Why USSD is perfect for brands in South Africa

In South Africa and the African continent where Smartphone adoption is slow, USSD is a perfect way for brands to reach their customers instantly.

Brands often find it hard to reach customers in rural areas through digital marketing. These customers are often consumers of more traditional marketing channels like newspapers, brochures, television and radio, and they don’t have access to laptops and computers. Cell phones are relatively cheap, thus the vast majority of these consumers own feature phones.

The problem with feature phones is that they have limited capabilities. They might not always receive images or display them properly, and browsing the Internet can be a huge challenge as well. Luckily, this is where USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) comes in.

Vodacom commercialized USSD in 2004 and since then many brands have reaped the rewards of this type of mobile service – like Boxer superstores and AVBOB. According to Mobitainment, Boxer stores were able to use a USSD driven competition to increase their sales from 300% to almost 1000% on selected products. Why? Because this form of mobile interaction worked like a charm for their target market.

USSD Push and Pull messages works on every GSM capable handset. It is straightforward text – no glitz and glamour. Also, consumers are all very familiar with the working of USSD menus as most of them use these services to top up their airtime. Please Call Me’s are also USSD driven.

It creates a two-way conversation between a customer and a brand in real-time – unlike SMS messages that are sometimes delayed. It also adds a personal touch to brand communication that makes consumers feel valued.

Yes, smartphones are slowly taking over, but it is safe to say that it will be a few years before lower income groups can afford these devices. In the meantime, your brand needs to get your message across and keep your customers happy. Unstructured Supplementary Service Data for marketing is without a doubt worth investing your time and resources in!



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