Mention the word USSD and you can expect a blank face.
But show someone the funny looking *120* or *134* number and a look of familiarity will appear followed by a response such as “Ah! Mobile banking!” or “Airtime recharging!”
The story is simple: In South Africa – where almost half of cell phone users can only use USSD, SMS and voice – it has exploded as a tried and trusted mobile marketing channel through its simple and robust menu system.
The mobile economic landscape has further contributed to the spread of USSD as 80% of urban and 94% of rural South Africans have prepaid accounts, and have used this robust channel since the beginning of time to send “please call me” messages and to recharge airtime.
How USSD works
USSD has the unique advantage of offering a simple browsing experience through a menu system – and it works on all handsets and all cellular networks. It has a distinct advantage over SMS as it is cheaper for the consumer and offers a “session” based interaction similar to browsing a Mobi site.
No internet connection is required and no App needs to be installed. Try our “Smartphone Survey” demo now: *120*716#
USSD Case Studies
There are many great applications for this mobile channel – please browse some of our mobile marketing Case Studies below:
- Lil-lets – Mobile marketing campaign
- Spar – In-store promotion
- info4africa – Directory search using Location Based Services
- Isolezwe – Linking print to mobile
- Fusion Juice – Airtime rewards competition
We call USSD “Mobi for the Masses” as anyone with a mobile phone can access information and participate.
- Costs: R0.20 per 20 seconds which can be reverse billed to the brand or charged to the consumer.
- Network time outs range from 3-5 minutes.
- Characters are limited to 160, just like SMS.
- It works best with quantitative feedback, for example a Likert scale, where the user just has to punch in a number as a selection. Words and sentences are accepted as user input, but this can be challenging to users.
USSD Number Ranges
|*120*||Cost to the consumer 20c for every 20 seconds.|
|*130*||Free to the consumer, but only for airtime charging.|
|*134*||Free to the consumer, with the 20c for every 20 seconds reverse billed to the brand.|