Getting the right message out with Bulk Text

Summary: Right Price Tiles had done the research of what works when reaching out to their customers, but were looking for a provider who could help them share their message the best way.

Alan Foy, Digital Marketing Manager for Right Price Tiles

When Right Price Tiles was looking for an effective way to get its marketing message through to the Irish public, one of the main challenges it faced was how to cut through the noise. After all, there is a lot of competition out there for people’s attention.

Nobody likes spam but a well-timed promotion that saves people money and drives footfall into a retailer can be a win-win for everyone involved. So what’s the best way to get that message out there? For Alan Foy, Digital Marketing Manager for Right Price Tiles, the answer is a technology that’s been around for a while but still has enormous relevance in the Irish market.

“SMS works. Text messages cut to the front of the queue and are a proven method for getting the word out whenever we have a sale or special event coming up. That’s why we have deployed Vodafone’s Bulk Text solution to allow us to make the most of the brand awareness we have,” he said.

Short messaging service (SMS) technology was created in the early 1990s as a way for mobile phone networks to send short technical messages. Very quickly the public realised that a text was the perfect way to send a short snappy message when a full conversation wasn’t necessary.

Over a trillion text messages have been sent since 1992 and today, nearly 35 years later, SMS is still alive and kicking both as a consumer technology and also as a way for businesses to stay in touch with customers and staff.

Front  of Right Price Tiles store in Cork

“It’s important to know how to use SMS properly because it can be a blunt instrument. Before you hit ‘send’ to a potentially enormous number of people, you need to make sure you’ve thought through what you’re doing. We’re careful with it but Vodafone Bulk SMS is an important part of our digital media strategy,” said Foy.

“The key is to use it sparingly and to be mindful of not bombarding people. These days, with GDPR and general privacy concerns, we’re all a lot more sensitive in making sure we have permission to use people’s details. We don’t want to squander any goodwill by texting indiscriminately.”

For Right Price Tiles, the decision to go with Vodafone as a provider for its messaging needs was based on assessing the value of what was on offer as well as knowing that from a security and regulatory point of view, Vodafone could advise on the best way to go forward.

The company’s Bulk Text solution allows Right Price Tiles to engage with customers in real time, at scale and in a way that stands out. Where other forms of messaging can get easily lost, SMS enjoys a privileged position.

“We all carry around a phone that beeps all day but not every notification we get is equally important and most people will pay more attention to an SMS than they will to an e-mail or internet message,” said Foy.

“There are lots of other ways of sending messages, from e-mail to Whatsapp and even in-app with Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and they each have their place, but SMS is still going strong. I’ve seen surveys that suggested around 98 per cent of text messages are opened and read compared to between 20 and 25 per cent of e-mails for example,” said Foy.

Phone showing text from Right Price Tiles about sale

At Right Price Tiles, Foy maintains a large database of phone numbers, all given by customers to the company. Managing this list is an important job, with Foy regularly making sure that anyone who requests removal has that wish respected.

“The key to getting the best out of SMS is to play to the format’s strengths and to understand your product. A good SMS is short, to the point, conveys information really succinctly and probably doesn’t include links or anything that distracts. The messaging we send out tends to be very similar – ‘50 per cent off this weekend’ etc – because that works, and we always include a way for people to opt out,” he said.

“A certain percentage of our messaging list are dormant numbers and belong to people who were maybe interested in buying tiles at one point but possibly aren’t now. It’s hard to measure the exact impact of these campaigns because they’re broadly targeted, but there’s no doubt they’re a valuable tool and we’re committed to it.”

According to Neil Kiely, National Accounts Manager for Vodafone Business, the key differentiator for Vodafone Bulk Text and the reason why the technology has remained relevant is its immediacy.

“It’s been proven that the click-through rate of text messages is up in the 80 or 90th percentile, as opposed to the 20 or 30th percentile for e-mails. Spam has hollowed out e-mail as a marketing platform and it’s a lot harder to get noticed there. But everyone has their phones with them all the time, and text message commands our attention in a different way to other platforms,” he said.

Alan Foy, Digital Marketing Manager for Right Price Tiles, on desktop

A big area of growth for SMS in recent times has been as a security hardening methodology. When a company wants to be sure it’s dealing with an authentic customer or user of its service, confirming their identity with a text message is highly effective.

“As more people are working from home, remote access to company VPNs and apps has become an issue. In the past only banks and other big companies did this but we’re seeing a growing number of smaller companies realise that sending an SMS with a validation code is a great way to harden cyber security and make it harder to fool,” said Kiely.

“So the take away is that SMS is a really refined technology and for the use cases it fits, it fits them really well. The other services that have come along since the 1990s all have something going for them, but sometimes simple is better and with SMS that’s what you’ve got.”

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