Expert Interview Series: Neth Williams of Occam DM about How To Incorporate SMS Marketing Into Your Customer Engagement Strategy

Neth Williams is the Marketing Manager of Occam DM, where she oversees all the marketing communications of Occam DM.  

Occam-dm has over 20 years of customer engagement experience. How much have you seen the field grow and change, in that time? What's remained the same?

Occam- DM has seen a lot of changes in customer engagement. The Internet has changed considerably in recent years. Traditional media has been overtaken by the growing use of social media and digital technologies such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other Web platforms. The growing pressure on organisations to improve how they interact and engage with their customers have remained the same, just with added pressure on what digital channels they should use and the issues of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

Occam DM works with organizations across the UK to help them tame and collate their data - which is a problem facing a lot of today's digital marketers. What are some of the risks of having untamed data, spread across multiple channels?

We have been working with data and building Single Customer View (SCV) solutions since the early 90’s. This means there isn't much we haven't seen; our people, processes and technology are highly optimized to help marketers achieve their data driven marketing goals by releasing the potential in their customer data. We work across Customer Insight, Campaign Services, Software Consultancy, Marketing Consultancy and Data Platform Migration and Production.

There are loads of risk to using multiple channels, which is why it is good to understand the information you currently hold. One of the main issues faced with businesses currently is the uncertainty of understanding GDPR, and how it effects the data the company holds presently.


A few years ago, everybody was hopping on the app bandwagon as the next big thing. Push notifications were a new and novel way for customer engagement - but over 50% of all iOS users opt out of receiving push notifications, and only 6% of push notifications lead to brand engagement. Why might some marketers want to consider switching their efforts to SMS marketing, for greater customer engagement?

Mobile marketing is becoming increasingly popular because the number of people using their mobile to search for products and services online is becoming greater.  SMS service is seen to be more effective than emails, because the tendency to read SMS is becoming greater than reading emails.  

SMS marketing is often preferable to other forms of marketing, as it requires users to opt-in to receive SMS updates. What are some different ways sales and marketing teams might entice customers to sign up to receive SMS updates?

Companies may use this to send notification about upcoming sales or events. Clearly the SMS must have one direct message and it should be short, at that. It is very important to have consent from the individual, as stressed by ICO.

One thing that's great about SMS marketing, but also challenging, is the short messages. Can you recommend some methods for a marketing team to squeeze their marketing messages into 160 characters or less?

Messages must be personal, relevant and have a clear call to action. You must spend time on what you want to address and convey before you send it. Making it personal adds that extra little touch, making your customers feel valued. Simply addressing their name in the message is a good start and will get you a better response. You must tell your customers how to respond, including how they get in touch with you. You can also add specific keywords into the content such as ‘Text MORE for more info’. This will indicate the recipient is interested and responsive to your SMS. It is also very important, like emails, to include a way to opt out of receiving SMS messages, e.g. Text OPT OUT to 34721. This will stop you wasting your time and money on individuals that aren’t interested.   


Occam DM are experts at targeting and segmenting potential customers. What are some different methods marketers can use to sort their data from other channels to make them more useful for SMS marketing? Where are some places marketers can source that data?

For over 20 years, Occam has delivered marketing technology solutions that turn data into the actionable insights that power better customer experiences.

Through its Single Customer View technology and expert data management services, Occam works with organizations across the UK to tame their data, helping them collate it, improve it and understand it, so they can create customer communications and experiences that are more relevant, more timely and better targeted. Part of the St Ives Group, Occam is one of the UK’s largest customer engagement agencies.  

According to Digital Marketing Magazine, people usually respond to text messages within 90 seconds of receiving them. How can a company make use of return texts to further future marketing efforts?

Here's a very interesting article from Laura Varley, written over 3 years ago - technology has advanced immeasurably in that time. Certain companies could benefit from this, especially with the rise of integrated technology like smart phones, that allow you to view anything that your phone receives. She makes a great point about SMS loyalty programs, which I could see this working with superstores, with the right marketing consent from the individual.

This article from A destra.com  '10 Innovative Ways To Use SMS Marketing,' is a great read on how to make use of SMS marketing.

One of the reasons SMS marketing is so successful is that everyone is flooded and overwhelmed with marketing messages from all their other channels. Why is it important SMS marketers don't bombard your customers with too many messages? What might be an optimal amount, per week or monthly?

First off, SMS is unique in the sense that many companies don’t utilize this form of marketing, mostly due to costs. The only thing I’d stay clear of is bombarding individuals at the wrong time - no one likes receiving messages at work or first thing in the morning. It is a hard to answer that question without knowing the context. For instance, I can understand if an SMS is sent a day or two before an event, but general product/sales messages should be monthly. The more frequent the SMS are, the more likely the individual will opt out.  


Local marketing is increasingly important, as people realize that the Internet can't fulfill all their needs. What are some kinds of local businesses that could benefit from SMS marketing, if they're not using it already? How might non-local businesses still make use of SMS marketing, and in what ways?  

Companies that provide a service should utilize SMS, like local sports centers offering specific classes or special events. Then again a great example of SMS marketing is Dominoes, (yes, I am a massive pizza lover.) They produce the right content at the right time, sending special offers on that day- like two for Tuesdays. They are clever about it because they include the location.

Another great example is when the local dentist or doctors send you a SMS reminder of your appointment. Yes, they may not be pushing you to buy anything but they are reducing the time wasted from missed appointments at the same time making you feel valued.

Feeling valued creates good awareness and experience, this links back to Laura’s article about why businesses should use SMS as a customer loyalty offering.    

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