Mobile marketing: three SMS pilot program tips


US-based mobile marketing company mobileStorm has released a paper aimed at helping business plan a SMS pilot program. Considering that 87% of consumers in the US own a cell phone and 95% of those cell phones are SMS capable, this is a channel which can be very effective as part of your cross-channel marketing plan. In Europe, figures are even higher, often with more than one mobile phone per inhabitant, depending on the country. Although mobile marketing is increasingly becoming so much more than SMS marketing, it is clear that text messages can be used in several integrated interactive marketing activities, event-driven actions, e-commerce processes and (opt-in) promotional messages.

As with any plan, the two most important aspects are defining your objectives and having a procedure that generates measurable results. Make sure you have the resources allocated to ensure this is a fair test as well. Another good tip is to look at benchmarks from others, to get an idea of what you'll need and how you should evaluate the ROI.

Next, define what your offer to your target audience will be via SMS.

There are three broad categories:

Incentives. Here, the value is in the incentive you're providing. This can include sending coupons, special deal notifications, secret sale dates, and more. Making this exclusive to your mobile audience can also be very effective.

  1. Informational alerts. These can be about events or sales or even providing loyalty points balance updates.
  2. Interactive. You might run polls or a trivia contest depending on what you think suits your target audience.

Remember to run programs which can be effectively measured for results during the actual pilot. Don't run a pilot with any kind of campaign you are not committed to continuing which might alienate subscribers when stopped. For example, loyalty balance updates or a newsletter promotion would not be the best candidates.

Once you've launched the trial be sure to have regular meetings to provide updates and review the progress with the stakeholders and any other involved parties. Keep an eye on such things as unsubscribe rates to measure engagement.

Optimizing an SMS campaign is an ongoing process.

Here (according to the paper) are the key points to work on:

  • When you're promoting a text-in or any other "joining" activity
  • How you're asking users to join the promotion
  • To whom you're directing your promotion

Once the trial is over, your first step should be to have a "post-mortem" with your team and stakeholders. Not everything is going to work and understanding why something did or didn't work is the most important thing. Remember, this was a pilot project and that means it's a learning experience for everyone. If something did go wrong, all that matters really is figuring out why it broke and then working with your people to fix the problem and not the blame.

Depending on the size of your pilot program you might want to do some projections about what the ROI would be if the program was larger scale.  If the results were good then don't rest on the laurels! Get the planning going to roll out your SMS campaign strategy as soon as possible so that you don't lose momentum.

SMS can be a very effective channel for a cross-channel, integrated campaign, but it has to be planned and executed well just as with any marketing initiative.


Do you want to engage the multi-channel consumer?

Today's customer is cross-channel and he/she is at the centre of sales and marketing.

Communication channels depend on the consumer and marketing is about engaging the cross-channel customer and prospect throughout integrated dialogues that are driven by his/her buying journey, preferences, triggers, signals and behaviour.

Discover why your business should move to an integrated marketing approach step by step and how.

Download our white paper "Moving towards integrated interactive marketing".