Maybe it was because I finally got my iPhone 4 in hand and activated last week, but I was stopped by the news from Reflect Systems announcing that the Texas digital signage provider had signed a partnership with TXT4CRM. The TXT4CRM mobile messaging service will likely find its way into many of Reflect's key networks such as GameStop and Target, along with future deals in the retail space.
So why are digital signage companies like Reflect taking to partnerships with SMS campaign companies? Frankly, it's because together, the two technologies take on an "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" relationship.
Consider the idea put forth in Reflect's blog post surrounding the TXT4CRM deal:
With a growing and engaged population using smart phones, mobile messaging has a low barrier for entry — a cheaply sent text message. However, the challenge is to get the consumer to opt-in to receive that message. Traditionally, the opt-in message is issued to the consumer via static, printed signage, which does little to entice the customer to reach for their phone to text to the provided number. This becomes even less effective in high-traffic or point-of-transit areas.
Digital signage, through its proven awareness vs. static signage, has the ability to draw more attention toward the messaging campaign. The engagement with the mobile phone keeps the consumer in front of the screen longer, while the synergy between the two media further helps the message resonate with them.
I caught up with Matt Schmitt, CEO of Reflect Systems, and Carrie Chitsey, CEO of TXT4CRM, following the release. Together we came up with some key advantages of combing mobile and digital signage strategy in a retail environment:
- A one-on-one personal engagement – While digital signage is a "one-to-many" technology, adding a mobile component allows the message to become a "one-on-one" engagement. TXT4CRM also has a dialogue technology which enables the mobile user and the advertiser to begin a back-and-forth conversation, unlike many SMS platforms that simply blast out texts.
- Cross-channel consistency – More brands are spreading campaigns over multiple communication channels to help messages resonate more with customers. As said earlier, the synergy between mobile and digital signage help achieve this goal.
- A short time to market – Digital signage and mobile campaigns can be extremely flexible, especially when compared to print signage in retail. Messages can be changed instantly to coincide with sales, current events and other promotions. This also saves on print costs and shipping when compared to traditional signage.
- Ongoing customer engagement – Once the customer has opted-in to receive messages via mobile phones from digital signs, the advertiser can reach the customer even when they have left the store, via their mobile.
- Measureable media - The nature of mobile and digital signage integration allows both media to be measured accurately through analyzing data gained from the customer interaction. In the digital signage space, this is an unprecedented way to measure the effectiveness of the screen placement, content and customer engagement.
We were also able to discuss some of the challenges brands and advertisers face when using these technologies together:
- Educating retailers and brands on mobile strategy – Many groups are enthusiastic about trying a mobile/digital signage strategy, but don't have the necessary strategy to be effective. Chitsey says her company does a great deal of consultative work before any project starts.
- Putting the data to work – Once advertisers get the data from a campaign, they need to analyze it properly and make changes in order for campaigns to be more effective in the future.
- What is the carrot? – Each campaign needs to give the customer an incentive to use their mobile to engage with a screen. Some examples of these "carrots" are coupons, rebates and opportunities to win a prize. Many advertisers seem to believe all they have to do is display a short code and customers will opt-in.