USSD: when your customers don’t have smartphones

In South Africa, the majority of phone users don’t own a smartphone. If your target market falls into this category, can you still reach them with mobile marketing? Most definitely! The answer? USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) Push and Pull messages.

Most, if not all, handsets are capable of receiving USSD messages. In other words, you don’t have to worry about the logistics behind this marketing channel. Yes, it isn’t as pretty or mesmerizing as rich media marketing, but you still have a choice between:

Push: A message that pops up on user’s screen – it is “pushed” on the customer.

Pull: Usually a menu that the user has to access – the customer is “pulled” in to make use of the service.

Unstructured Supplementary Service Data menus are easy to navigate and it can serve a variety of functions. If you have ever topped up your airtime by dialling a short number and then choosing options from a menu, you have made use of such a menu. A business can use it for: balance checking, voting, polls, answers to general questions, buying or ordering of products, sending passwords etc. It is instant and fast, almost like corresponding with a live consultant.

These menus can also handle an unlimited amount of users at the same time – unlike a consultant who can only take one call and only help customers during working hours.

USSD is all about the content. The focus rests firmly on what you have to say and what you want your customers to do in response. You can use it for direct marketing and promote your business and share important information. Just remember, these messages can’t be stored. If you want your customers to forward or keep the information, you should rather send a SMS.

Invest in a communication tool that can deliver results. It is a great addition to your mobile marketing arsenal and can add tremendous value.

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