SMS for better reach
Although huge volumes are written about electronic media, particularly the savings on reach, there are still major issues with reach, that are typically a result of passive browsing, or lack of interest.
On the one hand, a large portion of local site administration within the context of marketing is lazy, placing static information on websites, with intermittent updates to product information and company news. On the other hand, web users are passive. This is particularly true as social media begins to dominate the niche previously occupied by traditional websites.
In the same breath, given the rise of social media, note that research using mechanisms such as Google, does not seem to have taken root in Namibia. Although I can’t verify this statement, it is observable. To see this in practice, consider the number of mystified questions that you see on social media that could easily be answered with ten seconds on Google.
Email partially fills the role, however a reasonable portion of bulk sending is only used by the most engaged customers and stakeholders, so conversion to brand engagement on the part of customers can be slow, and sometimes will only happen by accident as the customer stumbles on the relevancy of the message.
SMS adds to the array of tools that in this model consists of the website and any online business processes, the email and social media presence. The step of adding SMS to the electronic media mix mirrors the same process in traditional communication, for instance adding television to a mix of print, radio and billboard.
The general function of SMS is to draw attention to new communication and utility. Its reach is far more immediate as it appears in the SMS inbox which will be more actively used than a mailbox. It also bridges the filters that more and more mail platforms are putting in place.
As mobile devices become more capable of mobile web, and as more and more sites become compatible with mobile browsing, the first function of the SMS should lead to the mobile site where more detailed communication, possibly with visual imagery, can be presented.
The second valuable SMS function is account and / or transaction notification. This is in common use nowadays, and is quite possible, though it will require deft programming to link to the database. In addition to this there is the obvious use for transactions.
The third function is transaction by premium SMS. At present, however, this has to be a dedicated function, as there are obstacles to general usage in Namibia which make it difficult to profit from use through a third party provider and / or create delays in cash flow.
The fourth function is relatively simple sales announcements, of offers and deals. This has been in existence for a while now.
The final function which is arising now is verification of account details, as can be seen with platforms such as Facebook and Steam.
The obvious constraint is the limitation on characters. This requires a thoughtful approach to writing the SMS. The simpler, and more to the point the SMS, the better the effect will be. As far as long links are concerned these can be effectively reduced with web services such as bit.ly.
Use of SMS is relatively unconstrained in Namibia at present, in other words, if a brand wishes to send an SMS, the SMS will not be subject to spamming regulations such as the CAN-SPAM regulations which are widely applied in connection with commercial bulk mail across the worldwide web. However this cannot be relied upon in the medium to long-term, and opt-out should be foreseen, if not already provided for.
The guarantee of the useful effect of SMS will rely on relevancy. An account notification will have immediate relevance, and can build loyalty. A retail offer in Windhoek will have no relevancy if misdirected to a number in the North.
The ultimate goal of the SMS campaign will be vastly enhanced by careful construction of the database that drives it.