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Deepak Goyal

Deepak Goyal has been instrumental in driving revenue growth and establishing mGage India as the market leader in India. He serves as mGage India’s COO and has been an integral part of the management team for the last 9 years.

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How SMS is One of the Most Effective Marketing Tools, Geographically and Demographically?

According to research conducted by multiple entities including Dynmark and MobileSQUARED, about 99% of all SMSes are read by the recipient.

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Photo Credit : talqapp.com,

Even in the age of hi-tech, artificial intelligence powered and app based communication, the basic yet powerful communication mode on the mobile is the most effective. Yes, we are referring to the humble yet impactful SMS. Before WhatsApp, Snapchat and their ilk, SMS was the only mode of messaging and according to marketers and developers alike, it is still king.

According to research conducted by multiple entities including Dynmark and MobileSQUARED, about 99% of all SMSes are read by the recipient. Here are some more interesting and surprising stats:

• More than 20 billion text messages are sent daily!
• 33% more people had access to SMS than toilets – close to 7 billion people!
• 90% of all text messages are read within 3 minutes of their delivery (yes, within 3 minutes!)

As a channel for B2C communication, nothing beats the ease of use and ubiquity of SMS: it works on every phone, on every network and nearly every human knows the art of effectively using it. Meant to be seamless, with no design or UI to navigate, there's hardly any barrier between the marketer and the prospect.

While the proliferation of apps and instant messengers cannot be denied, businesses have realized that it takes a lot of money and effort to convince a consumer to download an app or a new instant messenger. The most prevalent instant messengers are yet to ride on to the application to peer (A2P) messaging bandwagon. The chances of your brand’s app actually gaining traction are slim to none. On the contrary, the elephant in the room is the incredibly high rate of app uninstalls in the first 3 months. It is a mind-numbing 70% or so! App fatigue is a real thing and it is discouraging, to say the least, for marketers to invest in app development and app-based promotions. Illustrated by the strategy of most marketers, the solution lies in technology that has been around longer than most others: SMS.

SMS marketing – route to the next million consumers

It is no secret that the new-age marketer, especially in the consumer internet space is looking at way beyond the traditional metro city based, top of the pyramid populace for the next million consumers. These consumers will mainly come from the tier 2 towns and beyond. Fortune, indeed, is at the bottom of the pyramid, as C K Prahlad would say. It is here, that the irony, of even instant messaging apps in addition to all tech startups including the unicorns placing their bets on the omnipotent and omnipresent SMS, hits you! After all, SMS offers enjoy a high response rate, with texted coupons redeemed 10 times more often than traditional coupons, as per a report by Pure360. Which marketer would not want to leverage such an effective channel?

It is also important to understand the dynamics of India as a geography when it comes to mobile reach and hence, marketing. Even more so for startups who don’t have the advantage of years of brand awareness that established brands enjoy. The importance of SMS thanks to its ‘by default’ presence on all phones and high penetration cannot be overstated here. The marketer cannot ignore the Maslow’s hierarchy of mobile needs especially when it comes to ‘the bottom the pyramid’ – battery, data usage, storage and balance on their phone. Add to it, the unpredictability of data networks in the hinterlands. In a complex and diverse geography like this, dependence and let alone overdependence on channels or modes which are not default and uniform is a risk that any marketer is unwilling to take.

Here are some SMS marketing use cases which are now de rigueur in B2C enterprises in general and consumer internet startups in particular:

• Financial service & fintech companies are using SMS to improve promotions & information dissemination. 2-way messaging (pull based) is used to make it interactive and allow redemption of the offer
• E-commerce players are using SMS aggressively to promote their offers in semi-urban and rural areas. Flash sales, offers targeting special segments, loyalty benefits – SMS marketing has got it all covered

SMS marketing is intelligent, too!

By making SMS promotion intelligent and two-way, enterprises are moving towards the next generation of marketing. The days of spray and pray approach to marketing are over with emphasis now on performance based marketing which has to deliver not only reach but also ensure segmenting, targeting and even retargeting.

India’s leader in the online eyewear space uses intelligent SMS marketing with smart analytics to know, segment and target its market better. It is SMS marketing – only smarter and hence, more effective. The SMS with the promo offer has a link that takes the prospect to a tagged landing page or site.

Analytics helps the marketer determine the user profile with data points like device type, IP based location and even his/her action and journey on receiving the SMS. This includes break up of prospects who clicked, bounced back from the site/landing page, visited some specific part of the site/landing page etc. This data enables the marketer to retarget the prospects with other offers depending on their profile, action and journey.

It is incredible how smart SMS marketing has made the ubiquitous SMS a dexterous medium for intelligent targeted marketing. ROI driven marketing is the norm and SMS is powering this revolution by bringing analytics into the equation. The ROI here is unbeatable. According to a Dynmark report, 29 percent of SMS marketing recipients click on links in SMS messages they receive, and 47 percent of those go on to make a purchase. That’s nearly 14 percent conversion!

The marketer’s best friend

It is safe to assume that whatever be the priority of the marketer – large scale reach, targeted promotion, retargeting dormant customers, instant gratification for the deal hunter or all of these – SMS marketing is his/her best friend. After all, no other channel can beat its reach, ubiquity, conversion and hence RoI and even retention rate.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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