Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

Mobivity exec: Merchants narrow in on quality text messaging conversations

NEW YORK — A Mobivity executive at the fifth annual Mobile Marketing Day conference said the chaos following last year’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act update is beginning to even out, with savvy marketers focusing more intently on quality versus quantity.

One of the bigger developments in text messaging in the past 12 months was last fall’s update to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, with a lot of confusion generated around what the revamped rules meant for mobile marketers. The upshot has been a chance for marketers to upgrade the quality of their opt-in lists so they are messaging to higher-quality recipients who are interested in hearing from them.

“It was one step short of havoc in the mobile marketing industry,” said Jeff Hasen, Seattle-based chief marketing officer at Mobivity.

“We had brands who got angry and other brands who considered it a blessing because it brought those who are really interested to re opt in as then you have a chance to have a dialogue with them,” he said.

“The most savvy marketers have decided this is a quality game and not a quantity game.”

Quality over quantity
For many text messaging marketers, the key take away from the TCPA update was the need to go back to opted-in customers and ask them to renew  their opt-in so that a written consent is on file.

While some lists lost subscribers as a result, marketers also saw this as an opportunity to ensure they are communicating only with those most interested in hearing from them.

For example, Chick-Fil-A reports that its text messages have been more effective since asking customers to renew their opt-ins even though there are fewer subscribers, per Mr. Hasen.

In one example, Chick-Fil-A texted an offer for a free salad and had a 47 percent response rate.

Three weeks later, the chain sent another blast and 45 percent responded and came into the store.

In each case, sales increased on the days when the offers were delivered — even though the chain was giving food away — compared to days when an offer was not send.

Opt-in value
This example also points to growing evidence around how text messaging impacts merchants’ bottom lines, with one large quick service restaurant franchise saying each opted-in customer is worth approximately $10 per month in incremental business.

“You can move the needle by giving people what they are asking for and tracking it back to the redemptions,” Mr. Hasen said.

“Two thousand and fourteen is about the value of the conversation,” he said. “What does this conversation mean to me in terms of selling more stuff.

“You are only going to sell more stuff if you have interactions that are valued by customers.”

Driving results
While text messaging may not be as sexy as some newer mobile developments such as wearables and beacons, it has been proven to drive results, per Mr. Hasen.

Text messaging is also ubiquitous, with the average texter now older than 40 years old and 80 percent of people who have a mobile phone texting on a regular basis.

“The only thing sexy about it is that it drives results,” Mr. Hasen said. “In many cases we are still really early in the game, text messaging is the foundation and you build up to richer experience that allow you to do more things but limit your reach because people don’t have smartphone or don’t use QR codes.”

Mr. Hasen discussed several recent examples of the power of text messaging for brands.

For example, Ford added a text call-to-action in its traditional TV ads encouraging viewers to text in for a local offer related to the Ford Focus.

Those who texted in received a message back asking if they would like to be contacted by a dealer in their area. The results showed that 15.4 percent of those who took the first step to ask for the loan number also took the second step and expressed interest in being contacted by a dealer.

Building loyalty
Text messaging can also be used to build loyalty.

Recent research shows that 45 percent of mobile phones owner say that are at least somewhat interested in receiving mobile alerts from brands, 47 percent of consumers wish more stores offered mobile apps to collect and redeem loyalty points.

Additionally, 46 percent would strongly recommend a company to their family or friends if it had a mobile loyalty program that offered personalized rewards while 47 percent would choose to shop at a store that offered a mobile loyalty program over one that didn’t.

Marketers can also leverage text messaging to take advantage of key happenings.

For example, Chick-Fil-A sent out blasts during the Polar Vortex to encourage customers to come in and saw an 8 percent response rate.

Refer a friend
Going forward, marketers are looking for ways to take text messaging to the next level.

Mobivity recently patented a refer-a-friend program that incentivizes opted-in users to ask someone in their network to be part of a text messaging program. This is currently in place with a Mobivity client in Dallas and is rolling to Atlanta.

Text messaging can also be applied to in-store print receipts.

Mobivity recently acquired SmartReceipt, enabling marketers to leverage a customer’s previous purchase history and apply that to offers and outreach to consumers to give them more relevant offers.

The idea is to take a receipt and make it a personal call-to-action.

A large quick service restaurant with locations in New York City and Los Angeles ran a text-to-win contest that was promoted through multiple channels. In one city, the call-to-action also appeared on customer receipts while in the other, the receipts were not included.

In the city with the call-to-action on the receipts, there was a total of 17,000 entries versus 1,600 in the other city.

“We are interested in personal relevant brand interactions,” Mr. Hasen said. “I want to interact with these businesses and someone else is going to have a different list.

“If you convince a consumer that they are in control and have ability to send them messages at their request, you have something there,” he said.

“How often? As few times a possible and while still being able to meet your business goals.”

Final Take
Jeff Hasen is Seattle-based chief marketing officer of Mobivity