Coming of Age for Text Message Marketing?

BY Blu Atwood

Recently it was announced that Attentive Mobile raised another $70m.  It is a large sum for a text marketing platform, and it brings their total funding amount to $124m.  This Series C was lead by Sequoia and IVP. This is an eye opening raise, and a bellwether for future trends in marketing and consumer preference.

For several established, tech oriented VCs to invest such a large sum, the numbers must be impressive. Performance is king in the world of marketing platforms and it’s an encouraging sign for brands that are struggling with the Mobile Commerce Gap.

The CEO of Pura Vida Bracelets, Griffin Thall, told Austin Brawner on a recent eCommerce Influencer podcast, that one of the most exciting new strategic developments, a growth hack, for his company was text message marketing.  Finding a new growth channel for an eCommerce company is paramount in the competitive online space.

WineText, founded by Gary Vee, announced yesterday, the creation of a new text based shopping experienced, also alternatively described as Shop by Text or Purchase by Text. The new venture is called YummyText and it proposes to offer gourmet food items for sale daily via SMS.

The WineText service itself is notable for being heavily marketed on Social media, one of the first and only Purchase By Text services being promoted on Social media.

Let’s add the emergence, harken the gathering storm, of Apple Business Chat (ABC) and Rich Card Services by Android (RCS), that are set to change the interactions of Customers and Brands in fundamental ways. 

To experience ABC, also known as Apple Business Register, I recently initiated a Chat with The Home Depot.  The term Chat is being used figuratively as the conversation happens on iMessage, which is an SMS based service.  

While in Beta mode, the implementation leaves much to be desired, and has some significant milestones to cross before Consumers find that usability meets expectations.  Currently the brand does have perks, i.e. logo and color take over of the iMessage app, making the conversation highly visible. The sizable caveat is that there is little showing of the promise of Rich Messaging services.  The experience of trying to “transact” in any way via iMessage is clunky at best.

The UX is currently being funneled through various enterprise level Contact Center platforms, which were not purpose built to manage this level of interaction and functionality.  Nimble start ups are poised to take market share as 3rd party vendors, or middle ware tech companies, for ABC and RCS Even if larger enterprise contact centers innovate quickly, their DNA is hard to re-engineer. User Testing will come in time.  

Curiously, my attempts to interact on ABC with Delta Airlines gained no response.  

Where are we going with ABC and RCS?  Is it a rising tide that will fundamentally shift the primary communication channel for Brands and Customers?  Or has this shift already occurred?

As the CMO and CTO at a mid-sized eCommerce company, I learned first hand that Customers prefer text message over any other communication channel for almost all types of interaction.  We learned this by investing in cloud communications early, and saw the trend lines intersect within 6 months – call volume dropped and text message volume rose. After 18 months, call volume reached the bottom of the chart while text message volume reached the top.

As Rich Messaging becomes “transaction enabled” and intelligent for Consumers, there is no doubt it will become much more than just the preferred communication channel.  It will become the preferred transaction channel for on the go Users with their preferred brands, products and experiences.

Blu Atwood

Marina Strongs

Marketing Director / FlowerFix

“We like the direct and immediate results using Textual. We've generated Shop by Text subscribers quickly, and the conversion rate is unbeatable. The majority of orders come in right away with just a few tricklers!”

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