Coupon promotions have been a staple for businesses of all sizes. They have proven themselves to attract customers, increase sales and help reach organizational goals. But what may come as a surprise for many is that couponing is not without its rules and regulations. A major issue that continues to plague coupon advertising (even those delivered by SMS) is coupon fraud.
What Are Mobile Coupons?
Mobile coupons are digital coupons that are received and redeemed with a mobile device. These coupons are typically redeemed either by a code directly in the text itself or, a QR/bar code on a landing page. Despite their simplistic nature, mobile coupons have been very successful and have had a massive impact for a variety of industries. According to Juniper Research, 45% of mobile users will use mobile coupons this year with mobile coupon’s global usage projected to surpass 1 billion by 2019.
Types of Coupon Fraud
Coupon fraud takes on many different forms. Of course there are instances of consumers intentionally misusing coupons, manipulating offers, and even selling coupons. But one of the most common practices of coupon fraud is posting/sharing, or redeeming, codes on the increasingly popular coupon sharing sites, as well as social media. Coupons that are intended for one person to use are being released and repurposed by many. Even store employees are getting into trouble by using previously redeemed coupons for a customer without one. Often times, people don’t even realize they are committing a crime, but coupon fraud is very serious and a punishable offense.
Reducing Coupon Fraud
How can businesses go about protecting themselves from fraud? To explain this concept, let’s look at a recent example that we had here at True Dialog…
A quick service restaurant wanted to have a targeted coupon promotion for a particular region of their restaurants. However, incorporating a 3rd party coupon into their POS system wasn’t a feasible option. This meant that coupons would have to be entered manually which would increase the chances of both human error and coupon fraud. By using True Dialog’s Coupon Campaign builder, landing pages were automatically created that allowed end-users to both receive coupons by texting in a keyword to a short code. These coupons were then redeemed at participating stores. Since these coupons were single use only and were being redeemed at the register, any chances of customers posting on coupon sharing sites were eliminated which allowed franchises to control market spend.
Here are a few best practices when it comes to managing coupon liability:
Create Single-Use Codes – For each unique device that is offered a coupon, ensure a different redemption code will be sent and the code will become invalid as soon as it’s redeemed.
Use Unique URLs – Similar to creating different coupon codes, ensure your platform automatically generates unique URLs that cannot be shared from one user to another (even if copied and pasted).
Set Expiration Dates – As a best practice, coupon campaigns should always have a start and end date. To ensure old coupon codes aren’t still circulating, have them expire as soon as the campaign ends.
Use Personalized Messaging – It’s always a good idea to personalize your SMS messaging, but it’s even more so important when presenting coupon offers.
Avoid Distributing Printed Coupons – Unlike mobile coupons, traditional methods for clearing paper coupons cannot be done instantaneously. Also, paper coupons are more susceptible to redistributing and counterfeiting.
Coupon usage is big and is projected to get even bigger. About 96% of American shoppers are coupon users and numbers continue to climb thanks to the popularity of digital coupons (RetailMeNot). However, with such high volumes of coupons being redeemed each year, the potential for coupon fraud increases as well. Fortunately, incorporating mobile coupons into a cohesive digital marketing strategy can both increase redemption and reduce coupon fraud.
The Power of Mobile Coupons
Mobile coupons are digital coupons that are received and redeemed with a mobile device. These coupons are typically redeemed either by a code directly in the text itself or, a QR/bar code on a landing page. Despite their simplistic nature, mobile coupons have been very successful and have had a massive impact for a variety of industries. According to Juniper Research, 45% of mobile users will use mobile coupons this year with mobile coupon’s global usage projected to surpass 1 billion by 2019 .
SMS vs. Coupon Fraud
It is easy to understand how mobile coupons are beneficial to businesses but, how do they stop fraud? To explain this concept, let’s look at a recent example that we had here at 3Seventy. A quick service restaurant wanted to have a targeted coupon promotion for a particular region of their restaurants. However, incorporating a 3rd party coupon into their POS system wasn’t a feasible option. This meant that coupons would have to be entered manually which would increase the chances of both human error and coupon fraud. By using 3Seventy’s Coupon Campaign builder, landing pages were automatically created that allowed end-users to both receive coupons by texting in a keyword to a short code. These coupons were then redeemed at participating stores. Since these coupons were single use only and were being redeemed at the register, any chances of customers posting on coupon sharing sites were eliminated which allowed franchises to control market spend.
SMS and Email integration is a winning combination for your multi-channel marketing strategy. Integrating these platforms allows marketers to provide a cohesive experience that caters to the different preferences of their clients. However, what many don’t understand is how these systems work together – integrating with each other as well as CRM systems.
How SMS and Email Come Together
SMS and email cross paths in a variety different ways but, how does it work? Once implemented, an SMS API integration is a very understandable process. To talk to each other, the two systems rely on two vital technological processes: SMPP and A/B testing.
SMPP Simplifies Short Message Communications
Let’s start with short message peer-to-peer or SMPP protocol. This is a term that simply means the transfer of text message data with external messaging entities (a SMS application). This is how businesses have the ability to send text messages in bulk to thousands of clients at once. Imagine that you’re a business with a large customer database and you want to alert all of them about a special promotion. Instead of texting them one at a time from a mobile device, you can use a SMS application – the SMPP provides the capability for you to send your message to everyone at the same time.
A/B Helps Systems to “Speak” to Each Other
Once you have SMPP setup for your text messages, how do we integrate the email system? More importantly, how do we make sure that clients are receiving messages on the right medium? This is where A/B testing comes into play. Using A/B testing, or split testing, is the process of comparing two versions of a web page or application to determine which performs better. This is crucial for SMS and email integration because it’s the way that platforms define how each client receives the business’ message. The A/B test combs through your client database and, based on your clients’ selected preferences, it will send your message through the correct medium. Think of it as a digital huddle between SMS and email as they decide the best of course of action for scoring points with your clients.
SMS and Email Integration for CRM
One of the key reasons marketers have for SMS and email integration is for customer relationship management (CRM). A dedicated CRM system can easily facilitate integration in a way that is cohesive to your business’s multi-channel marketing strategy. Email and SMS simplify the CRM strategy by allowing you the most convenient and effective way to reach customers – the way they want to be reached. The added bonus of monitoring customer preferences gives the business the power of new data – for tracking behaviors and adjusting messaging to save both time and money.
Integration within multi-channel marketing is imperative for keeping up with the growing digital landscape. Email and SMS are essentially the peas and carrots of multi-channel marketing; they are a tried and true combination that can fit almost anywhere. By understanding integration at a technical level, businesses can discover how simply this integration can be adapted for multiple purposes.
A reliable one-two punch for digital marketing is multi-channel communications – specifically using email and SMS integration. Each has their separate advantages, and they also work well together to create a wonderfully integrated experience for both businesses and their clients. Nearly two-thirds of Americans are smartphone owners and the top 2 smartphone activities are texting and managing email. So what does this mean for digital marketers? How can these two mediums intertwine in a way that is practical for meeting marketing goals?
Everyone is Using Them
In the age of smartphones, email and texting are a massive part of our personal and professional lives. We use our phones for everything from simple appointment keeping to maintaining our personal connections.
Since mobile devices are now the number one screen we look at on a daily basis (KPCB), marketers are faced with the challenge of how to adapt – and it’s not always with a new app. Since both texting and email can be used on any phone with internet access, it makes sense to integrate both into a multi-channel marketing strategy. This way, marketers can kill two birds with one technologically-integrated stone. However, this doesn’t mean that clients are bombarded in both their email and SMS inboxes. Rather, it allows a freedom for clients to use either medium in a manner that best fits their personal situations. And this takes little extra effort on the part of the digital marketer.
Email and SMS Integration Caters to Client Preference
When it comes to using email and SMS in business, clients and customers tend to have a preference for one medium over the other. Factors such as age, income, industry, and purpose all affect preference. For example, many millennials prefer the more instantaneous text that links to a webpage with details, while baby boomers want long detailed emails with minimal clicks.
Adapting to the potential variances among their clientele, email and SMS integration may be implemented into a cohesive multi-channel marketing strategy. Thanks to numerous platforms, both media can be easily integrated and managed on one system without losing the core message.
Email and SMS are often pitted against each other. Businesses are led to believe that it is a choice of one or the other since each channel has its own particular strengths. However, as adoption of technology integration increases, it is best to see these technologies as friends and not rivals. Email and SMS integration gives clients and customers a choice in how they want to receive their communications from your business, without straining marketers’ time or resources.
Technology is playing an increasingly large role in education around the world
Many schools and classrooms use education CRM systems for student management. These CRM (customer relationship management) systems are crucial for maintaining attendance, grades, homework, and other various classroom interactions. However, many systems operate on email-based integration for communications. Although millennials are extremely receptive to email, SMS has a higher open rate at 98% and 45% response rate (email has an average 6% response rate).
Mobilizing the Classroom Experience With SMS
For the busy college student, having a mobilized classroom experience is vital to their success. Although many education CRM systems have created mobile applications, it’s sometimes difficult to convey information in real time. Students need information as fast as possible, and in-app messaging often takes more effort than it’s worth. SMS integration into education CRM systems gives professors the tools needed to inform their students instantaneously – less work, higher response rate.
A simple way to utilize SMS with your education CRM is by setting up triggered messages via a gateway. When certain time-sensitive material is uploaded by a professor into the education CRM system, such as announcements or grades, a text message will be automatically sent out to all students on the targeted list. Although this is a commonplace feature in the email portion of education CRMs, a text-based approach will be massively efficient for both student and professor. You can even give students the choice of how they want updates from you – via email or SMS – and either way, you can include the same information and web links to the details. Students will be more likely to read the important classroom information, while professors will have a simple way to instantly reach all their students at once.
Education CRM Supports the EdTech Movement
Education technology, or EdTech, is becoming more than just the technology itself. It is becoming a wide sweeping movement focusing on changing education on multiple levels, all across the world. Integration is huge component of EdTech with many classrooms using apps, software, and even virtual reality to enhance education. When education CRM systems integrate mobile technology, professors can expand their reach and make room for more students or teach across far distances. By pushing the boundaries of the physical classroom, education can make steps towards being accessible for all.
Using an education CRM is important to many schools, colleges and universities. As of 2015, the top collegiate LMS (learning management systems), Blackboard, was on the market for over $3 billion. Not only is an education CRM the built into most schools, but it is also the norm for students to have access to their educational progress in a digital format. Making education CRM systems more mobile via SMS is a logical expansion for the fast-paced and highly dynamic realm of education.
1.8 million bachelor’s degrees were awarded in 2013, and the numbers have only been growing. One of the hardest parts of being a busy post graduate is keeping in contact with fellow alumni. Thankfully, alumni associations across the country work hard to grow and maintain their database – helping alumni stay in touch. With the help of SMS technology, the burden of maintaining alumni communications can be reduced for these associations.
Simplifying Opt-Ins, Updates, and Operations
The obvious first step to having a great alumni database is getting people signed up. Associations want as many alumni as signed up and done in the easiest way possible, but once people graduate so much happens – email addresses change, mailing addresses change, and people forget. A simple solution to this “where are they now” barrier is inviting the soon-to-be graduates to opt-in to a mobile club just for alumni, and do so before graduation. Since so much of one’s contact information changes after graduation, it’s better to invite students to sign up using the one contact method that is not likely to change – their mobile phone number.
According the US Census Bureau, “At age 18, a person can expect to move another 9.1 times in their remaining lifetime.” And the average American will change jobs 10-15 times in his or her lifetime, which means there are at least that many email address changes along the way.
Establishing an SMS database is the first step for alumni associations to stay in real contact with graduates. Then maintaining those alumni relations becomes a simple process. Using a basic SMS campaign for sharing alumni news and alumni updates. Associations can also use a dialog SMS campaign for numerous purposes, such as surveys and event coordination. Wouldn’t it be great to invite members of your alumni association to vote on potential locations for a local meet-up or find out who plans on attending the next home game?
SMS for Alumni Communications & Perks
In addition to staying in regular contact with graduates, alumni associations often provide perks and discounts to their members. However, this can be one of those benefits that gets lost in the shuffle of emails and direct mail pieces. A simpler way to promote these perks, coupons, and other promotions is with SMS database of alumni contacts.
Have close ties with a local bar or eatery? Then setup a SMS coupon campaign to deliver special offers to the alumni database while they are visiting in the homecoming season. This approach not only benefits alumni relations and the members, but it also creates new opportunities for sponsorships and benefits. The coordination with sponsors more efficient, the overhead cost is lower, and the ultimate reach is wider.
Integrating Your Alumni Database
Not only can you improve alumni communications using SMS technology, you can create a more complete view of what’s going on with your database. Your alumni association can integrate your CRM platform with the SMS database to achieve this view. And you could invite alumni to communicate with you through their channel of choice – email or SMS – while seeing all of their information in one place.
With so many people going in different directions, managing alumni communications is challenging. Even as distance widens, alumni associations have so many resources to keep the class together. SMS provides not only simplicity, but an overall better way to keep up alumni communications.
Curious how mobile technology can improve communications in your school? Learn More
Recruiters and Hiring Managers are sending up-to-the-minute job postings to keep up with the market.
SMS for recruitment has become key. The job market has improved slowly over the past 7 years. A big change over this time period is the technology we use to communicate and how job postings are found. First of all, consider these statistics:
64% of American adults now own a smartphone of some kind.
10% of Americans own a smartphone, but do not have broadband at home. Compared with smartphone owners who are less reliant on their mobile devices, these smartphone-dependent users are less likely to own some other type of computing device
43% of smartphone owners are looking up job information. (Source: Pew Research)
One of the big advantages of using SMS is timelines – your ability to reach an individual fast and efficiently with the right information. Many human resources professionals and recruiters are leveraging SMS to reach today’s generation of mobile-first candidates.
For those recruiters working in the field, it’s important to stay in touch with candidates. And sending real-time information about job openings is key to getting the best candidates, but the average email takes up to 48 hours before someone will read it. And so many young people are living a low-income life style that limits their internet usage.
Triggered SMS Alerts using an SMS API helps to address these issues. You can integrate whatever systems you use for contact management and tracking with your SMS platform using an SMS API. When you make this integration, you can setup different rules to triggering text messages to be sent. For example, “if a job opening with the title Software Development in this zip code pops up, then send a message to these phone numbers.”
One company learned that using triggered SMS messages in conjunction with other recruitment activities such as campus job fairs, online job postings, and campus interviews can be very effective when setup with the right parameters (through an SMS API). Using SMS in this kind of situation is a way to start the conversation between a recruiter or employer and the prospective employee or intern.
The right SMS platform allows you to get plenty of information up-front using SMS. 3Seventy calls this 3Seventy – the ability to have a seamless threaded conversation via text message. It is a pretty powerful tool when used to it’s fullest extent.
While SMS recruitment has proven to be effective for many companies and organizations, it’s important to remember that SMS campaigns are best used to create awareness and prequalify quality candidates. SMS campaigns are not meant to replace your traditional channels of communication with prospective candidates, rather it is a way to enhance and improve the overall experience.
Ways Recruiters and Hiring Managers Can Leverage SMS Campaigns:
Create Awareness using SMS recruitment alerts with job postings
Prequalify Candidates using SMS 3Seventy surveys
Have direct communication with candidates for scheduling interviews
Making the connection with the mobile-first generation easy
An application programming interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. Simply put, an API is a set of requirements that govern how one software application can talk to another – allowing information to go back and forth between the systems.
For example: Yelp includes a Google Map in its app to display nearby restaurants. Several websites allow you to log-in using your Facebook or Google account. Using an API makes it possible for applications, such as your CRM system, to share data and take actions in your SMS Gateway without requiring developers to share all of the software’s code.
The API takes this code sharing concept and simply limits the outside program access to a specific set of features – usually it is requests for some specific data. Your API clearly defines how a program will interact with the rest of the software world. It saves time, resources, money, and potential legal issues.
How does it apply to my mobile marketing strategy?
Who cares? You should… because API’s are a simple and cost effective way to make mobile marketing easier for you.
Companies use the SMS API to integrate their marketing, analytics, CRM, and other business software with the SMS Platform for creating more powerful and customized solutions. When marketers integrate 3Seventy’s Platform with a CRM software such as Zoho to create a unified database. They can send SMS campaigns out to contacts from within the CRM program or log into the 3Seventy platform. Either way, the information will sync with the contacts in the CRM system.
Other companies use the SMS API to automate recurring activities and procedures. For example, a text message alert can be triggered (and sent to the contact) by entering new information into your contact management system. When the leasing office in an apartment complex enters into his contact management system that a package has arrived for John Smith, the the message is sent to the phone number association with John Smith letting him know he has a package. This can also be done in response to a subscriber action, such as submitting a registration form for an event or completing an online purchase.
Why should you bother with SMS integration into your other systems?
One of the major benefits of text messaging is immediacy. You want to enable your customers to leverage that benefit without modifying the way they interact with your business.
Platform integration plays a key role in enabling your existing applications or systems to be mobile. When you integrate with a reliable and feature-rich SMS gateway like 3Seventy, then delivering communication benefits to your customers is easy. Our free Application Programming Interface (API) tools allow for seamless integration with your proprietary software or website. Enabling your existing system to interact with an SMS gateway for sending and receiving messages can help streamline your marketing processes.
Common Systems for SMS Integration
Email: Combining SMS and Email may be the smartest thing you’ve ever done for your customers or clients. Rather than forcing them into only one communication channel with your business, customers can choose how they want to contacted and the types of notifications they want. While a customer may want to read your monthly newsletter via email, he may also want a specific text alert about a product or service update. This will alleviate your database issues by combining the two, as well as increase customer satisfaction.
CRM: This is where SMS personalization has the greatest potential. If you have a truly robust Customer Relationship Management system that is filled with contact attributes such as birthdays, contract renewals, preferred products, zip code, or other key identifiers, then you should be leveraging that information in your text message marketing program. Use auto response text message to in response to contact’s actions, or send out behavior-based targeted messages to reach the right audience at just the right time. And, of course, remember to personalize things when it makes sense (with the contact’s first name or other unique identifier).
This integration improves the efficiency of your communication by giving you more information and more options for each SMS you send or receive.
Point of Sale: For the mobile marketers working in retail, restaurants, and other brick and mortar businesses, SMS API integration into POS systems makes a world of difference. Using an SMS API to integrate into your POS is a great way to ensure that you don’t miss any opportunities to make a sale or retain a customer. While text coupons / mobile coupons can be a total blessing for driving foot traffic, they become an annoyance when the customer cannot move smoothly through checkout. We can all fantasize about having a mobile app for our store, but that isn’t always the smartest investment. SMS is a much more affordable way to keep customers loyal, fulfill their mobile requirements, and get people into your store.
Our integration tools (PHP .Net, Java, Ruby) make it easy for programmers to develop, integrate and deploy SMS solutions with your proprietary software or website, enabling 2-way SMS communications. Learn more about 3Seventy’s SMS API and get support integrating your systems with our SMS Gateway by contacting us.
Deep linking connects a unique url on a web search to a specific page in a mobile app or mobile website, seamlessly linking users to relevant content. This solution lets ads see whether consumers already has a specific app on their phones; and when the user clicks the ad, it directs the user to a specific page within the existing app to make a purchase.
For instance, a consumer is searching for a new backpack for back to school shopping on her phone’s browser. The consumer already has the specific department store’s app installed on her phone that she see’s advertised, when she clicks the ad it will bring her to the backpack section within the store’s app or to a specific sale page for that product.
How Does Deep Linking Work?
A mobile developer can install a custom url scheme to point the mobile browser towards a specific page when a particular action is taken, such as clicking the link. For mobile advertising, this custom url will likely point towards the correct mobile website landing page for a product or service offering. Things a little more complicated when you link to an app.
“Enabling deeplinking for a mobile application will allow you to invoke deeplinks that open an app and launch specific, defined screens within the app, such as the homepage, product pages, and shopping cart, much as you would on a website.” Read more about mobile deep linking.
Why is Deep Linking Is Useful?
Greater engagement takes precedent over database size for the savvy mobile marketers. Companies are attempting to overcome the switch from mobile to desktop for purchases. The best use of deep linking helps to circumnavigate the need for consumers to search again for another product they want or bounce out to their desktop and break the connection with your brand. The primary reason that deep linking has such value is because it allows advertisers to direct customers to their pages via targeted ads (plus track the success).
Mobile Marketing “Opt-In” Option
Interestingly enough, SMS marketing by its very nature is an an opt-in marketing service. So concerns about marketing tactics such as the intrusiveness of deep linking (as perceived by some) is completely avoided. Users must opt in to your SMS program, so they not only expect targeted content from you but see something of value from your company. When a consumer wants to receive marketing collateral, then you have completed the same possible process as you could with the deep linking but without the extra coding work by a developer and without an “invasive” technology.
Mobile technology presents so many great opportunities for the marketing of your company. If you carefully approach each mobile tool and consider the best uses first, then there’s an enormous opportunity to meet your consumers needs and desires while also protecting consumer trust.
Headquartered in Austin, Texas, TrueDialog is the preferred SMS solution for enterprise businesses and higher education. TrueDialog's cloud-based software and API make it simple to send mass text messages, communicate with employees, alert students and parents, and provide multi-user, team-based customer support at scale.