, then this blog will be really helpful to you
Mobile solutions have the capability to offer numerous benefits to your business, which will help you to improve operational efficiencies, save money and improve the consumer experience. Here are a few examples of how different businesses can utilise SMS:
- Utility companies sending out automated operational updates to their engineers to report faults in real-time
- Retailers sending home delivery updates to their consumers to reduce inbound calls
- Banks sending customers real-time messages to reduce the number of fraudulent transactions on their accounts
- Schools sending updates to parents to provide information on closures or special events (one of my personal favourites as a busy mum!)
- Doctors reminding patients about their appointments to reduce the number of no-shows
- Holiday and travel companies contacting their consumers reminding them about their upcoming travel plans, or providing useful contact numbers should they get stranded abroad which reduces calls, enhances the customer experience and encourages repeat business.
The common goal in all of these business examples is that they use mobile technology to save money, which adds value. They are also workflows that our customers are currently using meaning that I can confidently tell you that they work.
Mobile strategies are no longer solely about selling; the digital marketplace is becoming much more customer activated, moving the focus away from acquisition alone.
Below are a few hints and tips which will help you set up and execute your mobile strategy:
The importance of adding value
First things first, you need to decide on what you are trying to achieve and have a firm understanding of how you will be adding value to those receiving your messages. Recent research conducted by Oxygen8 shows that 44% of consumers find less than a quarter of messages they receive of value, with 34% of consumers feeling that they would have a better view of a business or would feel a business understands their needs if they were sent mobile communications that were relevant to them. Based on this research it becomes apparent that businesses need to ensure that their strategy and campaigns provide the consumer with relevant added value, otherwise they risk losing the customers interest altogether.
At this point, you also need to consider how you could use mobile for different actions. Do you want to drive new business? Retain existing? Improve internal operational efficiencies? All of the above? My advice would be that once you have established the ways in which you want to utilise SMS, you will need to speak to the different departments within your business and ask for their input too. Doing so will help to strengthen your business case further and it will also enable you to get the various departments on board early on, eradicating any potential roadblocks and managing everyone’s expectations.
Make the right choice
There are many SMS platforms out there and choosing the right provider for your business isn’t always easy. I’ve listened to a great deal of my prospective customers and clients to understand their decision making process and by far the majority choose to work with me because they liked my consultative approach and they felt that I understood their particular requirements.
A supplier who has a consultative approach is far better than one that assumes each client has the same requirements. Choosing a supplier who is willing to spend time working with their client to provide a bespoke solution means that you can then have confidence that as your strategy develops and grows, so too can your workflows and business processes.
Opted in data
Self-generated, organic data is always a good place to start and in order to ensure you are compliant then you must make sure that it is opted in data. We aren’t all lucky enough to have access to a large database of numbers and even if you do, in order for your business to expand you will need to think about the ways in which you can grow your lists and enrich the data that you already have.
There are many simple ways that this can be achieved, it could be anything from incentivising your audience through social media, to a basic change such as including a mobile field on your website sign up form. You would be surprised by the amount of businesses that don’t collect this kind of data. My advice is that you should start looking into this now and develop an understanding of what information your business coverts.
When to get technical
Providing you are looking to integrate mobile with your CRM or data-warehousing tool, you will need to include the technical team with this implementation. My advice is simple, understand what you want, but also how and where you want to push and pull the data. Knowing this in advance will help your technical team to understand what you need from them and they will then be much better placed to advise you on how best this can be achieved and the timescale for it. In my experience, paying your technical team the professional courtesy to plan the resource needed for the integration makes for a better working relationship too.
Timing is everything
By now you should have a firm understanding of what you want to achieve, even if that’s more of an initial strategy that you will then develop and grow.
Setting the frequency of your campaigns is really important and an enterprise platform will have a campaign calendar feature included which will help you to set up a timetable for your SMS campaigns.
You will also benefit from choosing a provider who can help you to throttle the sends not just for speed of sending, but also the volume of messages that each individual receives. This helps prevent individuals from being overloaded with messages from the various departments within your business.
The golden rule
Content is king. With nearly half (42%) of consumers in Great Britain feeling that none of the marketing communications they receive from businesses via their mobile devices is relevant or useful, it’s clear that well thought out messages will be appreciated by your audience and in turn they are more likely to respond. Which means you will both benefit.