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...

USSD: everything you have always wanted to know

Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, USSD Push, Premium USSD, USSD shortcodes… what does it all mean? Let’s find out! What is USSD? USSD is short for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data. It is a menu-based technology that a mobile user can interact with. Typically this is used for product purchases or to answer general enquiries that have set answers. The number (called a USSD Shortcode) that the user dials usually starts with an asterisks and ends with a hashtag. Are there different types of USSD shortcodes? Yes: there are three. The standard rate: the end-user pays a standard fee for using it. The premium rate: the end-user pays a premium fee Reversed billed: the end-user can use the code for free Is USSD the same as SMS? Not quite, although all mobile phones can receive these messages. Unlike a text message, you can’t store a USSD message on your phone, because USSD is session based. When the session ends, the message disappears. This makes USSD a popular method for sending sensitive info to clients like passwords or pins. Also, USSD messages can contain 22 characters more than a SMS Is it fast? For sure! In fact, it is almost three times faster than SMS. It is also not dependant on things like internet connectivity. How does a user gain access to a USSD menu? There are two kinds of USSD messages: Push and Pull. A mobile user accesses a Pull menu by dialling a shortcode, while a Push message is “pushed” onto the user’s phone by the sender (business). Push is usually used for things like sending pins or marketing messages,...

FLEXIBLE – REAL TIME – INSTANT MESSAGING FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) A Hard working communication tool – straight forward without the glam of pretty pictures or elevator-type music.  Because it is so cheap and versatile, you can rest assured that you will get more bang for your buck. Clients aren’t always interested in unnecessary bells and whistles, but rather in a service or product that actually delivers on its promises.  Companies often stick to SMS messaging when doing something “PLAIN” for a promotion or customer service, because a few realise the true potential of USSD. The latter works great for customer service activities.  It allows a customer to interact with a business in real time and purchase items or obtain help via an easy-to-use menu.  While using one of these menu’s aren’t the same as talking to a live person, t is close enough to facilitate effective customer service. It can be used for a variety of services, for example: banking notifications, prepaid airtime purchases, answers to general FAQ s, checking a statement or balance, voting, polls, new services etc. You don’t need an army of customer care consultants at the helm.  In fact, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data menus are available 24/7 which means no overtime costs and no struggle with employee absenteeism.  Also, a great amount of callers can be serviced at once – your clients don’t have to wait in line for a consultant. BENEFITS OF USING USSD It’s so cheap and versatile Allows for Interaction with clients Run servey’s Cheaper than SMS for 2-way Transactions You can also send approximately 182 alphanumeric characters using USSD, while a SMS only allows for 1400...

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...

The 101 of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data

What is of mobile marketing, but the simplicity factor is precisely what makes it so effective. For the business it provides a pretty cheap and easy form of customer service, and customers in turn will find it equally easy to understand and operate. It is a win-win for...
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