Sunday, October 22, 2017

Why SMS marketing is one of the best ways to promote your products and services

Before web-based and mobile messaging apps took center stage in digital communication, short message service (SMS) was the most convenient way to send messages.

Texting has maintained its relevance among over 4 billion people worldwide registers a 45 percent response rate with smartphone users checking and responding to most of the text messages that pop into their inbox. Further, 75% of consumers like to have offers sent to them via text.

With these in mind, SMS is definitely a powerful tool that your business can use to promote your products and services to customers.

                                                              SMS Marketing

SMS marketing is a type of marketing that uses text as a channel to share promotional content to existing and prospective customers. It involves using a web-based software that lets you schedule and send text blasts to those who have subscribed to your text messaging campaign.

"Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns"

Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns.

Your Guide to SMS Marketing Campaign:
If you’re looking to venture into SMS marketing, it’s important to draw a concrete plan to help you give direction to your initiatives. Your SMS marketing plan, which should identify your goals, as well as the tools and resources you need can help you come up with an SMS strategy that has a good chance of working for your business.

Here’s a guide you can use to implement SMS marketing for your business:

1. Goal Setting
All marketing tactics are developed toward a goal, whether it’s to improve branding, increase sales numbers, drive website traffic, or keep customers engaged, among others. Within these goals, however, there are several specific objectives you want your teams to achieve to come up with a unified marketing approach.

Suppose you want to build customer loyalty. It’s a very general goal, so you try to break it down into more specific ones. You could then list those goals as follows:

  • Increase the rate of returning customers by 25 percent through free shipping on bulk orders for the next two months
  • Send order confirmation via text no more than three minutes after the customer places an order
  • Remember, whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve with your SMS campaign, you need to have clearly defined goals and measure them using key benchmarks.

2. Opting In Your Subscribers
Obviously, the success of your campaign will largely depend on the number of customers who choose to subscribe to your SMS marketing services.

However, an equally important consideration here is to ask permission from your customers to receive marketing text messages from you. Breaking this rule is not a good practice that can put your business in a bad light among customers.

You could choose how to encourage your customers to opt in to your text message alerts. You could send them an opt-in code on their phone or have them sign up a form on your website.

Whenever you push out marketing content on social, email, and the rest of your marketing channels, there should be an opt-in box for customers. Be sure to highlight what’s in store for them when they opt in to your SMS notifications such as exclusive deals or huge discounts on purchases.

If your customers want to opt out, you should provide some means for this as well, and give clear instructions about it.This way, your customers will appreciate the fact that you’re not tying them down to a service they no longer need.

3. Using SMS Marketing Software
You’ll need an SMS marketing software to send text messages about your business and special promotions. Providers of this service use a special program designed to accomplish everything that your SMS marketing campaign is aiming for—build your subscriber list, choose designated numbers, schedule a text blast, and send out all your messages, reminders, and promotional coupons via text.

Depending on the SMS marketing company you choose, you have the option to integrate your provider’s SMS API (application program interface) into your marketing system to help run your campaigns efficiently.

Software programs in SMS marketing also offer other helpful features like automation, customer polls, and sweepstakes contests to help you engage with your customers. These programs can provide insightful data such as customer demographics, as well as opt in and opt out rates so that you could see which campaigns are working well and which ones you need to improve.

Along with the features that will work best for you, you might want to factor in the cost of the service or package that you’re getting from your vendor. Some companies offer free trials, which you can later upgrade to a premium account to get all the features you need.

4. Developing Your Marketing Strategy Through SMS
One of the most important things you need to consider is how you can include SMS marketing into your overall mobile strategy.

Some common uses of SMS marketing are listed below:
  • Text for info – Customers interested in your monthly events, for example, can request for more information using a keyword (example: “DECEMBER”) that they can send to a shortcode (the number you assign to receive the text) so that they don’t miss out on any promotions available in a particular event.
  • Follow-through messages – When customers purchase an item, send them a series of texts to thank them, give them pointers about proper usage, issue warranty reminders, and offer after-sales services.
  • Appointment reminders – If you have a business that allows customers to make appointments, you could use SMS to send schedule reminders on your customers’ mobile, which is one way of preventing cancellations or missed appointments.

SMS marketing has great potentials that would bring you and your business closer to your customers. But before you can reap the full benefits of SMS marketing, make sure to know how it will fit into your overall marketing strategy to make your business grow fast and easy.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

how sms truly molds itself to the needs of business

"Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns."

Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns

Marketing is an important strategy for the success of your business, and there are a lot of ways you can approach your marketing strategies. You could start by simply establishing a reliable and working online presence. The Internet is a global platform that is available on all your digital devices.

Well, you may be satisfied with having just that or think that’s pretty much it, but you’ll be surprised to find out that there’s more to it. Have you ever thought of SMS marketing? If so, the Internet has all the answers you need.Most people may tend to overlook SMS and feel that it may be costly for a business setup if you’re using it to send out mass messages.

Instantaneous Message Blasts
You might ask why it is important to send an SMS messages when you can simply email them. Emails are effective but they are not time-sensitive. You may argue that an email is received as soon as it is sent; but for the recipients to read the information, they will first require to have a push notification which may not appear right away and, on the other hand, they also have to have a stable network connection.

Compared to emails, SMS messages are transferred within a few seconds. The benefit is that it doesn’t need an internet connection to be received or sent out. The SMS notification comes right away, and the recipient can immediately read it. Push notifications can be easily deleted and forgotten, but a text message has to be opened before its push notification disappears.

Efficiency of SMS Messages
SMS messages are far more efficient. Well-constructed messages should convey a sense of urgency and prompt the customer to respond to that urgency. The opportunity to text your customers is one which you want to make the most out of. To begin with, customers need to trust you with their personal mobile numbers; otherwise, they will simply unsubscribe from the text messages if they feel that these are a nuisance.

Creates a Loyal Relationship

SMS messages is a good way to establish a relationship with the customers. You would want to keep the text messages short and simple, and you should also get straight to the point to avoid any unnecessary information in the text. Keep it precise and ensure that you refer to the customers using their name.

Simplicity of the Messages

SMS messages are very simple, and they are easy to construct in a manner to convey what you need with just a few characters. The text is supposed to urge the customer to go an extra mile for them to find out more.

For it to be even more effective, focus on pointing out the key elements within the short text message rather than going into the details which you can later send in the email or a newsletter. This means that your customers can later read the more detailed information about the products and services that you’re offering. You can answer all questions and attend to customer feedback and support via email. An email is best for detailed information, lengthy texts, and anything that doesn’t require your customer’s immediate attention.


3 reasons why mobile messaging is more preferred than ott messaging

"Deploy a mobile ready messaging strategy across your organization"

Deploy a mobile ready messaging strategy across your organization


Why OTT messaging cannot takeover Mobile messaging in the near future? There is a lot of hoopla going around that OTT (Over the Top) messaging will take over mobile messaging in the coming years, but that’s not true. There are quite a few studies that have been carried out to understand the business trends of OTT and Mobile messaging, and it’s quite clear that both the messaging mediums have got their own significance in the marketplace.

While there is no doubt that OTT messaging which includes WhatsApp, Facebook, WeChat, Viber etc., have made a huge impact  and a dent in the global messaging global market, OTT cannot completely replace SMS and mobile messaging

 Mobile messaging is now considered the most important marketing strategy when it comes to customer acquisition and engagement.

3 strong reasons as to why OTT Messaging cannot take over Mobile messaging in the near future: 

1. Companies rely on Mobile messaging: There are a massive number of companies who have experienced the power of A2P Messaging, in terms of reaching out to millions and that too with little cost spent on marketing related activities. Companies strongly believe in A2P Messaging, and how it has helped them improve their revenues over a period of time, and thereby improved their customer acquisition and engagement rates. 

2. 2 Factor Authentication (2FA): The real potential of Mobile messaging lies in providing 2 Factor Authentication. Companies have leveraged upon 2FA and thereby carried out their business activities in a better manner. 2FA builds credibility between the customer and the company thereby improving customer relations and enhancing customer engagement. 

3. Internet connectivity is an issue in developing nations: Developing and emerging markets should be taken into perspective: The power of SMS can be experienced anywhere in the world, no matter how remote the location might be. But in the case of OTT messaging the same cannot be said, as they still doesn’t have a proper channel to reach emerging markets. Countries like Nigeria and Somalia can be taken into perspective, where though SMS has made its presence over the years, the same cannot be said about OTT messaging. Another important aspect that can be taken into consideration is that most of the companies strongly rely on Mobile messaging for business communications, whereas when it comes to WhatsApp and Facebook which comes under OTT messaging, the majority of the text messaging part is used for personal or informal purposes. 

Businesses worldwide that have relied on Mobile messaging for brand building and customer engagement were around 19%, when compared to OTT services like WhatsApp and Facebook which stood at 1.4% and 2.1% respectively. Another key point is that in the case of OTT messaging, there has to be an internet connection, but when it comes to text messaging there is no need of internet connection. You might know that not all regions across the globe have got internet connection. ‘Ubiquity’ and ‘Reliability’ are the two most important assets of SMS Messaging, because of which companies doesn’t want to switch to any other communication channel, thereby sticking to the traditional text messaging platform.

Monday, October 16, 2017

sms comunications : 5 ways its heradling a paradigm shift

Five ways to smartly use mobile messaging and build your business 

Mobile messaging has been playing a key role in the corporate world from the last two decades. Many companies around the globe have benefitted hugely from this cost-effective marketing tool. Industries such as retail, healthcare, finance, education, hospitality, real estate have been able to successfully capitalize upon the mobile messaging platform. Text messaging platform have helped industries to improve their revenues to a considerable extent over a period of time. A2P (Application to person) messaging has been considered as one of the best tactics, when it comes to communicating and marketing with consumers.

Mobile messaging is also considered as one of the best marketing methods when it comes to engaging customers and building relations with them. Another important point to be considered is that text message marketing is also known as permission-based marketing. In certain scenarios, if a company wants to send a text to a particular customer then they have to first ask the permission of the customer. This builds credibility between the company and the customer. 

"Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns."

Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns

Benefits of Mobile Messaging and how its enabling a paradigm shift in communication 

1. The power of ‘short’: Text messages are short, as there is a specified character limit to send a SMS. Customers like to know about the product and service in a few words. On the other end, companies have to develop specific and relevant content in order to gain attention from the customers.

 2. Customer loyalty: As the text messages are personalized, customers feel that the businesses are authentic in their promotional activities. Customers also feel that they have been treated in a special manner. It has been observed over a period of time that the medium of mobile messaging has been attributed to higher customer response rates. 

3. Low marketing costs and high ROI: One of the predominant reason as to why the majority of companies globally rely on mobile messaging medium is because it is both cheap and rewarding. The overall marketing costs spent for text messaging marketing is way too low compared to other marketing methods. Messages are sent to a massive number of consumers and that too within a shorter timeframe. It is also rewarding because the revenue that is being generated from this platform is considerably good, and that is diverse industries are coming forward to use this marketing tool in an optimal manner. 

4. High Open Rate: There are already many studies that have stated that over 90% messages are read within just three minutes of receiving it. This directly means that when the bulk SMS are sent to customers, almost all the customers will open and read the message. Due to high open rates, there is a possibility that the conversions will also be high. It also depends as to how smartly marketers use the text messaging medium.

5. Exploring unexplored territories: A mobile phone is used in almost every nook and corner of the world. This means that niche businesses who want to explore new territories and thereby build new customers can give it a try by using mobile messaging. Companies have seen that through the efficient and consistent use of mobile messaging they were able to steadily grow their list and also manage their subscribers’ systematically. Targeting specific customers is where text messaging stands apart, as this platform focuses on sending messages only to a specific set of customers. Text messaging is considered as a quick way of marketing. Competitors hoping to gain customers attention first, it becomes vital for your business to use mobile messaging as the message is being send in just a few seconds to your customer’s mobile phone. Lastly, this platform doesn’t require internet connection.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

how mobile messaging provide a immediate way to reach and interact with your customers

"Deploy a mobile ready messaging strategy across your organization"

Deploy a mobile ready messaging strategy across your organization

In a relatively short time, mobile messaging has eclipsed all other modes of communication as the way we connect, share, and engage in conversations. It’s how people prefer to communicate today.

Based on our experience with companies like Uber and Airbnb, we’ve learned the best practices of mobile messaging firsthand. In order to help you navigate the mobile messaging landscape and develop your company’s strategy, we created a framework that we call The Four I’s Framework for Mobile Messaging.

The four pillars of the framework are: interfaces, integration, intelligence, and infrastructure.
Let’s take a closer look.

1. Interfaces
Interfaces are the messaging channels you use to reach your customer, which include SMS, push notifications, in-app chat, and dedicated messaging apps. Email and voice communications are additional interfaces. There will likely be more than one interface that works for your customers.

Here’s a brief summary of each:
  • SMS: the grandfather of messaging – with its invention dating back to 1992 – is still the most-used mobile feature.
  • In-app: many businesses add full-featured chat directly to their web or mobile app. Contextual information such as recent activity in the app and data typed into fields can be shared between parties over chat.
  • Push notifications let an app send one-way messages, badges, and alerts even when the device’s screen is locked and the app is closed.
  • Messaging apps have been the most exciting interface in recent years, and include Facebook Messenger, Viber, Apple iMessage, WeChat, WhatsApp, and Kik.

2. Integration
Mobile communication needs to work in lockstep with the natural flow of business, using information that’s relevant to each stage of the customer journey. When you integrate information from your CRM, ERP, and other enterprise systems that may contain customer shipping information, past orders, or ongoing support issues, your communication will be much more effective.

Integration gives customers a more personalised and efficient, experience. Internally, with this additional context, businesses can pick the most convenient way to communicate with customers, including the best timing and the most useful interface for the message or task.

3. Intelligence
Messaging is more than just exchanging content between people. It involves a tremendous amount of intelligence to analyse content, deliver the message to the right person (or bot), and respond in the context of that interaction. It’s also a very powerful solution – giving businesses the ability to communicate with more users at scale, at a far lower cost.

Intelligence can help you engage with larger numbers of customers without sacrificing the quality of the interaction. Today, AI powers chatbots that respond to customers, and can be seen in apps like Skype, Facebook Messenger, and Slack.

Sometimes, businesses harness both human intelligence and AI, with chatbots supported by human agents. In this approach, a bot is a first-to-respond entity that falls back on a human agent if it doesn’t know how to respond effectively. Facebook M, Fin, and Clara are examples of this type of bot.

4. Infrastructure
When adding messaging to your software, you used to have two choices: build everything from scratch, or buy an off-the-shelf SaaS solution. Recently, a new method has emerged: cloud building blocks for messaging. With cloud building blocks, services are delivered from the cloud using APIs. You effectively get the customisation of a build-your-own architecture with the ease of an off-the-shelf solution.

What’s next?
In order to truly set yourself apart from the crowd, you need to prioritise the customer experience and use your mobile messaging technology effectively. Once you’ve discovered the right channels for your company and created a strategy for communications, you’ll also learn how you can design and build an experience your customers will love.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

how sms chatbots are revolutionizing customer service

Chatbots are becoming a more familiar way for people to interact with brands, as mobile phones have found their way into every Indian home. It is not just the younger generation who is comfortable with technology, but also the millennials and older generations who are showing an eagerness to befriend information on demand on their smart phones. This tech savvy audience is not patient enough for information or services unless they are delivered to them “NOW”.

Giving into this instant gratification phenomenon, Amazon has launched grocery deliveries within two hours of placing an order. Cabs are at your pick-up location “NOW”. Funds can be transferred and received effortlessly via Paytm, without the need to login on banking apps. In this age of instant information, customers find it frustrating to be queued up either on call center calls or waiting for someone to visit them and sign them up for new services like DTH or bank accounts.

Most organisations spend more than a few million every year on building contact centers, retail and sales manpower and all the technology that is required to power them. Interestingly, half of the calls received at such contact points end up getting dropped as the incoming customer service calls either go unresolved or leads are not managed effectively to realise the ROIs of instant gratification. This not only results in huge losses for the enterprise but also immense customer dissatisfaction. And it’s a known statistic that 90% of the detractors will not do a repeat purchase instead initiate an immediate lookout for alternate service providers.

Engage enterprises and customers in real time conversations

Companies and brands foresee the possibility of significant cost savings by improving customer service with scripted algorithms promptly delivered via chatbots. There is a major incentive for companies to invest more heavily in these platforms which can help to reduce customer service costs by 30% and increase sales by over 30%.

With this promise, many enterprises took to building chatbots either through social messenger platforms or other chatbot stacks. However, early experiences broke down as soon as you scratched the surface of basic dialogue. Enterprises were adopting this to improve their brand visibility than for lowering the barriers to information. The design process being clunky left the users even more frustrated. As a result, engagement and conversion rates proved underwhelming and chatbots simply added to the channel clutter. They were more FAQ driven than really an effective marketing or utility driven application.

The platforms are using push feeds to serve as a discovery platform for more information than just neatly designed FAQs. As an example, if you ask enterprises what they would prioritize when it comes to the bot strategy—they are likely to say, “Improving our dialogue with consumers.” However, if you ask the customers, what would please them the most; they are likely to say—“never needing a dialogue with anyone”. In these evolving dynamics between enterprise and customer, what matters most isn’t how talkative or friendly a brand can be, but how efficiently consumers can access its services.

This is where the industry has tried to fill the gap with its powerful chatbot solution that not only works regardless of form type—desktop, mobile, tablet—but also works as seamlessly with or without data.Highly personable experiences that understand customer queries and can be enabled on SMS as well as data enabled mobiles. The industry wants the platform to be the catalyst that transforms our discussion from a B2C model to a C2B model. In the age of Uber, Paytm, Airbnb and the likes, services have become available on-demand, posing a new challenge for the banking and the insurance industry. Our value proposition is to make the power of information accessible to consumers for financial inclusion of the masses.

We have also seen banks taking the lead to provide its users the ease to interact with them for banking requests using simple conversational commands without the need to memorize specific and hard to remember keywords. Whether it was “please recharge my phone for Rs 50 or transfer funds to an account number “XXXXX4137”, as it provides a friction and keyword less SMS banking solution like what has already been done for a leading bank as part of their digital rural banking initiative. This was even before the term “chatbot” was coined as a service model.

This journey has led to the evolution and adoption of chatbots across other industry verticals as well for increased conversions and an enhanced customer service experience. The Goal has been to let enterprises assimilate chatbots in their sales and service cycles. The platform has evolved into a more conversational user interface (UI) which allows the customers to raise issues, order new connections—bank accounts or DTH, report complaints, get constant updates on their complaints—the same way enterprises allow customers to track their orders. Empowering the customers with this visibility and accessibility can go a long way towards garnering a lasting goodwill towards the enterprise and its processes.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

how text messaging is being used increasingly in the job search

Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns.

Wouldn’t it be nice if applying for a job — and hearing if they’re interested — were as quick and easy as asking a friend if he’d like lunch?

Well, they’re working on it.

While texting is commonplace for personal use, it’s still typical for applicants to wait anxiously for a call or email.

But that’s changing, especially at firms like large retail or restaurant chains that need lots of front-line staffers.

“In the hourly workforce, text messaging is becoming more common, as 25 percent of the U.S. workforce either doesn’t have an email address, or uses it infrequently,” says Jonathan Duarte of

Say you’re at a store or a restaurant: “You could be standing in line and see a sign saying that if you’re interested in a job, text this number,” explains Birch Farber, spokesperson for TextRecruit.

Sometimes, a recruiting manager might instantly reply to a jobseeker’s text, asking for more information and setting up an interview, Farber says.

According to Duarte, employers also are inviting applicants to text message by “adding ‘text jobs to a phone number’ to their job descriptions on job boards like Craigslist. This works great for companies because candidates are greeted with a welcome message, and then asked for their contact information, as well as pre-screening info.”

For higher level, salaried positions, texting also is creeping into the hiring process, replacing a phone conversation that would be used as an initial screening of a candidate, says Aman Brar, CEO of Canvas Talent Inc. It’s also used for follow-up questions after an interview, or to schedule interviews, he adds.

But while you might respond immediately to a text from a friend, you may want to think before communicating with a recruiter.

“Texting is a casual exchange. It is OK if responses aren’t immediate,” says Nicole Doti, human resource manager for Wellness for Life Medical, LLC.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

how API management platform market is anticipated to grow in the near future

The global telecom application programming interface (API) platform market features an intensely competitive landscape with the presence of a vast number of players, notes Transparency Market Research (TMR). Owing to a steady expansion of telecommunication application ecosystem spanning numerous industries, the market is witnessing a constant influx of players that help in sustaining the high level of competition of the leading companies in the telecom API platform market

The leading players in the market are capitalizing on surging opportunities in the machine-to-machine (M2M) devices market, observes TMR. Several telecom operators are increasingly entering into partnerships with various API management service providers in a move to consolidate their shares in various regions.

Several telecom API platform developers are adopting long-tail strategy of targeting ambitious developers, including enterprise developers, in order to emerge as a prominent player globally. A number of players operating in the API platform market for telecommunication opt for strategic acquisitions in order to occupy a sustained shsare.

"Deploy a mobile ready messaging strategy across your organization"

Deploy a mobile ready messaging strategy across your organization

The global telecom API platform market is projected to rise at a CAGR of 23.6% during 2014 - 2022. The market stood at US$73.49 bn in 2015 and is projected to reach US$323.44 bn by the end of the forecast period.

Regionally, North America is the leading market for telecom API platforms with the major chunk of opportunities coming from countries such as the U.S. and Canada, primarily attributed to the substantial adoption of M2M communication technologies for mobile applications. Based on end-use application segment, long-tail developers (independent developers) is expected to rise at the leading CAGR of 25.9% from 2015 to 2020. The growth is primarily driven by the substantial demand for new mobile applications among technology companies.

The rising adoption of browser-based internet services in various regions and the proliferation of cloud-based applications are the key factors driving the global telecom API platform market. The intensifying demand for a robust digital ecosystem in several industries is a key trend bolstering the demand for API platforms in the telecom sector. The soaring popularity of 4G LTE networks in developing and developed markets is a key factor expected to boost the market. In addition, the rising demand for integrating app from disparate operators to build industry-wide robust apps for augmenting network capabilities is a key trend expected to boost the telecom API platform market in the coming years.

The growing popularity of mobile cloud applications is fueled by the growing demand for voice API services, which is expected to bolster the uptake in the coming years.

The rising inclination of some prominent technology companies to open their platforms for long-tail developers is expected to catalyze the market over the forecast period. The rising prominence of enterprise developers in the development of telecom API platforms is stimulated by the accelerated demand for customized applications in mobile devices. In addition, the growing popularity of A2P (application-to-person) SMS messaging is further anticipated to accentuate the demand.

The reluctance of a marked number of telecom providers to shy away from engaging external app developers as these companies develop platforms that offer little scope to these developers in innovation. This has made a dent in their earning in the highly competitive telecom sector, as a result of which their focus on developing API platforms has taken a backseat. Nevertheless, in an effort to explore new revenue streams, they are realizing the importance of faster time-to-innovation for new telecom applications and services. This is expected to open lucrative growth avenues for players in telecom API platform market.

The growing prominence of API integration service providers is predicted to unlock exciting opportunities in various regions. In addition, the rising demand for M2M connectivity in smartphones, especially in developed countries, is expected to open up lucrative avenues for market players.

The study presented here is based on a report by Transparency Market Research (TMR) titled “Telecom API Platform Market (Telecom Operator - T1 Player, T2 Player, and T3 Player; Module - Set-up and Monetization and Pricing Model (Operator Share and Vendor Share))- Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2015 - 2022.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

how sms enthusiastically embraces text as a customer service channel

Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns.

A small but growing number of companies are encouraging customers to pick up their phones the next time they need assistance. But to send an SMS text, not to make a phone call.

As detailed by Bloomberg's Justin Bachman, despite its ubiquity, SMS text messaging — "arguably the world's most favored form of communication" — has largely been ignored as a customer service channel by businesses, particularly large corporations. Instead, SMS has historically been used as a one-way channel to deliver notifications and marketing communications to customers.

But that is changing.

Case in point: while airlines have long used SMS to deliver information such as flight status updates to their customers, two airlines, Hawaiian and JetBlue, are or will be experimenting with SMS-based customer service.

Hawaiian Airlines began testing SMS-based customer service in April and recently decided to make the channel permanent. Currently, it handles about 200 texts a day, a tiny number for the eighth-largest commercial carrier in the United States, and interestingly, says that 70% of the SMS inquiries "don't involve itineraries or the carrier's HawaiianMiles program."

JetBlue has invested in a startup called Gladly, which offers a customer service platform that supports SMS. According to the company, once JetBlue integrates Gladly's platform into its call center operations, "JetBlue customers will be able to have continuous, real-time conversations through whichever channel they prefer at the moment. They’ll be able to switch communication channels mid-conversation, and JetBlue will be able to pick up where they left off by accessing the full history of conversations with the customer from both current and previous flights."

While there are logical reasons to believe that SMS-based customer service has a future, in large part due to texting's popularity, it's not certain that customers will embrace it. There are a number of reasons for this.

For starters, one of texting's benefits – its asynchronous nature – can also be a drawback under certain circumstances. While many consumers avoid phone customer service like the plague, for urgent or complicated matters customers might very well prefer to speak with a person who can respond to them in real-time. This raises the question as to whether SMS-based customer service will become anything more than an email alternative.

Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, is the fact that when it comes to text-based customer service inquiries, it's possible that many individuals will turn to social media channels like Twitter before they use SMS. As some observed in a discussion thread about SMS-based customer service on Hacker News, companies have an incentive to respond promptly to inquiries that are posted in social channels. After all, those inquiries are public and a failure to address them adequately and in a reasonable period of time could result in negative press or even a full-on backlash.

In other words, the appeal of social media customer service is that consumers feel it gives them more leverage to get companies to take their inquiries seriously and respond. That leverage doesn't exist when texting because the communications are private.

The bot factor

Even if SMS proves to be a marginal customer service channel for industries like air travel, Bloomberg's Bachman noted that there are other markets, such as banking and telecommunications, that might be better-suited. According to Rurik Bradbury, the head of global communications and research at LivePerson, up to 70% of the inquiries in these markets could one day be responded to in an automated fashion "because you have 60-80 very common questions."

The predictable nature of inquiries, coupled with the relative simplicity of addressing many of them, lends itself to the use of bots, which in some cases might totally change the viability of using SMS for customer service. While companies need to be careful about buying into the idea that AI-powered bots can automate customer service completely, bots backed by humans could be an effective combination.

As customer service platforms add support for SMS, making it possible for companies to offer SMS-based customer service, expect more and more companies to give it a look, especially if they're already investing in human and bot text-based customer service for other messaging channels such as social.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

five considerations for better b2b marketing with two-way sms

"Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns."

Dynamically Send, Receive & Enhance Text Message Campaigns.

SMS has been used to support B2C marketing for decades. High read rates and strong ROI make it an obvious choice for ensuring the right people are targeted by a brand’s message at the right time. But, while text messaging has become commonplace as a marketing channel for consumer campaigns, few industry professionals are taking advantage of it from a business-to-business perspective.

Contrary to popular belief, the very same benefits that make SMS marketing so appealing for a B2C audience can work wonders for a B2B campaign too. This is especially true in 2015, where, thanks to recent developments and improvements made by mobile messaging specialists, SMS has become even easier to implement and more engaging than ever before.

This change is, in part, due to how text messaging has evolved. Traditionally, SMS has been used as a one-way marketing channel where the user receiving the message has no way to engage with the brand or business that sent it. Growing need for a low-cost and interactive text marketing channel, however, has led two-way SMS – a new approach to text message marketing – to the forefront of brand/user communications.

As a fresh take on SMS marketing, businesses looking to deploy two-way SMS often have questions about how it works, what it can do, and whether it’s right for them. Here are five considerations to take into account for any business looking to deploy a two-way SMS strategy with the aim of targeting a B2B audience:

1. Identify whether two-way SMS is right for your business
Two-way SMS can take marketing campaigns one step further than traditional text messaging by giving businesses the tools they need to better reach their target audience and create an interactive conversation. This approach encourages businesses to start a two-way dialogue with their customers and key decision makers, creating previously unseen levels of engagement.

Two-way SMS works by threading inbound messages with outbound replies, creating a conversation that’s far more personalised and engaging than traditional methods. Rather than adopting the ‘send it and forget it’ approach, marketers can make use of SMS to demonstrate a human side to their business. When it comes to generating dialogue with customers and decision makers, therefore, two-way messaging represents the next generation of customer reach. But it’s worth considering whether you need this level of interactivity before embarking on a two-way campaign.

2. Find the right mobile messaging partner
Your marketing team do not need to become IT experts. Two-way SMS is achievable for any company, from cash strapped start-ups to large multi-nationals. All that’s required is a simple API which gives marketers a toolkit to send and receive messages, manage responses, track KPIs and optimise campaigns to meet the given budget. More advanced two-way SMS providers, like Infobip, even offer an out-of-the-box managed SMS marketing platform accessible through a web interface. This approach does not need any prior developer knowledge, taking away any complexities around implementation and making two-way SMS an incredibly flexible mobile marketing tactic.

3. Use SMS to unlock the value of user data
There’s more to two-way SMS than better customer engagement. B2B marketers can also take advantage of this technology to collect valuable customer data. Implemented correctly, two-way SMS can unlock a wealth of information for businesses that they would not have access to otherwise. The key here is getting the right approach for your audience.

Whereas questionnaires might be more successful from a B2C perspective, when it comes to two-way SMS for a B2B audience, short code text responses are more appropriate. Two-way SMS also comes into its own when arranging meetings and can be a real asset in a new business push to grow sales around a product launch.

With two-way SMS, customers can reply to a brand if they have a question, or indeed if they want to place an order, which has significant growth potential for SMS marketing among a business audience.

4. Factor in the practical considerations
It’s important to consider the implications of SMS marketing. B2B is significantly different from B2C marketing, but when it comes to two-way SMS many of the same principles apply. Top of the list is requiring an ‘opt in’ from the recipient, acknowledging they actively want to receive text messages from you.

It doesn’t matter if you’re providing a customer helpline, CRM integration, notification and alerts system, or a sweepstake. Giving users the option to both opt-in and opt-out are absolutely necessary. Not only are regulators cracking down on unsolicited messages, sending unwanted texts will also have a detrimental effect on your overall business image.

Choosing the right messaging provider is also important. For a two-way SMS campaign to work effectively, it’s vital that your chosen partner can deliver your message without fail, in the way you want them to. Ask the tough questions up front; if you need to send a large quantity of text messages, can your provider’s system cope? Can they support a global campaign? Can their platform support special characters, or does it meet the various SMS regulations implemented by different countries around the world?

The answers to these questions can only be guaranteed if your chosen provider has solid direct connections to mobile operators, backed by the right security processes and support teams to make sure the operation runs smoothly.

5. How SMS can support existing marketing efforts
Two-way SMS can be part of a multi-channel marketing effort. Given the sharp rise in smartphone usage, including a link to a new product landing page or e-commerce site in a text message can often result in an inbound lead. Of course, as is always the case with SMS marketing to any audience, to get the best results and avoid being labelled as spam it’s necessary to ensure all messages are relevant and targeted. Timing is essential for businesses adopting this marketing method; a B2B SMS could be seen as an annoyance outside of working hours, whereas it’s more likely to be accepted and acted upon between 9am and 5pm.

Ultimately, two-way SMS is a technology that any business in any sector, regardless of size, can take advantage of. As a better approach to mobile marketing, two-way SMS represents a valuable string in any marketers bow.