A Mobile Messaging Manifesto: Q&A With OpenMarket’s CEO, Jonathan Morgan

Press release – September 14, 2019

By Neha Pradhan, MartechAdvisor

Mobile messaging is ideal for any company that’s communicating with customers because it can be applied across the whole customer journey.

As mobile messaging gains popularity, unique opportunities are emerging for marketers. From product delivery to customer engagement, Jonathan Morgan, CEO of OpenMarket (an Amdocs company) explains the tangible benefits of mobile marketing. He discusses why mobile messaging solutions make sense for B2B, what really matters for customer engagement and the reason for this shift from talk to text.

Having grown up in the mobile technology industry, Jonathan streamlines strategies, processes and structures across the entire business at OpenMarket. In conversation with MarTech Advisor, he gives us valuable insights into working in the mobile messaging landscape and offers us a glimpse of the future.

As mobile messaging gains momentum, Jonathan answers our questions on:

  • What marketers need to keep in mind when developing a mobile marketing strategy.
  • How to create customer service messaging with empathy.
  • How to implement a data driven 1-2-1 engagement between brands and consumers with mobile messaging.

Key takeaways from this Q&A on the benefits of mobile messaging with OpenMarket’s CEO, Jonathan Morgan:

  • Top tips on significant changes taking place in customer engagement
  • Insights on how to measure your ROI from mobile and SMS marketing
  • The latest trends in mobile marketing for 2020 and beyond

Here’s what Jonathan discloses on why mobile messaging will boom in the next few years:

How much have mobile messaging solutions evolved?

Mobile messaging has seen enormous change in the nearly 20 years since OpenMarket was formed. Back then, it was all about “can we make money out of this thing called a text message?” Around that time, with mobile phones really becoming popular in the late 90s, text messages were just starting to take off as something people were using heavily to communicate with each other. Carriers were calling it the killer app for phones and were charging about 10cents per message, making loads of money from this thing they developed. The payment business followed but it just kind of came and went. Increasingly, businesses started to see the value in a method of communication that everyone could reply to and that worked globally. It had high response rates and the period between when the message was sent and when it was read was very short. That sort of fuelled the birth of SMS for enterprises and it hasn’t stopped since. It continues to grow and still has great growth potential.

What are the top three factors that marketers need to keep in mind when developing a mobile marketing strategy?

Marketers understand that there are different steps along a customer’s journey and there are different factors for each of those steps. Along the way, there are instances where there will be a need for customer interaction and mobile is a great channel for many of those instances. Especially mobile messaging.

First, it can be applied to discover the text if you want more information approach. It’s much less intrusive and has a much lower barrier compared to phoning a person. And you remain in control of the conversation. It really is a much more appealing way for customers to get started with a brand.

Then, there’s selection. If you think about the questions, you’d want to ask about a product or a service, SMS is a very non-threatening way to get those answers as you research a purchase. And with the advent of more rich media messaging like RCS and Apple Business Chat, people will start to pay more and more through the messaging channel. In China, that’s how most everything is paid for.

There’s also onboarding, where SMS works well for coordinating the delivery of products or installation services. That leads to customer service, which allows people to deal with an issue without disturbing life’s moments.

Lastly, there’s referral and sentiment, where you can forward a benefit to a friend, like a product or service or tell someone what you think if you don’t like it. So, mobile messaging is ideal for any company that’s communicating with customers because it can be applied across the whole customer journey.

What framework can marketers use to create empathetic customer service messaging with natural language processing?

Natural language processing (NLP) is hugely important because everyone speaks differently, people speak different languages, use different words and often just make mistakes in their speech. Think about a simple question like ‘what time does the shop open?’ A person might mistype shop or maybe use the word ‘store’ instead of shop.  Or they could ask about opening hours instead of ‘what time’ and you don’t want to give them the wrong answer. That applies across the entire customer journey, anywhere a customer is asking a question or having a conversation over mobile messaging, NLP helps by making a more accurate assessment of what it is the person wants to achieve. That’s the benefit.

What are the three most significant changes taking place in customer engagement today?

First, I think more people are moving away from voice communications, starting with the younger generations. If you talk to someone in their 20s about phoning up a company, they frown at you. I think people who are older are even more strapped for time and busy with their lives, so they don’t want to be stuck on the phone sorting out problems. Using what we call a synchronous channel like messaging is important.

Second, I think ‘frictionless’ is a thing. We all talk about silos in companies, but I think it’s becoming worse and that companies are potentially becoming more complex. But the bigger issue is that different parts of companies adopt different solutions but then don’t talk to each other. Unless you have an overarching layout to streamline it all, interaction with a company can feel disjointed. If you’ve ever tried to cancel a credit card or order something from a bank, you know about being passed from department to department.

The last thing is relevance. How much of our lives is blighted by people talking about things that are irrelevant? One of the things with data and insights is that when used correctly, it can make communications more relevant and timelier. Reaching someone before they need to do something that is, anticipating something that is happening in their lives or even just an offer for something that might be useful is a big step forward as well.

What are the thumb rules marketers must follow while implementing a data-driven 1-2-1 engagement between brands and consumers?

I think the question is which channel for which type of interaction. Let’s say that I’ve bought a plane ticket and I’ve decided to fly back to Australia. Sending me the ticket via SMS is silly. It would be much better to send me an email and then, as my flight date approaches, I will type in the search box, the email will come up and I’ll have all of the ticket information, as well as details about the terminal, my luggage and so on. I was in India recently and received an email about getting tickets for a theme park. If you are going to send people tickets for a theme park with all the information around how early to get there or where the carpark is, send the email. Other times, voice may be better. For example, imagine you are reaching out to talk to somebody about a complicated issue that’s hard to explain via text conversation. Instead, you might reach out and ask, ‘What’s a good time to give you a call?’

Voice can be an appropriate channel, but mobile messaging allows you to reach out in an un-intrusive way. If you are trying to engage somebody in a more immersive experience, such as a new game or visiting a theme park, then something like RSC or Apple Business Chat could be a really good choice.

Can you measure your ROI?

Sure, but you need to set up the campaign or the use case so that there is an outcome that can be measured. For example, if you enter a competition, you click to enter or you’re planning to visit a theme park, you might click to book. The way to do it is as simple as it is for other channels: link back the outcome to the number of messages you are sending and the spend on messages.

In your opinion what’s the future of text messaging mobile marketing?

Firstly, most enterprises haven’t started using mobile messaging and I think there are benefits to bring. Those companies may be unsure about how to get started or take the first steps. But in terms of the capabilities of messaging in the future, I think the big thing is conversational commerce, the ability to completely change the purchase experience on the messaging channel.

Imagine a world where you are trying to buy a product and you are in a conversation over messaging, which you control so it doesn’t disrupt the moment you are in. You can keep asking specific questions about the product or service and keep getting more information in a form that you can consume. You can then purchase the product online and authenticate yourself online. Being able to do all that within the messaging channel, without leaving the channel, is powerful. Seeing how that is happening on WeChat in China offers us a glimpse of the future.

Neha: Thank you, Jonathan, for giving us your insights on the tangible benefits of mobile messaging and the shape of the future! We hope to talk to you again soon.

About Jonathan Morgan

Jonathan has nearly 20 years’ experience in commercial, engineering and operational leadership roles in the mobile technology industry. He joined OpenMarket in 2011 as Country Manager for Australia before growing his remit to launch OpenMarket’s Asia-Pacific business. He later worked as Vice President of Global Operations, where he was instrumental in streamlining strategies, processes and structures across the entire business.

About OpenMarket, An Amdocs Company 

OpenMarket helps the biggest brands in the world use mobile messaging to connect with their customers in the moments that count. When they need to be there and be responsive in real-time. When customer experience isn’t just a buzzword: it’s an obsession. They have over 200 employees across offices in Seattle (headquarters), Detroit, London, Sydney, Pune, and Guadalajara.