I recently responded to another blogs comment string about WalMart's use of text messaging this holiday season. The article said 10% of all WalMart customers presented with the option of joining did so, although I believe there might be some confusion as to just who might have opted in and how they knew it was 10%. I thought my response covered a lot of commonly asked questions and shed some light on alternative ways to handle these types of campaigns, and most importantly to aid in dispelling the text message myths of the nay-sayers...
It was certainly must have been a quick rate of adoption as this all started in November, & to have any kind of sizable database in one month w/ little promotion is quite a feat. Although I don't feel WalMart's messaging program was handled properly, sending 3 or 4 messages at a time with hard to understand abbreviations and periods with no spaces, etc. It actually looked very amateurish for such a big brand, I was quite surprised. I don't however believe that the US public was soured in general from participating in such programs because of this experience.
Today's consumers are changing; Many of them are often high value but they are more on-the-go than ever and harder to reach through our old bag of marketing tricks. Text is proving to appeal to four groups of consumers, maybe even more than I thought of when writing this post below. Keep in mind, this list is not gender or demographic specific as I have worked with clients who target teens and 20's through 40's & 50's.
1. Your most dedicated shopper and brand enthusiasts.
2. People that are checking their personal email less, using TiVo to skip advertising & have become in general harder to reach but still want to hear from the sender.
3. People who see the convenience of text over or in addition to the other channels & because it's all opt-in and now have a basic understanding that these numbers cannot or will not be shared has helped.
4. For CPGs, the opportunity for a consumer to receive information right in store via text is becoming recognized as a valuable tool & there are things that can be done to increase the amount of information contained in a text message such as the inclusion of IVR.
5. The just plain curious, maybe a mobile savvy new customer, maybe someone who signs up at checkout on their first or subsequent purchases or when they are entering their email address (if that's an option to opt into text as well)
One thing I noticed about Wal-Mart's program was I signed up but was never sent a welcome message or notified at the time of sign up that I would receive 3 or 4 text messages each time they sent them out. That really turned me off and I was honestly shocked when I saw that many come through. I've never seen it done that way before and can't imagine a large portion of the consumers without text messaging built into their phone plan enjoyed spending 40 to 60 cents each round of messages. It's not that much, but they didn't know it was coming. The opt in message should alert the consumer to anything abnormal in the message patterns with a "Thank You" for participating.
How about a using a web address or WAP page where I can view these products from my phone. Or an IVR line with more info to avoid having to send so many texts and having to jam up and abbreviate so many words.... The age of marketers being concerned about consumers being charged to receive a text message from their opt in programs should now be over. The overall participation rates of this opt-in medium range from 5% - 70%, totally dependent on how the program is structured, opt-in is offered and who the retailer or brand is and what the program is about. But one message programs will never make your customer upset, I have never heard of even 1 complaint about this with all of the programs I have started and managed.
Text is here in the US and it works really well, I know that for sure. There are obviously a range of best practices out there by different companies that vary from mine. I can only speak for myself, but I have yet to have a client not renew their contract with me - and while they don't always share their results with us, it must pass the ROI test or else it would get canned.
Open your perceived judement of what will work a little and explore text with an open mind...you may be surprised what you find."
Since everyone is either talking about it, considering it, doing it or just never going to consider it, we have 3 out of 4 or let's say 75% of marketers that need to learn how to: Entice customers into text programs to build their own database, use text or mobile to communicate to their customers, keep them engaged and drive sales. That's why I write this blog, to compile what works, what doesn't & help keep you readers up to date without giving up all my secrets :)