1Know the Value Propositions of Email and SMS
Text messaging has so much value as a business-to-consumer communication channel, not just because it’s the standard format for virtually every one of the more than 5 billion mobile phones worldwide, but because people pay more attention to texts than they do to email. Some estimates show open rates for SMS texts to be as high as 97 percent, while only 16 percent to 17 percent of email messages get opened and read. The difference in opening rates makes SMS highly useful for conveying time-sensitive notifications. Examples include fraud and overdraft alerts for the financial services market, appointment notifications for health care providers and travel advisories for airlines.
2Know the Players in Mobile Messaging
For businesses sending hundreds or thousands of text messages to customers as part of a marketing campaign, business interaction or customer service program, messaging can get complicated. Here are the main players you need to know: 1) Carriers: SMS traffic is closely managed by carriers as an important revenue stream.2) Mobile aggregator: Unlike the free flow of email from ISP to ISP, carriers will only accept incoming text messages from other carriers and mobile service providers, known as aggregators, who can meet specific standards for message handling and delivery. Businesses wanting to use SMS as a marketing or customer service tool will, in most cases, need to partner with an aggregator.3) Mobile transaction network is a full-service aggregator that also provides services to facilitate conversion, billingÂ and monetary transactions.
3Know the Different Types of SMS Text Messaging
There are four different types of SMS texting, and it’s important to use the type that is best-suited to your business model:1) Bulk SMS is generally used in marketing scenarios. Bulk SMS is not billable to the recipient, and there are no sending guarantees and no delivery notifications are returned to the sender. 2) Premium SMS texts can be billed to a subscriber. With premium SMS, senders do get a guarantee on delivery rates, options on address personalization and a delivery notification for every message delivered.3) Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) is the standard for sending mobile messages that contain graphics, sound or other multimedia content.4) Short codes are not full-length messages like SMS or MMS. Short codes typically use abbreviated mobile phone numbers.Â They are commonly used in promotional campaigns with messages such as “Text YES to 45555 to enter!”
4Use Existing Infrastructure and Data Assets
Enterprises need some systems, assets or processes in place to conduct message-based interactions. To the greatest extent possible, they will want to exploit existing messaging systems for mobile devices. However, not all mobile equipment or service provider offerings will readily integrate with enterprise data sources, businesses, or processes and applications. Existing email and campaign management systems are mostly designed to create and deliver content for conventional desktop email interfaces, not the email interfaces on smartphones.
5Update Infrastructure as Needed
Some mobile messaging advocates contend that in cases where a messaging infrastructure can’t support or integrate mobile messaging programs, it’s better to rush forward with a mobile point solution or carry out one-off standalone campaigns. But others believe this approach is unwise. Effective marketing, customer care and transactional interactions—whether carried out through email or mobile text—are highly reliant on maintaining a common subscriber view through a measurement framework.Â If your message-sending capability and back-end data-tracking systems are incapable of fully integrating mobile into your processes, it would be wiser to consider implementing multichannel message IT specifically designed for digital communication in the smartphone era.
6Collect Relevant Data
Effective mobile messaging does not exist in a vacuum. Sometimes customers want text, sometimes email. Those preferences also are likely to vary by time of day, day of the week and any number of other factors, depending on the content and context. The better an enterprise is able to find out how, when and where its customers wish to be contacted, the greater its ability to keep them engaged, satisfied and loyal to your brand
7Gain Flexibility to Be Creative
Mobile messaging is a medium with many moving parts, and the infrastructure for SMS is going to vary widely from business to business. This is why flexibility is such a crucial quality for a mobile messaging infrastructure. Regardless of vertical industry or business model, mobile messaging needs for every business will change over time. You’re going to a need full range of motion when it comes to sourcing data or interfacing with aggregators, transaction networks and carriers. This means partnering with someone that can deal with international challenges and a technology platform that works with every network you’ll encounter.Â
8Have a Backup Plan if Disaster Happens
Since customers depend more on SMS texting for more critical info than email, it’s important for the sender to get message disposition information as quickly as possible.Â When considering a mobile messaging solution or infrastructure, look for the following: 1) Integrated reporting that streams delivery notifications, performance metrics and other relevant data back to your CRM, customer care or other internal systems.2) A quick and easy way to access and review delivery notification and transactional log files that track message disposition.3) Invoking alerts that prompt customer care reps to resend messages or take other actions in case of delivery failure in time-sensitive situations.
9Know Regulatory Framework
Spam text messages are a growing problem in the United States, but rates are still far lower than for email spam. This is not a happy accident; it’s the result of strict adherence to best-practice guidelines among stakeholders within the SMS text ecosystem, and enforcement on the part of regulators and legal authorities. The governing principal guiding business-to-consumer mobile messaging is the “Opt-In Clause” of the U.S. Consumer Best Practices guidelines published by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA).
10Protect Customers First, Then the Enterprise
Another important element from the MMA guidelines to keep in mind is that while fostering growth is an important goal for the mobile messaging industry, the primary focus is on consumer protection and privacy, because industry growth without consumer satisfaction is not sustainable. If hackers can get access to service providers’ messaging infrastructure, they can gain the ability to send out highly convincing malicious messaging with origination information that aggregators and carriers would not be able to recognize as fraudulent. The ability to spot, identify and stop an attack in the seconds or minutes after a breach is the most effective way to combat against the expensive threats posed by cyber-criminals.