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What Rich SMS Marketing Is and Why You Need to Use It

15th September 2017

Even if you’re new to the field of marketing I’m sure you’ve heard of SMS marketing before. But what about Rich SMS?

I figured as much. Before we begin, let’s get this out of the way:

So, what is Rich SMS exactly?

Rich SMS, also known as Rich Media Text or Rich Media Messaging, is simply an SMS with rich multimedia content. It takes SMS Marketing to the next level, providing visual content accessible from your SMS inbox through a shortened unique URL in the SMS.

The users will find all the content you want to include: discounts, coupons, surveys, images, videos, animations, games as well as a huge number of CTAs (call to actions) such as click-to-call, drive-to-store, link to download your app, click-to-e-store… all of these completely personalised for each customer.

What Rich SMS ultimately does is to give the users the possibility to interact with the text messages. Hence, providing an outstanding user experience and in turn, improving the efficiency of your mobile campaigns

Here’s an example of a Rich SMS. Cool, right?

How Rich SMS is working
You can see how the Rich SMS working in 3 steps: unique URL, Scratchcard and call-to-actions.

So, why do you need Rich SMS?

Rich SMS is great as it has all the benefits that come with SMS messages, with some advantages of its own. Let’s have a look:

 1) Mobile-first world

Have you heard of Nomophobia?

Nomophobia is the fear of being without a mobile phone.

Unfortunately, it’s a growing fear in today’s world. In fact, half of young Americans said they can’t live without their phones.

I hope this illustrates that we’re well past the tipping point when it comes to mobile. As mobile devices dominate the time spent online it’s safe to say that marketing to mobile-first users must be taken seriously.

Mobile-first refers to the increasing lifestyle trend, in which people turn to their mobile devices for most of their communication, information, and entertainment needs.

Across the globe, mobile devices total minutes spent online, passing 90% in Indonesia.

The trend towards a mobile-first mindset is accelerating. Here are just a few examples:

  • Google announced their plans to make their index mobile-first, meaning that their ranking systems will look at the mobile version of a page to evaluate its relevance to the user
  • Digital, mobile-only banks like Monzo are on the rise
  • Mobile-only social networks like Snapchat are growing in popularity

And these are only a few examples, the number of companies operating only through an app is greatly increasing.

So, as marketers, we must meet the demand and embrace the mobile-first world to stay competitive and run effective campaigns.

SMS messaging is an essential part of any successful mobile marketing strategy. It provides you with another channel to reach your audience and be where they are – on their devices, thus enabling improved multi-channel experiences.

 2) SMS marketing has phenomenal open rates

Did you take the time to open, let alone read, each email you received this week? You only paid attention to the ones that seemed important or sparked your interest, right?

But what about the SMS you received? I’m willing to bet that you opened most of your texts if not all of them.

In fact, SMS messages have a whopping 98% open rate, with 90% being read within 3 minutes. This is more than both email marketing and social media combined.

According to both Buffer and Marketing Land, you can expect that only about 2-3% of your audience will see your post on Twitter. Also, with the recent algorithm changes on Facebook, a huge decline in organic reach has been seen. Research from Social@Ogilvy suggests that for large pages organic reach could be as low as 2%.

On the upside, the stats for email marketing are looking more positive with an average email open rate of 24.79% across industries.

Different marketing platforms compare in terms of reach
A graph illustrating how different marketing platforms compare in terms of reach

So it seems that your message is much more likely to be delivered and paid attention to if it’s delivered via SMS. And quite understandably so, considering how many emails and social media posts we are swamped with on a daily basis.

3) Consumers prefer SMS messages

Not only is SMS marketing more effective, it’s also the preferred communication channel for consumers.

A survey found that SMS is clearly the preferred channel for users to receive brand-related communications. In fact, more than twice as many users prefer to receive communications from brands via text messages compared to email or app notifications.

The Preferred Channel for Receiving Loyalty-Related Communications
An image showing the Preferred Channel for Receiving Loyalty-Related Communications from Brands According to US Internet Users – March 2016

No wonder SMS is the preferred communication channel for most users.

To begin with, text messages are less intrusive than notifications, pop-ups and display ads. They don’t require you to download the brand’s app on your phone, taking of your precious phone space. They’re less likely to get lost compared to emails. And also, it’s easy to opt in or out at any moment, making you feel in control of the messages you receive.

Yet, only 21% of brands leverage SMS to get their messages across to consumers.

This means that many businesses are missing out on huge opportunities.

For example, Bohemian Guitars, a company that sells guitars made of oil cans, noticed that most of their sales came from mobile devices. In response, the brand added a widget to their website, allowing customers to text them. This led to an increase of about 98% in sales in 6 months. That’s pretty impressive.

Chances are that if your customers like your brand, they will want to receive offers and other promotions via SMS. So, you should take advantage of this.

4) More personalised experience

Did you know that 39% of customers spend more if they receive a personalised mobile coupon?

That’s right, today’s customers don’t want to feel like just another number on your marketing list. They want to feel important.

As a result, providing personalised experiences in marketing has become the ultimate goal for every marketer.

However, it looks like it’s only an ambition for most.

Reportedly 89% of brands struggle to deliver personalised digital experiences. This means that there is a huge gap between what customers want and what brands offer them.

As opposed to SMS, Rich SMS helps deliver personalised experiences based on your users’ interests and preferences. Imagine that instead of receiving an email blast about all offers on the website, you only get the promotions on shoes as this is what you’re looking to buy. Well, Rich SMS makes it possible.

Here is an example:

Personalised Rich SMS message
An example of a personalised Rich SMS message An example of personalised Rich SMS messageRich SMS personalised experience example

As you can see,  you can swipe left or right to indicate what products you are looking to buy. After you’ve liked or disliked certain product categories you are offered a personal selection based on your choice.

Rich SMS is great as it ticks 3 different boxes at the same time:

  • It provides you with an offer/promotion
  • It’s personalised
  • It’s interactive and engages you in the selection process

5) Gamify your content

Google defines gamification as:

The application of typical elements of game playing to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.

I’m pretty sure that you’ve come across some gamified elements yourself without even realising.

One of the most common gamification techniques is leaderboards and badges. Many forums use them to rank each member by the number of their comments, replies and other activities on the online community.

People love it when they are rewarded and can proudly show off their status. I know I do. And I know you do too.

As you can see, gamification can be a pretty powerful technique to increase engagement, boost brand awareness, and generally make your content more interactive and enjoyable.

Simply put, gamification is something you’d want to implement in your marketing strategy.

Rich SMS makes it easy to add gamification techniques to your content. Scratchcards, memory games, shake-to-reveal games, you name it. You can get really creative with Rich SMS.

6) Send any type of content

It’s often been said that a picture is worth 1000 words. It might be a cliché but it’s also true.

Humans are visual beings.

For example, research found that people following directions with text and illustrations do 323% better than people following directions without illustrations.

For the same reason articles with images get 94% more views and receive more social media shares than those without.

323% better than people following directions without illustrations
Illustrations do 323% better than people following directions without illustrations

So, visual content is not only important, it’s extremely important. If you want to make your content appealing, make it visual

However, traditional SMS messages can be quite restrictive, both in terms of words and creativity. You only have 160 characters to communicate your message and you can only use words to convey it

That’s where Rich SMS comes in.

One of the best things about Rich SMS is that you can send virtually any kind of content through rich media messages: mNewsletters, offers or promotions, new product launches, reminders, videos, coupons, courtesy messages, etc.

Also, content is optimised for all types of mobile devices, so brands can be confident they are delivering the best possible user experience.

7) Improve UX

As the mobile-first phenomenon continues to grow, the user experience on mobile also becomes increasingly important.

In fact, mobile UX is so important that 46% of people said that they wouldn’t purchase from a brand again if they had an interruptive mobile experience.

So, if you don’t want to lose customers you need to make sure that your brand provides the best possible mobile experience, regardless if it’s in-app, a mobile version of the website, SMS, etc.

Rich SMS can help you greatly improve, or at least enrich, the mobile experience for users. It provides you with the opportunity to engage with consumers where they are and on their preferred channel. This coupled with the personalised experience it can provide make Rich SMS a very powerful tool to deliver outstanding user experience.

8) Get a better return

We know that no marketing technique is that great unless it brings a strong return on investment to the table. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the bottom line.

Well, in that case, I have good news and great news:

The good news is that traditional SMS messages have an 8% conversion rate, which again surpassed email marketing which sits between 1% and 5% for the top performers.

The great news is that Rich SMS again has the upper hand. An aggregate of A/B testing campaigns showed that Rich SMS can bring up to 49% more revenue compared to SMS.

Return on Investment on 4 channels
The good news is that traditional SMS messages have an 8% conversion rate, which again surpassed email marketing which sits between 1% and 5% for the top performers.

Conclusion

As more and more people are turning to their mobile phones as the first point of interaction to fulfil their needs, communication via SMS presents even a bigger opportunity for marketers.

Also, SMS remains an unexplored avenue for many brands, giving the chance to savvy marketers to gain competitive advantage.

Beyond SMS, Rich SMS has all the benefits of traditional SMS messages but also provides exceptional personalised user experience thanks to its rich media content

Personalisation and high engagement levels have always been the ultimate goals of every marketing activity and Rich SMS can greatly help in accomplishing them.

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