Times are changing and so are people. The global financial crisis, increased access to mobile communication, and a rise in social networking have shifted values and beliefs. Customers are more perceptive and less trusting, and look for businesses and brands that offer them more authenticity and treat them as individuals and not the "target market."
You can see the results today. Eighty-six percent of people skip over television ads; there is a 46 percent decline in tech trade show spending; and 44 percent of direct mail is never opened, the U.K. newspaper The Guardian reported in 2010. It's clear the marketing media of old are in decline, but what's taking their place?
Making Mobile Contact
Mobile is the simple answer. Recent Nielsen statistics show that, globally, there are 5.2 billion mobile subscribers (or 77 percent of the world's population). In contrast according to The Economist, only two billion people are connected to the Internet.
The popularity of short message service (SMS) as a communication medium is undisputed, especially when one looks at figures like those in a report from the International Telecommunications Union, which states that more than 6.1 trillion SMS messages were sent in 2010 worldwide.
Not surprisingly, many businesses were quick to jump on the SMS bandwagon, sending out bulk SMS messages to both customers and complete strangers that were quickly labeled "spam."
PPM: SMS v2.0
Unlike bulk SMS, personalized priority messaging (PPM) utilizes a mobile phone to send out personal SMS text messages that are valued by both the sender and receiver because the messages are simple, of interest, and received at the right time and place, anywhere in the world. PPM can also be responded to via a short code or a long number, allowing for valuable customer feedback and interaction.
PPM offers businesses six key advantages:
PPM messages are sent and received within five seconds, enabling real-time dialogue with customers, regardless of their geographical location.
MapAlerter.com, a location-based PPM alert service for Ireland, uses PPM to alert residents in outlying areas about impending disasters or when major services are going to be interrupted.
Wexford County Council was the first local authority in Ireland to become an official Alerter on MapAlerter.com. More than 2,200 citizen locations were registered in just 12 weeks. MapAlerter.com's use of PPM helped it achieve finalist status in the Small and Medium Business category of Clickatell's Personalized Priority Messaging Awards.
Relevancy and Actionability
PPM messages are informed by the customer record and are always relevant to the customer's location, requirements, and situation. They can also be quickly responded to, creating an almost immediate dialogue between two parties.
Bedsider.org, a free birth-control support network for young adult women operated by the Washington, D.C.-based National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, uses an interactive PPM system to provide on-demand birth control information, timely prescription refills, and medical appointment reminders.
Since the site's beta launch in June 2010, more than 6,500 users have signed up for PPM birth control and appointment reminders, or accessed birth control information through Bedsider's interactive PPM information system.
PPMs can reach over 70 percent of the global population.
QLess's mission is to eliminate waiting in line. It does this by letting customers hold their spot in a virtual mobile line and receive PPM notifications when they reach the front.
To date, QLess has queued over 1.6 million customers on three continents, at colleges, retail stores, restaurants, motor-vehicle departments, doctors' offices, hotels, and animal shelters.
PPMs are less than 160 characters long, making them easy to read and respond to.
Bidorbuy, South Africa's largest online marketplace, provides buyers and sellers with an online platform to trade with one another. Auction listings let buyers put in a bid and sometimes snap up a great bargain. However, the challenge for would-be buyers in the auction format is that it can be time-consuming.
To overcome this, Bidorbuy uses PPMs of 160 characters or less to inform bidders when they are outbid on the online auction.
Since Bidorbuy initiated this PPM service, more than 26,030 users have opted to receive the PPM outbid alerts.
There is virtually no limit to the type of messages that can be sent or received, allowing organizations to communicate with customers or employees about almost anything.
Dullstroom Reservations has been providing holiday accommodations in Dullstroom, South Africa, since 1998. Dullstroom Reservations was finding that it was impractical, time-consuming, and costly to call "management" each time a booking was made or amended.
Since making full use of PPM, Dullstroom Reservations has reduced its telephone and fax costs, and drastically reduced booking conflicts with the various venues. The incidence of keys being taken home has also been reduced, and the response from guests and venue owners has been very positive.
Recent data from Portio Research suggests that the global SMS text messaging market is expected to grow from $150 billion in 2009 to $233 billion by the end of 2014. Associated text messaging traffic is projected to double from five trillion messages in 2009 to 10 trillion in 2013. A large chunk of the SMS traffic growth over this period will be PPM over the SMS channel.
With statistics like these, it's easy to see why the future for PPM is bright as it becomes the preferred communication choice—for small and medium business, for enterprises, for new mobile marketers, or for anyone wanting to use a mobile device to engage their customers, employees, and suppliers with short, timely, relevant and cost-effective messages, anywhere in the world.
Llew Claasen is the vice president of marketing at Clickatell, a mobile network aggregator covering over 750 mobile networks in more than 220 countries. He is responsible for the strategic direction of Clickatell's online business, as well as the company's overall online marketing, online sales channel, and the key mobile marketer customer segment.