In this cost driven society, we are constantly looking for barometers by which to easily measure the products and services we buy and buying these products at the best price possible. Regardless of whether it’s for personal or business applications- as we might be considering hiring an appliance repairman and comparing the cost of in-home service calls, or perhaps a media buyer evaluating cost-per-points of television show to advertise on, or even a business looking for rental space by calculating price per square foot; all have standard gages by which to easily measure comparative efficiencies.
In those engagements, do those responsible for contracting or purchasing really ask the right questions? For instance, while the repairman might charge less than his competitors, how much experience does he have with your brand of appliance? In the case of the media buyer looking for the lowest cost per point programming, do those television shows have the appropriate demographic and psychographic composition for the product you’re advertising? And if it’s a business looking for the least expensive cost per square foot, wouldn’t it be important to know about any potential maintenance issues tenants have experienced?
However, if we choose to neglect our responsibilities, to ourselves or to our companies, and rely too heavily on rudimentary one-dimensional metrics, are we truly getting the best price, are we getting the best value?
The answer is an unequivocal ‘no’.
Mobile marketing, still a relatively new frontier, frequently struggles to fight against having antiquated, commodity based metrics assigned to it, as if it were a traditional (also read “fledgling”) media outlet. So, as print is evaluated by circulation, radio and television by cost per thousand/point and outdoor by daily effective circulation (DEC’s)- mobile application service providers (SMS companies) are more often rivaled by cost per text by the un-savvy majority.
For those looking for a SMS technology partner, the cost-per-text is merely one small component- it’s the platform and people that really count if you want a successful program. However, knowing what to ask, beyond cost-per-text, in order to discern between mobile providers is seemingly the greatest challenge for entering the space; perhaps we can offer some assistance to make sure you are getting the best value for the price.
Ask your prospective partners the following ten questions:
- Is the solution developed in-house or white labeled? If the company is white-labeling (rebranding) an SMS platform and reselling to you, it’s a huge red flag and you should immediately dismiss them from the vetting process. Mobile marketing is both a technical and marketing solution with special nuances that require area expertise. Your risks for being sued are exponentially greater the further you’re removed from the platform and its experts that are there to keep you safe.
- How long have they been in the mobile business? If it is a number less than 5 years, there are so many experienced players, no reason to suffer through the growing pains of a small company, or be victim to their freshman mistakes.
- Do they self-aggregate and/or use Tier 1 aggregators? If they are not capable of self-aggregation, keep looking, their know-how is limited and connectivity to carriers will not cast a wide enough net. Those small regional carriers are important as customers look at that lack of ability to engage a brand as a function of your company, not the device or carrier they’ve chosen- connectivity is key.
- What is their message throughput? If they can’t deliver messaging in excess of 400 per second, your messages are likely to get severely delayed the larger your database becomes; since SMS is all about targeted timeliness, long delays is not a negotiable you can compromise on.
- What is the company’s guaranteed uptime? Anything short of 98.5% is wholly unacceptable with 99.5%+ being the basic benchmark. Small mobile marketing companies will probably be unable to share any reporting figures, while larger one could likely provide you with formal internal audits. If the platform is not operating, either is your mobile solution – meaning you’re not paying anything for a text as they aren’t being sent.
- Are they using an SMPP or SMTP solution? If they use an SMTP protocol, well, that’s not shortcode text messaging, its just email to a phone number and provides none of the benefits of a true SMS service- its like using an abacus for a calculus problem- hang up and call the next vendor on the list.
- How many local, regional and national clients does the company support? Many of the smaller companies will use national logos while it may just be a single franchisee in a small market for which they are providing solutions. Don’t be fooled by the marketing. If a company does not provide services to several companies on a national basis, they probably don’t have a solution that has been fully tested and is truly viable.
- Does the company have additional mobile technology assets it can help your business leverage? Indeed SMS is just one part of the mobile ecosystem, however, integrating mobile websites, applications and other nifty overlays to include MMS, coupon redemption, location based services and QR codes also play a role. Mobile marketing providers who do not have these capabilities are too one-dimensional and you’ll most certainly out grow them before your contract ends.
- For those businesses looking to use mobile coupons, does the mobile provider have the ability to integrate with Point-of-Sale (POS) systems? Few companies would consider ‘show-your-phone’ as an adequate way to track and redeem mobile coupons. But single-use, dynamically generated codes that can be entered and tracked in a POS system is a closed-loop solution vital to any organization. If the mobile provider can’t do this, they shouldn’t have your business.
- What kind of account support does the company provide? Mobile marketing has several unique components relative to compliance (with serious legal ramifications) and best practices to keep your users engaged- being provided a user name and password into an SMS software suite will not suffice, you need ongoing training, support and concepting to keep your business lawsuit free and make your mobile program a valuable part of the overall marketing mix.
So, as one can see, mobile marketing has a number of critical layers that go well beyond just the cost of a text message. Assigning the appropriate worth to each of these ten important components will help arm the mobile decision maker with the tools to choose the best value partner. Indeed, the path of least initial resistance is to take a commodity stance, but there isn’t an educated mobile marketing expert that would tell you this is the course you should choose for either a short-term program or a long-term solution. Of course, if you need assistance navigating the mobile marketing waters and helping determine what the best value proposition is for your business, please contact Cellit and we’ll gladly assist.