The average American adult sends or receives over 500 text messages per month, totaling 8 trillion text messages sent in 2011 alone. The large majority of U.S. consumers— a whopping 80%—indicate that sending a text message is their preferred way to send a message to a friend. Both in the U.S and worldwide, the SMS text-messaging platform is growing and being recognized as the preferred communication medium.
Marketing and branding professionals are beginning to grasp the importance and relevance the text-messaging platform has to marketing efforts. In the same way the Internet and social media networks are proving to be strong marketing tools, text-messaging is presenting itself as an untapped platform and resource for marketing and branding professionals looking to drive brand awareness and loyalty. As marketers have learned, it’s most strategic to meet customers where they already are—like the text-messaging platform.
For the first time ever, image-rich icons are making their way to the hands of consumers. For the average American, this means a deeper dimension to the meaning and personalization of daily communication, with the ability to send enhanced text message with more than just black and white words. For brands, image-rich icons enable the integration of company branding with the already widely-adopted text-messaging platform.
Some of the first brands to jump on board the branded text-messaging bandwagon range from entertainment icons like The Walking Dead and Terminator2, to non-profit organizations like the California-based Surfrider Foundation. These brands are entering the branded text-messaging space with help from Zlango, a company providing emotionally engaging and image-rich icons designed to reflect spoken language, slang and culture—and most recently, brands. While consumers find image-rich icons lead to a better texting experience, brands are finding the integration is leading to brand recognition and loyalty.
Image-rich icons for brands are valuable tools for marketing and branding professionals because consumers integrate the brand into his or her everyday communication experience on a platform that has seen significant growth year after year. Opposed to marketing efforts disregarded by busy consumers, branding in text messaging can be easily adopted by consumers searching for more unique and personalized ways to communicate. With the average American sending hundreds of text messages per day and 77% of the world owning a mobile phone, the opportunity for brands to resonate with both the person sending and person receiving the text message is immeasurable.
Monetizing Branded Text-Messaging
People can talk about your brand on their mobile phones all they want, but until you put a dollar amount to it, brand recognition on the text-messaging platform means very little. Branded text-messaging demonstrates great potential for increasing ROI, as consumers pay to send images associated with your brand. For example, if users replace the word ‘Starbucks’ in a message with the Starbucks logo, Starbucks can charge the consumer for the use of its logo, with continuing to increase brand recognition and customer loyalty through the branded text message.
Branding with Culture
One downfall of text-messaging consumers note is the difficulty of expressing spoken language, culture and slang. While a phone conversation can elucidate emotions and provide clarity in daily banter, text-messaging does not quite meet the mark. Text-messages that mix images with plain text can have greater impact and meaning in conversation, especially when images include icons from popular American cultures like Western, Anime, Gay Pride and dozens of other subcultures.
For brands with strong consumer recognition, or brands searching for enhanced consumer recognition, branded image-rich icons to text-messaging enables users to incorporate your brand subculture into their everyday communication. In the same way certain areas of the U.S., religious groups or orientation mark subcultures of people, the gathering of consumers around a particular brand can represent a subculture as well. Enabling consumers and your future customers to relate to your brand on such a familiar platform has the potential to increase brand loyalty and familiarity, as users begin to identify and better relate to your company.
Turning Fans into Enthusiasts
Brands are what consumers think they are, and are no longer shaped purely by what advertisers tell the public, according to ClickZ. Consumers tend to associate the brands they love the most with the brands with which they are most engaged. Branded text-messaging allows users to become active and committed brand enthusiasts, shaping how they feel and how much they tell others about your brand.