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Developing a mobile app? Don’t forget about SMS

This article is an excerpt from Experian Marketing Services’ 2016 Digital Marketer Report. Download the full report to discover more insights and trends for the upcoming year!

Support your mobile app with other mobile marketing initiatives

Marketers are fascinated by mobile, and for good reason. It’s increasingly the device of choice for consumers. SMS and MMS messages, push notifications and the app inbox all offer marketers the ability to communicate directly with customers in a way that is immediate and friendly. Yet there seems to be an interest gap between developing mobile apps and building other mobile initiatives. In this year’s Digital Marketer Survey, 53 percent of respondents indicated that they plan to integrate a mobile app into their mobile marketing program in 2016, compared with only 40 percent for other mobile programs like SMS or MMS.

Without a doubt, well-designed apps can be incredibly useful for building the brand relationship. Good apps focus on improving the customers’ experience by making their lives easier – by tailoring the content to their personal experience or lessening the number of steps it takes for them to perform an action. In service-based industries, apps can alleviate the need for in-store or in-branch services, helping companies become more lean and efficient. For example, consumer bank apps have redesigned the experience of depositing a check or transferring money between accounts, allowing them to cater to their customers’ needs faster and more efficiently than ever possible through a physical teller.

That said, mobile apps are also time- and resource-intensive to develop, especially if they are well designed. Other mobile initiatives, like SMS and MMS text messaging programs or mobile wallet, require less investment to create and maintain. Additionally, imagine if every marketer who shared a plan to build an app actually followed through. That would mean a lot of competition for customers’ limited phone space.

This is why I find the interest gap fascinating. Mobile apps are useful, but they should be part of a cohesive mobile strategy, supported with other mobile programs like SMS and MMS messaging that are less costly and can serve as an effective alternative for communicating with customers who have push notifications disabled, are inactive users, don’t have compatible phones or simply haven’t downloaded your app.

Business needs can dictate mobile marketing strategy

This concept is especially important for brands that use the mobile space to communicate service-related or operational messages, such as shipping and delivery notifications, fraud alerts or travel delay notices that require immediacy. These kinds of messages are time-sensitive and valuable. Customers who don’t have your app will benefit from their receipt if you offer it to them via another channel.

Of course, it’s important to remember that not every business fits usage of SMS and MMS or app programs. Consider the needs and preferences of your unique customers to determine the need to develop a mobile program. After all, mobile experiences that are not well thought through may be more damaging than beneficial. According to a Google study of smartphone users, 66 percent of consumers will take negative action if a mobile site or app doesn’t satisfy their needs, such as being less likely to return to the site or app (40 percent) or purchase products from the company in the future (28 percent).

Ultimately, if you’re investing in a mobile app experience, don’t forget about the power of a complimentary text message strategy. Mobile app marketing and text messages can go hand in hand. Develop an SMS experience that proves the value of your brand in the mobile space. Once you do, your customers and prospects will be more likely to believe in the value of your full app experience.

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