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The Basics of SMS Marketing

SMS Marketing – The Basics

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By: Vivian Pham, Director of Marketing and Client Services for Blue Calypso

There are endless benefits of SMS Marketing. It’s easy, highly customizable, and extremely effective. SMS Marketing can be a very powerful tool to cut through all the noise and reach consumers directly.

These days, nearly everyone owns a phone and knows how to text message which makes text messaging one of the most convenient and widely used communication channels. Because of this, SMS marketing has one of the highest open and engagement rates than any other form of marketing. 

Yes, it’s a simple enough concept, but here at Blue Calypso we believe it’s important to know the basics before getting started. That’s why we’ve broken down some basic knowledge and terminology associated with SMS Marketing below:

What is an SMS ‘Short Code’?

An SMS Short Code is essentially just a shortened phone number that is used strictly to send and receive SMS/MMS messages. Carriers issue and control them and although they are usually only 5-6 digits, they can also come in 4-10 digit numbers as well. Most short codes are assigned at random and cannot be reviewed in advance.

What is a Vanity Code?

Many brands may choose to purchase a “vanity code” which are subject to availability and can take several months to get approved. They are also significantly more expensive. A “Vanity Code” is a specific number that is chosen by the brand as opposed to being assigned at random. Vanity codes are usually chosen because they are easier to remember. For example, a brand may choose the vanity code 75268 because it spells “PLANT” on the keypad of a phone.

What is a Long Code?

A long code is an actual 10-digit phone number that is SMS enabled and used to send and receive SMS/MMS messages.

What is an SMS Keyword?

An SMS Keyword is a word or phrase sent in a text message to a specific SMS Short or Long Code to initiate engagement with that brand. These SMS keywords indicate to the brand what SMS marketing program a user is trying to interact with. For example, a brand could invite customers to text an SMS keyword to that brand’s short code to receive updates, coupons, information, notifications on events or promotions, etc…

What is an Auto-reply?

An auto-reply is a customizable text message that is automatically sent back to a subscriber when they’ve texted an SMS keyword to a brand’s Short or Long Code. Auto replies are usually sent to deliver campaign-specific content or to confirm that a user has opted in to receive future text messages.

What is Text Message Spam?

According to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, Text Message Spam is any unwanted or unsolicited SMS marketing messages sent to a user who never opted-in or who has selected to opt out/unsubscribe. This is regulated by the FCC and violation of the TCPA is a serious matter. Statutory damages start at $500 per violation (text/call), with the potential of going as high as $1,500 per violation. Penalties vary case by case and can also result in immediate registry suspension or termination<CTIA>. 

Have Questions?

If you have any additional questions on SMS Marketing and how your business can benefit from mobile engagement, feel free to contact us any time for a free consultation.

Did you find this article helpful? Leave us your comments below!

NFC - a mobile engagement game changer

NFC – A Mobile Engagement Game Changer!

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By: Andrew Levi, CEO of Blue Calypso

NFC IS HERE! NFC IS FINALLY HERE!!  Well almost….  At Apple’s developer conference this week, while not highlighted as a shiny new feature or gadget, Apple said they would FINALLY open the NFC chip to third parties.  For those of you who are wondering what the heck “NFC” is, Near Field Communications is a special micro-chip and protocol within mobile devices that power very close range communications between active (phones) and passive devices (chips that get power from a close-range phone signal).  Essentially, all a user would need to do is tap their phone to a pre-programmed NFC chip and their phone will automatically open up the corresponding app or website and deliver the intended content or perform the intended action. NFC is what powers Apple Pay.  If you are an Android user, your device has likely had NFC capabilities for several years (lucky dogs).  But Apple has, until IOS 11 (due this fall) kept the NFC chip locked for use exclusively by Apple Pay.

What does this mean? In other words, what can NFC do for us marketers…?  It is my belief that ubiquitous NFC (active and available on every mobile device) is possibly the single biggest game changer for the physical shopping experience we have seen thus far in AdTech.  It could save (or at least help innovate) retail as well as the experience that consumers have both in physical retail and with the products they purchase.

There are countless “flavor-of-the-day” startups who are slaving over hot source code building the next retail engagement platform (we are one…).  But what we have not seen from these purported “game changers”, “innovators” and “market leaders” is the ability to change the path to purchase in a meaningful way.  Either A.) it takes too many tech components (a mobile app, Bluetooth, beacons, GPS, enabled location services, etc.), or; B.) they are too creepy to convince a shopper to engage and surrender their anonymity.  Both scenarios introduce friction and thus have not catalyzed the evolution of the shopping journey.

Introduce NFC….  Imagine the ability to tap your phone on an aisle endcap, window cling or product display to get immediate product details, price comparison and even location-centric deals, discounts and offers.  In this scenario, control of the digitally supplemented shopping journey is held by the shopper – not the retailer or the brand attempting to disrupt your footfall.  And NFC is cheap and easy to deploy. When coupled with a powerful platform which supports multiple methods of consumer engagement, a brand or retailer will be empowered with optics into what, how and when engagement happens, as well as insight into conversion rates at each step of the shopping journey.  A novel idea – transparency to shopper marketing ROI – say it isn’t so.  Yep – it IS so, and its right around the corner.  We believe that NFC will create a frictionless path to engagement which will revolutionize the way people interact with brands and retailers on their path to purchase.  Thank you Apple!  Its about time!



SMS Marketing

Give Text Message Marketing A Chance

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By: Andrew Levi, CEO of Blue Calypso

It may seem passé, but text message marketing (or SMS marketing) still offers a variety of benefits for brands looking to engage consumers. From QR codes to branded apps, marketers are often tempted to jump on the hottest promotional tool of the moment. Depending on your target audience and campaign objectives, that tool may in fact be your best option, but it’s important not to overlook more traditional, “tried and true” platforms—SMS included.

In case you’re still skeptical, here’s some insight into why you should give text marketing another look and a few ways to get the most out of SMS campaigns, based on our corporate partners’ experiences and successes.

Some Features are Popular With A Broad Spectrum of Smartphone UsersOptimal Reach

Promotional email open rates range from 17-27 percent, while 90 percent of text messages are read within three minutes, which can triple or quadruple the chance your SMS promos and offers actually reaching subscribers. According to a Pew Research survey on smartphone usage in 2015, texting is the most widely- and frequently-used smartphone app, with 97 percent of Americans using it at least once a day. SMS marketing also allows you to reach the 32 percent of consumers who still don’t have a smart phone, according to Pew’s 2015 device ownership survey.

High Enrollment, Low Opt-Out

While mobile brand apps are gaining popularity, SMS messaging still has the highest enrollment. Today’s consumers—Millennials in particular—want quick, easy and relevant interactions, which is exactly what SMS provides. Every SMS message you distribute must include clearly stated opt-out instructions, yet opt-out rates for text marketing programs are substantially lower than email. This is simply because consumers receive so few promotional texts, compared to barrage of promotional “spam” emails that hit their inbox every day.

Consumers expect more immediate experience

Incentive to Stay

Once a customer has opted in to your SMS program, you need to give them reasons to stay in the club. Hook users from the gate with special offers or freebies within minutes of signing up. The goal is to convert recipients into paying customers, so make sure each SMS message sent has a clear call to action, such as a BOGO, discount or gift with purchase. Everyone loves to be a winner, so text-to-win campaigns are also a great way to keep opt-out rates to a minimum and sweepstakes can drive engagement on other channels, like your mobile site or brand app. Additionally, respond-to-enter programs help evaluate which campaigns are most effective and identify highly engaged users.

Get the Word Out

You may have the best SMS offers in the world, but unless your customers know the benefits of enrolling, your efforts are guaranteed to fall flat. The best way to boost awareness varies by industry, but there are plenty of options and cross-channel strategies. At restaurants, table tents, menu inserts and drive-thru signage can help get the word out. For a variety of brick-and-mortar retailers, cashier contests give checkout staff an incentive to encourage customers to enroll face-to-face. Major national campaigns may even warrant a press release to spread the news, like the announcement McDonald’s issued last week about the text-to-win sweepstakes component of its partnership with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Of the billions of text messages exchanged around the world each month, more and more are commercial or marketing-related. As customers become more familiar with business-related texts, the power of SMS will increase. Now is the time to get ahead of the curve and establish your mobile presence today.




POP Display

Money Wasted – Barriers to POP Display Efficacy

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By: Stephanie Carson, CMO of Blue Calypso

Despite all the hype about online shopping, consumers are still making the majority of their purchases at brick-and-mortar retailers, which means marketers need to use every inch of available in-store advertising space to the fullest. Point-of-purchase (POP) signage and displays are an increasingly important tool to help consumer brands cut through the clutter, stand out on retail shelves and improve category performance.

When done well, POP displays reinforce consistent brand messaging for retailers, manufacturers and shoppers. All marketers hope their in-store materials will encourage impulse buys, but when POP displays are deliberately designed and deployed with the target shopper in mind, the results can far exceed one-time purchases. The key is leveraging POP materials to truly connect with consumers, which can boost positive product perception, sway brand loyalty and ultimately increase sales.

However, much to the chagrin of marketers everywhere, the benefits of their carefully crafted POP displays can quickly diminish due to a variety of common problems. Here are a few of the barriers to POP effectiveness and some tips to overcome them. These recommendations can help brands ensure that valuable marketing dollars don’t go to waste on poorly placed, ineffective or improperly deployed POP materials.

Location, Location, Location

POP display placement can have a significant impact on its success. The most popular POP real estate is usually at the store entrance or on main aisle forward-facing endcaps. Front-of-store displays immediately catch consumers’ attention and can often lead to spontaneous product grabs, while endcap displays can lure shoppers to shelves they otherwise wouldn’t have visited. Department-specific displays are also highly effective, since shoppers visiting that department are already interested in the product category when they arrive to browse the aisles. Alternately, marketers should try to avoid back-of-store endcaps, where even well-designed and flawlessly executed POP displays can be overlooked or never seen at all.

The best way to secure the most sought-after display placements is to establish and build relationships with retailers. While paying more for prime locations is sometimes a factor, becoming a true partner will lead to the greatest results. Marketers should listen to retailers’ business goals and try to align promotions or products to help meet those objectives. The stronger the relationship, the more likely retailers are to favor a brand when assigning placements.

Quality = Quality

Unfortunately, all too often brands take the less expensive route and manufacture POP displays out of low-cost materials that can be easily damaged, such as cardboard. Despite the sticker shock that can accompany high-quality displays, marketers must remember that you get what you pay for. A cardboard sign may be easy on the budget at production time, but ROI quickly diminishes if it only lasts for half the intended lifecycle. Whereas displays made with higher-quality, more durable materials can withstand transportation, setup, cleaning and frequent in-store contact.

In marketing, perception equals reality, and POP displays are no exception. When shoppers see well-designed POP displays, they often make a mental connection between the quality of the display and the associated product. In turn, cheaply-made displays can have an adverse effect on consumers’ opinion of the promoted product. For brands trying to improve quality perception, semi-permanent POP displays may be the right solution. These longer-lasting in-store fixtures are designed to be easily cleaned and restocked, so they always look brand new. Long-term displays also reduce the need for frequent repairs and replacements, resulting in greater success and higher return on investment.

Confirm Compliance

Much to the dismay of marketers, it is almost impossible to determine if POP displays are executed correctly. Brands rely on store employees and display installation companies to follow their instructions, but are unable to monitor every store nationwide. Instead, they end up comparing program costs to net sales gains, or not tracking displays at all.

Brands must oversee in-store efforts with a display management solution, such as POPTrak™, that tracks the entire lifecycle of POP displays in real time. These tools allow marketers to:

  • Quickly organize materials for each display and provide clear setup instructions
  • Communicate with retailers to validate that each display is installed in the correct store location
  • Confirm that fixtures and displays are properly installed and maintained throughout the campaign
  • Send retailers notifications when it’s time to tear down the displays
  • Have complete transparency from beginning to end throughout the entire development, shipping, installation and deactivation processes.

POP displays can be highly effective in driving consumer awareness, engagement and sales, but many marketers fall prey to common design and installation errors. To overcome these barriers, marketers must look at the big picture and address some crucial questions. Will shoppers see our display in this part of the store? Does the display quality reflect our brand identity? Does the in-store installation match my original design and expectations?

With these questions in mind, marketers can help make sure that the dollars they invest in POP displays generate the intended results and enhance comprehensive marketing campaigns.

How is your in-store display execution compliance impacting your bottom line?

In-Store Display Execution Compliance [Free Infographic]

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By Vivian Pham, Director of Marketing and Client Services for Blue Calypso

According to the POPAI 2014 Mass Merchant Study, 82% of purchase decisions are made in-store which is why it is crucial for manufacturers to develop and deploy the right point-of-purchase (POP) displays to influence and guide consumers on their path to purchase. If done right, POP displays can engage shoppers at the right place and the right time to drive impulse buys and significantly increase sales. 

Billions of dollars are spent every year trying to capitalize on this very concept. Marketing teams spend countless hours dreaming up profound and alluring campaigns that are meant to be carried out by in-store displays that will motivate shoppers to buy their product. They painstakingly map out every last detail of how these displays are to be executed to maximize effectiveness. Then they must pass along control at the most crucial point of execution – installation at the store level.

This is why it is so important to understand the level of successful execution of in-store marketing programs all the way down to the ability to track successful delivery and setup of displays, in the correct location and with the right products, over a variety of retail channels and display types. Brands need to know if their POP displays are being set up compliantly and what the cost of lost sales opportunities are resulting from non-compliance. 

Check out these powerful industry statistics around in-store display execution in the FREE infographic below:

Click here to download this FREE infographic.

If your brand has ever deployed in-store display, how is the display execution compliance impacting your bottom line? Tell us in the comments below!

The Power of POP Display

The Power of POP Displays: Why Consumers Make Most Purchasing Decisions In Store

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By: Andrew Levi, CEO of Blue Calypso

The traditional shopping path to purchase is no longer a simple straight-line journey with five steps: awareness, familiarity, consideration, purchase and loyalty. These days, it is a web of interwoven arrows moving in all directions. There are a multitude of online and offline factors that influence consumers’ purchasing decisions throughout the process. Brands can no longer focus on one or even two channels to reach potential customers. Instead, they must play an integral role through the entire journey.

Most marketers understand we live in a digitally driven society and realize how important it is to have a strong online and social media presence. Additionally, traditional marketing efforts, such as tailored print and TV advertisements, are still popular and can be an effective way of reaching large targeted audience groups. However, marketers are forgetting about one essential piece of the puzzle.

There is a major opportunity missed if brands are not integrating traditional marketing efforts with the in-store experience. Shopping in traditional brick and mortar stores is not going away, despite the popularity of online purchasing. In fact, according to a PwC 2015 annual survey, only 27 percent of consumers shop online weekly. This means 68 percent of consumers stated they intentionally browsed products at a store but decided to purchase them online, while 73 percent say they have browsed products online but decided to purchase them in store.

Consumers still find the in-store experience of seeing and picking up the products an integral part of the purchasing journey and, therefore, brands must capitalize on this environment through point-of-purchase (POP) displays. These displays come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but all have the purpose of attracting a consumer’s eye and standing out among their competitors.

In order to have effective in-store marketing, POP displays must be visually appealing and engaging to shoppers. Consider the following tips when deploying POP displays:

  1. Understand your target audience’s preferences

Who are you trying to reach? Young females? Older men? Keep your target audience in mind when making all design decisions, from colors and fonts to graphics or videos. POP displays are meant to increase in-store sales so understanding your audience’s preferences is essential to attracting their attention.

  1. Engage the consumer and appeal to their emotions

It’s no secret that effective advertising appeals to a consumer’s emotions, and POP displays should be no different. The display itself as well as the graphics, words or elements on it should be humanized so shoppers can relate to the brand and understand the message and why they should buy your product.

  1. Demonstrate how the product works

Demos via photos or an interactive screen can help the brand differentiate itself from the competition. The demos should be easy to follow, short and engaging so the choice becomes instantly clear on which product is best.

  1. Make it easy for consumers to pick up the product

POP displays can come in the form of signage, floor mats, stickers or various shelf units. While all can be effective, it is ideal to have a display that hosts the product on it so it is easy for customers to grab and go, instead of searching for it in the aisles. Consider also deploying a floor mat or stickers leading customers to additional in-aisle products that are complementary to the product displayed.

  1. Design for durability, both in packaging and installation

Unfortunately, there are a lot of hands that handle your displays from when they leave the design shop until they are deployed in store. Ensure the packaging is durable so the display is not damaged and the installation instructions are simple. Additionally, the display itself should be made out of sturdy materials to withstand consumers or store staff members potentially bumping into it.

  1. Track the entire lifecycle of each display

Remember, no marketing campaign can be successful and help change consumers’ minds in store if the displays are not installed correctly. Brands must utilize a display management solution, like POPTrak™, to track the entire POP display lifecycle in real time for each of their unique displays. These solutions ensure no marketing dollars are wasted on displays that are installed incorrectly or sit in storage and never make it to the store floor.

As consumers continue to go in physical stores a high majority of the time somewhere along their purchasing journey, brands must take an active role in engaging them as they browse the aisles. POP displays can help the consumer choose between your brand and a competitor, so don’t lose the sale because the marketing stops at the store door. By spending marketing dollars on a mix of in-store efforts along with online and traditional means, brands are sure to see an increase in profitability and product sales.