Message Systems was interested in exploring the state of mobile messaging within the enterprise, with a focus on who is embracing it, how they are using it, and what they are spending on it – presently and in the future. And by “it” we mean mobile messaging in all its various permutations: SMS/MMS text, mobile-optimized email, mobile app push notifications and IM chat. Solely in terms of our market position as a vendor of messaging solutions, we at Message Systems have seen a significant uptick in demand for our mobile offerings over the past several quarters.

We wanted, however, to get a more detailed, comprehensive view into how businesses and marketing organizations are approaching customer messaging as mobile smartphones and tablets continue to expand as the device of choice for messaging and online activity. We commissioned Harris Poll to survey a pool of more than 200 customer messaging decision-makers within enterprises across North America. The survey was conducted online in the spring of 2014, and asked respondents from companies with annual revenues of $100M or more their opinions about the state of mobile messaging and how they planned to incorporate mobile messaging into their customer communications strategies.

Context: The Internet Has Become a Mobile Environment

It’s important to note that the survey was not conducted in a vacuum. As the messaging technology vendor to many of the world’s biggest social networks, cloud computing firms and consumer technology vendors, we’re acutely aware that the messaging landscape is in a state of profound flux. Ten years ago a Message Systems customer using our Momentum platform to deliver email could be nearly certain that the messages they sent would be received, opened and read on desktop or laptop PC with a dedicated wired Ethernet connection to the Internet – and usually within a desktop client application such as Microsoft Outlook. Today, however, email messages are more likely to be opened and read on a smartphone than a PC, and they’re more likely to be accessed through a webmail client such as Gmail or Outlook.com than through a desktop app too.

As Mary Meeker highlighted at the outset of her 2014 Internet Trends report, the Internet is fast becoming a mobile environment. Mobile data as a percentage of total worldwide Internet traffic reached 25 percent in May 2014, which is remarkable considering it accounted for only 14 percent in May of 2013 and less than 1 percent of traffic just five years ago. The surging growth of mobile devices is an important driver here: smartphones and tablets together are flying off the shelves, with global shipments now at 4-5 times the unit volume of TVs and PCs. In many parts of the world, smartphones are now the most-viewed screen, overtaking time spent viewing TV or PCs and laptops. Of course, since text messaging and push notifications are essentially mobile-only messaging channels, the overall business-to-consumer messaging experience today is best understood as primarily a mobile interaction.

These trends set the context within which we deployed our survey into the field. More specifically, it’s obvious that businesses are aware of these changes and will be adapting their marketing, engagement and customer service practices to address the new messaging environment. But to what extent? That is what we endeavored to find out, and we’re releasing the full report next week. For now, here’s a teaser of the results: Enterprises are embracing mobile messaging in a big way – 91% are thinking of adopting time sensitive mobile messaging. Stay tuned for more information next week!

Have you heard of The New Communications Standard? Read this white paper to find out what it is!

The New Communications Standard

SurveyMonkey is the world’s leading provider of web-based survey solutions, trusted by millions of companies, organizations and individuals alike to gather the insights they need to make more informed decisions. When we were putting together our A Day in the Life infographic, they were one of the first Message Systems customers we decided we wanted to feature because we’re big SurveyMonkey fans here. In fact, we’ve used SurveyMonkey repeatedly to do market research on trends in email marketing and mobile messaging.

Way back in 2011 we used SurveyMonkey to ask consumers who were actively engaged in digital message-based interactions with businesses online how they were using their smartphones and the various message channels. We collected all the most interesting findings from that study in our Survey of Consumer Messaging Preferences paper. It’s fascinating to look back at some of the numbers we turned up at the time.

For instance, we found that 25% of smartphone owners using their phone rather than a desktop computer to go online. Seemed like a “wow” stat at the time, but it was really just a harbinger of things to come. More recent research finds that 60% of smartphone owners surf the web on their phones now, and as much as 65% of all email gets opened first on a mobile device. That first study also found that younger consumers were more likely than older consumers to use IM to communicate with companies they do business with on a regular basis, by a rate of 72% to 7%.

The second study we did using SurveyMonkey resulted in our Marketing Channel and Engagement Benchmark Study paper. That one was a survey of our customer base and the wider email marketing community, and was more focused on what was happening with email trends and metrics, especially email deliverability and marketer spend on cross-channel marketing. We were keying off a study, current at the time, by the Direct Marketing Association finding that ROI for email marketing dropping by 25 percent over a five-year period. Message Systems customers didn’t seem to be affected by that trend, however, with 70% reporting their ROI for email had trended upward over the same time period.

Marketing Channels In Order of Popularity
Marketing Channels In Order of Popularity

We also got some interesting data on channel spend, with the vast majority – 97% of respondents – reporting that they spent on email marketing, and uncovered pretty healthy mobile marketing numbers too, with 16% reporting that they were using SMS text marketing.

In both these cases SurveyMonkey made it really easy for us as a marketing organization to get some valuable insights into our target market, and also build out some engaging content to drive media interest, demonstrate thought leadership and use in our lead generation efforts.

Thanks to our friends at SurveyMonkey for being a valued Message Systems customer, and such a helpful resource for our own marketing efforts too!

Looking to get started on a mobile marketing campaign? Forrester’s VP & Principal Analyst, Julie Ask presents a 4-step plan for engaging with customers on mobile in the Go-to Guide for Mobile Engagement webinar!

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Headlining the last day of the Interact 2013 conference was the Sponsor Panel by ReturnPath, mBlox, and Liveclicker. While one might see few stragglers wandering in to attend morning sessions on the last day of other conferences, the Sponsor Panel was almost as well attended as the ISP Panel and yielded just as many insights.  Here are some of the highlights from the panel.

sponsorpanels

Kent Ragen, Vice President, Channels, ReturnPath on Big Data

Kent observed that marketers were spending more on the content side and trying to expand data sources to make better decisions that would move email programs in the right direction. Increasingly, ReturnPath has been telling clients to send more to people who are engaged with the brand so as to maximize mindshare. The most effective marketers are using multi-channel and real-time data sets, as well as implementing well thought out streams that are based on buyer personas. In fact, there are thousands of successful and unsuccessful loyalty programs to look at and learn from. Kent also brought up the problem of phishing as a marketing problem that affects deliverability adversely. The solution? Team up with the IT team and ensure the DMARC standard is in place.

Stacy Adams, VP of Marketing, mBlox on Mobile & Push Messaging

Stacy observed that the issue with big data is siloed marketing organizations where different people own different parts of the puzzle. It is difficult to get all the data into backend systems for all the different departments to utilize, which is critical to get a complete picture of the mobile ecosystem in large brands.

Stacy suggested using email to get to people on a different device such as through a call-to-action to sign up for SMS alerts. SMS is the lowest common denominator as all phones can use SMS. Aside from one’s wallet, the most important personal item for most people is the phone. Only 56% of the population has smart phones at present – so for the other 44%, mobile messaging is exclusively about text messaging. Not surprisingly, there has been enormous growth in transactional notification through SMS. Additionally, consumers are very open to receiving SMS and push messages if the content is relevant and personalized. With push, the consumer has downloaded the app and indicated that they want push notifications ­– they are an opted-in user. It is rare for someone to delete an app because they receive too many push notifications. On the other hand, apps lacking push capabilities register far lower engagement rates than those that do. Ultimately, Stacy advised marketers not to give up on mobile if it does not work at first – just keep using the channel to see what works best.

Justin Foster, Co-founder of Liveclicker on Video in Email

Justin talked about how reducing friction between the content that people want to see and what they have to do to get it is important. Mobile devices do not allow videos to play automatically, and there are many buttons to press.

However, 30-40% more people watch videos if they are embedded, and this is something that can be achieved with the right tools and the right technique. Embedded videos play with a single tap. Shorter clips work better and the best video length is 23 seconds. Currently, there is a content production roadblock, and a need to provide enough relevant content. Marketers can engage with their database by providing advice on best practices with video, subject lines etc.

While the panelists each had specific areas of expertise which they spoke about at length during the panel discussions and debate, they all agreed on one point: responsive design is the next big thing.

sponsors
Message Systems would like to thank all our Interact 2013 sponsors!

What do we at Message Systems think the next big thing is? Why ensuring that you have a unified messaging platform in place for an effective and cost-efficient mobile engagement strategy of course! Find out more in our webinar, Your Mobile Customer Is Ready To Engage. Are You?

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cetwsignA couple of weeks ago, we headed to the Big Apple to participate in Customer Engagement Technology World at the Javits Center.  It was an interesting mélange of technologies that was being displayed on the show floor.  Vendors representing the broad spectrum of technologies that help marketers connect with their customers were all there: from big data to social media, from gamification to location-based marketing, and from digital signage to interactive kiosks. Walking the show floor you could be forgiven if you thought you were at CES in Las Vegas, being bombarded with large-screen LED displays wrapping video around flashily-lit booths.  There was even a vendor showcasing an interactive lighted floor and another one projecting what looked like 3D ads onto water vapor!

CETWwatervapourBut amidst all the flashy lights, what marketers were keen on exploring were technologies related to mobile, mobile and more mobile.  There was a whole row of exhibitors dedicated to mobile technologies and how they could help today’s marketer.  Which wasn’t surprising, because as one of the session speakers noted: “the average time per day spent on mobile devices has caught up to average time per day spent watching TV.”


CETWboothv2It was the perfect venue to for Message Systems to unveil Momentum Mobile – a new digital messaging platform that helps marketers engage their customers across all digital channels – email, SMS/MMS, push notifications to mobile apps, and chat.  We were happy to highlight the new mobile push capabilities at our booth, and we also participated in a panel discussion which was one of the most highly attended sessions at the conference.  In addition, we led another learning session on turbo-charging your email programs by integrating mobile messaging into these campaigns – and why you need to do this on a unified messaging platform.

While it could be easy to get lost in the sea of technologies represented at the show, marketers should not lose focus on what is important: customers want value, and they will listen to your message and engage with you if they feel that you have something of value for them.  Mobile technologies are cool, but they are just a channel by which a marketer communicates – one among many.  Marketers should focus on the message, and not on how the message gets to its audience – and this is where a unified digital messaging platform comes in.  We shield the marketer from the complexities of translating the message into the right format for the appropriate channel and end-user device.  As one speaker at the event noted: “Unless you’re a consumer electronics company, technology should only enable experience, not be the experience”.

If you’re interested to learn more about Momentum Mobile, have a look at the Momentum Mobile brochure or the Push Data Sheet. You can also register for our upcoming webinar to find out why The Time Is Now For Multichannel!

The Time Is Now For Multichannel

This got everybody buzzing – twice!

When Kleiner Perkins’ Mary Meeker reportedly took the stage at the All Things Digital D11 conference and said a typical smartphone user looks at his/her device 150 times a day, it blew up into a media-driven meme – and the blowback was immediate:  sources questioned, concerns expressed, integrity challenged, pundits punditing and counterpunditing in dizzying escalation.  Who said the NBA playoffs have a hedge on smack?

Hey – even the best of us make mistakes.  But Kleiner Perkins isn’t backing off, even if the research might have been dodgy – they think it’s a fair assumption, and if we’re considering a heavy or super-heavy smartphone user, they might be in the ballpark.

But our first thought was, what’s a statistic like that mean to our customers?

Just saying “150 times a day” doesn’t cut very deep.  Is the device user parsing callers?  Browsing?  Doing a check-in?  Or looking at email?  How many times are they actually engaging with whatever they’re looking at?

Users Reach To Phone 150 Times A Day

It nearly doesn’t matter if it’s 150 glances, or 15, or 1500 – what matters is what they’re looking at, and how they react.  That matters, especially if you’re an enterprise that uses email to engage with customers.

For them, getting rich data on how people use mobile email is more important than knowing how often they look at their iPhone or G4.  Guess what?  There’s data out there, and it’s crazy fun – like the fact that one study by Adobe indicates that 79% of us use a smartphone for reading email, a higher percentage than those who use it for making callsOr that over 41% of emails are opened on a mobile OS or device (Knotice, 2013).

We’d also bet one particular slice of the mobile messaging stream (which can include SMS, alerts, mobile social pokes, etc.) grabs more attention than others, same as it does everywhere else: transactional emails get opened.

So.  Claiming I’m going to check my phone 150 times a day doesn’t reveal a lot.  It’s a pithy claim that grabs headlines…though so does anything with the word “Kardashian” in it.

What is handy is detailing the hierarchy of engagement with my smartphone: what I open, what I ignore, and what compels those choices.

Want to find out more about how to optimize transactional mail to develop customer conversations and increase ROI? Download the Transactional Messaging Best Practices eBook!

Transactional Messaging Best Practices