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.
Using SMS and Email allows you to reach more customers, faster and more efficiently. SMS (text messages) let you reach your target audience anytime and anywhere, and get instant responses. While email allows you to send targeted messages that customers can read at their own leisure. Syncing all of your contacts into a single contact management space where they receive a message or alert based on preferences creates a vastly improved user experience.
SMS Marketing Compliments Your Email Campaigns
Your customers have evolved, and so must your communications with them. The majority of the people who walk into your shop will do so with a phone within reach. More businesses are adding text message marketing to their marketing communications strategy.
SMS is the perfect compliment to email marketing because both channels allow you to send the right message to the right customers at the right time. While email is great for sending detailed content to the customers’s inbox, where they already go every day, SMS is ideal for short, time sensitive communications.
How SMS Fits In With Your Email Marketing
1. Sign-Up Process. Common ways to gather sign-ups for your email list include lead generation forms, your website’s contact form, events, and other in-person collection. SMS sign-ups can be done in those same ways, but also include some additional options.
The concept of texting-in to join a list allows your company to reach customers in places that were missing before – while riding the bus, waiting in line at the store, watching television, or walking down the street. SMS marketing allows your company to reach twice as many people in more ways.
2. Driving Revenue. Well done email campaigns have proven to drive revenue and bring relevance to content. However, the expanded use of our mobile phones has also changed the ways that we make purchases. Online and in-store shopping are still the highest, but the fastest growing channel is purchases through our mobile phones.
As of the fall of 2014, “51% of visits to retailers’ websites are made via mobile devices.” (Mobile Commerce Daily). So if you are reaching customers with a SMS message that has a link included, the likelihood of driving him/her to make a purchase has increased and your opportunity for driving revenue has too.
3. Engagement. There is a distinct difference between sending a message out like an announcement and asking a customer for input. Email is an excellent medium for blasting out an important message. SMS is a great way to engage your customers to find out what kinds of messages they want to receive, preferences around products, feedback on experiences, and other input. When you bring those two together, it can create a harmonious balance in communicating with customers.
Recruitment and retention are ongoing problems for clinical trials, which forces the research organizations to constantly be working on outreach and communications with the patients. Despite numerous proposed strategies for effective recruitment, this continues to be a major challenge. There are patients with communications problems such as the lack of home internet (in order to receive email updates).
Clinical Trial Recruitment Using Mobile
Recruiting patients for clinical trials can take a significant amount of time. So much so that you lose those potential patients along the way. “UCSF Participant Recruitment Service reported that almost 2/3 of potential patients are lost to follow-up because they do not hear back about their study eligibility quickly enough.” (from Mosio).
Large pharmaceutical companies have chosen to address the issue of recruitment by using the technology available in these potential patients’ pockets – their mobile device. Using traditional media such as print advertisements, referral networks and digital ads, they will integrate text messaging as a way to initially engage with these potential patients. It will also serve as a way to keep in touch during the clinical trial.
Clinical Trial Retention Using Mobile, Especially Text Messaging
During mHealth Summit, Mike Shilling, Director of Business Development for Exco InTouch, shared three examples of mobile-enabled clinical trials. One of the trials required caregivers to fill out a daily diary about the health of their child in relation to flu symptoms. They leveraged SMS text message reminders to drive the caregivers to fill out the diary each day, and the caregivers were using their own device (68% on their mobile phone and 16% on a personal laptop or desktop computer).
“BYOD [Bring Your Own Device] enabled a lot of subjects to participate in the study, Shilling said. Because so many of these caregivers had mobile devices, the site did not have to take on the task of calling each of them individually every single day. The system also alerted the site if a diary was late or incomplete each day — real-time monitoring that is nearly impossible with paper-based diaries.” (from MobiHealth News)
Mobile is Improving Medical
The benefits of text messaging and other mobile tools for the medical field are clear. The growth potential that these tools bring to the field of clinical trials is exciting, and hopefully more companies to see the opportunity as the trail blazers show results.
“[Clinical trials] is the appropriate vector to begin to use some of these [digital health technologies], because they are already a well-funded, well-trodden way to test out new approaches in research,” Hendricks said. “We think there is something beyond that. We call on the industry to move more aggressively in exploring the use of these technologies for … better management of chronic disease.” (from MobiHealth News)
Let’s face it, communications have become more complex and customers are getting their information from multiple sources. We are living in a data-driven age where every customer wants to feel special and unique. As marketers, we must create a consistent experience for customers across all channels that still allows each person to feel special – this is an omni-channel strategy. Omni–Channel Marketing is the newest evolution in the multi-channel marketing strategy and it is all about the data. The key difference is that you are concentrated on a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available mediums ( web, mobile devices, in-store, television, radio, direct mail, print, etc); and letting consumers experience your brand rather than a single channel within the brand.
It is easy to lose track of what content is living where, how it is being delivered, and who is getting that information. With the blurred lines between the online and offline activity of your customers, things can get complicated very quickly. However, when you can create a process for syncing all of the information you have going out to the world about your company as well as the information you are collecting from your customers, then you can improve the results of your marketing tactics.
Marketers Need Data
For example, look at the 4 different applications a company is using – one for email, one for contact management, one for e-commerce, and a fourth for internal communications. How are these applications talking to each other? Is any information shared across these different applications and what message or messages are there? The data shared across these applications may be key to your success, because all marketers need data to improve the customer experience.
To get the data you want, first we need to think about how it is being collected.
1. Start by understanding the basic aspects of how the technology and applications you use work. How can we leverage this technology to build the most effective omni-channel marketing strategies for the brand? This may take some reading or research on your part.
2. Next we want to look at the ways our applications can share information. Are they connected through an API? APIs (Application Programming Interface) will facilitate your need for the data and can potentially provide the solutions to specific customer issues.
Connectivity Between Applications
Companies build an API to connect their technology with other applications – this is purely a software-to-software interface. Developers can create applications that can expand and improve the usage of that software application (such as your CRM system), and this connectivity can potentially improve your data collection and analysis. As a user or customer, we only see the user interface (the website or mobile application). Behind the scenes, however, there are many applications that are working together using APIs. This is a seamless integration where your customer never sees the different applications functioning – it all appears to be the same.
Think about how we have a CRM system for tracking customers to send emails to them or review purchase history. Now imagine that it was plugged directly into your e-commerce to create a more complete analysis of usage and activity. It has become a more robust system for you to gather data, and it is a seamless experience for the customer.
Take Aways:Spend some time with the developers to learn about the technology you use and learn more about APIs.
Content is created to help your customers. Your blog, for example, is a space where you can provide valuable information to the public about your specialty. By doing this you are also driving traffic to your website and gaining authority as an expert in your field. It is easy, however, to overlook the importance of that content being available on-the-go. Your content marketing strategy should include a mobile content plan as well. Many of the same principles apply to small screens that do to desktops. What are some key ways to make sure that when you mobilize your content it is most effective?
The average person no longer takes time to read an article from top to bottom, so make your content easily scannable using headings and subheadings. Using these headings will entice readers since it tells the reader what your main points are. People rely on page titles and headings to navigate through information and decide what is most relevant and valuable.
2. Include Media
YouTube is the second-largest search engine with over a billion people who watching. When you do marketing on mobile, think multimedia. Video, audio and photo can tell a bigger story than just words alone. Plus, it is easier for more people to use audio on their mobile device than it is on desktops or laptops. Think about surrounding your video with related information or you can just include a transcript of the video
Offering content in the form of a list is a great way to streamline information to your readers. It does not necessarily need to be about the “Top 5” or the “30 Best” of anything, but those lists are also highly effective and get high read rates. On mobile devices, lists are loved because they are succinct and quickly digested by the reader on-the-go.
4. Mobile-Friendly Sites
It can be annoying for readers when they click on a link within your email or blog post only to realize that the page is not mobile-friendly. Your website should be responsive, or there should be a mobile-friendly version of it. Make sure to test out the external links you use to see if they are mobile-friendly or not.
49.2% of Retail Marketing E-mails are Opened on Mobile Devices
Nearly half of all retail marketing e-mails were opened on mobile devices in Q3/Q4 2013, mobile marketing firm Knotice finds. That’s up 13.9% from 43.2% in Q1/Q2 2013.
49.2% is close enough to half to say mobility has reached another tipping point. That’s the percentage of retail marketing e-mails opened on mobile devices in Q3/Q4 2013, according to a study of millions of retail e-mails by mobile marketing firm Knotice, a unit of IgnitionOne Inc. And that’s up 13.9% from 43.21% in Q1/Q2 2013, Knotice says.
The iPhone and iPad from Apple Inc. dominate mobile e-mail opens. However, the way Knotice measures an e-mail open is when images in an e-mail are rendered. While all Apple mobile devices are shipped with “On” as the default setting for image rendering in e-mails, many Android devices are shipped with “Off” as the default setting. As a result, there is a natural bias toward Apple devices in the data.
But Apple device owners dominate mobile commerce, shopping and buying, studies routinely show. Apple’s dominance in m-commerce translates to a greater share of mobile opens of retail e-mails, mobile experts say.
Following are mobile devices, percentage of retail e-mails opened on the devices in Q1/Q2 2013, and percentage of retail e-mails opened on the devices in Q3/Q4 2013, according to Knotice and IgnitionOne:
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