A look at the evolution of business to consumer communication brought to you by Web AddiCT(s); favourite sponsor, Clickatell.
Nowadays it’s becoming more and more difficult to meet the communication needs of an ever-growing customer base. How do most companies ‘talk’ to their customers?
E-mailers or newsletters remain a popular form of communication. They allow for all kinds of additional benefits to a company – from engaging the customer market in a personal and visual way, to building up a relevant and up-to-date customer database, to increasing a company’s website traffic. However, upon asking themselves some of the following very relevant questions, growing businesses felt they needed something else, an upgrade or alternative if you will, to the humble newsletter. What if our campaign or communication is time sensitive? Our customers are busy people, how do we get them to open & read the newsletters? What do I do if my customers don’t have computers or even email access? How do I limit the amount of emails that end up in a junk mail folder? What if the thing we really want is improved immediacy of the message and higher response rates? Businesses needed to find a means of communicating & getting input from customers just that little bit more efficiently.
Enter bulk SMS messaging, an effective way to send a large group of people a common message, all at the same time – a powerful tool for a few reasons. It mitigated all the problems mentioned above but another favourable factor played the most significant role. More South Africans own & use a mobile phone than there are South Africans who have access to computers. (In fact, with about 7 million people online in South Africa, mobile access still trumps Internet access with the number of SIM cards in use in SA totaling more than the entire SA population). It’s truly incredible. It also demonstrates that bulk SMS’ing makes sense. Businesses could now conduct their discreet communications on a larger scale and in a cost-effective manner. It increased the immediacy of the message but with less risk of the message being perceived as SPAM, or even worse, piling up in a junk mail folder. If the customer’s phone was off, they’d still get the message as soon as they turned it on. So bulk SMS’ing became a marketer’s dream come true. And for most, it still is. But as we all know, there’s nothing like a brand spanking new need to spark the flames of innovation. And those sparks were questions like: What if companies (retailers for example) needed to send different messages to different groups of customers within their database? What happens when you want different groups of customers to get specific tailor-made messages?
Enter the upgrade – the solution, if you will. Meet PPM, Personalised Priority Messaging. To use it properly, you have to know what it is. You see, from a technological perspective there is no real difference between PPM and normal bulk SMS messaging. What it really boils down to, is a difference in strategy and application. You still have the advantage of being able to send out a message in mass (as required) but, according to global PPM leaders, Clickatell, it’s all about sending the right message to the right people at the right time – and in the right place, of course. All the user/company needs to do, is to segment it’s SMS subscriber base and then send out messages based on location or time. For instance, a cell phone retailer offers a particular cell phone model to 1000 pre-selected customers from their subscriber database. Getting in touch to promote the offer? Simple. In addition, after-sales service is effortless too. Think about how easy it’d be to go back to those 1000 new cellphone owners with a perfectly-timed message promoting insurance for their newly acquired mobile phones…an efficient PPM campaign really allows you to capitalize on a good opportunity. And speaking of opportunities… don’t we all wish we had some way to minimize or limit damage to our brands? The ability to turn a negative encounter into a positive experience? Well, PPM offers a solution here too. Picture a company that provides some form of service that is heavily dependent upon technology or the Internet. Suppose it’s an international digital stock image library, servicing hundreds of thousands of users a day. What happens if the site crashes or the payment gateway is faulty? They don’t want to lose business and they certainly don’t want to come across as unprofessional. The simplest solution would be a quick targeted SMS to service users letting them know about the problem, the solution being implemented and the time the service is expected to be up and running again. Similarly this targeted approach can be used to SMS details of the error to the on-call technicians. Again, it comes down to the right time, the right people and the right message.
Now, I’ve highlighted some really useful ways of integrating PPM into your business’s communication strategy. But having said all that, Clickatell still strives to know more about your business’s needs, how YOU use (or would use) the service. Get in touch and let them know how you’d use it to improve your business and if you already are, focus on how Personal Priority Messaging (over the use of a normal SMS channel) has benefited your business.
To see your business featured in Clickatell’s new campaigning AND win 2000 free Clickatell credits, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your story. (All entrant businesses featured in Clickatell’s campaigns in Feb and March 2011 will receive the free credits.)