Those of us working in the field of mobile marketing think about the humble () cell phone each and every day. To us, it’s an omnipresent piece of technology, an effective conveyor of marketing messages, and a way to funnel great value to consumers. After all, virtually all Americans can , use their smartphones , and are to redeem mobile coupons than their print counterpoints. But when you broaden your perspective beyond the borders of the United States, the cell phone becomes something else entirely.
It morphs into a device that’s changing the world.
We all know that most places on the globe aren’t as wealthy as the industrialized West. Whereas the median U.S. income , about 10 percent of the world’s population (roughly 700 million people) scrape by on . The differences go beyond mere money, too. A whopping 1.5 billion don’t have , and in India, 70 percent lack basic sanitation. Two-and-a-half billion can’t put due to geographical difficulties, political instability, or a lack of infrastructure.
But do you know what they almost all have? You guessed it: A mobile phone.
That’s not an exaggeration. According to USAID, there are scattered across the developing world. Possessing a portable rather than a potty might seem a step down, but cell service opens up all sorts of opportunities for the destitute. Cellular communication has helped African farmers and small-scale entrepreneurs launch enterprises previously thought impossible, as : “In Kenya, 70 percent of our economy is in the informal sector. This means that a lot of the people are just doing small jobs, or are small-scale farmers, they’re just doing work on the side of the road, they sell things, they’re traders. And they’re all doing it because the mobile phone has allowed them to do it. I’ve said many times I think half the GDP growth in Kenya comes because of the mobile phone revolution, not because of anything else.”
Cell phones have also played a part in solving global banking woes. How? Over 255 different companies provide global mobile monetary services, which means Tanzanian taxpayers can by pressing a few buttons. Afghan police officers can receive their wages directly without worrying about corrupt bureaucrats skimming off the top. And Filipino and Indonesian consumers don’t have to board a boat to make a deposit or withdraw funds. Of course, such consumers didn’t learn about mobile banking in a vacuum. They heard about it through government-sponsored programs or from friends and neighbors—or through SMS marketing.
The statistics on mobile marketing in the developing world are pretty compelling in and of themselves. , “51 percent of people in emerging market countries prefer to receive offers via SMS message.” In Asia alone, 98% of all text messages and SMS campaigns generate response rates that are than comparable email programs. However, we shouldn’t merely think of SMS marketing as a profit driver. Sure, no one would dispute how much it helps companies boost their bottom lines. But it also lift the least of these out of the mire of poverty, and that’s the best kind of virtuous business cycle.