MMS marketing works. Yes it does. Really.

MMSAnother interesting result that came from the recent mobile messaging study conducted by the DMA and IAB, was how well MMS performed. In the study, M&S sent MMS messages (try saying that quickly) for their ‘Dine in for a Tenner’ and shoe campaigns. They achieved the same recall levels as SMS, and generated much higher click-through rates to the mobile site – in fact 150% greater than SMS. The consumer interviews were particularly revealing. There was no question that the pictures were appealing – hardly surprising given that it was food and shoes – as they say, a picture is worth 1000 words. And in the world of mobile messaging, 1000 words is very hard to achieve. However the other significant comment was that the MMS appeared more trustyworthy because it had the M&S logo and branding. In the world of mobile messaging, trust is a key issue. With SMS, is hard to achieve – you can’t have a brand name AND a reply number in the SMS header. You can put the brand name at the start of the message, but that is taking up valuable space.

Whilst it isn’t difficult for someone to ‘spoof’ the branding of someone like M&S, the mobile user experience is of almost no spam MMS. It all adds up to MMS creating an effective mobile marketing medium.

It’s all in the messaging

The DMA and IAB have just released some joint research into mobile messaging, which shows that SMS and MMS have an important place in mobile marketing. One of the main findings was that consumers would not only like to receive vouhcers and offers by SMS, but that at the moment they do not feel that brands are giving them enough offers. That’s clearly an opportunity. However from a marketing perspective, it isn’t a case of just shoving the offers out there on SMS. What was also very apparent is that mobile users want to opt-in directly to a brand, and even within that, they want to choose what offers (and when and where) they will receive them.

When I speak to advertising agencies, they often consider mobile messaging to be ‘a bit rubbish’ (as one industry journalist described it). Rubbish and old school seems to be the current agency thinking on SMS and MMS. Their focus is on apps, and in particular, iPhone apps. But when people say those kinds of things about mobile messaging they’re missing the point:

Firstly, there are many highly creative and successful mobile messaging campaigns. In my article, The Business Case for Mobile, I give a number of examples – Orange and Walkers Crisps are two obvious ones. They have run imaginitive and successful campaigns using just SMS. They’re far from rubbish and the creative element comes from the idea itself.

Secondly, SMS and MMS are the drivers for many different types of marketing. SMS is a good response mechanism, not only in mobile but across other channels such as TV or outdoor advertising. At the other end of the customer journey, messaging is a great call to action. It can be a reminder to do something (or buy something) and the immediacy of messaging makes it happen.

Thirdly, SMS and MMS are a good delivery mechanism for other types of media. For example, NatWest used O2 More’s opt-in network to send an SMS to customers on the iPhone to download their app. What happened was that 36% of those people downloaded it. By identifying only those people who banked with them and had a compatible handset, there was zero wastage in the messaging and a very high level of engagement. Could you have got that level repsonse through email or TV? I very much doubt it.

Fourthly, people remember SMS and MMS. The study found that almost everyone (98%) remembered the mobile marketing message sent to them. How many other channels can do that? The reason people remember them is that mobile is a very personal device, and SMS is a very personal channel. When we receive an SMS we check it on our phones very quickly. Over 90% of text messages are read whether they are personal, or a marketing message. A number of brands are spending a lot of money developing and promoting iPhone apps to create greater brand awareness, maybe they’re focussing in the wrong place. If you want to create brand awareness, how about using SMS or MMS? It has nearly 100% recall!

In this age of smartphones and convergent devices, apps, web, location or AR etc have an increasingly important place in marketing. There is an argument to say that with such devices there will be a move away from SMS into messaging through IM (and BBM) or through social media, such as Facebook. Whilst there is some element of that going on, there is no evidence that SMS is on the wane. In fact the reverse is true. The universality and immediacy of the channel has seen SMS continue to grow. It has an important place in mobile marketing, and at the end of the day, it simply works!

The full research is only available to DMA and IAB members, but contact me through this blog if you woulde like a copy.

NMA Article on the research is here

Mobile Marketing Magazine article on the research is here