VISUAL PERSONALISED TEXT MESSAGING

Please consider branding capabilities of personalised visual marketing direct to text inboxes. 

 

MMS or Multi Media Messaging was first commercially introduced when the  Ericsson  T68i  (pictured) came to market in 2004. .  The T68i was the first phone capable of sending a picture or a video from a mobile phone to another mobile phone. Early MMS  pictures and videos were tiny,  not all phones worked with MMS and it was expensive to do at scale.  Despite these limitations, by 2011 MMS had become the second most successful non voice consumer mobile service after SMS (globally)  with revenues of $31 billion USD.

Things in messaging changed very quickly.  MMSs time in the sun was short lived. The inclusion of complex imagery and personalisation in emails coupled with companies moving emailing capability inhouse put pressure on MMS’s viability.  By the end of 2011 email’s global revenues of $32.7 billion had  surpassed MMS and by 2013 MMS’s role in transmitting pictures from businesses to consumer  had all  but disappeared.

 

Adding to MMS’s problems  was the introduction of WhatsApp, facebook messenger and other OTT (over the top data) services that enabled consumers to send text and picture messages to each other all over the world for no additional charge within existing mobile data plans.

OTT messaging and email effectively stole any growth Telco’s had forecast for MMS, and MMS became a very unpopular channel for many Telco’s who had invested heavily in MMS networks and companies like Archer, Mogreet and others who in 2010 were riding high on MMS and disappeared off the face of the earth soon after.

In a small way MMS  continued in the USA as  a marketing platform by some organisations and in South Africa and other mobile first countries MMS has continued to be used by businesses for services such as  phone company invoicing and delivery of bank statements.

US Companies like Vibes, Vivial, Waterfall and Engage persisted with MMS as a marketing tool and developed some very cool to market offerings. However, MMS campaigns usually took 6 -8 weeks to deliver.  Still, there was a market, and many companies used these outsourced MMS services suppliers to build their opted in mobile bases as well as develop and run redeemable coupon sales campaigns with some stunning results –  if you are interested research the BMW MMS Snow Tyre Campaign, or LifeBuoy’s  MMS Ramadan Soap campaign.

 

MMS is Back  !  

A valuable tool for Marketers ….

The fact that MMS did not completely disappear from B2B and B2C usage meant development on the platform continued.  Over the years, MMS’s  early bugs such as phones not being able to receive, phone compatibility and image size issues have been addressed  to make MMS in 2020 a very powerful  image delivery and comms  platform for 2WAY B2B communications.

Since 2011 there have been new functions added and available native on the phone, like geo location features,  Add2Wallet, VCARD and calendar reminders.  In addition, companies like MobileDigital have invested in the platform.  MobileDigital patented a way to personalize every MMS image so every MMS could be unique enabling individually personalised visual messaging at scale.  Further in 2018 the company delivered an inhouse self-management platform enabling marketers to  build and send targeted personalised MMS campaigns – making MMS as easy to use as email and extending marketers visual promotion control and capability to instant messaging  without the need for  outside agencies.

MMS technology is at a point where the usability issues that plagued MMS in past have been fixed.   MMS is now delivered and available on all smartphones without the complicated after market support and configuration issues most of us remember.   Currently all major Australian carriers support MMS, commercial throughput speeds (if you use a Tier 1 supplier) are high enough to run large scale commercial campaigns and carriers are able to provide receipts for MMS messages delivered.  In addition,  Australian carriers are now evaluating interconnection rates  and  volume price reductions for 2021 which creates and environment where MMS, these holidays and going forward, will be a powerful way to get your message out, have your message  seen and most importantly,  remembered and acted on.

 

MMS delivers to all smartphones

SMS’s success is widely reported as due to 2 things,  its ability to deliver to 100% of mobile devices and that  it has always been viewed as affordably priced.   In 2020 MMS  can be delivered to 100% of smart phones, and like SMS,  MMS messages are delivered over the carrier network using the mobile phone number as the address for each message. This gives MMS the same delivery ubiquity and guarantee as SMS  to all smart phones.

MMS messages can now (as with  SMS)  be tracked, and delivery receipts produced to prove receipt.  In a  business to business requirement this makes MMS a very powerful tool for businesses to be assured  their visual messaging is received, and opens the way for personalised visual messaging to be used for delivery of invoices  and collections,  as well as instant insurance renewals and many many other direct to mobile applications.   Only MMS can provide business this level of instant guaranteed delivery of easy to understand visual messages.

It should be noted here that OTT (over the top)  data APPS like  WhatsApp and facebook messenger cost less to send messages and pictures.  However, the receiver needs to have the APP installed  and there are strict guidelines for organisations  seeking to use these consumer messaging services for business purposes.

There are also significant set up cost to establish these OTT services and their penetration is well below the marketing hype being pushed by many of the global messaging companies.   In fact Juniper has forecast that point to point services like SMS and MMS will  ”continue as the ubiquitous messaging standard in the A2P Space” &  “by 2023 will still represent at least 93% of A2P business messages”.

SMS and MMS represent the ONLY telecommunications carriage offering that delivers text and visual   messages direct to users phone numbers, not IP addresses –  and therefore represent a superior messaging delivery option for any organisations seeking to assure themselves that their text and multimedia messages are received and opened.

 

Analysts have predicted that due to Covid 19 the volume of business to consumer email and messaging will increase significantly in 2021, as marketers attempt to build digital pathways between consumers and distanced businesses.  Amongst the noise of increased email volumes and a predicted surge in SMS  – MMS provides a unique platform for engaging visually and emotionally with distanced clients.

 

 

MMS and Brand Placement Investments

Advertisers will tell you that NOT every communication with a client needs to be transactional.  Watching two grand finals on the weekend there was some very expensive advertising –  the adverts were not calls to immediate action. Instead the dollars spent were all about brand placement –   they were investments in brand building and memory, investments letting us know the brands were still out there, still delivering the same products with the same passion, but maybe a little differently.

MMS does deliver better click through, higher conversion, and less opt outs. However, a trusted transactional SMS message delivered to the same number an MMS was previously delivered to, with a call to action delivers very positive results as well, and sometimes just looking at the ROI on the one off transaction  in the short term makes SMS  look like the best option.

MMS has a long tail, but measurement of the impact has not been undertaken.  The visual, emotional and long-term brand memory of an MMS message is worthy of serious consideration by marketers seeking contact with their customers.  MMS messages are an investment in brand placement, as well as having the capability to drive an immediate call to action.

The immediate problem with MMS  is with lack of measurement.  A 2020 “Mobile Marketing in APAC” study by [1]MMA concluded that metrics and measurement remain one of the biggest barriers to growth in mobile.   Despite mobile being considered a highly effective channel by 95% of respondents – the challenge remains measuring the impact.  Our internal evidence is that early MMS adopters are gaining positive business value from their MMS investments – measured anecdotally by strong campaign performances, positive surveying of receivers and client feedback.  However, given MMS’s reintroduction as a marketing tool, there is very little research to support the value of brand placement and impact and length of the MMS tail.

 

In these times, with empty malls,  reduced foot traffic and the predicted  likelihood that many of these impacts on retail will remain well into 2022 the challenge to reduce the distance between brand and client will be something all retailers will face. 

 

Messaging Works

 

MobileDigitals clients have sent over 20 million business to consumer SNIPER text and visual messages since we first released SNIPERMobile in late 2018.  Our experience shows us:

  • Consumers respond more positively to visuals, both in their immediate responses, and on stimulation of brand emotion and brand memory.
  • Combinations of MMS and SMS for the same campaign deliver a much higher sales conversion rate
  • MMS messages establish trust, and have lower opt out rates
  • Once a number of MMS messages have been sent from a dedicated sender number SMS messages can be introduced with high trust and minimal opt outs

There is only so much that can be communicated in 160 character SMS, double and triple SMS, with good spacing and set can help encourage message comprehension and support a call to action –  but NOTHING works like pictures.

  • Images are processed 60,000 times faster that text
  • We retain 80% of what we see.
  • Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%.
  • Pictures beat text as well, in part because reading is so inefficient for us. Our brain sees words as lots of tiny pictures, and we have to identify certain features in the letters to be able to read them.

 

“Professionals everywhere need to know about the incredible inefficiency of text-based information and the incredible effects of images.”-

                         Dr John Medina, molecular biologist and author of the New York times best seller – “Brain Rules – 12 Principles For Surviving And Thriving At Work Home And School”

MMS  Marketing Statistics for Businesses

 

  • MMS is likely to get to produce a 15% higher click through rate than SMS
  • MMS is 20% less likely to drive people to OPT OUT
  • 90% of CX leaders say engaging messages help deliver empathetic interactions and 73% of consumers agree.
  • MMS is 8 x more likely to be shared
  • A US MVNO has reported a 75% growth in MMS traffic this year
  • In Australia Telstra and Optus are coming to market with reduced rate wholesale MMS offerings to be available in Q1 2021 with pricing retail pricing to the user  around 25c to 35c for high volume throughput services.
  • MMS has brand memory an emotional brand reminder and brand asset capability
  • Personalised targeted MMS is a clever way to separate the Top 20%
  • MMS delivers open rates of 98% plus, as well as conversion rates from 12% to about 40%

 

 The Future for MMS and SMS Marketing?

Analysts predict long lasting residual lifestyle and consumer behavioural impacts of Covid 19.  There are widely held views consumers will remain more physically remote, increasing the distance between brands and consumers, and that a major challenge for marketers will be to retain contact with their existing clients.  We expect the recent acceleration in online growth will level out, noting that things won’t ever be the same again.  Many changes will take permanent hold and have long term  downstream implications on the way businesses and  consumers engage  and the communications channels that will be used going forward on a what will become a much more  crowded digital path to the customer.

If you have a smartphone (81% of Australians do) SMS and MMS are the only communication channels that can guarantee delivery of brand and product visuals and messaging, as well as a open a 2way channel between consumer and brand.

There is no other communication platform that can deliver to so many, have 98% open rates, and have over 90% of those messages seen within 3 minutes.

What is holding MMS and SMS back ?

MobileDigital have been talking SMS and MMS messaging since we founded the company in 2013. According to both Forrester and Gartner direct to mobile messaging is a totally underutilized marketing channel.

There is no doubt a number of “elephants in the room” that need to be addressed before organisations determine to look at direct messaging as something else other than a transactional platform for delivery notifications, appointment reminders or two factor authentication security for financial transactions.

 

Those “ elephants in the room”  can be broken down to 4 main categories:

  • COST
  • PHONE NUMBERS
  • MANAGEMENT
  • RISK

 

Cost and Risk

Cost considerations are usually the first barrier to organisations seeking to invest in SMS and MMS messaging.  We have found the only way to address the cost aspect of messaging is to look at messaging from a return on investment per campaign.   We have case studies of MMS and SMS campaigns delivering sales conversion rates and ROI that astound emailing CRM managers.  19.8% sales conversions to a list of prospects who had never purchased, 40% sales conversions to a list of VIP clients and 7.5% sales conversions to a list of prior clients who had been inactive for over 24 months.

On the flip side, we have seen some MMS campaigns deliver disappointing  results when the list was poorly targeted, when the offer was unappealing or the vison and call to action lacked audience appeal. This is where RISK comes in as a factor in assessing MMS and SMS.

With SMS and MMS, the rewards can be very high, but the company needs to assess the impact of poor implementation and usage of the channel.  Messaging is VERY unlike email – email is not as in your face as messaging, with SMS and MMS there is an interrupt factor, with most receivers unable to hold back the instant desire to check their messages.  With messaging you can be guaranteed that between 90% and 95% of your messages will be opened in 3 minutes and  98% plus of your messages will be seen.

Open rate and audience immediacy of response is a good thing if your message is appreciated because it is personal, contextual, valuable and authentic to the receiver. However, if your message misses, is underwhelming, not appreciated or valued, then your message can do harm, resulting in poor performance of your campaign (and a waste of money) and a potentially high opt out rate.  A poor email, ignored has less risk than a poorly executed SMS or MMS message.

 

Management Commitment 

One of the most significant challenges in organisations embracing SMS and MMS as a marketing and consumer engagement platform is resourcing within an organisation.   Online organisations typically source close to 30% of their revenues from outbound email, and from our experience the person in an organisation responsible for producing and sending emails is more often than not overworked and  underappreciated for their key role in the organisations revenue.

Paradoxically, it is the CRM/email person who is usually charged with the responsibility of investigating, trialling and managing SMS and MMS trials.

We have seen that this often doesn’t work to the advantage of a fair evaluation. The CRM person has developed skills in email, and the skills set required for email and messaging are very different.  As mentioned above, the CRM person is usually workload and time pressured and, in many instances, has not been able to allocate sufficient time to evaluate messaging, without potentially risking email revenues.

Any evaluation by an organisation of MMS and SMS messaging should be conducted over a 3-month period, with sufficient resources and organisation commitment allocated to the evaluation process.

Summary

According  to Forrester’s Predictions for 2021 – CMOs will reinvent themselves and their teams, and their spend on loyalty and retention marketing will increase by 30% as CMOs assert control over the full customer lifecycle.

SMS and it’s visual sibling MMS, remain the most underutilized, yet most engaging marketing and communications channel.  In 2021 we will witness its adoption across multiple industries including financial services, retail, healthcare, hospitality, transportation, and more.   With a massive open rate of 98 percent, SMS and MMS has the potential to deliver significant value for businesses.

As a marketer, SMS and MMS communications means your customers will read your message. Furthermore, messaging can help businesses boost customer reach. They can improve customer engagement, improve brand memory and increase revenues. Businesses that engage in messaging marketing will continue to enjoy these enormous benefits if they employ the right strategies.

[1] The MMA, Mobile Marketing Association is the world’s leading not for profit trade association composed of more than 800 member companies from over fifty countries.

 

 

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