Digital transformation has accelerated the use of new technologies across the globe, leading to many questioning the relevance of older technology like SMSC, bulk messaging and USSD. From our unique point of view, these technologies are more valuable than ever, especially where marketing strategies are concerned in emerging markets. Each of these technologies offers businesses a way to connect and engage with customers and increase revenue. The question that should be asked is whether businesses are utilising these technologies in the best way possible to reach their marketing objectives and enhance profitability.
Overview of SMSC, Bulk Messaging and USSD
To understand how each of these technologies can be used effectively in marketing strategies, it is essential to know what each does and how they work.
- SMSC – stands for short message service centre (SMSC) and is the portion of a mobile phone network that handles text messaging. This technology is responsible for receiving, storing, routing, and forwarding SMS messages from mobile handsets. In simple terms, this enables an SMS to be sent and received across networks.
- Bulk Messaging – refers to the sending of a large number of SMS/MMS messages to multiple end-users of the same kind. This technology allows businesses to perform an extensive communication outreach to their customers from a single source, enabling seamless communication. It is important to note that bulk messaging SMS is not interactive and is utilised more for broadcasting information.
- USSD – is short for “Unstructured Supplementary Service Data” and is a real-time interaction service that allows your business to display text on a user’s handset. It is a mobile communication technology used around the world to send texts between a mobile phone and an application in the network. USSD does not require an internet connection to work and is supported by most mobile phones without the need for processing hardware essential for smartphone platforms like Android and iOS. In this way, USSD enhances inclusivity and communication, especially in emerging markets.
The three technologies above provide businesses with the perfect foundation for connecting and marketing their services and offerings to customers. These messaging channels operate at a low cost and are received by customers regardless of their phone or what network they are on. These points are crucial when looking at marketing strategies and ways to communicate with customers in emerging markets like Sub-Saharan Africa.
Overview of Mobile Growth predicted for Sub-Saharan Africa
According to GMSA’s Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa report, 615 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa will subscribe to mobile services by 2025, which is equivalent to 50% of the region’s population. Currently, 495 million people subscribe to mobile services in Sub-Saharan Africa, representing 46% of the region’s population. Although in many other parts of the world, 5G adoption is steadily growing, this is not the case in this market.
Currently, in Sub-Saharan Africa, 26% of the population are utilising 2G, 57% are using 3G, 16% are using 4G, and 1% are using 5G. This equates to 83% of the population who are still using older 2G and 3G networks. It is also important to note that in Sub-Saharan Africa, only 48% of consumers have a smartphone, leaving over half the population with simpler and more outdated mobile devices.
You may be asking what this has to do with SMSC, bulk messaging and USSD, and the answer is everything. Due to the digital divide in this market and the reliance on older networks and mobile phones, many of the newer and more advanced technologies are not supported or able to be deployed. USSD and SMS, on the other hand, work across all mobile phones and networks, allowing businesses to connect and communicate with consumers no matter what phone model they have or what network they are on.
How SMSC and Bulk Messaging facilitate a connection in Marketing Campaigns
Now that we have established why these technologies work for emerging markets let’s examine why they play an essential role in marketing strategies.
Not only are SMSC and bulk messaging technologies compatible with most phones and networks, but they are also low cost, offer direct impact, have few barriers to delivery, and have an impressive conversion rate. Consumers are also not charged anything when receiving these messages, making this a popular marketing medium.
The above makes SMSC technology the ideal channel for businesses to connect, engage and market products to their customers directly. SMSC’s bulk messaging feature allows businesses to send thousands of SMSs quickly and affordably to multiple mobile phones. These messages are often marketing-related, sharing information on specific services, promotions, offerings, coupons, competitions, etc. By sharing this information with customers, you are driving awareness about your business and providing them with the information necessary to make informed purchasing decisions.
SMSC technology is also being used for several application-to-person messages across industries. This includes the use of one-time passwords for banking, automated real-time alerts, confirmation of doctor’s appointments, delivery text notification and more, which are all sent through SMS messages.
Businesses can also create new revenue streams utilising this platform by selling the white space at the bottom of SMSC messages as advertising space. One of the selling points is the ability to target specific markets, which many businesses are looking to do.
In this way, SMSC and bulk messaging can communicate with customers, share relevant business information, and develop new revenue streams that aim to increase profitability.
5 Versatile USSD Marketing Strategies
Similarly, USSD technology can be effectively used for several marketing activities to connect and engage with customers while driving business awareness. This two-way communication technology does this by enabling the following marketing activities:
- Competitions – USSD competitions work well in emerging markets mainly because of the simplicity of this technology. Customers and potential customers can enter the competition and engage with your business. By doing this, you can enhance your reach while growing your leads database.
- Request for info – Used with other advertising mediums, USSD can be used as a call to action. Customers can use the USSD code and follow the appropriate prompts if they are genuinely interested. The result is no time wasted with unnecessary communication with people who are just curious but will not end up buying. In this way, you can connect with potential customers directly.
- Coupons and vouchers – are an excellent method of acquiring new customers with coupons or vouchers that offer free services or discounts. For example, USSD vouchers and special offers can be used to upsell services to current customers.
- Marketing and Consumer Surveys – by using USSD technology, businesses can send an invitation to customers to participate in a survey. This can be done either to their entire user base or by using marketing segmentation. Surveys can offer feedback from customers, or they can be used to obtain pertinent information for new products or services. USSD surveys effectively collect responses that enable businesses to make better decisions and develop more effective marketing campaigns.
SMSC, bulk messaging, and USSD are older technologies that still play a significant role in assisting businesses with connecting and engaging with customers, especially in relation to marketing strategies. These technologies are effective because they offer inclusivity and reach across all mobile phone models and networks. You now need to ask yourself whether you are using these channels as effectively as possible and if you have the technology to facilitate these marketing activities? If you answered no, and are looking for a way to market to your customers in Sub-Saharan Africa, then download our NextGen v.Services Framework White Paper.
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Experienced in the Telecoms & IT industries, encompassing services and solutions from the traditional to the evolved digital communication networks, embracing profound knowledge and proficiency in both the technical and sales disciplines. Product Management, including construct, software lifecycle, roadmap strategy and market leadership of Adapt IT’s portfolio of Next Gen Value Added Services (NG-VAS) solution stream.