Mobile phones have been around for decades, but while SMS marketing took off when the devices were a novelty, this channel of marketing has lost none of its popularity.
No longer obliterated by email frenzy and with customers’ inboxes flooded with offers, SMS marketing’s engagement rate is appreciated like never before in sectors as varied as public sector to banking and retail. In fact, SMS produces response rates six to eight times higher than email marketing.
Witnessing the potential of mobile, businesses plan to increase their use of mobile applications as a source of data by 62% over the next five years. Organisations’ move to digital has also paved the way for SMS to play a crucial role in the wider customer journey and messages such as appointment reminders or parcel delivery updates are now increasingly sent directly to mobile phones.
In order to achieve the full potential of SMS marketing, marketers need to ensure their customer mobile data is valid in order to maximise deliverability and response rates. Not only is it very easy to mistype a mobile number at the point of data capture but another significant challenge concerns the validity of the existing customer data with almost 400 UK-issued numbers being inactive or dormant in 2014. With email and address validation constantly being talked about, more emphasis needs to be placed on mobile. This article outlines three top tips for maintaining data accuracy at various data collection stages.
1. Post-collection stage: Validate existing records
Logically, the first step in ensuring the reliability of your customers’ mobile numbers is to validate the data you already hold. This will give you true confidence that any marketing campaign you will surely have put a lot of effort into will actually reach your customers. Mobile number validation consists of matching the given number to a file known as the Home Location Register (HLR). The database contains information about every device that can connect to the global mobile network. If a number undergoing the check either does not exist in the HLR or its status is indicated as inactive, the number is marked as invalid.
2. Collection stage: Validate numbers as you capture them
Regardless of the way you collect mobile numbers, human error can easily creep in – whether the number is captured over the phone in a contact centre or by a customer using a form on your website. Because of this risk, you need to validate numbers at the point of capture to have confidence they are correct. Real-time validation software informs you instantly whether an entered number is valid. This is especially crucial when data is collected in a call centre as it gives agents the opportunity to correct the number while the caller is still on the line. Used this way, validation will also improve the user experience as an accurate number can be recorded in a quick and efficient manner.
3. Pre-collection stage: Apply validation methods across all channels
In today’s multichannel environment, it’s wise to consider the channels through which you collect mobile data, where it’s held and who uses it. It’s evident a greater choice and an increasing popularity of niche channels require a more comprehensive validation process. If you, for example, validate data entered directly via the website and a CRM, but you don’t follow the same process in your call centre when agents are entering mobile data, you will still ultimately end up with invalid mobile numbers. Hence, to ensure you hold accurate data it’s important to identify all touch points and consequently, validate data via each of them.
Mobile is becoming a dominant channel of communication. This trend can be observed in some traditional marketing agencies’ recent transformation to full service mobile agencies. Faced with the undisputable popularity of mobile marketing, it’s worth remembering that mobile is an incredibly broad term, encompassing everything from SMS marketing and banners to search, so businesses need to carefully choose the tactics offering the biggest potential to be effective in particular campaigns and for specific audiences.
Nevertheless, with the growth of opportunities for mobile marketing, the overall activity is bound to increase. With an interlinked increase in competition, customer expectations will grow and that will call for the need to ensure a higher quality of collected data. So if you do decide to incorporate SMS marketing into your campaigns, remember that without a valid number your message will not be delivered and a prospective customer could be lost, benefiting your competitors. Likewise if SMS messages that contain important reminders or updates aren’t delivered to your burgeoning customers, it could pose considerable risk to your reputation.
By Paul Dickson, Experian
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