To successfully engage customers, multinational businesses must meet them where they are, using a messaging strategy that accommodates each customer's preferred communication channels. This is as true today as it was 20 or even 30 years ago. The challenge for modern brands is that there are just so many communication channels.
In addition to providing efficient face-to-face and phone communication, businesses today need a thoughtful short message service (SMS) marketing strategy, creative email campaigns that don't go straight to the trash folder, social media strategies that account for a wide array of social networks and over-the-top (OTT) chat apps, and engaging mobile apps that streamline customer communication.
Each channel serves its own purpose and appeals to different demographics, but SMS tends to be the most effective communication tool for most businesses. However, an effective SMS marketing strategy requires more than simple messaging capabilities. For SMS to have a real impact, a business must not only meet the customer through their preferred channel but also deliver messages that matter in the moments that matter. To do so, they need personalized data and integrated channels — in short, they need communications APIs.
The Right SMS Marketing Strategy
SMS has been around for more than 20 years, but the communications protocol's preeminence in the state of SMS messaging remains unassailed with high open and response rates.On average, consumers open 98% of SMS messages from brands and respond to 45% of them, according to an oft-cited Gartner survey. Meanwhile, email only boasts a 20% open rate and a 6% response rate.
Global SMS marketing can be expensive, especially in developing nations, and businesses should expect some regional disparities in terms of deliverability and security. Yet overall, international mobile use continues to rise, and consumers increasingly use their mobile devices to search for businesses and products and to communicate with sellers.
When they find something that interests them, they usually want it right then or shortly thereafter. Businesses can respond to this sense of urgency by implementing a feature like "click to text," which allows customers to send SMS messages instantly from the company's website, search ads, or a mobile app. This helps convert mobile viewers into leads by making communication quick and efficient and also allows the business to access customer contact information in the future.
For outgoing SMS messages, the most effective content is personalized and relevant, which means the business's SMS application needs to be integrated with its CRM, marketing platform, and other databases that house customer data. Leading SMS APIs and unified communications platforms can pull that data from various silos to enable customized messaging for individuals and/or groups. This is a key consideration for businesses that need to stand out in a crowded marketplace and establish a nurturing relationship with their customers.
Mobile Apps Enable Contextual Connection
Data from customer profiles and buying histories helps marketers generate the right messaging, but sending those messages at the right time requires location data. While SMS messaging is available to virtually every customer who has a mobile phone, allowing businesses to reach them nearly anytime, almost anywhere, SMS typically doesn't reveal where customers are located. This can be a quandary for businesses focused on marketing to the customer in context.
On the other hand, if a customer downloads and uses a business's mobile app with in-app messaging, they can be found through an IP-linked GPS, which lets the business know when the customer is within a predefined service area.
Location-based marketing can enable a business to meet the contextual demands of any given customer by sending notifications when a customer enters or exits a geofenced location. For example, a music streaming app could recognize when a customer's most-played artist is coming to play a concert in their city and invite them to buy a ticket through the app. Likewise, a clothing retailer could detect when a loyal digital customer is driving by a store and invite them inside with a personalized message that says, "You have two items in your online shopping cart. Stop by the store now and save 20%."
This hyper-personalized marketing strategy lets the business connect directly with customers with meaningful messaging that drives sales and builds brand loyalty.
Mitigating Mobile Coverage Concerns
When businesses choose to use an OTT chat app as their primary channel for reaching customers in the moments that matter, they're assuming that mobile phone coverage will be ubiquitous between outside cell towers and indoor hot spots. This is a fairly safe assumption in the age of 5G LTE, where most shopping or dining establishments offer free Wi-Fi, but for many nations, off-the-beaten-path rural areas, or urban places with obstructed dead spots, these businesses need a backup SMS marketing strategy.
For example, if the business chooses WhatsApp as their mobile messaging app, they can enable optional failover to SMS, ensuring that if WhatsApp fails to deliver a message, then SMS (which only requires intermittent connectivity to deliver a text of up to 160 characters in length) will come through. This helps ensure that businesses are getting their messages to the customer at the right time. Businesses can implement SMS failover into WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, and other mobile OTT chat workflows using a single, abstracted messages API that provides access to SMS and multiple social chat applications.
This simplifies the messaging strategy and makes communicating with customers through the channels they prefer — and in the moments that matter — more effective.