5 Simple Ways to Grow Your Business With USSD

Today’s businesses should be on the lookout for ways to market and communicate with their customers in a better, faster, and more secure way. Mobile communication has been forging ahead as an excellent tool for all the above needs – after all, who doesn’t have their phone with them all the time?

Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) has proven itself as a quick and cost-effective way to transact with customers and a host of smart people have chosen to grow their business with USSD.

If you thought USSD was just a tool to top up your airtime or purchase electricity, think again. USSD is an amazingly fast and effective tool.

Grow your business with USSD

So, in the real (and extremely competitive) world of business, how can USSD communication help to grow your business?

Surveys and reviews

Surveys and customer feedback are essential tools to understand your customer needs and wants. Yet how many of us are eager to answer an unsolicited call from a company and spend the next 10 minutes on a survey?

A USSD survey can be tailored to specific customer segments based on their buying habits, demographics, or location. A short and non-intrusive message is far more likely to get a response and give you the information you need.


We know that competitions are a great way to engage your customers and reach new clients. Social media is full of competitions and giveaways, but the truth is that not everyone has the time or the data to go online to enter.

USSD competitions give you more reach and offer a quick (and free) response method.

Information and contact requests

Special offers and ads should all come with a call to action. Depending on your product, this may best come in the form of a call from a sales agent. Can USSD help to grow businesses in this way?

A home rental agent in Malawi, Trevor, made use of a USSD platform and now receives 50 – 70 calls a week, as opposed to the 2 or 3 that he would ordinarily get. The full article makes for interesting reading, but the basics are here:

“Dumi Kaliati, a developer based in Malawi, saw an opportunity to turn people’s mobile phones into their own personal billboards and classifieds.

“The number of mobile phone subscribers has vastly increased in Malawi and Africa as a whole. This has opened up opportunities, for us developers to [build applications] that connect our users to services” — Dumi

“Running on the USSD code… end users can directly connect to unskilled labourers offering services like taxi services, event organising or house hunting services. Once a service has been identified, users can reach out to the service providers via SMS alerts, right from their USSD session.”

A simple, yet incredibly successful use of USSD to grow small and micro-businesses.


What better way to encourage your local audience to visit your shop than to offer a voucher? We all love something for nothing, and when you can identify the best audience, the best time, and the most viable offering, then USSD will be your friend for life.


Wait, what? What is the NI all about?

Network Initiated Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (NI USSD), also known as Push USSD, is a little different from what we’ve been discussing. NI USSD is an instant message sent from a network to a mobile device. The difference between this and a standard USSD is that it does not require the mobile user to initiate the conversation, hence network initiated.

It’s worth noting that current legislation requires customers to willingly opt-in to receive these messages which companies must adhere to stay on the right side of the law and to avoid upsetting random mobile users.

NI USSD is used, for example, for banking security purposes where a network will issue an OTP which requires a response within a 60-second time frame. This means that the user will have to have their device in their hands at the time offering an exceedingly small window of opportunity for interaction. However, when it comes to security, if you can offer NI USSD as an added layer of protection for your customers, then you’re giving them more of what matters most to them.

These features make NI USSD great for security, but not the best option for marketing communication.

What should you do now?

All these acronyms and anagrams can make anyone quite nauseous. But don’t fret. You don’t have to understand the inner workings of USSD to benefit from it. You simply have to chat with the people that do.

We’d like to encourage you to sit down and make a note of what you expect to achieve from initiating quick and easy communication with your customers. Then give the Cellfind team a call and schedule a time for one of our friendly, experienced agents to talk through the next steps, costing and anything else you’re not totally sure of.


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